Maurizio Macario
Country: Italia
City: 12019 Vernante (Cuneo)
Address: Via Cavour 60
(+39) 0171920181
Closed: Wednesdays
Price: 50/70 €
Tasting menu:: 50 €

  • Raviolis de Coteccino

 Vernante is located in the Vermenagna Valley, on the international road that links Cuneo to France through the Tenda Pass (Alpes-Maritimes). This hotel-restaurant has been run by the Macario family for more than one hundred years. At the beginning of the 21st century, Gianni and Loris (mythical hosts from the valley)’s sons took over the business and put it a new life. In ten years, the hotel-restaurant became a culinary reference of Italian Western Alps. As far as I know, there is no place of that level between the Alps and the Aosta Valley. The Macario family also opened a second hotel run by Andrea: the Relais Nazionale which, with its Spa, is a perfect example of modern construction that preserves the rustic and mountain style of the valley. Really beautiful.
Culinarily speaking, Maurizio Macario (37) is a self-taught man marked by the substance, the intelligence and the personality that characterize the great cooks. Although his work is based on the use of top quality local products, his cuisine is neither rhetorical nor superficial. The chef even dares to reinvent classical recipes which suppose an improvement of the local cuisine. We have been monitoring the evolution of his work for the last 4-5 years with a lot of admiration. At the beginning, he proposed a solid and well-executed regional gastronomy: a genuine trattoria. After a couple of years, the dishes got progressively refined, showing more technical knowledge. Two years later, they started to focus on the research of palatal purity and minimalism. Nowadays, in 2012, the place is synonymous with guarantee: a solid offer that does not disappoint and that comes up to the guests’ expectations.
As appetizers, we had the classical semolina served with in carpione trout salad, onion, raisins, pine kernels and trout roe: freshness, flavour and good taste. After the starters, our minds still remember the splendid sweetbreads coated in breadcrumbs served over a cream of Pigna beans, artichokes and tinned sweet-and-sour funghetti as well as the polenta crisps: variety of consistencies, clarity, precision, expressive minimalism, as well as taste sharpness and deepness. Every component keeps its identity, here. In short, the chef perfectly knows what he wants. After the starters, we tasted some polenta gnocchi, slightly crunchy after a short stay into the pan, lain over a light fondue of local blue cheese. Then, the delicious raviolis filled with some exceptional cotechino, proposed together with a cream of cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage leaves. The little pasta cooked like a risotto with meat sauce and slices of pear was another source of pleasure. Maurizio’s courage is clearly expressed by the recreation of a great classical dish from the Piedmont region: the risotto alla Bergese. The cereal, cooked into water with a bit of broth, a hint of butter and a touch of cheese, gets lighter and more subtle, definitely. The meat broth rimes with top quality: the chef possesses a great culinary background and knows how to find new ways of expression.
The feast went on with a Fassone beef filet coated with breadcrumbs (from Martini di Boves’s, in Cuneo), impeccably done, perfumed with the rye bread used for the coating. The trout, hardly cooked on the side of the skin, lain over some blanched spinach and saffron cream, was also exquisite. The use of this fish, too often abandoned in mountain restaurants, really wins the guest’s palate.
Don’t miss the desserts: pastries are all made by young Roberta Falco, professional chef who has already proved to master the rules of haute patisserie: the class, refinement and elegance of her work culminate in desserts that are never too sweet nor too heavy. Using the best raw materials of the land, i.e. Alpine milk in all its forms (cream, ricotta, yoghurt, etc.), Roberta offers delicious dishes such as the Milk with milk (a splendid declination of this element into various forms), the meringue cylinder filled with orange coulis and Chantilly cream (whose sweetness allows to appreciate the full taste of the fruit), or the personal version of the chocolate cake cremino di Torino (probably better than all the ones you can find in Torino).
In the dining-room, Christian Macario, the chef’s cousin, is a cultured host who feels passion for wine. Impregnated by the philosophy of CDOs, his oenological selection promotes the producers who work in a traditional way and who are usually the best in their region.
In short, we are before a group of young promising people who must be aware and proud of their values and who will probably be talked about.