For those old enough to remember, Franco Colombani owner of the restaurant Sole in Maleo, who along with Peppino Cantarelli owner of the eponymous trattoria in Samboseto, were the “founders” of the movement to regional Italian food during the 50s, 60s and 70s. Franco, before his death in the mid 90s, was the mentor of many e.g. Antonio Santini of Dal Pescatore in Canneto sull Oglio. Chefs revered him. Maleo was priceless, as was Franco, a very warm and giving man.
Nine years ago, one of the waiters at Maleo, Giacomo Verdelli started his own restaurant/hosteria, Da Giacomo, in nearby Pizzighettone, a very small town not too far from Cremona and Lodi, about an hour south of Milan. We’ve been meaning to get there for some time and finally did yesterday. What a find. This is the country restaurant that you always wanted to go to.
Located next to a 12th. Century chiesa, in a town that retains the wonderful charm of a bygone era (think 1910-1935), the food is very similar to Maleo except much better. A small restaurant/hosteria with seating for about 30, it is simply but tastefully decorated with tables well spaced but with a feeling of intimacy in the one large dining room (in warm weather there are a few tables outside underneath the portico of the street). Look at the excellent web site (address below) to see the restaurant, the current menu and the complete wine list.
You’ll recognize every ingredient in every dish; no molecular cuisine here. The tastes of the classic dishes of the area are exquisite and adding to the allure is a simply fantastic wine list, with all regions represented and the wines very reasonably priced. It really is a stupendous list for a restaurant like this. As Giacomo said, “if I don’t sell the wines, I just drink them because the list reflects what I really enjoy.”
Yesterday we had: Tortelli con farina di grano saraceno ricotta, erbette e vellutata di melanzane; the classic marubini ai tre brodi; coniglio disossato alla ligure (a classic Colombani dish and one of the few that were not Lombardian) and scaloppa di storione con salsa all ‘Ageno .” All were cooked extremely well and you thought you were back at Maleo in 1985.
Some other dishes on yesterday’s menu were: Tortino di patate e Agoni (sarde di lago); sformatino di asparagi; insalata di pernice rossa con capperi; zuppa di lenticchie e zafferano; risotto con asparigi; piccione semidisossato; baccala alla “Cappuccina.” Good dessert menu as well. Wines by the glass as well as the full list.
Giacomo is the consummate host, warm, engaging, and concerned that your time there should be one of pleasure. You could see it in the people at lunch yesterday. They were happy. Go!
Da Giacomo Piazza Municipio 2 Pizzighettone