Milan’s Risotto crafted in SanJuan

If you took the Bellagio in Las Vegas, put it in a nano-compressor and shrunk it down to size, you would wind up with La Piccola Fontana located in El San Juan Hotel.

The restaurant has marble columns with voluted capitals at the top and glints of neon coming through a white fascia, contrasting with chandeliers capturing playful highlights over varnished mahogany tabletops. Small faux candles in the center of tables provide a touch of romance.

And while the decor may evoke an amusement theme reminiscent of the Vegas strip, everything else about La Piccola is authentic Northern Italian— through and through. From General Manager Matteo Siscatto, who comes from Tuscany, to Executive Chef Alfonso Pescarino, who is from Milan. The top dish is Pescarino’s risotto, of which he makes just about every possible combination; porcini risotto, shrimp risotto and risotto a la Milanese are just a few. The chef happily accepts the challenge to prepare combinations recommended and suggested by clients. Pescarino’s got his risotto craft down to a science a long time ago because he was weaned on the stuff in his days studying culinary arts in Milan. His secret is the arroz Arborio— don’t tell anyone—which he handles with the deft expertise of a butcher wielding his blade.

La Piccola Fontana has an impressive array of Italian wines. Some super Tuscans such as the Ornellaia Masseto 2008 and the Sassicaia 2000 are fantastic wines rarely found elsewhere, which underscores the quality of the list. It is no wonder that La Piccola Fontana has landed on the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence list for the past two years. As true Northern Italian cuisine goes, La Piccola Fontana is a tough act to follow.