On the Adriatic coast in the northern part of Marche, Italy, just south of the crowds in Rimini, sits the sleepy port town of Senigallia; just north of my favorite seaside town of San Benedetto del Tronto. In this quaint town of roughly 40,000 people you will find Uliassi, one of the finest restaurants in Italy. This is a 3 star Michelin restaurant which means it is among the best in the world.
Last fall I was on a quest to find the best food and wine in the entire region. I had the privilege of visiting all of the finest restaurants and vineyards in an effort to fully understand the food and culture. Marche happens to be one of my favorite regions for food in Italy.
Uliassi is run by Chef Mauro Uliassi and his sister Catia who is in control of the front of the house. It is one of those culinary destinations that you should enjoy at least once in your life. Everything about it is top class and truly embodies a definitive, 3 star Michelin experience. Upon entering the restaurant, the mood is immediately set with clean, white lines and azure blue tile on the entrance. Inside, it is chic, clean and polished, yet somehow approachable. Catia is in complete control here, effortlessly working the room, cognizant of every detail and where each table is in the steps of service. The server and sommeliers hail from all over the world and are happy to be at Uliassi and learning from two of the best in the world.
I selected the 8 course degustazione (tasting) menu for lunch and was treated royally by Chef Mauro. Coincidentally, he is the most humble man you will ever meet; he prints “Cook in Senigallia” on his card rather than the presumptuous “Chef” title. I watched him touch every single table in the place, which was full by the way. His Squid Osso Bucco was so soft and flavorful and melted in my mouth. The Gamberi were so sweet and fresh as if they had just jumped out of the ocean and onto my plate. His presentations were clean, effortless and precise in their delivery of flavors.
Each course was perfectly paired with wines from all over Italy, but mostly Verdicchio which is a local variety found in Marche. Some of the highlights were Andrea Felici Verdicchio Di Castelli di Jesi (currently recognized as the number one winemaker in Italy) and Monacesca Verdicchio di Matelica.
Spaghetti Vongole: My favorite dish was the simplest one. Italy has a way of making the simplest ingredients taste the best. Mauro Uliassi takes it to a whole, new 3 star Michelin level. The clams were smoked and it added this extra depth of flavor, but with only 4-5 ingredients!
He graciously made me a few extra dishes to try such as the rabbit which was absolutely succulent! When you visit, please be sure to check out the dessert which looked like an artist’s painting on the plate, with the raspberry and chocolate displayed like a beautiful tree. I even received a tour of the kitchen which was bright orange, which is a bit unusual in kitchens. Mauro informed me that he feels it keeps people happy by looking at bright colors and I couldn’t agree more.
Senigallia is such a magical, little seaside port, but is also so indicative of how incredible a place the region of Marche really is. The seafood is among the freshest and best in the world. I am always so pleased to visit the Adriatic side of the region and still experience the special hospitality that Italy is so famous for. Next time you are planning a trip to Italy, you must add Marche and Uliassi on your mandatory list of places to try.
Bravo Chef Mauro!