Dal Pescatore has taken the Santini family dishes and built a unique gastronomic identity which saw it win three Michelin stars in 1996.
YOU HAVE ALWAYS HAD A STRONG BOND WITH THE LOCAL AREA AND PARTICULARLY THE OGLIO. HOW IS THE REFLECTED IN YOUR COOKING?
We really believe in having a direct relationship with our suppliers, because that trust in the people providing our raw ingredients is vital to guaranteeing quality.
Our rivers are finally becoming clean again, so we’re starting to be able to use the fish that live in them again. Our job is to use producers of the highest quality. For example, we work with Massimo Zani, who has created a network of cattle farmers which put the animals first. That’s exactly the kind of meat we need to be using. The fact that we’re in a position to pay that little bit extra for quality makes it possible for that to exist.
YOUR DISHES HAVE GONE DOWN IN ITALY’S HAUTE CUISINE HISTORY BOOKS. IF YOU HAD TO PICK ONE DISH THAT BEST REFLECTS THE LOCAL AREA, WHICH WOULD IT BE?
Our squash tortelli pasta. Although they have stayed true to themselves, the ingredients and filling have changed, as has the thickness of the pasta and the number of eggs used. We serve them with less butter so the flavours ring truer, while the pasta has to be al dente.
Twenty years ago, egg pasta was always served overcooked. It was the south of Italy that showed us how cook pasta to the right point.
WHAT ARE THE LOCAL SPECIALITIES NOT TO BE MISSED FOR VISITORS TO THE REGION?
Agnoli in brodo [stuffed pasta in a meat broth] is different every time you eat it, depending on whether you’re in Suzzara, Mantua, Canneto or Asola. The same thing goes for squash tortelli, the shape and ingredients. Sometimes they’re finished with butter, other times it’s tomato, and in Suzzara they even serve them with sausage.
Desserts like sbrisolona cake and zabaglione.