The extraordinary Andreina, past, present and future

Recanati-Ragaini reached the perfect balance. Now the chef’s research focuses on new types of bottarga made from meat

27-07-2018

«Errico Recanati is the 35-year-old grandson of eighty-something year old Andreina, in a restaurant halfway between the coast and the sanctuary of Loreto. A historic establishment, a local point of reference for those who don’t want to eat fish, it now has the grandson at the helm, adding his personal touch though strongly following his grandparents and parents. It’s no longer a classic place, nor is it a new place, where the past is in the past. But you have a good time, and this is what matters the most». (Paolo Marchi, Guida Identità Golose 2010)

«The chef experiments unusual pairings (with attention and balance). He joins tradition and invention, presents unusual flavours or reassures with local tastes. With him, the original Trattoria Andreina turned into a gourmand experience where ancient flavours and modern creativity go in unison, stimulating and tempting increasingly demanding palates» (Enrico Saravalle, Guida Identità Golose 2013)

«Recanati, without being disrespectful towards the story of this warm and simple place, has added new ideas he acquired both while travelling and by discussing them with his wife/accomplice Ramona Ragaini, who’s at ease in the dining room and in managing the wine list. The spit that has caused the decades of success of this place never stopped turning, they still use chargrilling, but as part of a more complex project that unites product and technique» (Valeria Carbone, Guida Identità Golose 2017)

Now that Andreina Isidori Bartolini is no longer with us – she passed away on January 30th, at 94 – the restaurant named after him seems to have completed its slow transformation into something contemporary, as described by Identità Golose’s reviewers.  Here’s another quote:

«The sea, the earth, the fire, the family. The strength and humbleness of a big guy with a kind face like Errico Recanati and the diaphanous elegance of Ramona Ragaini, his muse and partner in a process which, in the matter of a few years, seems to have made a strong and decisive leap forward. While to him cooking "is life and freedom", she sets the rhythm and the dining room style, as precisely as ever». (Massimo Di CintioGuida Identità Golose 2018)

Di Cintio wrote an explosive, slick, concise and effective incipit. Today we’d just avoid the word: "Seems". The leap in quality is clear, though it was never exaggerated nor explained, because Recanati-Ragaini, though very friendly, are reserve and not prone to self-celebration. Instead, they prefer tenacious, almost silent work ethics.

One thing struck me: when reading the various reviews, nobody ever made a reference that would now seem dutiful, to Victor Arguinzoniz, that is to say the person who, with Etxebarri, legitimized cooking on the embers in fine dining. It’s as if the lesson given by the Basque chef – at number 10 in the World’s50Best – should be considered brilliant because it comes (or as long as it comes) from somewhere else, but in fact it should be neglected if happens here, in Italy, even when it’s in fact the result of a slow, personal and organic evolution, not just the replica of a format.

There’s more. While in Loreto the great spit has kept turning just like it has since 1959, there’s been a twofold movement in unison. In one direction, thanks to Errico Recanati who turned his family history of food Efesto into something contemporary, à la Arguinzoniz (Alessandra Meldolesi was the first to use the words "avanguardia popolare"). And in the other, the one that global cuisine has started after elBulli, recuperating raw ingredients and authenticity, the soul of tradition converted into our days.

This twofold movement has strongly influenced Andreina, which today is a model, a place of unforeseen yet shining modernity, given it has never cut its roots, but used them as a source of fruitful development.

Carlo Boschi, manager of Veuve Clicquot Italia, awards Ramona Ragaini as The best female sommelier for Guida Identità Golose 2018

Carlo Boschi, manager of Veuve Clicquot Italia, awards Ramona Ragaini as The best female sommelier for Guida Identità Golose 2018

So far the theory. Our tasting, however, proved marvels for the palate. It all adds up: from tradition to its recovery in terms of flavours, but in a new appearance, passing through the assimilation of fine dining (having Vissani and Leemann as the masters: that is to say, once again through opposites that meet in a circular journey between flavour and essence). So, now that Andreina is no longer only about grills, the chef can say: «I want to focus all my menus on the grill», which has become something accomplished, "we start from a strong tradition, but using new techniques” as stated in the first page of the menu.

The latter is spectacular, as you can tell from the photo gallery, with photos by Tanio Liotta. With a further ancient innovation: the new meat bottarga (lamb spleen, heart or liver, for now), a current experiment, though they’re already fantastic to taste. Take the lamb liver bottarga which, with its coratella and salad with beetroot vinegar, is one of the most amazing dishes we tasted; or the heart bottarga, used to season langoustine with trout roe and mango.

At the end of a memorable dinner, Errico and Ramona leave us with three words: «Tension, wickedness, attention». The end of their journey is in other words a perfect accomplishment and the starting point for new destinations, with tenaciousness and perseverance. Andreina is no longer with us, but Andreina doesn’t stop.

