Chef Riccardo Canella from Oro at Belmond Hotel Cipriani in Venice. Photo Belmond/PA Jorgensen
Like a child in a room full of toys, some already open, some that need fixing, some that need unwrapping. With the eyes shining, set on a list of goals, Riccardo Canella – who recently became chef at restaurant Oro inside the Belmond Hotel Cipriani – is enthusiastic about the challenge. A new home, a residence that is both a school, a gym, an engine of ideas and possibilities for this young man ex sous-chef at Noma in Copenhagen for eight dense years. «I wanted to return to Italy, to get closer to these regions that I hold dear and try to bring something different not only for the reality in which I’m working but also for the area in which we’re located».
The context where he’s now working, that of the historic hotel in Venice, includes the strong heritage of those who preceded Canella and at the same time a huge potential to discover and enhance. «I’m learning a lot, every day. The team is constantly evolving, our work is varied and at last I must handle the managerial aspects of my professional, the financial side, the communication, and all this from the point of view of an important international group».
The dining room at Oro. Photo Mattia Aquila
For those who would like to have an immersive and different experience, compared to what the lagoon has usually offered, a dinner at Oro is mandatory. The tasting menu called Divenire includes eight courses of meat, fish and vegetables while the second menu is completely vegetal, and called Vegetum. There are no à la carte options, the dishes are imagined to be connected to one another, a growing flow of flavours: you can have fun breaking some expectations, and the traditional rhythms of the service. You will find yourself surrounded by a kaleidoscope of shapes and scents. Each course is presented at the table either by the chef or by the young commis (who are still a little shy to talk to the clients though their eyes are bright and full of passion).
Above: Baccalà mantecato with koji, rice wafer with squid ink, oyster leaf, caviar. Below: Courgette flower in tempura, coffee, lavender & Tartlet of porcini, almonds, black truffle
Left Clams, fermented cooking water from pasta, oil with sea weeds and sea fennel. Right Taco with polenta, schie, egg sauce with lemon, oil with peperone crusco, Mexican oregano & Drop of gold, oil of celery leaves, sea urchins, Venetian curry
Scallops from Chioggia in horse broth and powdered burnt lemon
Ravioli filled with cod tripe, broth of busara and spiced oil
It is only now, with the show already started, that the bread is served. A loaf of sourdough bread made with organic flour, then bread sticks that recall Sardinian filindeu given how thin they are, and crackers covered with curry. This is finished with oil, from the olive groves of Belmond Castello di Casole and butter, whose flavour goes beyond the concept and experience of butter itself. In fact it’s a butter whipped with chargrilled yeast, which somehow closes the circle on the circular foundations of Canella’s cuisine: what feeds us and is a primary source of nutrition is also the seasoning of that same ingredient. The yeast has this twofold function, symbolically ending a sort of cycle of Krebs and hence leading to a new life.
Rise, bay leaves and saffron. Photo Belmond/PA Jorgensen
At the end of the journey they don’t serve meat but the forest, with Pumpkin “bronsa querta”, that is to say sea pumpkin cooked slowly on the embers, served with a glaze of mushrooms and seaweeds, oil with polenta and the first toasted porcini. A splendid dish, with which you can have fun and enjoy, diving into the atmosphere of the autumn and into the complex tunnel of flavours and aromas of the mountains. The circle closes with a soft Gelato of woodruff, oyster, and cream with goat blue cheese with tarragon oil: enveloping, sapid and totally visionary. An epilogue that is not real sweetness but aims to cuddle the taste buds in a soft passage between the savoury part and the end of the meal.
Gelato di woodruff, oyster and cream with goat blue cheese and tarragon oil. Photo Belmond/PA Jorgensen
Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso
Reviews, recommendations and trends from Italy, signed by all the authors of Identità Golose
a true Piedmontese, born in 1986 and a degree in Culture and Arts Economics, after years working in Milanese bars, she’s now the general manager at Rita’s Tiki Room, a spin-off of Rita, Milan. She travels out of passion, works out of passion, eats passionately
Vino Vero, Fondamenta de la Misericordia 2497, +390412750044 (photo venetosecrets.com)
The magnificent view from the terrace of the Danieli hotel in Venice: a few days ago, the news was that Bill Gates was about to buy it, which was later denied
Riccardo Canella at Identità Golose 2017, in a photo from Brambilla-Serrani. The chef from Padua leaves Noma in Copenhagen after six years