Dinner with Dattilo

Projects, news, dishes and anecdotes: Caterina Ceraudo tells us about her world. While NY and Boston are awaiting

28-08-2017

Caterina Ceraudo at Identità Milano 2017 (photo by Brambilla-Serrani)

Photogallery

Our dinner at Dattilo. Pictures by Tanio Liotta. Meanwhile, the remarkable toasted bread (made with Senatore Cappelli flour) served with oil butter produced by Ceraudo
Initial meatballs, with ricotta, potatoes and prosciutto...
Fried filo pastry sfogliatella filled with sardella, caciocavallo podolico, thyme, Pachino cherry tomatoes and pistachios from Bronte. Delicious, like the meatballs
Sandwich with maison sesame, podolica burger, salad, ketchup and mayonnaise

«Three years ago – I had just started my chef career here at Dattilo - two foreign couples arrived one night, sent by Romito. I just finished his school and Niko was doing some promotion... They ate, they were very satisfied. Thank you and good bye. Sometime later I recognise one of them, sitting by himself. I look at what he’s ordered and compare it with what he ordered the first time - I keep all the orders! – and notice it’s just the same. Same dishes, same order. I find it curious, so I go to his table, greet him and ask him about this strange choice. He says: “Thank you for letting me experience once again a magnificent night I spent with three people I loved and now unfortunately are no longer here”. It made me shiver».

What better award than this, wonders Caterina Ceraudo, despite the fact she has received quite a few recently? And what better proof of the evocative power of her cooking? With the suspicion this is in fact strengthened further by a place like  Dattilo in Strongoli: a sort of enchanted microcosm in Calabria, in the province of Crotone, secluded but close to the heart, to which her dad Roberto added dreams and beautiful visions (mostly accomplished) over the decades, and which Caterina now, together with her siblings Giuseppe and Susy further develops with courage.

Indeed it is Susy who tells us about the recent upturning of hierarchy in the family business [while we’ll soon speak of Roberto Ceraudo’s other projects in another article]: «Clients used to come here for the wine, the oil, in other words, the farm; so we fed them and gave them a room where to sleep [restaurant Dattilo was born in 2004, guided by  Frank RizzutiCaterina was then 17]. It’s the opposite now: they come for the restaurant, and to sleep here. This is their priority». So the Ceraudos adapted to this, «we’ll soon renovate all the rooms, creating new buildings from scratch. Plans also include a spa for vinotherapy and oiltherapy», thus recuperating an old passion of Caterina: «When I finished university I registered a trademark for cosmetics», it will come useful now that she’s studying cosmetics made with marcs or wastes from oil making.

Caterina with her father Roberto Ceraudo

Caterina with her father Roberto Ceraudo

After all, the passion for aromas is a special feature of Caterina Ceraudo, together with respecting work and products. Two episodes prove this. The first: «When I get on board a flight, I always take the in-flight magazine, I see what perfumes they have, read their composition: bergamot, sandalwood, jasmine…». It’s a big source of inspiration for new dishes, «if Tom Ford matches rose, patchouli and coffee in one of his eau de parfum , it means these aromas blend well, and it can be a useful tip for me in the kitchen».

Guess who’s coming to dinner: Caterina Ceraudo with three illustrious guests, Luca Abbruzzino, his sous Matteo Morello and Antonio Abbruzzino

Guess who’s coming to dinner: Caterina Ceraudo with three illustrious guests, Luca Abbruzzino, his sous Matteo Morello and Antonio Abbruzzino

As for respecting products (and work) calm and smiling Caterina Ceraudo becomes very strict, inflexible: «One day dad was picking tomatoes at dawn (it’s best to pick them early in the morning or late in the evening because they otherwise become acid under the powerful sun). He arrived at the restaurant with a box, left it there and nobody took care of it. It remained there for two days. Then at last somebody noticed but they were now ruined and we threw them away. I noticed this and explained that this is not how we work at Dattilo : we don’t throw food away, we don’t let excellent raw materials get ruined, and most of all we don’t snub someone else’s work. For one month, the brigade had to wake up at dawn and pick tomatoes. I think they learnt the lesson».

All the staff at Dattilo (almost). Left to right Luigi Guzzo, Domenico Morabito, Irene Pugnali, Charline Chan, Christian Vuono, Angelica Salerni, Antonietta Toscano, the excellent maître Antonio Masino, Caterina Ceraudo, Andreina Renzi, Sara Villirillo, pastry chef Beniamino Galentino and Susy Ceraudo, a great wine woman (photo by Tanio Liotta)

All the staff at Dattilo (almost). Left to right Luigi Guzzo, Domenico Morabito, Irene Pugnali, Charline Chan, Christian Vuono, Angelica Salerni, Antonietta Toscano, the excellent maître Antonio Masino, Caterina Ceraudo, Andreina Renzi, Sara Villirillo, pastry chef Beniamino Galentino and Susy Ceraudo, a great wine woman (photo by Tanio Liotta)

I realised a few more things: Dattilo is now a war machine. I was positively struck not only by the food – I gave it for granted, and as a proof, look at the photo gallery by Tanio Liotta – and the location, but also by the competent, precise, careful and friendly service. Dishes are served with timeliness, perfectly respecting the timer ruling the staff’s work. Ceraudo is growing, and presents the extraordinary products of Calabria without any mental boundaries, using talent and creativity. She aims high, and is not far from reaching her goals, at least in my opinion: to confirm this, just taste the excellent: Snapper, bergamot, silt and pink pepperMullet, bread and oranges, a classic, or Pork, marinated figs and mint, and finally an extraordinary dessert inspired by Romito, Ivoire white chocolate 35%, licorice, red fruits and raspberry vinegar. And soon we’ll know what she’ll present in October at Identità in America, first in New York and then in Boston.
Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


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Photogallery

Our dinner at Dattilo. Pictures by Tanio Liotta. Meanwhile, the remarkable toasted bread (made with Senatore Cappelli flour) served with oil butter produced by Ceraudo
Initial meatballs, with ricotta, potatoes and prosciutto...
Fried filo pastry sfogliatella filled with sardella, caciocavallo podolico, thyme, Pachino cherry tomatoes and pistachios from Bronte. Delicious, like the meatballs
Sandwich with maison sesame, podolica burger, salad, ketchup and mayonnaise
A great, balanced and elegant dish, right away: Snapper, bergamot, silt and pink pepper, that is to say a snapper ceviche, citrus fruits, wild mustard flowers, honey, onion extract

 
Tomato, apple and lemon
Mullet, bread and orange, an always explosive classic
Potato, pepper and basil: she cooks the potato in ashes, then glaze it with a reduced juice of roasted peppers, then adds basil juice
Lukewarm seafood and covatelli soup
Spaghettoni, courgette flowers, Parmigiano: the pasta is made with bronze moulds, the courgette flowers are in the shape of a cream. The Parmigiano is matured 36 months. Strong acidity, an unexpected first course
Seabass, seabass emulsion and candied lemon: lovely
Fennel and lemon: like in the old days, a sorbet between fish and meat. It’s pleasurable: the fennel is marinated in water and sugar, then there’s wild fennel and muscovado sugar