January 24, 2022

"The place of Aimo and Nadia" vaults to #2 all time. This experience was without flaw and one of the most delicious meals I have ever enjoyed. 

Aimo opened this restaurant just after World War II, when Milan didn't even stretch out to this location. He was outside of town, with a rabid focus on the best ingredients. He drove his purveyors hard, consistently rejecting product he felt did not meet his standards. "I don't care about the right side of the invoice", he would say, referencing the cost. "People will pay it. I just want the best."

Aimo and Nadia, from photos in the hallwayOur meal tells this story perfectly. There are three menus to choose from, each highlighting the product used and where it comes from far more than the dish's overall composition. Every plate is hyper-focused on a few ingredients only. Simple, uncomplicated dishes prepared  at the highest level, the few outstanding ingredients each complimenting and elevating the other. 

The menu centered around fish, with presentations that were so subtle and beautiful, it was art. And the flavors...my word! A common theme was the play of briny fish (think anchovy or cured salmon) offset with sweetness, which would come from different sources. The sweetness in the opening dish was the meringue underneath. For the anchovy fish cracker - it was the honey baked into the cracker. The poached egg/truffle/artichoke - from the deliciously sweet accompanying Riesling. 

Allow me to sidestep and say that the wine pairing was far and away the best I have ever had. Each of the wines were varied but tremendous on their own. They paired so beautifully with each dish that I lamented those who ordered the meal without these pairings. The wines became part of the flavor profile of each dish. This does not happen by accident. The level of effort to source and pair wines like this shows an immense commitment towards the entire experience. 

Allow me another sidestep. How does this restaurant have only two Michelin stars? It's a travesty. The meal can not be improved upon. The cooking was sublime. The ingredients top notch. The amount of "oohs" and "aahs" elicited was plentiful. I can't imagine what else they could do. This is a three star experience. No question. 

Service was stellar. Formal, but warm and welcoming. Readily available but not overbearing. The place was immaculate. Even the kitchen was jaw-dropping. (See the photo below.) The restrooms at the end of the hall provided three different doors. As you took a step towards one of the bathrooms, the light came on, welcoming you well before entering. We were the last to leave the restaurant and the bathroom was still pristine and fully stocked.

They are paying attention. To everything.

It's difficult to highlight specific dishes because literally every course is worthy of a call out. The eel and pea dish was mind-blowing. The highlight of the meal - until we received the mullet dish, which topped it somehow. The risottos were out of this world. The oxtail could not have been more delicious (and the dish I kept thinking about the following chilly day in Milan). On and on, this meal was perfection.

The restaurant gained two Michelin stars in the early 90s, then lost one of them as Aimo suffered health problems. They brought in a maitre'd (who waited on us) and a duo of chefs to restore the restaurant's glory. They did, and the 2nd star quickly returned.

Aimo and Nadia. Who wouldn't want to eat their food?At the end of the evening, the hostess called us a cab, which was waiting for us just outside the door as we left. Compare this to the ending of Alinea. It's night and day. The care that went in to our entire experience was evident from the very beginning. And felt as if it came directly from Aimo and Nadia.

They are no longer a part of the daily operations. At 87, he has earned his rest. But the restaurant still bleeds this beautiful couple and their singular vision. Their standards remain championed and upheld. 

They should be immensely proud. I know I am for having enjoyed the true pleasure of dining here.


Anchovy from Camogli , foam made with water and vinegar (texture like meringue) (sweet with soft but pungent lemon cutting through)
Crispy chickpeas from Murge waffle, lard from Colonnata and smoked trout from San Giuseppe. Paired with an incredible white wine! This made Teresa giggle.
Oscolono (olive stuffed with beef tartare). The rich beef flavor was balanced with the briny olive. So good.
Crispy cracker with honey and squid ink, Anchovy butter (briny anchovy balanced by honey cracker, like a graham cracker almost)
Dentex (marinated snapper) from Ligurian Sea, flavored with fennel, with Bleggio walnuts. An incredible course. Visually breathtaking.
A closer look. This plate was true art. I didn't want to touch it, it was so beautiful.
These little breadsticks were the best I have ever had. Look at the salt hanging off them.
Zollino pea cooked in lavec with roasted eel from Po River Delta...
Adding eel sauce...
The final dish. We giggled. I never wanted it to end. One of the best dishes I have ever had.
Look at the plating too. What an incredible dish/vessel in which to serve this course.
Homemade bread, served with incredible olive oil.
Adding truffle to our next dish...
Poached egg wrapped in Jerusalem artichoke, covered with black truffle from Norcia, pecorino, horseradish fondue. Glorious. Though, poached egg and black truffle is always a winner with me.
This pretzel accompanied the previous dish, along with a Riesling wine pairing. The pretzel was awesome.
Red mullet, crust of sesame seeds from Sicily, over cooking rice on 3 sauces: turnip tops (green), red mullet bisque (brown), smoked goat cheese (white). One of the best dishes I have ever eaten. The balance of flavors from the sauces, nuttiness and texture from the sesame seeds and the varying sauces. Mind-blowingly good.
"Mari e monti" (sea and mountain). Two risottos - porcini mushroom and langostine. Aimo insists he invented this combination. Eat separately, then mix them together. "Don't be shy". Paired with a volcanic red wine from Etna. Each risotto was incredible. And I don't really like risotto. Wine pairing was perfection.
Oxtail stuffed pasta, potato foam. Waiter described this as a "greedy" dish. The red wine/veal jus reduction in the oxtail was crazy, sticky in it's sweetness. Pasta was perfect. Balanced by a delicious, peppery, cutting red wine.
Three dishes of pigeon. First was this pigeon liver patte on brioche. Wonderful, unctuous bite. Along with...
Pigeon filet (raw), pigeon ravioli...
Adding pigeon consume...
The raw meat cured in the consume as you enjoyed the sandwich. The bite of filet was tremendous, ravioli perfect.
We were then presented with the pigeon breasts...
Moving the breasts from the pot to the plate...
Adding jus...
The resulting dish. Pigeon breast. root vegetable pie (something - I forget, celeriac, Jerusalem artichoke), turnip top. This was incredibly delicious.
Just look at the perfect cook on that pigeon breast.
Finally...pigeon leg, confit, stuffed with white truffle. Quince/apple jam. Incredible work to get such a dainty leg cooked and still supple and juicy.
Beet, fruit mustarda intermezzo, paired with...
Cow cheese. Ate similar to parmesan, but strong peppery kick late. If there was a miss, it was this intermezzo. We were ready to relax our palate into dessert, and the spicy mustarda and kick-y cheese took a very different turn.
The next course, however, did deliver that calm. Burn water. Like a creme brulee, with a mango sauce
Souffle flavoured with liquorice with Piedmontese hazelnut ice cream. Man was this light, fluffy and delicious.
The very interesting and attractive light on our table.
The kitchen was a sight to behold. So clean. So on point.


What do you think? I'd love to hear from you.

Add A Comment

Replying to Steven Smith