During our day-trip to Bergamo, Alessandro and I ate dinner at Mimì, a restaurant and speciality food shop. The restaurant is literally part of the store, with boxes of organic pasta and bottles of various sauces surrounding the dining tables. Our interest was peaked when we read on the menu displayed at the entrance that the restaurant was part of Slow Food. We immediately recognized that the food at Mimì would be of a very high quality, so we decided to give it a try.
As I would before any trip to any place for any length of time, I did some basic research on the local gastronomy of Bergamo. In doing so I discovered the local pasta of the city – casoncelli. This pasta is a sort of ravioli typically filled with meat served in a sauce of butter and sage. Being in Bergamo, I had to give it a try.
My pasta was absolutely delightful. Honestly it might have been one of the best pasta dishes I ever ate in my life (this is coming from someone whose favorite food of all time is pasta). The fresh pasta was cooked perfectly and melted in your mouth. The meat inside was extremely flavorful and had a great soft chew. The butter and sage sauce was indulgent and ideal for a chilly fall evening. Finally, the pancetta bits that were crumbled on top added the perfect salty bite. While not overwhelmingly appetizing at first glance, this pasta dish was outstanding.
Alessandro ordered a pasta dish that had intrigued both of us when we saw it on the menu. His dish was gnocchi with seafood in a pumpkin sauce. While it might sound like a strange combination, the sweet pumpkin and savory seafood complemented each other very well. The hearty gnocchi stood up to the decadent flavors on the plate and held the sauce nicely. While the gnocchi had great texture and the pumpkin sauce a nice spice, the seafood wasn’t of the freshest quality (as Bergamo is not located seaside) and this was evident in the final result. Had he ordered this dish in a coastal city, I think it would have been exceptional.
For our main course, we split a beef dish. The meat was cooked in valcelepio red wine, which was the same wine we had to drink (il vino was excellent, by the way). The beef was fork-tender and had the consistency of meat that had been stewed for hours. It was served with potatoes and cooked miniature white onions. The meat was most certainly locally sourced and the vegetables fresh, but the plate as a whole did nothing to “wow” us.
Having not eaten much all day, we went ahead and ordered a pizza to share after our second course. The pizza was a white variety with local stracchino cheese, lardo (fatty pork product similar to pancetta), and fresh basil. This pizza was indulgent and delicious. The cheese was made for melting and paired extremely well with the salty lardo. The sweetness of the basil worked to tone down the salt from the cheese and lardo. The dough was a thicker crust (my personal favorite) and cooked to perfection. Being the only pizza on the menu, I think the pizzaiolo knew what s/he was doing – that is, highlighting regional flavors in the best way possible.
- locally-sourced, high quality food
- menu based on the regional cuisine of Bergamo/Lombardy
- hearty, heavy food
- fair price point
- some menu items definitely better than others – think before you order!