The double Nadia of Dal Pescatore and Ristorante della Borsa

Translated from Hebrew by David Califa

When I was little I was enchanted by Erich Kastner's Das doppelte Lottchen "The double Lottie", the story of identical twins who were separated at birth, and met again in summer camp 9 years later. One a spitting image of the other, they realize they are sisters and that each was raised by one of their divorced parents. at the end of the summer they decide to trade places and the plot thickens

For years I was sure that somewhere in this world there's another Naama, one who's probably good pupil, excellent in sports, and in general blessed with all the virtues, and still, somehow, similar to me. Only when I grew up I realized that the other Naama is actually in me

I want to tell you today about the Double Nadia. Two chefs blessed with talent and charm. The 2 Nadias run established family restaurants, one is marked with 3 Michelin stars and the other divines pasta. They live in not far away villages about an hour from Milan, they know each other and each gladly send clients in the other's direction. I write about the 2 Nadias with great longing, mixed with a spoonful of anger, because the two of them ruined a little my trip to Italy

Ristorante Alla Borsa – What's good for the pope is good for me

Our friend Gaby Kaufman, the country's prominent Italian dry pasta importer, recommended us Nadia Pasquali's restaurant. "She makes the best fresh pasta in Italy, especially the Tortellini", his words

After driving for almost an hour in complete darkness on our way to the promised Tortelliniland, we enter a little village that lays underneath a great ancient fortress, and it is lit with a million lights. The annual Tortellini festival is apparently going on. Most of the streets are blocked to traffic, so we leave our car behind and mix in the crowd. Not a minute passes before we see her, the master of ceremony, in her little black dress and high heels with her blond hair tied in a loose braid and very beautiful. She's managing everyone, she's smiling to everyone and she's running back and forth from the village square to a restaurant, her restaurant, our restaurant. We realize that we entered the Tortellini capital of the world, and that we are soon to meet its queen, Nadia


For hundreds of years the restaurant was the place to meet and close deals for local merchants and traders, and when Nadia's parents Alceste and Albina Pasquali took it over in 1959, they named it 'alla Borsa', the stock exchange, for history's sake. 55 years later Albina and Nadia still roll and knead every day the same dough their ancestors have been making for hundreds of years. "I don't trust anyone with the dough" she winks to me, and in my mind I see her up all night filling with her dreams tortellini pillows that are are more comforting than any sleep

As Nadia piles golden and meaty tortellini into my plate and covers them with a full ladle of broth, she brags a little: "Even the pope eats my tortellini". "Even the pope…." her words make me smile inside and remember how my grandma Lilian used to fill her wardrobe only with expensive and fancy coats she used to buy in a store in London, the very same store in which Queen Elisabeth buys hers. Lilian used to buy them, but never wore them, because who goes shopping at the neighborhood grocery shop dressed in a pedigreed coat with mink fur collar and silk lining? One sip from the soup made me suddenly understand what I refused to understand when my grandmother was alive. At that magical moment I realized that the wonderful peace and comfort that engulfed the cynical woman I became when the taste of Nadia's silky broth and her dreams stuffed dumplings hit my brain, was the very same peace and comfort a wardrobe packed with unused fancy coats brought to my beloved grandma's hard life


There is no expert like myself in mixing pleasure with panic: "These tortellini are so good" I tell the rainmaker "How will I go back to eating Kreplach? What will I tell mom?" I am thinking about the holidays season that is around the corner, and about my mom's pride and joy – meat and liver Kreplach in a broth, knowing full well that they are not at par with these dreamy dumplings in front of me

We decide not to pay attention to any main course in the menu, and have our own pasta festival. The waiter asks us if we are sure, instantly realizing that he has business with two stubborn dumb asses , and delivers

Duck and rice tortellini, each one like a lunch box wrapped with so much care and grace of a loving mother. They are so delicate, their dough thin as skin, and still doesn't let the fantastic stuffing steal the show


Fresh porcini mushrooms are everywhere now. We choose porcini tagliatelle with a strong creamy sauce that smells like the fertile and damp earth that gives a man everything he needs


For dessert we get pumpkin and lemon tortellini with ragu on the side (a compromise with the waiter who refused to take an order for another pasta dish). I bite the first dumpling and forget about the ragu. I don't want anything between me and all the treasures and secrets I find in these pumpkin pouches


We can't really say goodbye to Nadia without tasting her Mostarda, a piquant peach jam made by her with mustard which is served with a generous helping of the sweetest Gorgonzola dolce. We hug Nadia and swear to be back. It's almost midnight but Nadia is energized as ever. In one hand she writes for us her recommendations for good places to eat in Florence, and in the other she packs some more Mostarda and Gorgonzola for the road. We kiss her go out to the empty street happy and in love, the way only people who saw the light can be



