Il Calandrino

Via Liguria, 1 3 5030

Sarmeola di Rubano, Padova

tel +39 049 630303,

fax +39 049 633000

April 2009

This impromptu lunch at Il Calandrino was a nice reward after several bruising days tasting Amarone from cask. Il Calandrino is the informal café that is part of Le Calandre, one of the few restaurants in Italy with three Michelin stars. Le Calandre is improbably located in an industrial neighborhood outside Padova, about 15-20 minutes from either of the two Padova exits on the Milano-Venezia Autostrada. This temple to gastronomy also includes a bakery, butcher shop and even a hotel for travelers who need a rest before proceeding on their itineraries. Il Calandrino serves a casual, yet impeccable menu available throughout the day, with both a la carte and tasting menus. Our lunch was fantastic, and the service – so often a weak spot in Italy – was incredibly friendly as well as professional.

The fresh tomato soup with ricotta and scampi was simply delectable, as all the flavors came together with unusual grace. It was the perfect way to start a lunch. The tagliatelle with prosciutto and peas was a nod to a classic dish, and it was pulled off to perfection. I loved the barbecued pork spare ribs, partly because it was such a radical change from the more local cuisine we had enjoyed on this trip. The meat literally fell off the bone and the seasonings were perfect.

Il Calandrino offers the same extensive wine list as Le Calandre. Readers will find no shortage of choices when it comes to the great bottles of Italy and abroad. We opted for the 2001 Ornellaia, as I had a big tasting of that estate’s wines coming up, and I wanted to be prepared. This is my kind of homework, I thought. Our sommelier was extremely well versed in the wine’s grape composition and élevage. The wine was beautiful as it opened in the glass to reveal layers of mocha-infused dark fruit, spices, leather and minerals. Though still quite fresh and firm, the wine also showed enough tertiary nuances to offer a complete drinking experience at this stage. My impression from this and other tastings was that the 2001 should last another decade or so. It was a gorgeous red from Tuscany’s Maremma.

We finished the 2001 Ornellaia with a selection of artisan cheeses served alongside an array of homemade jams and jellies. So often dessert can be a let-down, but not here. Our strawberry, mango and passion fruit sorbet was so delicious words can’t possibly do it justice. Let me just say it was simply perfect, and that is coming from someone who is not a huge dessert person. Readers who have a chance to stop at this food Mecca should absolutely not hesitate. The quality throughout is worthy of 100-point rating! I can’t wait to return. 


Fresh tomato soup with oregano, ricotta and scampi

Veal carpaccio

Tagliatelle with prosciutto and peas

Pork spare ribs with barbecue sauce and roasted potatoes

Artisan cheeses

Strawberry, mango and passion fruit sorbet with an almond-mint foam 


2001   Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Ornellaia        95

--Antonio Galloni