CottoCrudo restaurant: where top Italian ingredients meet Four Seasons service in Prague
Reopened in March 2012 and refurbished as a more informal dining spot at Prague’s Four Seasons hotel, CottoCrudo was an adventurous step by the hotel’s management. Its former restaurant had been for many years the only gourmet place in the Czech Republic holding a Michelin star. Every time I dined there though it was half empty, rarely hosting local connoisseurs, therefore it seems that switching to a less formal and fun environment was a smart idea. Quality and top-notch service still remain the code while one does not need to worry about what to wear and how to behave after entering the premisses of the luxurious Four Seasons.
CottoCrudo meaning “Cooked and Raw”, with its fresh and quality concept filled the gap on the city’s restaurant scene. There are other Italian bars offering great wines and snacks, but there is not a single place where you can sit at a comfortable table and choose either raw or cooked meal. Moreover, you will be served here, no need to pick a tray (like at a school eatery).
Cuisine: Modern Italian
Visit: September 2012
Price: Medium (for European capital city); high (for Prague; despite offering a two-course lunch menu for about $US 20; you find plenty of restaurants in Prague having the same – not quality, but two-course lunch – for half of that price)
Chef: RICHARD FUCHS worked under the previous Michelin awarded Italian chef and took over as an Executive Chef at the newly established CottoCrudo.
Atmosphere: Modern urban, sleek and fresh. The restaurant’s terrace offers a lovely view of the charming Prague castle and the river. You feel almost the opposite atmosphere of the cosy and packed Italian tratoria. At CottoCrudo you know that you are in the midst of a booming city as the design is very modern. It is an ideal place for an informal lunch meetings (despite it being located inside the elegant Four Seasons hotel) as well as for a cup of a frothy cappuccino with a friend. There is a lounge, bar and as you move to the restaurant part you see the ingredients including ham hanging and teasing your taste buds together with the cooled cheese bar. At the end, seeing all these delicacies in front of your eyes, it might be hard to resist to one of the cold cuts on the menu.
Food: Modern, fresh and creative. The restaurant embraces a philosophy “Some like it hot… Some like it cool”, thus you can select from a wide variety of cold dishes and cuts (Crudo Bar) such as the mozzarella bar, raw cut meats and raw seafood (Italian sashimi). The selection is tempting and perfect for an afternoon snack with a glass of wine or a refreshing starter.
From the antipasti I highly recommend the refreshing and tasty Beetroot & smoked ricotta salad with pistachio. The red beet is delicate and not sour as some of its pickled forms. The ricotta melts in your mouth, fresh greens add zest and pistachios crunchy texture and depth.
You can start with the Italian staple of Vitello tonnato with anchovies & caper dressing. I love this dish and I rarely disappoints me.
The chef recommends trying his Piedmont beef tartar, but I prefer the thinly diced French version to the chunky pieces of beef usual in this Italian take on tartar, so I have not tried it here.
From the fish starters I loved both the Sea bass, wild fennel, Taggiasca olives and Lobster, pink grapefruit, chives. The raw bar is excellent and the quality of the fish and seafood is high so you do not need to worry to get any disturbing aftereffects in your stomach. These dishes are refreshing and ideal with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc from Morava or Pinot Grigio from Italy.
Another fish starter with an Italian twist is the Salmon, rucola pesto, tomato confit, lemon zest. The fattier nature of salmon makes a richer meal and with a combination with an oily pesto it might be a second course for some light eaters. It is well-thought out dish – refreshing and satisfying at the same time.
The pasta selection is wide and if you feel like doing it today really like a true Italian, have a plate of them just before your main course – (that is a dinner time I am talking about though!)
As I had to conclude my lunch with a cup of frothy cappuccino I ordered Biscotti tipici Italiani as my dessert. Dipping crunchy almond cantucci into my cappuccino is my favorite pastime remaining from a teenage years spent in Italy.
Drinks: As I mentioned the cappuccino is delicious here, so if you do not have time for lunch or dinner just get a cup of this frothy coffee speciality. There are many wines by the glass, 26 wines will be available by mezzo (Italian carafe) and an extensive wine list of over 300 labels including Italian as well as Czech wines. Just ask the wine waiter which wine he would recommend for each of your dishes. I got a very helpful advice during lunch there.
Address: Four Seasons hotel; CottoCrudo restaurant; Veleslavinova 1098/2a; 110 00 Prague 1; Czech Republic
Contact: Tel: +420 221 426 880