In Quistello, near Mantua, a truly unique restaurant, inspired by the Renaissance splendor of the Gonzaga banquets, gourmand, sumptuous and baroque, reborn in 2020 under the guidance of chef Matteo Ugolotti.
L’Ambasciata is a timeless place, oneiric in its original decor, which combines circus charm with that of the Renaissance patrician residences.
Its story begins in 1978 when Romano and Francesco Tamani opened their first restaurant, in the name a tribute to the family of the ambassador Adolfo Alessandrini, native of Quistello, and, to obtain space for the tables, they close the external courtyard of the building that housed the kitchen. This explains the strange shape of the room, a semicircle that amplifies the suggestion of the place. Among Rococo mirrors, silverware, period furniture, carpets, piles of books and art objects, the guest feels, in fact, the natural protagonist of a theatrical piece.
L’Ambasciata restaurant is like the Star Wars bar.
Over the years, in fact, the place has been enriched with many original objects and decorations, many of which were donated by illustrious guests, such as the silver palm by Mario Schifano or the portrait of Marta Marzotto, focusing on a delicious cuisine inspired by the Mantuan tradition.
If the combination of Mantua and Gonzaga is, in fact, indissoluble, it was their sumptuous banquets, think of those created by Isabella d’Este, that gave life to a first form of food entertainment ante litteram, able to combine the tradition of local farm products with the elaboration of the noble splendor.
It is precisely this type of cuisine that has made L’Ambasciata so famous throughout Italy, with legendary dishes such as the guinea fowl Vicariato style or the crispy sweet and sour muscovy duck, and it is also the one with which Matteo Ugolotti, from Parma, begins to move his first “gourmet” steps back in 2001. Later life takes him to Parma, Copenhagen, New York where he opens his own restaurants (“If you fancy the best tortelli in the world, go to Matteo Ugolotti’s” will say René Redzepi, chef-patron of the restaurant Noma Copenhagen) until in 2019 he learns that the restaurant where he was “born” may not continue its tradition.
His heart leads him to involve his current partner, Paolo Guaragnella, a business lawyer known in New York, and so in 2020 the L’Ambasciata reopens its legendary red door in the name of continuity and the management of chef Ugolotti.
In fact, everything has remained unchanged, or rather, paraphrasing Tomasi di Lampedusa and his famous saying “If we want everything to remain as it is, everything must change“, the dishes are the same, lightened to meet a more contemporary taste, in the menu a totally vegetable proposal has also been introduced, and the service is as young as they are passionate.
The historical dishes are, in fact, all there: from the lobster soup with Mantuan sausage and Borlotti beans to the Pumpkin tortelli with alpine butter and 36-month Parmigiano Reggiano, from Risotto with truffle from the floodplains of the Po river to the chocolate salami with hot Zabaglione cream served directly on the table with the copper pot.
Especially designed for business lunches, Matteo has also included in the menu various light yet delicious recipes such as Scampi, sour cream with yogurt, elderberry and tomato, Scallops with late Radicchio, de-sugared beetroot and extra virgin olive oil or Braxe cauliflower with Norcia truffle and Barbera sauce.
Oh yes, L’Ambasciata is worth a trip, as there aren’t many places left like this in Italy!
The famous Faraona del Vicariato recipe, made with grapes, orange, Campanine apple mustard and pomegranate seeds, has been served throughout the history of the Embassy to the most illustrious people of Italy, from John Paul II to Giulio Andreotti. Historic dish of the Gonzagas, in the Renaissance the meat was that of the peacock, replaced in recent history with the guinea fowl.