Ristorante Del Lago
Celebrating the True Spirit of Italy
Dazzling strands of pasta are handmade daily by chef owner, Maria Lovisolo, at her one-star Michelin restaurant, Violetta, near Calamandrana.
One magical evening in February, I was privileged to attend a special four-course dinner at the Summit to preview menu items from the Broadmoor’s stunning new Ristorante del Lago.
As my dining companion and I entered the foyer, smartly-clad waiters greeted us with sparkling Prosecco, Orangecello and cranberry cocktails, while enticing us with trays of prosciutto on crisp crostini and nibbles of Parmigiano-Reggiano.
For three hours, we were transported to a storybook land perched between the mountains and the sea where we were treated to the finest in regional Italian cuisine.
One of four such dinners, ours represented the Piemonte region of Italy. Each course dazzled in its simplicity using only the freshest of ingredients and centuries-old recipes.
Throughout the evening, Chef de Cuisine Justin Miller shared memories from a recent trip he and David Patterson, Executive Sous Chef of Restaurants, took to Italy.
As we sampled the Veal Ravioletti, tender pillows of pasta, filled with veal and garlic and topped with parmesan and sage, Chef Justin told us about Maria Lovisolo, the extraordinary 84-year-old chef owner of Violetta, a one-star Michelin restaurant near the town of Calamandrana.
“It was humbling working in the kitchen with her,” he said. “She exemplifies the true passion and spirit of Italian cooking.
“In America we have KitchenAids and food processors, while Maria kneads her pasta dough by hand on a wooden cutting board.”
The results were nothing short of sublime.
Local producers offer a personal touch.
Another highlight of the chefs’ trip was visiting quality local producers and family-owned farms.
“In the U.S. we have big supermarkets,” Chef Justin said, “where we have no clue where our meat or vegetables come from.”
In Italy, it’s different. Townspeople know who’s catching the fish and raising the beef. They buy from small markets where they feel a personal connection.
Outside Parma, the chefs visited the family-owned Pio Tosini prosciutto plant where every ham was personally inspected by Giovanni, the owner. In their classic facility, they produced hams exactly the way his grandfather had.
In the huge aging room, there was no forced air or controlled temperatures. “They opened the windows,” Chef Justin said, “to allow the natural air from the Parma river to flow through, creating the perfect climate for the aging.”
Of the 80,000 hams they make a year, only 3% are exported to the United States, and the Broadmoor is one of the lucky recipients.
Another stop in Parma was the family-owned Valerena dairy and production plant. They only make ten wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano a day. But the owner, also named Giovanni, takes great pride in what he does.
“He raises docile brown cows,” Chef Justin said. “They produce less milk, but that doesn’t matter. He’s doing it because he loves what he does, and he wants his cows to have a good life.”
During a visit to the Castello di Ama winery in Tuscany, the chefs tasted this year’s vintage of extra virgin olive oils.
“Yes,” Chef Justin said with a smile, “olive oils have vintages. You could almost taste the leafiness. It’s like walking through the olive trees. When you smell the air, you can almost taste the flavor.”
An intimate pairing
In Italy, food and wine make the perfect marriage. So we were privileged to taste wines from the Bersano winery, lovingly presented by Erika Abate, the export manager. “We have 600 acres,” Abate said, “and have produced wine for a century. We are the biggest family-owned winery in the region.”
The most popular wine is the Gavi del Comune di Gavi, 2011. The Cortese grape which produces the Gavi means “gentle” in Italian, and it’s the perfect description of this delicate white wine.
Another standout, the Moscato D’Asti, is made with grapes that are as golden as the fields in the sun. It’s naturally sweet and paired perfectly with one of our desserts, the Gianduiotto, a rich, dark chocolate roll.
A sneak peak at the Ristorante del Lago
Enter the soon-to-be completed Ristorante del Lago and you feel as though you’re stepping into a villa on Lake Como. The 19th-century recycled terra cotta tiles and mahogany wood beams offer a welcoming feel, while the glass walls showcase breathtaking views of the Broadmoor Lake.
In the glass-enclosed Salumi and Formaggio Aging Room, you see hams and cheeses from the farms and production facilities the chefs visited. You taste pizzas prepared as they have been for centuries in the five-and-a-half-foot deep wood-fired pizza oven and watch whole roasted chickens rotating on the show-stopping brass and silver rotisserie.
Each menu item reflects the true spirit of regional Italian cuisine–quality ingredients, simply prepared. And, as you sample the dishes, you can almost smell the fragrant olive trees and feel the warmth of the sun reflecting against the golden fields.
For more information, contact The Broadmoor to learn when the Ristorante del Lago will open.