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“Creative with sobriety”, Roberto Proto, chef patron of the Saraceno di Cavernago (Bg) defines himself. His
dishes, rich but essential, are an example of the apotheosis of taste

The story of the Proto family starts from the Amalfi Coast, since in 1972 Roberto’s father, the chef, from Vettica (a hamlet of Amalfi) moved north to Bergamo. Here in Cavernago the family opened a restaurant business, a simple trattoria destined to evolve over the years, to the point of perfecting the offer in a gourmet key (and let’s use this term, at least when it is appropriate). From 2007 onwards, al Saraceno has seen a crescendo of projects, improvements, research and selection of raw materials, but also of courage and vision. Roberto, with his wife Maria, is strongly determined to work on quality, defining a line of cuisine that is not taken for granted, far from ambition as well as from the risk of trivialization. The subject on which the attention of Roberto and his wife, Maria Biancini, super professional in the dining room interacting at helicopter view with the clientele, focuses, is strictly fishy: sea fish, crustaceans, raw, in its best expressions of flavors, origins, preparation, techniques, presentation and serving. In 2014 comes the Michelin star, an important recognition for Roberto’s formidable preparation but above all for his ability to create unconventional, elegant and strongly characterized dishes in the sign of total taste, not to say extreme. On this term, we are immediately helped by Roberto, who underlines during our meeting: “If I had to define my cuisine, I would call it ‘creative with sobriety’.

I like to work on simplicity, offering customers the best possible, with the awareness of finding a seeker of excellence at the tables of the Saraceno, proposed in the name of absolute simplicity “. In fact, the material speaks for itself, the talent consists in making it emotionally satisfying, capable of giving authentic emotions. The context helps, the restaurant’s atmosphere is a skilful mix of contemporaneity and vintage, supported by a room service guaranteed by a couple of young people (sommelier and room manager), coordinated by the patronne, of rare professionalism. The experience of So Wine So Food was above expectations. Certainly, landing in a high-level restaurant on the eve of the seasonal change of the menu puts those who have to write about it in discreet agitation. But the fact of finding a continuous line of cuisine, with some dishes, such as Spaghettoro Verrigni with sea urchins or Gambero Rosso goes out of its way, or Amberjack cooked outside and raw inside and pizzaiola sauce, is reassuring. The flag dishes, in the cards of the great restaurants must always be there, in every season. The customer often comes back to taste that particular dish … Sitting at the table, I am struck by the wine list, rich but not overflowing, attentive to the territory but with less predictable labels than usual (apart from Franciacorta, where the most famous names dominate). Fantastic selection of Champagne, which takes into account labels of great Maison, such as Ruinart, Jacquesson, Gosset, Salon, Krug, Delamotte, Encry, Duval Leroy, Louis Roederer, Perrier Jouet, Pol Roger and others.

Bad surprise is to find a section dedicated to. Recultant manipulant: 25 labels, including those of the legendary Maison Egly-Ouriet. Then, over 120 Italian whites, followed by the “from the world” section, namely Austria, California, Germany, Galilee, Lebanon, New Zealand, Slovenia. Not to mention the 70 labels in Burgundy, Alsace, Bordeaux. And over eighty Italian reds for those wishing to combine fish cuisine with some excellent labels. But it is in the kitchen that pleasure reaches even more concrete and gastronomic (!) Levels. The beginning is satisfying: Welcome snacks with steamed and then fried sandwich, ricotta and anchovy caviar, apparent olive, tomato tuna bread, Krächer with creamed cod, fishbone with cuttlefish ink and seaweed cream, Macaron with foie gras, Pepper Chios. Miniatures of taste, flawless, perfect. Then the dances begin: after the Red mullet, tomato, peas and strawberries, you can taste the Crudità di mare. Scampo, almond, sphere of Yuri and the Macha, Cuttlefish, horn salts, caper powder, Amberjack carpaccio, fruit pretzels and vegetable chips, Tuna, mustard mayonnaise and rocket essa i, Red shrimp sphere, thrown, caviar and pizzaiola sauce. It’s time for roasted scampi, almond cream, candied citron and alarm oil, a new entry on the menu: a dish of savory freshness. Spaghettoro with sea urchins is then served, a highly evocative, iconic dish, our editor-in-chief would say “that makes you dream”.

And I couldn’t blame her. The intermediate tasting of the Pizza, Sautéed escarole, pezzogna and the scent of the sea, served in a golden box, is a tribute to the taste and simplicity, but also to the intensity of pezzogna, a fish as noble as it is rarely offered in restaurants, now “branzinized”. The second fish dish follows, the Dotto, bagna cauda and crispy artichokes, truly magical, tender and crunchy. The learned, this unknown (Ligurian fish, white, immaculate and pure in its simple bomta). We then move on to dessert, that “tribute to AndyWarhol from which all the love of Roberto Proto for contemporary art shines through. The Wahrol banana is reconstructed with attention to detail and gives deep hints of white chocolate and passion fruit: a unique dessert. The small, essential pastry accompanied by coffee will give a final touch of elegance to a taste experience that we strongly suggest trying to those who have never met the Saraceno di Cavernago on their way.

It is really worth the stop, the journey and, let’s face it, the next return for another experience, perhaps of the tasting menu. I forgot: the bread is a Loaf of Manitoba flour, leavened for 72 hours, served alongside a Focaccia with rosemary and Maldon salt and hand-stretched breadsticks, prepared by. Chef and his very young brigade.

The numbers Kitchen: 9 Wines: 9 Room service: 8 Location: 8 Atmosphere: 9 Total: 43/50

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