The news has got around by now the the Alajmo brothers of Le Calandre fame have taken the one-and-only Ristorante Quadri* under their wing — and, as is their habit, they are aiming for the sky.
Most know the famosissimo Quadri for the caffè; others have dined at the historic, classic restaurant upstairs, the only one on Piazza. The old girl has gotten quite a lift since Max (the youngest chef ever to receive three stars from Michelin) and Raf set up shop earlier this year, and deservedly so.
Some things haven’t changed. The massive Murano chandelier still illuminates intricate ironwork and red brocade tufted walls; in the evening, light shimmers through Roman shades draped over wide windows perched above the Piazza. But look closer: the new drapes are a dramatic gauzy black, classic linen tablecloths are knotted around and underneath to expose gracefully carved pedestals; gotò inspired glassware freshens elegant place settings as do transparent red bread dishes in the form of a painter’s palette, testament that chef Massimiliano’s artistry extends beyond the kitchen; you’ll discover it in almost every aspect of the restaurants’ decor, design, and artwork.
That is precisely what inspired the 12 courses we were served that warm summer’s day at the Quadri. The LuceFluida menu coincides with the Biennale; Le Calandre and the Quadri each serve a different versions through November 27. You could even consider them collateral exhibitions.
The intention, according to Massimiliano, “is to bring the concept of light to food;” he calls it an edible art event, and so it is. That little red palette bread dish might as well have been loaded with textures and tastes from mostardo to mousse, from creamy to crunchy croccante, from delicate to hearty, peppery to sweet to spicy to positively explosive. You don’t have much trouble imagining the kitchen as artist studio, with the cooks working along side Executive Chef Silvio Giavedoni whisking and swiping and searing and dotting to create each portata effortlessly and expertly, swept out just at right moment to present to the delighted guest.
Presentation, in fact, takes on a completely different meaning in the context of the Lucefluida meal. There is an accompanying notebook, with whimsical designs and inspired phrases and poems for each course — all by Max’s hand, of course — and the possibility to record lingering impressions as they come to you. Invention isn’t limited to only the fare — but it’s best not to get any more specific, it’ll just ruin the surprise. (There are quite a few surprises, in fact; it pays to stay flexible.)
Of course there is a traditional menu as well as two other tasting menus; don’t expect the Alajmo team to contain themselves there either, Biennale or no. Suffice it to say the the meal is extraordinary, right down to the wine pairings which open with the Reims Vieille France Champagne to the Anselmi passito for dessert. A meal at the Quadri is an airy, yet intensely memorable celebration of abbinamento, the deft combining of all aspects of the dining experience, in an ambience unique in all the world. Squisito.
Ristorante Quadri (upstairs)
Lunch, 12:30 – 2:30 pm
Dinner, 7:30 – 10:30 pm
*One footnote: the restoration/renovation of the Grancaffè downstairs is underway as we speak. Look for news on that soon.