In a side-by-side comparison with wild caviar, there’s no doubt that the pristine waters and feed of the farmed variety make it the cleaner tasting, more esteemed choice across the board.
There is no question that Italy’s traditions surrounding food and wine are countless—but historically, caviar has been left to the Russians. Little do most people know that Italy is rich with “black gold”; the Ticino River is a secret source of top-grade sturgeon caviar. But the secret is spreading as Europe’s most recognized and voluminous producer, Calvisius, proves that Italy’s sustainably farmed caviar is a true royal experience.
Most easily found at their ultra-chic lounge in the ground floor of New York City’s Four Seasons hotel, Calvisius is the top choice caviar for acclaimed chefs like Eric Ripert and Michael White. Its taste and quality are unlike any other, as Calvisus is both farmer and producer—not like your typical merchant who must go through several middlemen. With a sustainable aquaculture farm called Agroittica Lombarda, located in the Brescian lowlands of Calvisano, Italy, Calvisius has direct control over every aspect of its fish and their eventual product.
From the natural spring water they swim in to the optimized, exclusive feed they’re given, every aspect of Calvisius caviar is controlled for their utmost wellbeing. The roe they yield is the purest, most clean-flavored product on the market, free of contaminants or water pollution. Agroittica’s perfect conditions allow the caviar harvest to extend through most of the year, resulting in a smaller shelf life and, therefore, a true malossol (low-salt) product with a more delicate, true flavor. Furthermore, each tin of caviar is properly labeled so that it can be traced to the exact sturgeon it hails from, giving Calvisius a comprehensive understanding of each batch’s freshness, provenance, species type, and so on.
With over 25 years of caviar production under their belt, Calvisius is still a young company—their sturgeon are allowed to mature for at least 12 years before harvesting—but already, their caviar has been hailed as Europe’s best and most sustainable by a variety of culinary and environmental organizations. In addition, Agroittica has garnered the top accolades and certifications in the field, including the ISO 9001, the IFS, and the BRC.
The proof is in the tin: Calvisius’ white sturgeon malossol, their best seller, features large dark gray pearls whose unmistakably mild, nutty taste reveals the purity and delicacy associated with only the best. It pops and melts on the tongue, hardly salty at all—a surprise for those unfamiliar with caviar of this quality. Even more prized, perhaps, is their classic oscietra, almost clear with an amber-like translucence. Its aroma is more intense, the texture taut and firm, literally exploding on the tongue and yielding the unadulterated flavors that caviar enthusiasts seek out almost religiously. In a side-by-side comparison with wild caviar, there’s no doubt that the pristine waters and feed of the farmed variety make it the cleaner tasting, more esteemed choice across the board.
To experience these ocean gems, there’s nothing quite like the swanky year-old Calvisius lounge at the Four Seasons—the first and only of its kind. The space, designed by renowned architect James D’Auria, is anchored by a beautiful backlit display of Calvisius’ signature items—any of which can be enjoyed at the white onyx bar with a glass of champagne or, just as easily, taken to go.
For novices developing their caviar palates, Calvisius offers tasting flights called “solamente,” seven-gram portions with all the necessary accoutrements for extensive tasting. The beverage list—a comprehensive menu with the most high-end names in Champagne and vodka—gives ample choices for diners to find the perfect pairing for their chic culinary experience. Calvisius also sells their caviar worldwide through their e-commerce site, www.calvisiuscaviar.com. Its direct-to-farmer relationship ensures freshness and quality control.
Calvisius Caviar Lounge is located at 58 East 58 St., New York, in the ground level of the Four Seasons Hotel. It is open from 12-9 p.m. daily, with availability for private gatherings and parties.