I think I lost count of all the "cheapest Michelin starred restaurant" lists that are duly rediscovered at every presentation of the red guide, mainly because (at least concerning Italy) many reports regard restaurants whose prices are absolutely aligned with equally-prized eateries which, however, integrate their offer with a business lunch at a reduced price, whose composition has nothing to share with what you can buy at full price.
It’s quite strange that none of the aforementioned rankings mention this establishment in Imperia where, both lunch and dinner, customers can order a surprise tasting menu, whose dishes are also available à la carte, at the competitive price of 38€.
Andrea Sarri is an old acquaintance of the "tire guide", having been chef and owner of the Agrodolce in Oneglia, where he already earned the red asterisk. The location change coincided with the conversion to chef/farmer: a line of thinking having in Enrico Crippa (Piazza Duomo at Alba) its leading authority. In fact the words "from our orchard" appear quite often in the menu.
Actually great attention is given to vegetal components, which have a major role in the composition of the courses, whose tastes and consistences are exalted by non invasive cooking. Anyway the real protagonist remains the sea, not only the Ligurian one, declined in preparations both with an approach exalting the raw materials (bonito and yellowtail) and more elaborate, like the cod with potato foam and the more indecipherable "plin" ravioli.
The cooking is sometimes original and sometimes more conservative, but maintains a thoroughly enjoyable level till the end. Some tuning is needed for service instead: I can define it "zealous" but not free of inaccuracies (appetizer falling on the table and naively restored by the waiter) and sometimes with lack of coordination ("Yes, we can make wine pairing by the glass" / "No, we can’t make wine pairing by the glass"). For sure, considering the competitive prices, I have very few difficulties in letting it go.
In summation, the money/happiness indicator aims high, and this explains the high customer inflow despite of the zone being less touristic than others nearby locations. An unmissable stop if you are passing by, remembering to book a table in due time.
Prices (January 2017)
First courses: 16-28€
Main courses: 22-30€
Tasting menu: 38€
Lungomare Cristoforo Colombo, 108
Tel. +39 0183 75.40.56
Closed Wednesday and Thurday at lunch.