The chef Donato de Filippis and the sommelier Federico Maxima are a winning combination: very young, prepared, curious, extremely courteous, ready to experience and to guide the customer, but also to collect a criticism with a smile. Run the restaurant on the estate Ezra of Pontecorvo, with safe and gentle and have a thousand projects in mind, including a name that identifies the seven course tasting menu and restaurant (and costs 60 euros) that is already in the making. The chef, 28 years, was born and raised in Puglia, in Bari, but he moved to Frosinone by time and, then, We consider now is naturalized’ Lai. While the sommelier, Frederick, has the Lazio in the blood. The moving has not made us forget to Donato's origins, and so here's that Apulian details peep in the various dishes on the menu, lighting up the tradition of the place with extremely Mediterranean touches. Before the hotel in Fiuggi, then a series of experiences in restaurants of top-class hotels in Folgaria, Capri, Porto Cervo and Rome (Hotel Eden) and one more international experience in London, have shaped happily cooking of David Dahlquist: essential, netta, cured, attentive to the combination of colors and textures, with a solid technique, but never performed or an end in itself. A few ingredients on the plate, sign of simplicity and sophistication.
The estate Ezra originated from the young Erika Votta who decided to invest in the territory by creating a Agri spa with pool, rooms, organic garden that supplies the restaurant. A beautiful stone fireplace is the centerpiece of a simple and modern decoration: White tablecloths, transparent goblets and glasses, two niches where the bottles of wine and the splash of color of red curtains. The kitchen is downstairs, very large, with late model equipment, with a beautiful courtyard opening. The menu is simple and concise, the bread is homemade with sourdough (good and especially one with turmeric), the vegetables are from the garden, suppliers of most products are local because the idea is to make a regional cuisine sourced locally as much as possible. In paper three appetizers, three first courses, three main courses, Some vegetables and desserts according to the inspiration of the chef, that also takes care of the pastry. The proposals are both meat and fish. My journey begins with artichokes, Asparagus, candied lemon and egg cooked at 62 degrees (10 euro): you know that I have a fondness for egg dishes. This has hit well the objective lightness and freshness, as it should be for any appetizer: artichokes and asparagus blanched for a second just crispy and served, with a splash of extra virgin olive oil quality and pleasantly agra of candied lemon next to the soft egg yolk fatness. Very little salt and lots of black pepper.
We continue with a tribute to the tradition of Lazio: calf tail, Jerusalem artichoke cream, celery and sausage sauce (9 euro). A dish best served cold, with the frayed tail and pressed like a bowl, accompanied by a Jerusalem artichoke cream with a slight smoky aftertaste typical of this vegetable. The combination with the sauce, hot, but served appropriately in small doses. Not an end in itself nor the use of celery, particularly intensive taste, perfect for cleaning the mouth and tail fat from sauce spicy. Overall, also in this case a light and fresh appetizer. Also paper cod, potatoes and truffle to 11 euros.
Ravioli with cod fish, Sea asparagus and beet (14 euros) they were perhaps the dish that I preferred, not only for the accomplishment but above all for the combinations. Here too the use of cod invokes the Lazio: don't pull too thin egg noodles (how you doing instead of fashion today, sometimes too), cooked very al dente. Simple stuffing with a distinct flavor of cod, sustained consistency. The dumplings were sautéed in an emulsion of butter with asparagus and served with the same salicornia, a small beetroot and turnips, raw. The combination between the cod, mineral and lightly grease, and the hint tahr of rape. Salicornia proved just a little’ too low of flavor, but very pleasant crunchy texture.
Then, a happy encounter between Puglia and Lazio, between two peasant cultures: tagliolini wheat burned with cheese, pepper and black truffle (14 euros). Here great pasta, thick, full bodied, that doesn't yield the least fashionable of thin sheet, cooked very al dente: well measured the percentage of wheat burned, with a characteristic strong taste and smoked. I enjoyed the sauce made of cheese and black pepper that does not sin in excess salt, as is often the case, and very light taste of the black truffle. A well balanced dish and rich in taste. In paper, even a risotto with walnuts, PEAR and Parmesan cream (12 euros).
Very easy the second fish: a slice of grilled cod (15 euros) pea foam and finger lime (lemon caviar of Australian origin now at home in the kitchens of chefs): even in this case, with a few selected ingredients, the taste is balanced between sweet and acid result. An essential dish, like everyone I've tasted, where Dai shows a culinary minimalism already tells a kitchen evolved, where you have already realized that it is more important sometimes removing rather than adding.
A few ingredients and harmonic for the second plate of meat: Grilled quail with cauliflower with butter and liquorice sauce (16 euros). Perfect cooking to the blood of quail, Crispy cauliflower, but just the hint of licorice. I appreciated, Perhaps because the licorice is one of the few ingredients I don't love, Although perhaps some passionate would have preferred to hear more spice. In paper, even a roast suckling pig wine Cabernet of Atina (a regional Doc) with potato cream and Rosemary (18 euros).
The pastry there is still some’ work to do, but I think the chef knows perfectly: chocolate ball, with peanut butter mousse and raspberries (7 euros), It's still a good starting point. The ball a little’ too thick, but it still wound up at the drop of the sauce hot raspberry, pleasantly acidulous, how pleasant was paired with peanut butter and salt note.
Interesting ideas, even in small bites of desserts, starting from the original prawn crackers sweet potatoes with peanut mousse and black truffle and the highest quality chocolate served with Maldon salt. Classic small desert roses in white chocolate and cereals. I found less happy the mini muffins and Cupcakes with coconut, better suited to a breakfast, but I'm a perfectionist.
As for drinks, things to trust the advice of Frederick Highs. With Dai, Federico has built a vital card, with some good bubble, an accurate and careful choice of labels of Lazio. A wine list that, though, deserve a place even names such as, For example,, Primitivo di Manduria, Vermentino di Gallura, GAVI, Nero d'Avola. One aspect to be reviewed, in our opinion, but in a sign of the widening of the range offered to customers. Mark-ups are okay.
A restaurant that I recommend absolutely to try.
(visited in February 2017)