Tuesday, September 4, 2012
6:37 PM | Dana Kaplan, Stresa Sights | Edit Post
The exterior of Ristorante Pascia
When I wrote about the Michelin starred and recommended restaurants in and near Stresa recently, I had no idea how soon I would have the pleasure of eating in one. But here I was, spending an evening at Pascia, a one-starred Michelin restaurant about 20 minutes from Stresa, in the town of Invorio. Pascia is located in a neighborhood that seems almost suburban, in a building that could be mistaken for an elegant house. Instead, it's a very elegant restaurant. So elegant that I felt nervous for some reason. We asked if we could take some photos, feeling nervous even to do that, and so I am able to share the dishes with you.
Apart from the menu posted on the website, which changes regularly, there were also 'Chef's menus', flights of small dishes some of which were on the menu and some not. There was a traditional flight, which I suppose would consist of more recognizable dishes. We decided, however, to toss caution to the wind and go with the innovative flight. Allora.. here's how the evening progressed.
Pascia's interior is white. Very, very white. Apart from a striking black and white vertically striped partition, all furnishings are covered in white cloth. On the table, under my white napkin, instead of a place mat was a thick, glass, free-form platter, as if it were a pool of frozen water.
It goes without saying that the service is beyond first class. From the moment we arrived we were treated like royalty. Our table candles were lit. Water was provided. A cart with different champagnes and other bubblies was wheeled over to offer us an aperitivo. Little goodies were put on the table to complement the rose' prosecco that we chose.
You probably already know how much I love prosecco. There may be only one thing I love more, and it is rose' prosecco. Good start...
Our waitress explained every bit of food and every drink. Here, with the prosecco, we were provided with, from the left, some paper thin vegetable chips, another type of chip, homemade grissini, breadsticks, and on the platter, a collection of bites including a fresh sausage with seeds, a fois gras, and little bigne with ricotta. Forgive us if we can't remember what everything was! It all was happening in a swirl around me. I can assure you each bite was delicious and unique. We munched on these, and it was at this point that we decided to go with the innovative flight. The way this worked was that we would receive seven small courses in succession. Each course would be paired with a different wine. The courses were presented in the classic Italian order, meaning we had a soup first, then an aperitivo, then pastas, then meats, then sweets. With each course a new bottle of wine was opened, tested, tasted, and poured into new glasses for us. The shape of plates changed, the shape of wine glasses changed. Sometimes our dishes arrived on platters with domed covers, which were ceremoniously raised in sync by the waitress and chef. The wines began as a clear and light yellow white wine to deeper dryer whites to reds to big bold full-bodied reds as if one kept adding color to the glasses. I think once I missed one wine entirely, as I was still busy on the previous glass. I realized I had skipped it when the next arrived with the next course. It was a difficult task, this keeping up with the glasses of wine. But someone had to do it. :-) Oh, I wish I had recorded the wines too... but I didn't.
We began with this Cream of Topinambur Soup, with two large mussels in it. Topinambur is a type of root vegetable.
I wish I remembered more about this next course, a raw bit of salmon., I recall there was whiskey cream.
Next up, there is a large and perfect shrimp under there, as well as some bits of roasted animelle, which I understand to be certain organs from a veal. On top, impossible to tell here, is a safran foam, which was bubbling and dissolving like little soap suds. The solution was to eat it fast before it disappeared.
Then Steak Tartar. Not the first time I've had it in Italy. Just the best. We call it steak tartar. They called it: Carne cruda di razza Piemontese battuta al coltello, chutney di pere e soffice al gorgonzola 200 giorni . Oh yes.
Moving on to pasta, we have Ravioli del plin farciti alla ricotta di Seirass, ortiche e spugnole. Plin, the traditional Piemontese ravioli, filled with Seirass ricotta cheese, nettle, and spugnole mushrooms.
Spaghetti di grano duro selezione Senatore Cappelli con ragù di coniglio, calamari was next. This was a spaghetti of hard grain (selection of Senator Cappelli) with rabbit ragu and crunchy calamari (spillo croccante).
Lastly for the entrees, there was Vitello Tonno, veal with a tuna sauce, the most traditional of the dishes in this innovative flight. I wouldn't say I was stuffed after all this, as each was a small portion. In fact I was sad when the procession of plates stopped.
Luckily, there was still dessert. Desserts. Like a series of encores. First, to cleanse our palates, a bit of minty Mojito Ice Cream.
Then, semifreddo ai frutti di bosco and zabaione. Zabaione, is right up there at the top of my list, along with rose' prosecco, of the most perfect tasting things in the world. Zabaione with berries. Wow.
Finally, sadly, a little plate of pasticceria secca. Little dry cookies and sweets.
This, was not a meal. This, was a show. I believe that the restaurant is stark white because it is a clean canvas. The food was the art. The presentation was the performance. I'm sorry I don't have more written records of which wine was which, its vintage, or the particular shape of each wine glass. Sorry too that we've forgotten some of the ingredients. We wanted to remember and have the photographs, for ourselves and here, but I didn't want to be a journalist. I wanted to be audience and participant,and just surrender myself to this show.
Price: 60 euro per person for the food. 30 euro per person for the wines. Worth every euro cent. Would I do it again? Yes. I think I almost need to, like when you see a really great film, and catch so much more of it with the second go-around. Would I do it often? No... I'll wait... these should be kept for the special occasions.
As said before, Pascia is 9 miles away, about 20 minutes from Stresa. You will need a car, or a driver, to get there. But, this is a special night, yes?
Ristorante Pascia s.a.s. di Paolo Gatta & C
Via Monte Rosa, 9
28045 Invorio (NO)
Tel. +39.0322.254.008 Mob. +39.338.2989.765
Giorno di chiusura: Lunedì
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