Lele Usai has been making inroads in Ostia for some time now. Today Il Tino is his most ambitious venture. It is inside a large construction on a riverbank. The “Nautilus” is a restaurant with an easy formula, breakfast counter and cooking school.
It received a Michelin Star in 2015, JRE circuit. Although the dining area was remodeled and the furnishings were updated, Il Tino maintains a sober, clean, almost minimalistic style of an elegant yacht.
The kitchen is in view through a large picture window so he can his exhibit his technique and workmanship but also for the pleasure exchanging a few words. The white tablecloths would be too plain if it was not for the coral and the shells with marvelous colors that are set on the table as soon as you sit down by a kind and discreet service.
You can choose from between two tasting menus (7 courses for 95 euros, 9 courses for 120, both with dishes chosen by the chef) or à la carte.
The tasting sequence unfolds with the classics of the Tino and more recent dishes. The underlying theme is combining the fish from Fumicino’s daily auction, with a technique that is always more refined. This mastery is thanks to his travels and continual training (such as his recent experience in a tri-starred restaurant in Marseille).
The aperitivo is a base of pink shrimp with an oriental influence that introduces the marine fragrances and flavors of the antipasti: the beautiful iodized garden, the black cuttlefish with prunes and pork and treccina di tarallo (braided bread sticks), and the “testa e cuore” with shrimp. You are taken along a journey that is complex, curious and rich that also involves fragrances and aesthetics.
Nothing is abstract, in any case. It is enough to try the impressive bottoni with shrimp and saffron dedicated to Antonio Carluccio, a chef and friend of Usai who passed away last year. It is fresh homemade pasta with a stuffing of crunchy shellfish. Or, among the second courses, the catch of the day that is smoked at your table.
We close with a dessert that is modern in its presentation and nostalgic in its flavor: strawberries and lemon.
The wine list, also with a selection by the glass, spans the territory and includes international labels. The service is attentive without being invasive. There is a large basket of various kinds of really good bread (that you will however find added to your bill), which completes an experience that is rich in flavor and thought-provoking.
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