A Journey Through Taste
TEXT: KIKI DEERE | PHOTOS © STEFANO CAFFARRI
A major naval power that once dominated trade in the Mediterranean, the Republic of Venice was allegedly founded at midday on 25 March 421. Its capital, Venice, was built on an archipelago in the heart of the lagoon. Part land, part sea, this unique and alluring city was enviably located halfway between Rome and Byzantium, attracting merchants from the world over who came to trade exotic goods, including silks, precious stones and much-desired spices. Today, a small part of La Serenissima remains alive in a picturesque corner of the city, tucked away from the tourist crowds.
At Ristorante Riviera, gregarious owner GP Cremonini sources produce from the territory of the former Republic of Venice, an area that today spans from Lake Garda to current-day Croatia. “Ingredients are strictly local and seasonal. Our guests need to experience Venice and its rich history through food,” claims Cremonini. Indeed, each dish brings this maritime city to life, offering fond, gentle nods to the city’s glorious past.
Fish is freshly caught from the Venice lagoon and the Adriatic Sea, with the likes of tuna, amberjack, shrimp, eel and mullet featuring on the menu. Radish and artichoke come from Sant’Erasmo Island or nearby Treviso, while top-quality meats are sourced from Damini Macelleria & Affini in the Veneto region, the only butchery and restaurant to hold a Michelin-star in Europe. Chef Samuele Silvestri opts for simplicity in his dishes to bring out the true flavours of each ingredient. He skilfully uses a variety of techniques to enhance the unique properties of each dish, resulting in a subtle and delicate cuisine that is the hallmark of his cooking style.
Dishes follow traditional recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation, but are prepared here with a fresh take and a modern twist. The beautifully presented scampi tartare with tapioca is marinated in carrot and lemon juice, and topped with pumpkin seeds and dried seaweed powder that Samuele uses to accentuate and highlight the intense flavours of the sea. Soft and crunchy, the dish is light and refreshing.
“Luxury is not an expensive car or a yacht. True luxury is being able to find authentic natural ingredients that work in harmony with our bodies. That, for me, is priceless. And that’s what we do daily for our Guests,” delights Cremonini, as he darts from one table to the next to take orders from his much-cherished guests, all of whom come to savour an authentic taste of this most magnificent of Italian cities.
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