The north-west Italian region of Piedmont is synonymous with risotto. And the beating heart of this culinary tradition is the city of Vercelli, where risottorie, or restaurants specialising in risotto, are abundant. Hotel Cinzia, tucked away in the back of a 1960s tourist hotel, is one of the best places to sample it in Italy’s rice capital. The Christian and Manuel Restaurant is run by two brothers who give this dish a contemporary twist.
Christian and Manuel Costardi’s signature risotto contains Grana Padano cream, beer reduction, and coffee. It is intended to taste like cappuccino or tiramisu, but in risotto form. According to the Michelin Guide, the menu features twenty risottos, and the chef-owners’ unique dishes earned them a Michelin star.
Inspired by Andy Warhol’s “Campbell’s Soup Cans,” the Costardi brothers serve risotto in individual metal cans.
During an episode of “Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy,” while observing the preparation of risotto, the actor Stanley Tucci remarked, “This changes everything I thought I knew about risotto.” “This is a revelation. One can contains a thousand items. Wow!”
Tucci’s first experience with risotto was his mother’s risotto Milanese, which is featured in “The Tucci Cookbook.” For the rice, he suggests seeking out brands labelled ultrafine Carnaroli. If that is unavailable, most supermarkets carry superfine Arborio or Vialone Nano rice.
According to Tucci, there are two crucial steps to remember when preparing risotto:
“First, thoroughly heat the rice before adding any liquid,” he wrote in his cookbook. “This will seal the rice grains and prevent them from becoming overcooked. Second, after 12 to 15 minutes of cooking, check the rice for the desired texture. Risotto may be served al dente, with a slight crispness to the bite, or with a softer consistency — your choice. If you overcook risotto, it will turn into a paste.”