Don Giovanni

Pier Luigi di Diego
Pier Luigi di Diego
Country: Italy
City: 44100 Ferrara
Address: C.so Ercole I° D’Este, 1 (enfrente del Palazzo deg
(+39) 0532 2443363
Closed: Mondays and lunchtime
Price: 60/120 €
Tasting menu:: 35/55/65 €

  • Terrina de galeras crudas con tomates confitados a los tres pestos
  • Terrina de galeras crudas con tomates confitados a los tres pestos
  • Pato azulón relleno con anguila y espinaca
  • Pato azulón relleno con anguila y espinaca

In just a handful of years, Pier Luigi Di Diego and Marco Merighi’s establishment has found its spot in the sun, regardless of the fact that it is located in Ferrara, one of the constantly overcast capitals of northern Italy.

The restaurant is like a small candy shop with very few tables and an intimate and informal ambience.
When sitting down, a delicious doubt enters the guest’s mind: what is accompanying what here: the kitchen to the wine cellar, or vice versa?

Di Diego, the chef, comes from the Trigabolo school of cooking, which was a factory for talent in the early 80’s.
Merighi conveys, in a delightfully non-academic fashion, the pleasure he has had on his path to discovering the world of wine, of which he is now an applied viticulturalist.
There are strange wines spread all over the Italian peninsula, but the Bourgogne are selected using the microscope of “Taste Vin”. And, as we realized during our last visit, you can find hidden treasures Bacchus has set aside for us in atypical countries like Germany and Austria.

The dishes here are inextricably linked to the region and its changing seasons.
Perhaps God wanted to compensate Ferrara for the bad weather by offering it a vast patrimony of raw product from which to serve itself, both within the realm of seafood as well as earthly product, including a good amount of game.
The menu includes various temptations, so making a follow-up visit inevitable since you can’t eat everything you might want to in a single sitting.

In general, the majority of appetizers are seafood based, often served raw, with a good amount of variables to choose from. One of the classics, for example, is the galley terrine with three pestos (olive, basil and tomato). Aside from being delicious, it is presented with a very attractive aesthetic.

The starters included an interesting spring onion soup with Szechwan pepper and dill-perfumed turbot and excellent garganelli with eel and pine nuts.
An honorable mention for the homemade pastas that Merighi introduces with a very certain definition: “when we throw the pasta in, you have to laugh… look alive”. It is a more difficult operation with the rice dishes, however, the snipe risotto turned out to be an extraordinary dish, well beyond the rarity of the bird.

A return to the sea came along with the main dishes, in an original manner, with pairings that connect the delicious seafood to solid ground and the surrounding mountainous region. A good example of this is the dish of scallops au gratin with fontina d’alpeggio (a cheese from the Alps), tender crustaceans and honey mustard. Extraordinary, and even more so with the unexpected charm the last ingredient brings to the dish.

Eel is one of the treasures of the Delta del Po and with it comes what one might consider to be some heretical pairings: presented wrapped inside a mallard with pine nuts and spinach or with the roasted duck suprême with puntarelle (a type of chicory) and a base of wild medlar fruit. Again, the principle, strangely enough, is that the ingredient is truly a “primus inter pares”.

The only problem with the cheese selection is trying to decide on which to order and whether to combine them with mostarde or the local marmalades that are produced by a small artisan shop, which proved difficult to find.
With the desserts we were confronted by a sweet cuisine that truly explored new culinary paths; for example, the cacao with oil and Cervia salt (an important regional deposit in northeastern Italy) or the algarroba crêpe with medlar and white chocolate-rosemary sauce. Though it might not seem so, these four ingredients combine marvelously well, even the rosemary, which is normally relegated to roasts.

This is the proof of how, with capability and imagination, one can reconcile region, tradition and technique. And all this, as we have already said, paired with a wine cellar containing a thousand and one original, fun proposals.