There is no escaping the fact La Capanna di Eraclio is a Destination Restaurant: it’s in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the Po Delta. But don’t let that put you off – it’s close to Ferrara, a darling little city, and a good stopping off point if you’re going the non motorway route from Venice to the south.
It’s a family run restaurant and I should declare right now that one of my favourite Pasta Grannies, Vanda, is the matriarch. The chef is her daughter, Grazia, ably assisted by her daughter Elettra and various other members of the family. It was once the family home and it continues to have a comfortable homey feel; linen tablecloths and small posies of flowers in the dining room are the main concession to be being a restaurant. I like that. I like the wine list is a hand written ledger. I like everyone’s broad smiles. But most of all, I like the food.
The menu is mostly seafood and fish based. The mussels, for example, are hand-dived and free-range, and cooked with a halved lemon and black pepper. Sounds simple but it takes real skill to make something seem effortless – and those mussels were some of the best I’ve ever tasted.
My cappellini pasta with cuttlefish and its ink was subtle and rich, while my husband’s dressed crab caused him to stop talking for a full three minutes – a mark of a seriously good dish.
We ate here during the return leg of our road trip from London to Le Marche via Barolo and back again via Prosecco; it was the stand out meal of the journey. Go try it for yourself.
It’s closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
It doesn’t have a website, but you can find more information on the restaurant’s Facebook page