A couple of years ago, my family was dined at Parizzi, reputed to be the best restaurant in Parma, and accolated with a Michelin star. That star was a reason to visit. As with all restaurants with stars, La Guide Michelin Italia gave a list of dishes. For Parizzi, it was a salad with smoked pork, veal tips, and tartare di cavallo, horse tartare. I remembered the salad as the recommended starter and ordered that instead of the tartare, then the veal tips. When visiting Michelin-starred places, I have always ordered the dishes that were named in the guide if still offered. I always assumed that these were the restaurant’s best preparations or the most highly recommended. Though I really wanted the horse tartare – a sometime-seen specialty of the area – but thought the salad was what was really advised by the guide. Only one starter could be ordered. And, I was mollified by my brother sitting next to me who ordered the tartare, saying that he would split it with me. He loved it. Quite a lot, in fact, and forwarded maybe only half a forkful.
Really, no matter, though, as my salad and the rest of the food was terrific. The meal was fantastic, overall, the best during my two week trip to Italy.
Last fall, I was on a gastronomic trip to Pavia, south of Milan. One of the fellow travelers was the longtime, acclaimed food and restaurant writer John Mariani. He mentioned a tidbit or two about the Michelin guides. Compiled by understaffed group of reviewers who were unlikely to visit an establishment more than just once: that the dishes that are listed for the starred entries are simply just the dishes that the reviewer had. These were not necessarily the restaurant’s best dishes, just the ones that were sampled, and probably enjoyed.
It would have been nice to know that – I find the conveyance of the information in the Michelin guides about particular places as rather parsimonious and even Delphic – and in Parma I could have had a full order of delicious horse tartare all to myself.
The tortelli d'erbette at Parizzi with plenty of grated Parmigiano