Nestled in a sleepy town of Canneto sull’Oglio in the region of Lombardy, you’ll find one of the most recognized restaurants in all of Italy.
Dal Pescatore Santini is a renowned family run restaurant that has held three Michelin stars since 1996, longer than any other restaurant in the country. The kitchen has been run by chef Nadia Santini for decades making her the only female chef in Italy to have three Michelin stars. Badass. The restaurant’s history dates back to almost a century ago when Nadia’s husband’s grandparents opened a taverna in 1926 called Vino e Pesce where Antonio Santini would wait tables and his wife, Teresa Mazzi, would be in the kitchen. Later on, Antonio and Teresa handed down the taverna to their son Giovanni and his wife Bruna. Eventually, Giovanni and Bruna passed down the restaurant to their son Antonio and his wife Nadia and in 1970 the taverna was renamed Dal Pescatore Santini.
Before our lunch, we got a quick tour of the beautiful restaurant and the luscious outdoor gardens. The family actually lives in one of the houses that faces the garden.
The cuisine at Dal Pescatore Santini is heavily influenced by numerous surrounding provinces in various regions such as Lombardy, Veneto, and Emilia-Romagna. Combining local produce and ingredients from these several regions, chef Nadia offers three tasting menus or an à la carte option. Since dining here is a once in a lifetime opportunity, we got the most extensive tasting menu (Menu del Pescatore).
Bread and Butter.
Tomato and Eggplant Composta with Basil and Lake Garda Olive Oil (8/10).
A vibrant and fresh vegetable driven appetizer where compressed tomato was wrapped in thin layers of eggplant. It was garnished with extra virgin olive oil coming from Lake Garda and aromatic basil.
Lobster Terrine with Royal Osetra Caviar and Tuscan Olive Oil (8/10).
Sweet lobster was encompassed in spinach and topped with briny Osetra caviar and peppery Tuscan extra virgin olive oil.
Foie Gras with Passito Wine Sauce (9/10).
Perfectly seared foie gras was served with fresh fruit in a rich Passito wine sauce. So decadent.
Pumpkin Tortelli with Parmigiano Reggiano and Amaretti (9.5/10).
Their signature pasta dish was simple but perfectly executed. These delicate tortelli were stuffed with a creamy pumpkin purée flavored with mustard and amaretti (almond flavored cookies) and finished with Parmigiano Reggiano. Impeccable.
Risotto with Basil, Black Bread, and Tuna Bottarga (8.5/10).
Another favorite was the basil risotto with toasted black bread crumbles and shavings of pungent tuna bottarga. The risotto itself was mild in flavor but when eaten together with the salty bottarga, the flavors harmonized.
Lasagnette with Reale of Aubrac Beef with Spinach and Tropea Red Onion (8/10).
Another scrumptious handmade pasta dish was the lasagnette with beef seasoned with mustard finished with spinach and pickled red onion.
Grilled Eel with Chicory (7/10).
Eel is a tricky protein to cook as you need to render the fat as much as possible to achieve a crispy skin. While the flavor of the eel was delightful, the texture could have been better if the fat was rendered more. The bitter chicory was a much needed accompaniment to cut through the richness of the grilled eel.
Suckling Pig with Sichuan Peppercorn (7/10).
The suckling pig had a similar issue as the eel where the skin wasn’t as crunchy as I know it could be. The meat was tender but having that crispy exterior is crucial.
Selection of Italian Cheeses.
I love a cheese platter and I devoured this.
For dessert, we were allowed to choose what dessert we would like. We decided to get different desserts so we could try more dishes.
Orange Soufflè with Passionfruit Sauce (9/10).
The gorgeous warm orange scented soufflè was expertly prepared and even more delicious once the passionfruit sauce was poured in. Stellar.
Meringue with Bronte Pistachio Mousse and Marsala Sabayone (9/10).
A luscious creamy pistachio mousse was the foundation of this dessert where airy and crunchy meringue, toasted almonds, and a Marsala sabayone sauce were on top.
They were nice enough to give us a taste of the amaretti semifreddo cake as this was one of the other desserts we wanted to try.
Stunning petit fours to finish off our meal.
Dal Pescatore Santini was a fantastic lunch from start to finish. The elegant restaurant grounds, the heavenly food, and the gracious service all made for a truly wonderful dining experience so my overall rating is an 8-8.5/10.