On our latest cuisine adventure we headed to the Gulf of Trieste in Northern Italy, on the border with Slovenia. We are welcomed by the small but luxurious resort of Portopiccolo. Nested in a private bay on the gulf and facing the Adriatic Sea, Falisia Resort and Spa offers unique moonlit sea views, a 5-star dining experience and luxury relaxation facilities. On top of that, the resort is built on a rocky hill and incorporates the architecture of a traditional Italian marine village. But among the many luxury features this resort has to offer, the fine dining experience stands out.
The Cliff Restaurant, located in the Falisia Hotel, is one of the ten restaurants and bars located at Portopiccolo. Before we head to our reserved table, let’s take a look around the restaurant. Our initial thought was “So simple, yet so luxurious”. This actually accounts for the entire village. The elegant table arrangements and impeccable white satin tablecloths certainly conveyed the 5-star feeling. The combination of royal blue and dark mustard yellow on the walls was emphasized by the dim lighting. Subtle jazz music in the background accompanied the waiter as he was showing us to our table.
Bold celebration of flavors
Upon our arrival at the Cliff, we were greeted with a plate of mini bread rolls and flatbread crackers with three types of spreads/dips: cream cheese, olive oil and black olive tapenade with garlic and anchovies. Since we had worked out an appetite after spending two hours in the SPA, this was the perfect way to start dinner. The bread rolls were already quite filling though so be careful not to eat too much of them. Oops!
While looking at the menu, another surprise came along. The complimentary dish consisted of finely pressed tomato and a brioche filled with burrata (a type of mozzarella cheese) and anchovies. Although being quite a small portion, we could tell it was a way to release our taste buds and prepares us for the mains.
Choosing a starter (Italian – antipasti) was not an easy task. Among some of the exquisite dishes were spicy risotto with vanilla and lime, ravioli with almond and pumpkin, and poached eggs. We opted for the king prawns with sweet & sour horseradish, orange and fennel; and the linguine with garlic, cream of Venus clams and red shrimp tartare.
The big fried prawns melted in the mouth, while the fennel and horseradish were a bit bitter at first. Not surprisingly, the orange was there to balance the taste and perfectly complement the salad, giving it a sweet-sour aftertaste. The presentation of the starter was quite intriguing, too. The cooked horseradish was shaped like a little dragon, it almost looked like a creature from the underwater. The black flat plate, fried prawns and dragon-like horseradish vegetable brought back to Portopiccolo the flavors of the Far East.
As for the other appetizer, it really hit home. Not only because we were in Italy, eating pasta, but because it was made from fresh, traditional ingredients. The linguine was prepped perfectly al dente, just as you’d expect from traditional Italian pasta. There was a prominent taste of garlic in the sauce, which was perfectly balanced by the cream of Venus clams. To discover the modern, sea flavor even more you had to dig a little deeper, where the red shrimp tartare served as a “bed” of the linguine.
Finally, for the main course we opted for the grilled sea bass (usually it is white, seasonal fish) served with potato tartlets, broccoli and saffron. With the first bite into the fish, I was amazed by its soft, tender texture. The skin was lightly grilled and sprinkled with salt which I personally liked. I suddenly realized that there were no additional salt and pepper on the table, because in a restaurant like this the deep nurturing flavors of the food are already perfectly balanced in the chef’s kitchen. The potato tartlet consisted of a pastry with potatoes which is typical for different cuisines – it was delicious, but also quite filling, on top of the sea bass.
We chose to pair the food with a fine glass of Chardonnay. Certainly, a well spent evening, enjoying a 5-star dining experience, celebrating the traditional flavors of Italian cuisine. The Cliff at Falisia Resort and Spa is the place to go if you want to be a part of this atmosphere. Finish the evening off with a stroll around the resort, looking at the sea moon path and surrounded by the rocky cliffs.