Among the camphors and olive trees, oleanders and bougainvilleas, the wonderful "Lemon Tree" begins and the gastronomic adventure of Lido 84 inaugurated by Giancarlo and Riccardo Camanini.
It is this magical place bordered by Lake Garda that ignites the inspiration of Chef Riccardo and provides him with a beautiful part of the products that he then transforms into his kitchen. It is Giancarlo who expresses the spirit of the Lido 84 with care and attention. Whether inside the magnificent glassed-in living room or outside, in the middle of the vast patio, one tells on what idea of conviviality is in the restaurant by letting the cooks of the team introduce the dishes that leave the kitchen.
Perhaps the most obvious example of Riccardo’s cooking philosophy is his infamous dish of Cacio e Pepe cooked inside a pig’s bladder – quite possibly one of the most Instagrammed dishes in Italy. ‘The idea came about one day after work when I went back to my brother’s house,’he explains.‘We poured a glass of wine and watched television. I had been thinking about creating a spicy, strong dish for the menu but didn’t know which direction to go in. I’d read about this Roman technique of using animal organs as containers to cook in – Bartolomeo Scappi, the Pope’s chef in the 1500s wrote a whole book about it. After trying a few different pasta dishes that turned out too al dente, I decided cacio e pepe had just enough cheese and liquid to make the pasta soft enough. It took a long time to get the dish right but it is a favourite of mine.’
Working with people like Gualtiero Marchesi and Raymond Blanc has made produce just as important as the cooking techniques for Riccardo, and he’s constantly working with suppliers to make sure he only gets the very best. ‘We have an excellent fisherman who catches us pike and sardines from the lake, and a butcher who is just as open-minded as me [he says this while picking through a box of sheep heads, inspecting the brains and eyes]. We are also resourceful – we make the most of the cedar trees and herbs surrounding us, using an extractor to make juices and oils from what we forage, to add to broths or risottos.
In 2014, at the age of 40, Riccardo felt the need for change. Along with his brother, Giancarlo, they invested their savings into what was then a dilapidated building in the lush Gardone Riviera, and their restaurant, Lido 84, was born. Shaded by camphor and olive trees and lapped by the iridescent Lake Garda waters, the restaurant was their gift to themselves, and an opportunity for the brothers to finally realize their dream of owning their very own restaurant.
‘We found a retro lido [outdoor swimming pool] by Lake Garda, which was owned by an old ladyand her family. We wanted to respect her legacy and kept the name Lido 84. In fact, we made very few changes to the actual building, but designed a décor that was inspired by the colours of the lake, 1960s Art Deco and the works of celebrated Italian film director Federico Fellini.
‘Our philosophy for the restaurant was to pay homage to the quality of time. We look at the dining experience as a whole; every detail counts and our dishes must show respect to the ingredients we use and the customers who come through our doors. I respect the products, the techniques and the mystery that can be found in every plate of food.
Corso Giuseppe Zanardelli 196
25083 Gardone Riviera