Cracco in Galleria, sold out immediately

First dinner seating 52 people and a menu balanced between classics, new dishes and a once again classic cutlet served with the bone too

22-02-2018

Carlo Cracco with Luca Sacchi, his precious sous-chef, laugh as they wait to begin their first service at the new Ristorante Cracco on Wednesday 21st February in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan. Photo by Paolo Marchi

Forget the ground floor. In Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, just like in Via Hugo, you have to take a lift and get to floor number two, even though there’s only one button to press, making you skip the floor destined to chocolate and pastry making. Except that in order to sit at the old Ristorante Cracco you went down – which annoyed multiple people – while in the new one you go up, and the light from the Ottagono, Milan’s sitting room, seeps through the windows, despite the curtains.

After the launch on Tuesday yesterday the restaurant was open for the first time. With no time to rest between bar and bistro. Everyone rushed here, so much so they had to limit the flow, letting 10 people inside at the time. A good sign for Carlo and his wife Rosa who made the investment of a lifetime.

Veal Milanese style, potato with olives and tomato mayonnaise served on the side

Veal Milanese style, potato with olives and tomato mayonnaise served on the side

Nothing to do with the opening, on the 8th of January 2001, of what opened then as Cracco-Peck. After all, we’re speaking of two very different restaurants.

Cracco, being born in 1965, was then a 35-year-old chef, and arrived in Milan after an experience in Piobesi d’Alba, in the Langhe, after working with Gualtiero Marchesi and as chef at Enoteca Pinchiorri. Critics and enthusiasts certainly knew him but the same applied to other 30-something year olds on the launch pad. If there’s a crowd now, this is thanks to what Carlo did after that, especially in the 2010s, when he became a public figure thanks to Hell’s Kitchen and Masterchef and more. His popularity goes beyond the borders of a kitchen. Something many won’t forgive him for.

One of the three plates by Lucio Fontana displayed in Carlo Cracco’s new restaurant

One of the three plates by Lucio Fontana displayed in Carlo Cracco’s new restaurant

Just like on the 8th of January 2001, and just like on the last service in Via Hugo, on the evening of the 23rd December, I honoured the first service at lunchtime, when they only accepted some 20 guests so as not to immediately overwhelm the kitchen. In the evening, the restaurant was fully booked: 52 guests. There was not a single space.

As in the past, the menu includes starters, eggs, pasta and risotto, fish and crustaceans main courses (no longer just generic fish), meat main courses and a tasting menu for 190 euros, plus desserts. And as stated in the footer, on one of the pages, there’s a «Selection of Italian cheese served with a garnish for 36 euros». The chef pointed this out to me because the very first time I went I had a fancy for cheese, and didn’t find it.

Soft egg, cauliflower and caviar: before and during the tasting

Soft egg, cauliflower and caviar: before and during the tasting

Those who know Cracco’s cuisine, as served with Luca Sacchi, took over from where they left two months ago, before they moved. There are various classics in the menu, like Pig snout, scampi and green tomato, the pasta is solely made with marinated egg yolk, of course, there’s (Partly) Caramelised Russian Salad and Risotto with saffron and grilled bone marrow, which they now serve on a ragout of liver. For sure, the cutlet has changed. No more cubes, but one whole piece, including the bone, and with a tomato mayonnaise served on the side.

I was also served Raw amberjack, lime and coffee; Carpaccio of moro oceanico, sea urchins, caviar and lemon; Soft egg, cauliflower and caviar;

Rice creamed with saffron, grilled bone marrow and ragout of liver

Rice creamed with saffron, grilled bone marrow and ragout of liver

Spaghettoni, roasted yellow tomatoes, smoked guinea fowl ragout and rosemary; Roasted sweetbreads, liquorice, spring pumpkin, prunes in brine and puntarelle; and finally Roasted pigeon with anise and coffee, and the sweet finale with Cream of roasted mango, mascarpone and lemon sorbet.

There’s elegance, opulence, style and richness, the great Italian luxury in this new place. There’s no sign of minimalism. Tables have tablecloths, which are never neglected, plates are designed specifically and hint at the lines of the dome above the Ottagono, the tiles in the kitchen are new, but designed by Gio Ponti. Those who buy a high value spirit can store it in a box with a private code. And the cellar is monumental. All this comes at a very high cost and therefore prices can easily reach three figures.

Cream of roasted mango, mascarpone and lemon sorbet – a sweet finale

Cream of roasted mango, mascarpone and lemon sorbet – a sweet finale

Before making any judgements one should remember you’re in the heart of Milan. And that these prices are in line with other starred restaurants in Milan. Except Cracco pays 100,000 euros to rent the place. Per year? No, per month. And nobody is obliged to go. Clients go as volunteers, no matter where they go.
Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


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