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Wining and dining in Oltrepò: L'Artigiano in Salice 

As the name suggests, this place serves food from all over the world, prepared with artisanal care.  

Yesterday was a special occasion and we had a few things to celebrate, and for us celebrating means pampering ourselves with lots of good things to eat and of course to drink. We had been eyeing the Artigiano in Salice for some time and decided to try it.

At lunch we had already enjoyed a rich homemade eggplant parmigiana, so we didn't have much of an appetite for dinner. But we had wanted to try this restaurant for a long time and we said to ourselves "let's seize the moment, maybe eat little but let's try it".

L'Artigiano in Salice defines itself as a "braceria (grilled food), brewery, cocktail bar" . It clearly distances itself from the traditional cuisine of the area and we can define it as a high-end cosmopolitan restaurant, whose menu uses raw materials carefully selected from small producers all over the world. For us meat lovers, the Artigiano offers a truly wide choice of fine Italian and foreign cuts from selected farms, even matured in-house, but there is no shortage of fish and shellfish, cured meats, cheeses and veg dishes, all of artisanal origin and all accompanied by a careful and attentive service.

From Oltrella, the Artigiano can be reached by following the Valle Staffora state road towards Voghera for about twenty minutes. At the roundabout indicating the deviation for Salice Terme, turn left and after a few meters its sign appears. In the area there is a large car park where we found a place, despite the typical crowding of the summer season.

l'ingresso del ristorante l'Artigiano con una mannaia grande come una statua

The restaurant has very large spaces and is furnished in an essential but welcoming style. The colors of the furnishings, combined with decorated and sometimes curved walls, convey a feeling of warmth and a metropolitan and modern aesthetic taste, so different from the traditional style that predominates in Oltrepò. In the entrance room, where we await to be seated, there is a gigantic cleaver that stands like a statue, stuck in a wooden cube that acts as a pedestal.

The cool late summer climate is perfect for outdoor dining and we are led onto the terrace surrounding the restaurant. Along the way we stop to look at the illuminated refrigerators, containing numerous cuts of meat from which we will choose our dinner.

The terrace is lit with low, warm lights. The restaurant does not appear crowded, although a closer look reveals that all visible tables are occupied. From the table you can see the swimming pools of the adjacent Golf and Country Club illuminated with colored effects. As soon as we sit down we are joined by a waiter who offers us mineral water and a small welcome snack, then shows us the QR code on the table from which we can easily access the menu on their website.

The menu is a little inefficient to scroll, especially on a mobile phone, because every dish on the menu has a photo which is indeed mouth-watering, but on the other hand makes the page very long. We mentally make the comparison with a typical restaurant menu consisting of a simple list of dishes, and we ask ourselves why there isn't a similar version, quicker to "browse" on the mobile phone. No problem though, we exercise our thumbs and slowly consult it all. In the butcher's section we notice that the menu is updated with the cuts available and those that are in the maturation phase.

Given our limited appetite we decide to order "just a steak and a beer". Said like this, it seems like a quick and distracted thing, but here the distraction is out of place: everything must be enjoyed and introduced into the body with the right awareness.

From the very rich and varied menu we choose a fillet of Black Angus Uruguay raised on cereals and a cube roll of Japanese Wagyu. There are three different cuts of Wagyu cube roll so the waiter invites us to follow him to the maturing fridge to personally choose between the cuts from three different origins. After looking them in the face one by one we choose an old cow cut from the Kyoto district.

Ordering a Japanese cut means choosing a service divided into phases that we could define as a ritual or an experience . A scale is brought to the side table where the waiter weighs the steak before our eyes. Once the weighing is finished, the scale is removed and replaced by a katana. We are also presented with a series of knives from which to choose the one we will use for our meal.

il tavolino di servizio con la scelta del coltello e la katana pronta per il taglio della bistecca giapponese

The meats are delivered after a short wait, on dark lava stone plates. The fillet from Uruguay is served on a mustard sauce spread like a zen garden. The cube roll is brought to the service table on a large cutting board where it is sliced ​​with the katana, then it is transferred to the volcanic stone with a heated box and served at the table accompanied by a series of sauces.

A side note: the waiters do not ask for the preferred doneness for the meats . All are delivered cooked rare and the customer is offered a griddle to possibly extend cooking.

As meat lovers we decide to enjoy our cuts in purity, without prolonged cooking and without added condiments. What to say? Both meats are cooked to perfection and calling them good doesn't do them justice . The Uruguay fillet is very tender and really excellent, but compared to the cube roll it is almost dry. The cube roll, commonly already soft, is buttery to say the least.

The accompanying sauces are 5 + 1 salt, they are all described by the waiter and all tasted. Among these we particularly appreciated the one with chocolate and pepper, which we paired mostly with our side dish: a small copper pot full of baked potatoes, very nice and spicy.

Now, to the beer. The offer on tap included Dolomiti beer from the Pedavena brewery, which we tried in the red and amber variants, both very full-bodied and alcoholic. It's a matter of taste but the amber seemed better to us. In bottles you can also find the well-known (in Italy), excellent Baladin brewery and the nearby Birrificio Contadino Cascina Motta, whose product is created entirely within the company, from the production of the raw materials - under organic farming - up to bottling.

As we leave the restaurant, convinced we will return and try other specialties, we reflect on the quality-price ratio. Considering that the intention is to offer above all artisanal delicacies, we would particularly recommend l'Artigiano to those who love to taste and understand every course of their meal and who are attentive to the quality of what they eat, as well as the quantity . However, we do not recommend this restaurant to those who think that the difference between a supermarket steak and a Finnish, Japanese, Australian or American cut of black angus or wagyu is ultimately just a question of marketing.

For further information: lartigianoinsalice.it

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