In one of the most evocative areas of the historic center of Vittorio Veneto, in front of the ancient castle, right next to the Porta di San Giovanni, also called Porta della Muda due to the ancient customs house that was once located in the building, Cardus is one of the reference points in Italy for “wild local food”. The chef and owner, Paolo Balbinot, is a forager who uses wild plants and edible flowers to create his dishes that have solid roots in the territory in the memory of who we are.
Cardus contains part of its history in its name: thistle, in fact, is a vegetable already known in Roman times and, above all, it is the symbol of Scotland where the chef has lived for years before returning to his lands of origin and give life to his dream fine dining project. It enhances Paolo’s instinctive, rebellious, humble cuisine that embraces a lifestyle based on recycling and respect for the earth.
The interior décor boasts clean and elegant lines which highlight the beauty of the fourteenth-century walls and the historicity of the building. The design details have been made by hand and designed for the most part by Paolo himself. From the table at the entrance, made with sections of briccole (the wooden Venetian mooring posts) and resin, to the wooden furnishings in the central room, to the 1960s sofa by Gio Ponti, everything has been chosen with the same care that is reserved for the food and wine offer. The common thread that binds Paolo’s dishes is seasonality together, of course, with the enhancement of the best local products, from Alpago lamb to Tarzo cheeses. Each of the chef’s dishes is a tribute to the richness of nature that is expressed in the use of wild plants and flowers, personally collected by Paolo and his father in the hills of the area.
The menu changes according to the availability of raw materials, from first fruits to the catch of the day, that inspire the creation of traditional recipes revisited in a contemporary way. Each dish is a wonderful explosion of taste and colors: from smoked cypress risotto with creamy pumpkin, guinea fowl reduction and river cress, to squid with beetroot tartare, marinated radishes, liquid escarole and wild carrots; from ombrina fish with radicchio, artichokes, plums, green beans and pomegranate reduction to rosemary and honey ice cream with almond and chamomile crumble, dried pears, persimmon wafer and meringue.
An essential and elegant mise en place accompanies Paolo’s recipes, creating absolute harmony. The wine list goes hand in hand, offering an excellent list of over 300 labels, mainly biodynamic.
The botanical soul of Cardus is also expressed in the proposals of the bar, where cocktails and short drinks are also prepared using natural syrups and extracts handmade by the chef such as, for example, the Hugo served with real Elderberry syrup or AmeriCardus, a special Americano that is truly unmissable!
Thanks to its delightful déhor, an intimate and relaxing secret garden, Cardus is also perfect for an aperitif or after-dinner drinks with friends.
In line with the idea of nature and sustainability, instead of the classic tablecloth, the tables are set up with hemp runners and placemats. One different from the other, they come from original fabric rolls dating back to the 1950s.