Dal Pescatore – A hard rain (of Michelin stars) is gonna fall

Before you see Nadia you see a smile, then you see two arms reaching for a hug, and then comes the heart. All these are Nadia and we see the light again, in her radiant face. 3 chubby and loyal cats follow Nadia. Well, as much as cats can be loyal. All three of them adopted her in one way or another and decided to stay because the food is good. And besides, if the people from Michelin gave Nadia 3 stars why should 3 smart cats look for another mom? Dogs they are not


We didn't find this Nadia too on our own.'Groans, tears and crying' was written on the little note our friend Yael Tevet the novelist put in our hand. And when Yael writes crying we put a handkerchief in our pocket and do what we are told, because her little notes are better than any star system

Nadia Santini lives in a villa in a small fisherman village on a lake. In her villa there's a vegetable garden and trees that give giant white peaches from which she makes me juice that easily beats any wine. Antonio, Nadia's husband, or the big boss as she like to call him, wouldn't agree with me, he prides his wine cellar and has the rainmaker's attention while telling him about the treasures in it


It's lunchtime at the first day after the long summer break, and we relax outside at the blossoming porch, filling our lungs with air we never breathed before, and probably will never breath in the big city. Waiting with us are also the 3 cats and a young Japanese couple. We are not the only ones with a camera

Little bowls with grilled pumpkin soup and basil arrive. I am so deeply sorry that they are only little bowls and not the whole pot. I don't especially love pumpkin, but this is a magnificent soup. 'The rainmaker too isn't crazy about pumpkin' I think to myself hoping that I can have his too. Not. The inside of his bowl is white, sparkling white. "And I don't really like pumpkin" he tells me apologetically, like a sinner


Fois Gras with passion fruit, white peach and sweet wine amde to perfection. I start debating with myself if the peach is tastier than the goose liver, but quickly decide not to decide


Tiny tortellini in consume remind us where we came from (the other Nadia) and where we are going to (Kreplach at new yesr's dinner at mom's). We eat quietly fully concentrated, like there are no family dinners in the world and like all the Kreplach in the world are like these


Saffron Risotto with balsamic vinegar. The Santinis produce their saffron from flowers they grow in there garden. The precious and delicate threads are carefully picked, dried and collected in a special box safeguarded by Bruna, Antonio's mom, the queen mother


In Nadia's world everyone has a role and all can leave peacfully with each other because everyone does what he's good in. Between pans and pots Nadia dreams a world of smiles and white peaches. Her dreams are changing with the seasons. In autumn mushrooms and apples replace the peaaches, but the smiles stay on, this is her secret. Because even if her guests won't remember every dish the enjoyed at her house, they can never forget the light that surrounds her face and the warmth of her hug

Tortelli di Zucca. The Michelin guide defines 3 star restaurants as worthy of a special trip. Well, this dish alone is worth a special trip. Tortellini with pumpkin, Amaretti cookies and her owm Mostarda, all under snow of the best Parmigiano Regiano. Like he fairy who turned a pumpkin into a golden carriage for Cinderella, Nadia's magic hands plays a miracle and turns a punpkin to all the moons and the suns and fills her candy tortellini with them

Each of us gets three magic dumplings, and this dish is bigger than any superlative


My soul leave my body and tells me from above 'you will remember this moment, you hear me? never forget it' never. it's so much bigger than first kiss…' And I remember nothing that came after. From the photographs I took I know we ate eel and see bass and duck and venison. Yes, the pictures prove we ate all these, but my brain hit its breaks to a halt when the tortellini appeared and doesn't let off of their memory. "Oh Nadia, Nadia" I tell her "How do I leave here? I wish I was a cat, I want you to adopt me too" I looked at the lucky creatures in her wake, and ate myself from envy


Nadia Pasquali and Nadia santini, One is bubbly like champagne and the other calm as the water in a lake, both are tied to family and tradition in strong knots of love, and both make tortellini that god and his angels are eating. This two made my trip to Italy and also ruined it, Because after eating at their restaurants I looked and looked in vain for pasta that will remind me the enchanted, thin and true dough that comes out of their hands. I looked and looked and didn't fine. So help me god…If he's not busy chewing tortellini


Ristorante Alla Borsa

Via Goito, 2
37067 Valeggio Sul Mincio VR


Ristorante dal Pescatore Santini

Località Runate, 15
46013 Canneto Sull'oglio MN


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