I had a phone call, my friend said, “lets go tonight, I know where, the new one star”. The buzz of a new one star, the Michelin wasn’t yet launched and chefs in the south were starting to worry, a one star would be born. This usually means a star is lost, taken away, given to another restaurant, and there is nothing worse than loosing a star.
The new Italian Michelin was now launched, the local chefs were all on their toes. Last night we were invited by a new friend to taste the cuisine of Luigi Tramontano, the newly appointed one star as of yesterday. It was his first day with one star, a new day, a new way of life for a chef.
We visit the chef in his kitchen, he smiles, he is proud, yet humble at the same time. He seems to have a nice demeanor, he slaps a low five to our friend, they smile to one another, the game is on.
It is now off-season now, so we were just one table, a group of three men departed shortly after we sat down. The restaurant is a husband and wife team, the chef’s wife runs the dinning room with a small team. She knows what she is doing, attentive and well equipped as a leading Italian sommelier.
It is their first season there, they need to get settled in, the views make up for any lost time. Looking over sorrento coast, a spectacular view, the service was perfect. The setting a little too glossy with shiny marble floors, but we are hopeful they can add their personal touches.
Most importantly the chef will have a newly constructed kitchen dedicated to the new one star, it will be finished before next season. We speak about the equipment, he is ready to get going, the new star is very inspiring.
Luigi is the only newly appointed star in the region of sorrento where you have numerous michelin stars. He was previously trained by Ernesto @ Don Alfonso, he was a sous chef. The chef is now on his way up, owing to a career of good training, experience, dedication and passion.
As we sit, I take the empty water-glass, I raise it, smell it carefully something I always do. I was impressed and I knew immediately they had a water treatment and cleaning system. Once I asked, I was even more impressed they had a Winterhalter dish washer and treatment with reverse osmosis. It makes a huge difference when it comes to cleaning wine glasses. I use it in my own kitchen, there is no better way to clean a glass.
The food experience; the bread is perhaps the best we tasted in the region. The variety, the quality was on the level of french breads, the type you are served in Paris at a three star. The small pizza bread was delicate and moist, the bread sticks perfectly made, and the white breads delightful.
The amuse bouche, it was well prepared and mozzarella di buffala, a twist to the salad, a contemporary feel. The house olive oil is rich and crisp, yet not too spicy, something I enjoyed. I couldn’t stop enjoying their breads which kept coming with new shapes and forms.
The pasta dish, homemade pasta was excellent, topped with aromatic white truffles, and small slivers of smoked ham, the flavors were well-balanced. This dish was superbly prepared, a simple dish easy to screw up.
My main dish, a cod in a foam, it was balanced, perfectly cooked and the micro veggies, those flowers were a nice soft touch. This chef is a nice addition to the region, where most cuisine is often traditional, he adds a twist to his plates while respecting the terroir.
I am confident that once Luigi settles into his new kitchen, the cuisine will improve, and he will become a rising star. Over the winter the chef will have a chance to do many improvements to his dishes, time to contemplate the one star with hope to get a second or third.
We will be back to try lunch on the summer terrace, a sunny day overlooking mt. Vesuvius to enjoy the new menu of a young and talented chef.
The wines were also perfect; Diamante Fiano di Avellino, the 2009 is excellent, served a little too chilled but once it warmed up, it was perfect to match the cuisine of Luigi.
The 1999 Denis Mortet, it doesn’t get much better in Gevrey Chambertin, rich fruit, concentration and a long-lasting fruit on the palate. This wine will continue to drink on and on.