Cracco Portofino. Carlo Cracco's (meatless) restaurant in Liguria

Aug 8 2021, 10:28 | by Gambero Rosso
From an old abandoned historic restaurant to a new refined restaurant with the signature of a great chef. This is what Carlo Cracco's Ligurian restaurant, opened at the beginning of July, looks like.

Cracco Portofino, the chef's restaurant in the Ligurian village

"Pitosforo was an important restaurant for this region. What we wanted to do was recover an abandoned place and give it new life, to bring it even higher." This is how chef Carlo Cracco describes the new opening in Liguria, Cracco Portofino, the restaurant in the seaside village inaugurated on July 3rd, 2021, which is already having an excellent response from customers. "Everything is going well, the setting and the suggestive view certainly play an important role, plus there's a different cuisine." The first without meat for the chef and his team, here led by Mattia Pecis, a talented 25-year-old on whom Cracco relies heavily. Together with him and Luca Sacchi already in the Milan venues - Carlo al Naviglio and Cracco in the Galleria - many meat dishes had been taken off the menu, "we wanted to reduce everything to the bone, cutting the superfluous, starting with the tasting menu." Of course, some dishes are still present, "we have to proceed step by step," but not in Portofino, where fish and vegetables dominate the scene.

Cracco's first restaurant entirely without meat

A menu based on the best of the catch of the day, "we use everything that the fishermen and fishmongers of the area have to offer," but also on a strong presence of vegetables and herbs, "which are a great satisfaction to work with." After all, Liguria is a region very dear to the chef, who began to discover it years ago with the guidance of an exceptional master, Gualtiero Marchesi: "We often came here together, he always said that it was an important territory, a model and a source of inspiration for his cuisine." A land to be protected and promoted, also through dining: "Portofino is a beautiful market. As all cities are, after all. I believe that customers are always attentive and receptive, they simply adapt to what is available: if we offer them good restaurants, they will be intrigued and will go and try them. On the contrary, if the food scene is mediocre, they will adapt to that standard."

The restaurant, the decor and the wine list

Therefore, it is up to the chefs and restaurateurs to enhance the territories, also focusing on less popular areas from a restaurant point of view, "Milan, Rome and other places that today have high-level restaurants have become famous thanks to those who have started offering a different cuisine at a time when it was needed." This is also the goal of chef Cracco and his team, who have developed a significant renovation here, "we chose materials and colours in harmony with the sea: steel, brass, straw. Light tones capable of creating a relaxed atmosphere." Which can be enjoyed both in the dining room and on the terrace, "used as a bistro/café, where guests can find more affordable proposals for an informal dinner, or stop for an aperitif or after dinner drinks." Speaking of aperitifs and drinks: the wine list is very much focused on the local territory, "Ligurian bottles are always a great pleasure for the palate," but there are also references present in the Milanese venues, "with all the French and international quota as well." For the moment, everything is going well in Portofino and the chef is satisfied: "With three restaurants at the moment I can say that I am more than happy. Now we just have to cross our fingers and hope for a better year for the entire sector."

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