The top 3 of the best dishes of the Reale by Niko Romito

The top 3 of the best dishes of the Reale by Niko Romito

We went to chef Niko Romito at Reale Casadonna in Castel di Sangro: these are the dishes we most appreciated from the Ideal tasting menu.

To get to the beautiful white and minimal building that is Reale Casadonna , the kingdom of Niko Romito who watches over Castel di Sangro from above, I got lost with two different navigators and faced the snow on roads similar to those of Twin Peaks.While admiring the mastery of handling animal proteins, the best dishes have a vegetable foundationOf course this remains: I would do it again and I would do it again, even testing the incompetence of other navigators and enduring the cold. Sitting at an equally white and minimal table, lit by a single lamp and set with simple elegance, I let myself be carried away by the Ideal tasting menu, a journey of new dishes and great classics, novelties and reassurance. While admiring the skill with which Niko Romito treats animal proteins (specifically the dark  pigeon with a rich pistachio cream and the silky squid with pink pepper and lettuce), the dishes that struck me most had foundations– and not only – of vegetables and tubers. And I am not referring to the now famous Artichoke and Rosemary, now firmly set among Niko’s essential classics, nor to the phenomenal Onion Absolute. Here are the 3 dishes that I most appreciated at Niko Romito’s Reale, plus two dutiful out of the ranking.


  1. niko romito potatoPotato baked under the ashes . It is the last of the first series of amuse-bouche; comes after soft clouds of pistachio (soft salty pistachio), marinated radish, a tortello with bread and meat sauce and cracker with dried tomatoes and honey. It has the features of a stone dusted by the earth and yet it is elegant and inviting. In two bites it disappeared, taking with it the memory of a charcoal, the best potato croquette I have ever eaten, soft and yielding, with a crunchy shell.
  2. absolute 2.0 niko romitoAbsolute 2.0 . It is not the official name, but the definition that Niko gave it when I was able to join him in the kitchen to observe the work of the brigade. As for the Onion Absolute, there is no water, it is pure extract of the triad that somehow defines Italian cuisine: celery, carrot and onion. The white and golden cup in which it arrives is announced by a rich and inviting scent, like the broth (even if it is not: there is no water) more invigorating, more reassuring and tasty than one could wish for. A single sage leaf and a few drops of extra virgin olive oil complete the work. When the last spoon is lost on the taste buds, you feel the physical need to have more, as if it were the ideal elixir to face the winter.
  3. cabbage and potatoes niko romitoCabbage and potatoes . Another dish of 2016, another dish in which vegetables conquer the palate without being the accompaniment but the protagonists. The cabbage is (almost in spite of itself and pleasantly) fleshy, it could not be a side dish: it is a second in all respects. Looking at the dish, one gets the impression of being in the presence of a cabbage fillet , ennobled by star anise distillate and rosemary extract, and accompanied – as a second course – by a silky emulsion of potatoes and olive oil .

Out of the charts:  Tortelli with chicken and Panettone . The plump and shiny tortelli are served in complete simplicity.

tortelli with chicken

The dough is barely tenacious to the bite and the filling – soft, rich – echoes long after the last bite has disappeared from the plate.

niko romito panettone

The Panettone , served with petit fours, is warm, a soft cloud and scioglievole, a classic well done. The best way to wish each other a Merry Christmas.

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