Average cost: $30-50
Classic Italian off Delegatskaya
Charles W. Borden
It’s difficult to keep up with Moscow’s new restaurant openings, and based upon stats, the Italian chef recruitment business must be booming. L’Albero is just one of a number of post-crisis Italian newcomers on PASSPORT’s must-visit list. Opened by veteran restaurateur Andrey Zaitsev (Noa), l’Albero is ensconced in a grand old two-story building behind the fenced yard of an educational organization on quiet Delegatskaya, just north of the Garden Ring. The interior is light and open with huge windows, tables large and widely spaced, providing a very relaxed and quiet environment.
Jean-Michel Brunie of Credit Suisse, Elena Fedko of Baker McKenzie Kiev, and Antoine Poissonier of Collection Privee joined John Ortega and me for dinner. We were fortunate to meet resident chef Nicola Canuti to discuss his work and recommendations. Canuti’s menu is “classic Italian with a new taste” according to the promotions. Canuti has worked in several Alain Ducasse restaurants including his Spoon restaurants in St. Tropez, Tunis and Mauritius.
L’Albero has a selection of Canuti’s pasta, risotto, and meats creations and an ample selection of grill seafood that range in price from 290r per 100 grams for calmari to 900r for octopus. I started with an Octopus and Artichoke Salad (1550r), large sections of octopus presented on an artichoke puree with hazelnuts, delightful. The pleasing, fresh, bright green Minestrone (400r) was beautifully presented.
The signature meat dish is a lamb filet, oven cooked slowly for 36 hours with fennel, oregano, cumin and sumac (1250r), which unfortunately was still in the oven. Nicola recommended the Osso Buco with Vegetables (1350r), which was perfectly cooked and served with a small silver spoon to lap up the centerpiece pureed marrow from the bone.
The restaurant prides itself on its bakery, and not just the creative, fresh baked goods that started the meal; we topped off the meal with a selection of small sweets from the chef’s recipe book. L’Albero is easily one of Moscow’s top Italian restaurants.
Business lunches range from 750 to 1200 rubles. Cooking classes are the rage in Moscow now, and chef Canuti has joined in. Classes are 3500 rubles, but children can apparently join as well, free.