10/10/2011 03:45 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Italy's Other Art

Northern Italy spoiled me with great food. Though a New Yorker at heart, I thought -- bring it on, surprise me. From touristy trattorias on busy corners to quiet osterias on piazzas impossible to find and everything in between. In gastronomical explorations of Northern Italy, I learned that there is a clear difference between really great food and a work of art.

Let's start with the obvious: what makes an Italian meal really great are the recipes perfected for generations and high quality produce. But a work of art?

In Bologna, the "grasa" (fat) capital of Italy, Paolino Cesare, whose dad started Restaurante da Cesari in 1945, spent all his life in this place. I watched Paolino taking an order: it's like a dance of seduction, psychotherapy and negotiation -- matching customers' wants to the choices of the restaurant's delicacies and wines. And that is where art starts -- it is personal.


Tortellini in brodo, in best traditions of Bologna, mouth-watering, da Cesari, Bologna


Sarde in saor (sardines in sour sauce), shamelessly scrumptious, Trattoria Rialto Novo, Venice

The second part of the art form comes from the integrity of its intent. There are businesses that happen to be restaurants -- they could even serve a really great food, be impressive and memorable. But in the art of food, a restaurant is a restaurant that just happens to be a business. And that is turning into an old-fashioned idea.

So I want to scream to the whole world: rush to Bologna, visit da Cesari, because Paolino's children are choosing different paths from their dad's and maybe even in a few years from now this magic will not be around.

Or, maybe, you are the one to bring your form of art and magic into the lives of those around you?


Buratta (a mozzarella-like cheese injected with heavy cream), perversely decadent, at Antica Bottega del Vino, Verona

Photos by Misha Lyuve.

Original posting Italy"s Other Art

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