Lonigo doubles its offer: a visit to Osteria del Guà

In the same village as La Peca, in a new relais, the convincing restaurant of a long-standing chef, Vincenzo Di Grande

23-11-2017

Vincenzo Di Grande, chef at the new Osteria del Guà in Lonigo (Vicenza)

Guà is a Venetian river, some 40 km long; its name comes from the Italian word “guado” (ford), because a long portion of it could be forded; according to a different theory, it comes from “gue”, the branches a river grows when it overflows. Indeed it’s always been a capricious, turbulent river, so much so locals think Guà is connected with “guai” (troubles), because it has caused many over the years. Yet it flows across a beautiful land, and the powerful Pisani family from Venice, local land owners, chose this place, close to Lonigo, to build their countryside estate and commissioned the project to young Andrea Palladio in 1542. It is for this reason that since 1996 it is included, together with other Palladian villas in Veneto, in the Unesco World Heritage List. And because of overflows, this is also the only building, among those by the great architect, to have a large kitchen on the piano nobile and not on the ground floor, to guard it from water.

Villa Pisani Bonetti, designed by Andrea Palladio...

Villa Pisani Bonetti, designed by Andrea Palladio...

...and, next to the villa, the colonnade, now transformed into a relais

...and, next to the villa, the colonnade, now transformed into a relais

In the early Two Thousands the heirs of the Pisani family sold the site, which also includes a large colonnade (a rural service building, typical of the architecture of Venetian villas) to entrepreneur Carlo Bonetti from Arzignano and his wife Manuela Bedeschi. Today you can visit the villa throughout the year, upon appointment, and the colonnade was recently transformed into a very elegant relais called La Barchessa di Villa Pisani, which opened in May and has already been shortlisted by Condé Nast Johansens. Before then, on the 8th of February, they opened the restaurant, Osteria del Guà. They asked Vincenzo Di Grande to direct it.

The interior

The interior

The dining room

The dining room

He’s a very experienced professional. Born in 1968, of Sicilian origins (his parents come from San Giovanni Gemini, in the province of Agrigento), he was raised near Parma, breathing the good air of the Food Valley. He was born in the business, as his mother was a cook in Switzerland. His career started early and he now has a very long curriculum: in France with Pierre Gagnaire (but at St.Etienne), shortly with Igles Corelli at Trigabolo, where he met Bruno Barbieri («He’s perhaps the chef I feel closest to») and then followed him at Locanda Solarola. Before and after that, came other great restaurants: Antica Osteria del Ponte in Cassinetta di Lugagnano, with Ezio Santin, Antica Osteria del Teatro in Piacenza with Filippo Chiappini Dattilo, Convivio Troiani in Rome, as well as Fat Duck with Heston Blumenthal and Le Gavroche with Michel Roux Jr in England and, in Spain, restaurant Arzak in San Sebastian and Martin Berasategui in Lasarte-Oria.

Gnocchi with beetroot, raw and cooked tiger prawns, tarragon

Gnocchi with beetroot, raw and cooked tiger prawns, tarragon

In these prestigious brigades he fine-tuned his skills. He says: «Berasategui taught me the importance of organization. There were 65 people in the kitchen... Roux taught me elegance». As chef, he conquered a star at Il Colombaio in Casole d’Elsa, before Alberto Sparacino’s arrival; then he spent a year in Latvia, and once back to Italy he tried to relaunch L’Arsenale in Cavenago d’Adda (who recalls the days of Fabio Granata?), until his arrival in Lonigo, based on a project: «Guests are sacred, they must enjoy themselves». And: «In my cuisine, I always want to recall where we come from, so we can experience the present while keeping an eye on the future».

Orange and litchi soufflé with litchi sorbet (photos by Tanio Liotta)

Orange and litchi soufflé with litchi sorbet (photos by Tanio Liotta)

These are not void words: indeed his style has sound, classic foundations. He’s not afraid to recuperate the past, like when he presents a – delicious – dessert, Orange and litchi soufflé with litchi sorbet, which is by itself worth the trip (soufflé: a desaparecido in fine dining, a real pity in many ways).

Smoked quail filled with foie gras with emulsion in sauce of truffle and a purée of potatoes with truffle

Smoked quail filled with foie gras with emulsion in sauce of truffle and a purée of potatoes with truffle

Pigeon and Marsala with sweet and sour vegetables

Pigeon and Marsala with sweet and sour vegetables

He’s not even a zero-km fanatic, he shows his French haute cuisine past in the superb Smoked quail filled with foie gras with emulsion in sauce of truffle and purée of potatoes with truffle; in general, he excels in meat cooking where he shows perfect technical skills, as in the case of his pigeon entrée (Pigeon and Marsala with sweet and sour vegetables, with the leg first stuffed with chestnuts and pigeon liver, then breaded and fried; the seared fillet, the sautéed breast. Everything is perfect. The sourness of the vegetables makes the dish suitable to be served at an unusual moment, at the beginning of the meal).

Fegato alla veneziana 2017

Fegato alla veneziana 2017

Tortelli filled with pumpkin and ricotta with salted cod tripe in the style of Vicenza

Tortelli filled with pumpkin and ricotta with salted cod tripe in the style of Vicenza

Finally, he shows he’s influenced by the local territory, which is truly fertile for fine dining (La Peca is only 5 km away): as with his Fegato alla veneziana 2017 – destructured, with onions, polenta chips and corn sponge – but most of all his fantastic, truly remarkable Tortelli filled with pumpkin and ricotta with salted cod tripe in the style of VicenzaDi Grande has been at Osteria del Guà only for a few months, but it’s been a very good start.
Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso​

Osteria del Guà de La Barchessa di Villa Pisani
Via Risaie 1/2 - Bagnolo di Lonigo (Vicenza)
Tel. +39 0444 831207
labarchessadivillapisani.it
Prices: starters 18 euros, first courses 17, main courses 28, desserts 8
Tasting menus for 55 and 65 euros
Opened only in the evening from Tuesday to Friday, both at lunchtime and in the evening on Saturday, only at lunchtime on Sunday


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