Fine Dining restaurants are not dead: praise for Madonnina del Pescatore in Senigallia

Jun 20 2024, 17:08
We tried the Marco Polo tasting menu at Madonnina del Pescatore in Senigallia, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. Moreno Cedroni and Luca Abbadir are in a state of grace. You've been warned

A Moreno Cedroni in a state of grace. Or rather, Moreno and Luca (Abbadir) in a state of grace. The tasting menu dedicated to Marco Polo's journey strikes the right balance between the desire to amaze diners with intriguing forms, catchy names, and stories (which we don't particularly love but understand can be entertaining or impressive: so the "game" at the table is welcome if backed by taste and technique) and the ability to delve deep, hitting the mark with taste through a present yet understated technique. The new tasting menu at Madonnina del Pescatore in Senigallia, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, leaves a lasting impression. This is a must for a restaurant of this calibre but is not always achieved. Here, the test is thoroughly passed, thanks also to an empathetic dining room capable of reading any situation, including a table near us where the diners, willing to invest 230 euros each, were barely twenty years old. A refreshing breath of fresh air for a world deemed doomed, that of fine dining, which in our opinion is merely transforming, leaving behind the wannabe restaurants.

Moeca cracker, Spritz, and fake fish stuffed with crab leek

What to eat at Madonnina del Pescatore in Senigallia

The journey begins with a delicious moeca cracker that activates salivation and concentration, both in taste and mind. We are in Venice, and an accompanying Spritz and a fake fish stuffed with crab leek (recalling last year's King crab stuffed dish) couldn't be missed. In general, some dishes are connected to last year's "Smoke Signals" tasting menu. Thoughtful and meaningful snacks.

Sea urchins, tahini, umeboshi, and dates

The journey continues with a lentil and hazelnut waffle, cuttlefish eggs, and pink sauce. A "relaxing" dish before the sea urchin crème brûlée, tahini, umeboshi, and dates. Sea urchins and tahini? The ultimate combination. Once tried, you won't be able to eat tahini without thinking of the sea urchins' haemal.

The last snack is a grilled oyster with Aleppo pepper and purple cabbage. Cedroni's ability to serve oysters with flair and enhance their sweet and iodine notes has few equals in Italy (like his pigeon cooking).

Grilled oyster, Aleppo pepper, and purple cabbage

So far, we've been to Trebizond, Baghdad, and Aleppo. Now it's Tehran's turn with a ceviche of amberjack with forest aromas, partridge in soy and honey, enoki mushroom sauce, and Chartreuse. Perhaps the menu's revelation dish. The amberjack's texture, reminiscent of gnocchi, plays a crucial role. "The amberjack is matured whole for 4/5 days to concentrate its texture," they explain. Both strange and familiar at the same time. The choice to serve it on a plate made of beeswax is spot on.

Amberjack ceviche with forest aromas, partridge in soy and honey, enoki mushroom sauce, and Chartreuse

A well-calibrated smoked tuna belly kebab with smoked aubergine and mango chutney pairs well with the next course - corn and sorrel broth with stuffed buttons, lime powder, and cardamom – the most "classic" dish on the menu. This is welcome: a tasting menu should have a balance between wonder and sobriety, peaks and linearity.

Tuna belly kebab, smoked eggplant, and mango chutney


This concept is concentrated in a single dish, starring the skate: "What kind of skate are you? Yin and yang skate" where the fish is pan-fried and deglazed with fermented cabbage water. The base includes tahini, basil oil, and kimchi oil. To the right of the skate is a satay sauce made of cashews and soy (sweet and salty), to the left is a friggitelli, almond, and coriander sauce (acidic and spicy). "You start eating the skate by passing it first to the right with the sweet-salty part and then moving to the cleansing acidic-spicy part. They are opposing energies that complete each other, the existence of one depends on the existence of the other," explains Luca Abbadir. The choice of skate is perfect, rich in collagen that transforms into smoothness on the palate.

What kind of skate are you? Yin and yang skate


The Peking-style pigeon soars. As mentioned above, Cedroni is a pigeon master (the memory of the aged pigeon then grilled, aubergines cooked under the ashes, and masala sauce on the 2018 menu is unforgettable), using every part of it. This tasting menu completes the service with Verrigni Fusilloro with pigeon heart and raguse (similar in texture), fennel, and almond tofu (another revelation of a menu not short on revelations!). A dry pasta dish that beautifully concludes the savoury courses.

Fusilloro Verrigni with pigeon heart and ragus, fennel and almond tofu

There are three desserts to conclude: Jerusalem artichoke cake with ice cream and fermented Jerusalem artichoke, "Journey within the journey, moon imprint" and "Marco Polo's journey". No spoilers. Cedroni and Abbadir's journey along the Silk Road definitely deserves a trip to Senigallia.

Journey within a journey, lunar footprint

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