Le Calandre, Padova, 4/10/14

This restaurant is not in Venice but in Padova which is a short train ride away. Massimilliano Alajmo is the Italian chef, the youngest person in history to have his restaurant awarded three stars by the Michelin Guide. He is quite personable, coming out to the table to visit as your meal starts and to say goodbye as you leave. The restaurant is serene and peaceful with obvious thought being given to many details. One detail I read about prior to going was a good warning – the table has a lovely round indentation in the center where the bread is placed in a warming package after the initial ball of yarn is removed. A fun and useful feature but a hazard for moving wine or water glasses about the table.

exterior
exterior

The greeting gougere was delicious and a small packet of crispy bread is individually placed at each seat. The doughy crusty warm bread comes a little later and is particularly good. The menu consists of 3 tasting menus and it is suggested to start with the “Classic” as we did. We also enjoyed their wine pairings

other side of the hollow bread
other side of the hollow bread
Table set snacks of gougere and hollowed bread roll
Table set snacks of gougere and hollowed bread roll

which were well matched and each pour includes a ritual of rinsing each drinking glass with a sip of the wine which is then poured in a small tasting glass for the sommelier. A very nice step.

It is said that you should start and end the meal strong and no one will care what was in the middle. This started strong with the delicious pizza and langoustine. The beet cappelli was filled with beet juice and was as tasty as it was different. The show stopper was the risotto which was simply divine! The pig was nice but I thought the mustard sauce too strong as it covered the tender pork. Desserts were a little more mixed. The chocolate was good enough; it’s hard to wreck nice chocolate. The fried cream didn’t appeal to me but Charles liked it as it wasn’t too sweet. It seemed like fried pieces of pasta filled with cream, but the accompanying mango was superb.

Then Alajmo missed the mark with the fruit skewers that didn’t seem to fit with anything. I kept looking for the fondue pot. The pacifier and pipe were to represent the span of life but they came off silly and not fitting with an otherwise elegant and tasty experience. Many starred restaurants like to send the diners away with a parting gift of candy or baked goods. He chose a can of tomatoes. I’m sure they were fine tomatoes but not something you want to eat in a hotel or carry back with you anywhere. Our cabbie was happy to get them, though.

Overall a wonderful restaurant located in nowhere. Venice is so magical and car free it lessened the experience to have to travel to a midsize city filled with cars and buses and no beautiful scenery to justify the travel, but if you’re in Padova I’d definitely put it on your list!

Lovely little individual bread service
Lovely little individual bread service
yarn ball in table indentation which holds the bread during the meal
yarn ball in table indentation which holds the bread during the meal
bread now in table indentation
bread now in table indentation
Additional bread for the table
Additional bread for the table
Amuse bouche
Amuse bouche
pizza with burrata, tomato sauce, capers and basil
pizza with burrata, tomato sauce, capers and basil
Fried langoustine roll with mandarin essence and pistachio sauce
Fried langoustine roll with mandarin essence and pistachio sauce
Chef Maassimiliano Alajmo
Chef Maassimiliano Alajmo
Mat placed on the table for the next course
Mat placed on the table for the next course
Cuttlefish cappuccino - not supposed to mix the creamy potato top layer with the chewy cuttlefish below
Cuttlefish cappuccino – not supposed to mix the creamy potato top layer with the chewy cuttlefish below
Crispy buffalo ricotta and mozzarella cannelloni with tomato sauce
Crispy buffalo ricotta and mozzarella cannelloni with tomato sauce
red beet cappelli in gorgonzola sauce
red beet cappelli in gorgonzola sauce
elaborate wine ritual
elaborate wine ritual
Saffron risotto with licorice powder
Saffron risotto with licorice powder
Hand chopped raw Piemontese beef with black truffle and toast on egg cream sauce. Back cloth is wet on a hot stone to keep it warm presented with star anise(decorative)
Hand chopped raw Piemontese beef with black truffle and toast on egg cream sauce. Back cloth is wet on a hot stone to keep it warm presented with star anise(decorative)
Egg all carbonara with pancetta
Egg all carbonara with pancetta
Roast suckling pig with mustard sauce (still bubbling when they brought it out) and coffee powder
Roast suckling pig with mustard sauce (still bubbling when they brought it out) and coffee powder
Fruit and marshmallow extras
Fruit and marshmallow extras
Chocolate, hazelnut and coffee
Chocolate, hazelnut and coffee
Crispy fried cream
Crispy fried cream
Pacifier filled with chocolate cream and pipe with rum and bubbles
Pacifier filled with chocolate cream and pipe with rum and bubbles
dining room
dining room
more interior
more interior
partiing gift
partiing gift
back of can
back of can

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