Inspired by celebrity Chef Giancarlo Caldesi’s rural upbringing in Tuscany, Giancarlo and his wife Katie opened Caldesi in Campagna in 2007. Passionate about seasonal and sustainable ingredients, and using local produce as much as possible, the authenticity of their cooking made the restaurant an immediate hit. Most of their clientele are regulars who I hear can’t put up without a weekly visit to Caldesi.
Earlier this year, and to mark their 10th anniversary, they decided to give the place a bit of a makeover, which has given the restaurant a fresh and elegant look, while still keeping its warmth and welcoming atmosphere.
The floor space of the restaurant area has been increased to give a more spacious dining experience. The bar has been updated to be a welcoming space for guests and somewhere to linger over a drink after dinner and completed with brand new plush seating ideal for an aperitivo and some antipasti.
Katie’s impeccable taste shows in the introduction of a new blue colour palette to the decoration with lavishly patterned wall coverings. She has created story boxes and two feature walls of Italian memorabilia, including Giancarlo’s old family pictures; “I wanted to remain true to Giancarlo’s roots and the heritage of the food but at the same time bring a more up to date feel to our interiors”, explained Katie during my visit a couple of weeks ago, “I love the new bar area which gives people the option the drop in for a drink and a snack rather than a full blown meal.”
As part of the anniversary celebrations Giancarlo has created a selection of seasonal tasting menus served every Thursday evening which celebrate the cuisine of different Italian regions, from Amalfi to Venice. Furthermore, under the title “10 dishes for £10”, Giancarlo has put together 10 of their most popular dishes of the last decade, among them the calf’s liver Veneziana style and the Acqua Pazza Fish.
The menu à la carte includes seabass ravioli with a lemon butter sauce, the signature dish of the house, which is simply unbelievable. The delicacy of this dish is a work of art. I’ve never tried a plate of food so well balanced in my life. Another favourite with the crowds is the veal stuffed with Fontina cheese, an explosion of flavour courtesy of the extraordinary quality of the ingredients used at Caldesi. If you miss eating by the beach, then the grigliata Caldesi, is made for you, a selection of grilled seafood that will make your heart ache for the Mediterranean coast. I don’t have a sweet tooth but their tiramisu simple tastes like something that belongs in heaven (Giancarlo’s own recipe) and their house bombolini with dipping sauces are definitely worth the calories.
Caldesi in Campagna is a truly extraordinary gastronomic experience, one that I can’t wait to repeat and that I wholly heartedly recommend. Buon appetito!
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