After months of waiting Flavio Briatore has finally opened.....
Cipriani Monaco. I waited a week before venturing in as I wanted the kitchen to find it's rhythm, forget rhythm this restaurant is like a 100 piece orchestra with everything working in unison to fulfill your every desire..I have many.
I had to pinch myself, I confirm that this is Beverly Hills style service in Monaco!! Before I talk about the food a word about Stefano, our waiter - the best experience I have ever had anywhere...is that clear, ever had! The perfect mix of advice, care and precision, never invasive, always ready to pour, share and serve; a waiters master class as he anticipated our needs, he may be psychic too. Very impressive!
The team in Monte Carlo have been plucked like Mission Impossible from Cipriani's global outposts, the french Maitre D's from London, some come from Parma, some from Sardinia, Dubai etc...the chef is the group's stove Pope....and all this is good news for the people of Monte Carlo....I predict, this will be the hottest ticket for dinner for years to come. The room spreads the tables widely...they are a little low, immaculately dressed in shear starched Italian linen, that reminded me of the sheets at the Principe I Savoia hotel in Milan, the room was buzzy...table hopping and schmoozing was the lingua Franca ...dam good looking we all were too. The restaurant was filled with heavy hitters, power brokers, Russians, wobbly Louboutin shod giraffes and amazon's that had to almost squat to sit down as if they were eating on their knees. I went with Single Sam who knows a thing or two about women..."this is not the SAS set either" he helpfully pointed out "no hired help" (SAS himself had trotted down the street and was eating there too, perhaps a first) the air swirled and fogged with the dueling scents of 30 exquisitely turned out ladies who had come out, bejeweled and hungry. Everybody was simply gorgeous, ogling - Single Sam was forced to book his chiropractor to adjust his Cipriani twisted neck...without me the next night....he tried to return but alas....no room at this inn. Perhaps, now would be a good time to talk about the food...first surprise, it ain't expensive by Monaco standards, a better deal than, Piazza, Metropole, Maya Bay, Yoshi, and Rampoldi. Quick side note..Piazza still remains a personal favorite! The menu here is a classic and if you have ever been to any other Cipriani you would have a sense of return, of custom and familiarity. In fact once inside, with the exception of the portrait of Prince Albert you would not know you were in Monaco.
A lobster salad becomes perfection for me when the lobster is not over cooked and not fridgey frigid. This was perfect, not swimming in evo but rather kissed by Venetian olive oil that glistened and canoodled the majestic lobster. The basil was snipped to order, look carefully no burned edges, the seeded tomatoes "popped" and cradled the sea food....the haricot vert snapped "al dente style" the plating was bounty rather than twee. Single Sam double dated every dish with me and Stefano took his Solomon duties seriously divvying the bounty with referee fairness.
The treccia di bufala was a lesson in what a Caprese should be, prime ripe seeded coeur de boeuf Italian tomato, virgin white Neapolitan mozzarella flown in that day for you. To me it looked looked like a busty girl out on a date with her best red frock on.
The plating of the Yellow tail was phenomenal, only eclipsed by the sublime taste. A palette of white with shards of green mint, julienned to filaments that spiked every bite with lime freshness. This is date food.
For many carpaccio is the signature dish of Harry's Bar in Venice and it is worth mentioning that it is from there that Cipriani's have mushroomed around the globe, however for me the Rigatoni all Amatriciana is the bellwether, the gold standard, could Monaco's outpost rock that beacon for me.....I peeked over the edge as the serving dish was brought out and there was telltale hope, crimson bright tomato sauce clinging to the pasta...this looked promising...I twirled a rigatoni on the tines of my fork and then gingerly let it cross the transom of my lips, it hit my tongue and the first sensation was the ripe sauce with an immediate smoky hit of bacon, the pancetta and tomato were entirely two flavors that entwined in my mouth and came together as seasoned lovers would after weeks apart, full of longing, passion and desire. The next sensation was the al dente rigidity of the rigatoni, who showed up for the occasion clasping the fruits of this dish in its embrace. My eyes welled up, I'd been reunited with her, she's exquisite and she needs me like I need her, her name.....Amatriciana but alas I know she is not faithful and here lies the rub, she's been seen courting Pieter.
Turbot is perhaps the most noble of fish in the sea, albeit a white canvas, whilst the flesh is firm, the taste is ready to mop whatever saucing takes the chefs fancy and as luck would have it was capers that danced this dance, the wallflowers were three lonely turned potatoes who looked out of place in the presence of the fish
Pacherri al Genovese was a deft surprise, sold as a pasta dressed with 50% onion and 50% veal sauce we did not know what was coming but when I asked Stefano what it was his eyes rolled up into ecstatic acknowledgement that was akin to a blessing or benediction. All that was missing was a tap of the nose, a secret handshake and mystic door opening against a sidewall...I felt that I was being led into a private club of the knowing the choice to order this got me his benediction of approval. Don't let the picture fool you...this was an umami tousled epiphany...this is why we slaughter calves and why we should continue to do so for a very long time. This dish will cure vegetarianism!
After the main courses were cleared three waiters appeared with a living dessert menu, each clad with two different dishes. We tried three in the interest of you dear reader.
The triple chocolate cake was magnificent, the frosting swaddled the cake and creamy dark chocolate in a bittersweet creamy tango. The Venice cake was like a meringued Tropezienne light and gay, the final choice was made to order vanilla ice cream which was regressive and took me back to that poultice hot summer that was 1976 and the memory that ice cream can save the day.
1 ave Princesse Grace
98000 Monte Carlo