The hidden restaurant along the Po Delta where you can eat oysters, mantis shrimp, and amazing fish

May 17 2024, 18:08
When you arrive at 'Capanna di Eraclio', you feel like you're in a painting, in a movie, and you fall in love. Everything enchants: the atmosphere, the beauty of the small things. And then the food, well, the food is fantastic

The first time I went to Capanna di Eraclio, I was disappointed. I’m not sure exactly what I expected, but finding such a normal and somewhat unassuming place left me perplexed. However, this feeling didn’t last long: the next day, I found myself thinking incessantly about that lunch, which happened at the beginning of a still mild November. And I felt nostalgic. I had the sensation of having lived a few hours of perfect bliss, where everything was exactly as it should be, including the vintage details. Because Capanna is a magical place. You think of a painting, you think of a movie, you think of anything that depicts a higher degree of beauty, simple and profound. You see it from afar, isolated in a landscape that only the Po Delta can offer, with the vast expanses of fields, a few groups of trees, and those cuts of water vying for territory, and you know you have entered a time outside of time. After all, Capanna, which is a country house with its veranda, has been there since the 1920s, seven meters below sea level, a bit less compared to the road, enough to mark a break and give you the enchantment of losing any temporal connotation.

The Capanna of Maria Grazia and Pierluigi Soncini

You enter, and everything you see confirms that impression: the paintings on the walls, the tables and chairs that seem to be in the dining room of some countryside aunt, one of those who lives her days at a pace unknown to us, and the warm and affable welcome of Pierluigi Soncini follows closely, with a wine list from which you can choose well. Thinking of it as a trattoria would be a mistake, rather it’s a great traditional restaurant with refinements that parade imperceptibly and the mastery of gestures repeated with rigor. Those of that lady of our cuisine, Maria Grazia Soncini, who is a very modern cook, even if she doesn’t move a step away from the territory and its gastronomic culture, so much so that you could study geography with her menu: the soles of Goro, the mussels of the Sacca degli Scardovari, the Perla Rosa oysters of the Delta, and so on, among scallops and the inevitable mantis shrimp, the fish you find only here, with the names you find only here. Chosen, prepared, and narrated with loving care and absolute precision: modernity lies in delving deep and uncovering the soul of the dishes, rather than inventing new ones. Maria Grazia Soncini renews the cuisine as one does with vows. Every preparation is measured to the millimetre, every cooking time to the second, whether it’s a risotto di valle or a pan of scampi and prawns. I’m almost certain that whoever introduced that somewhat unattractive but effective adjective – millimetric – to refer to cuisine, probably had Capanna in mind.

What you eat at Capanna di Eraclio

If it’s the season for schie, the grey shrimp, you can be sure they will arrive at your table, accompanied by a white polenta, just after the bread basket, featuring the local bread, with the Ferrara coppia on top. The rest moves fluidly between land and sea, where the queen is the eel, here you find it "arost in umad," first seared on the coals and then baked with garlic and rosemary. The grill is one of the cooking methods, along with frying and steaming, that caresses the fish with rare judgment and precision, accompanied by a homemade mayonnaise, very yellow and creamy, mixed and not whipped, not at all trendy. You can choose between spider crab, moleche, sea bass, blue crabs, and then feathered game in season, although the partridge stuffed with foie gras and morels is almost always available.

The last time I went was a Monday in April, for lunch. The restaurant was full, regular customers and widespread cordiality, the zuppa inglese in a glass and a complimentary mousse tasting, the veranda only for coffee: too early to dine outside. And the nostalgia you carry with you as a reminder, making you request an exemption to write about it in the first person, because that’s what you do with places of the soul.

La Capanna di Eraclio - Codigoro (FE) - Località per le Venezia, 21 -  0533 712154 - Pagina Facebook

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