When people visit Italy, they can be sure of one thing… around every corner there will be incredible food. Food that is most likely prepared with the freshest ingredients, recipes passed down by generations, and a love and care that goes into creating culinary masterpieces. In Italy even the simplest of dishes can be out of this world and have you begging for more.

However, cuisines change based on what region you are visiting. Northern and Southern Italy have their own defining characteristics making for a diversity of the ingredients and taste. In the South the Mediterranean flavors shine through with fresh fish, a heavy hand on the olive oil and more intense flavors. Moving up North, we make our way into cattle country, were dishes rely more on dairy products like butter and cream. Also, in the North of Italy there is more of an influence from neighboring countries.

So how to do you effortlessly combine these two cuisines?

Enter Antonino Cannvacciuolo, one of Italy’s top chefs and Chef Patron at Villa Crespi. The 14-room Moorish villa is not only a breathtaking architectural achievement, but also boasts a two Michelin star restaurant with dishes that have guests traveling to both Northern and Southern Italy in one stop. Although it is located in the Piedmont region, Chef Cannvacciuolo has all the influences of Southern Italy as he was born and raised near Napoli.

While staying at Villa Crespi, we were fortunate enough to dine at Antonino’s restaurant (thanks Ciniza!) and were blown away with everything we tasted!

Our journey through Italy began with a selection of amuse-bouches ranging from homemade taralli’s to small bites of land and sea with fresh prosciutto and salmon. This was the perfect way to be introduced to Chef Cannvacciuolo’s vision for the restaurant, and we immediately knew the rest of our meal was going to be unforgettable.

Villa Crespi

For our pasta course, our waiter suggested the tagliatelle with porcini mushrooms. Everything about this dish was flawless. The tagliatelle was cooked perfectly and the porcini mushrooms stole the show. Porcini mushrooms are a classic Northern Italy ingredient and the best can be found in the Piedmont region, where Villa Crespi is located… lucky us!

Villa Crespi

For our next course we chose two excellent meat dishes, which we still think about weeks after eating there. We chose the supreme of pigeon accompanied by foie gras with cocoa beans and Banyuls sauce, and the beef cheek with hazelnut mayonnaise, potatoes terrine and baby green peppers. Both meats were cooked to perfection and all the ingredients complimented each other throughout each bite… the foie gras with cocoa beans deserves a standing ovation all on it’s own!
Villa Crespi

Villa Crespi

To end our culinary trip through Italy we finished with a dessert sampler, which consisted of a wide range of bitesized sweets. Although we could have easily raced to see who finished their desserts first, we took our time and enjoyed the unique flavors, textures and presentation of each one.

Villa Crespi

Antonino Cannavacciuolo’s menu is not just al la carte, but also offers three different tasting options: Carpe Diem, The Italian Route from South to North, and the Off-Road Tasting menu. Although we wanted to try all three of these, we opted to stick to the al la carte this time around, but we’ll definitely be back to sample the rest of the menu!

Thank you Cinzia, Antonino and Villa Crespi for an incredible meal that we will never forget!

As always, our opinions are our own as we Talk Travel.