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso

Our dinner at Andreina starts with Crispy cannolo, pate of livers and balsamic vinegar. Photos from Tanio Liotta

Our dinner at Andreina starts with Crispy cannolo, pate of livers and balsamic vinegar. Photos from Tanio Liotta

Pork with orange

Pork with orange

Anchovy and paprika marshmallow 

Anchovy and paprika marshmallow 

Sponge with wild herbs

Sponge with wild herbs

Lovely Chargrilled lettuce with almonds and mezcal

Lovely Chargrilled lettuce with almonds and mezcal

Potato and paccasasso (sea fennel)

Potato and paccasasso (sea fennel)

Burnt onion and coratella

Burnt onion and coratella

Tacos with ottofile polenta and wild herbs 

Tacos with ottofile polenta and wild herbs 

Meatball with fried cheek and mustard 

Meatball with fried cheek and mustard 

Frascarello croccante con finto ragu di ritagli di salame (frascarello is a white rice-based polenta typical of the farmers of the Marche)

Frascarello croccante con finto ragu di ritagli di salame (frascarello is a white rice-based polenta typical of the farmers of the Marche)

Oliva all'ascolana. They serve the three components so you can make it yourself: a steak tartare of marchigiana meat, which you must mix with a powder of tenera ascolana olive, and fried bread. The olives are from L'Olivaio in Castelleone di Suasa, one month maturation, in collaboration with Recanati

Oliva all'ascolana. They serve the three components so you can make it yourself: a steak tartare of marchigiana meat, which you must mix with a powder of tenera ascolana olive, and fried bread. The olives are from L'Olivaio in Castelleone di Suasa, one month maturation, in collaboration with Recanati

L'ostrica si dà le arie di brace, a superb dish. The pearl is made with spherified oyster water, plus apple in osmosis with smoked water

L'ostrica si dà le arie di brace, a superb dish. The pearl is made with spherified oyster water, plus apple in osmosis with smoked water

Bread and lardo with ciccioli di maiale and butter with flax seeds. Then pizza di formaggio, focaccia di ciccioli e arancia, sfoglia di polenta. Everything is delicious 

Bread and lardo with ciccioli di maiale and butter with flax seeds. Then pizza di formaggio, focaccia di ciccioli e arancia, sfoglia di polenta. Everything is delicious 

Fantastic Scampi, bottarga of lamb heart, trout roe and mango

Fantastic Scampi, bottarga of lamb heart, trout roe and mango

Come una royale: hare, hazelnuts, chocolate, black truffle, pigeon liver, carrot, water of black truffle. The standards are always have, for a classic dish 

Come una royale: hare, hazelnuts, chocolate, black truffle, pigeon liver, carrot, water of black truffle. The standards are always have, for a classic dish 

Vincisgrassi assembled when served at the table: the filling is made of minced scottona marchigiana, tomato, chicken sweetbreads and béchamel 

Vincisgrassi assembled when served at the table: the filling is made of minced scottona marchigiana, tomato, chicken sweetbreads and béchamel 

On top, some béchamel burnt with a torch 

On top, some béchamel burnt with a torch 

Spaghetti cooked on the embers, pepper and cheeseis a blast. A signature dish from Recanati. The pasta, hydrated, is rolled out on the grill under a dome, for 7-10 minutes, and then fried with pepper 

Spaghetti cooked on the embers, pepper and cheeseis a blast. A signature dish from Recanati. The pasta, hydrated, is rolled out on the grill under a dome, for 7-10 minutes, and then fried with pepper 

Fantastic Tongue, almonds and bitter orange 

Fantastic Tongue, almonds and bitter orange 

As we said, the incredible Coratella, lamb liver bottarga and salad with beetroot vinegar 

As we said, the incredible Coratella, lamb liver bottarga and salad with beetroot vinegar 

The masterful Faraona cotta da lontano, mela e radice. A long procedure cooking the guinea-fowl slowly for three hours before service, putting it on its skin on the grill at a distance of 105 cm 

The masterful Faraona cotta da lontano, mela e radice. A long procedure cooking the guinea-fowl slowly for three hours before service, putting it on its skin on the grill at a distance of 105 cm 

Thrilling end with Partridge and giardiniera, another dish worth the trip 

Thrilling end with Partridge and giardiniera, another dish worth the trip 

Come una pastiera

Come una pastiera

Grand finale with Zuppa inglese, from a recipe of his granddad Bruno: pan di Spagna, gelatine and mousse of alchermes, chocolate ice cream and hot custard 

Grand finale with Zuppa inglese, from a recipe of his granddad Bruno: pan di Spagna, gelatine and mousse of alchermes, chocolate ice cream and hot custard 


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