TREVISO — This kind of news is hard to swallow: the historic Beccherie restaurant in Treviso that created tiramisu decades ago, will close its doors March 30. Gone will be the original version of the legendary dessert that has become a worldwide symbol of Italian cuisine.
That’s because the economic crisis has been tough on the Campeol family, who have run the restaurant since September 1939. “Nowadays,” says current owner Carlo Campeol, “even bars and tobacco shops offer things to eat, and it’s impossible to compete.”
The Beccherie has been struggling for a while now, and it’s no longer considered an iconic culinary temple where people can enjoy tiramisu and other delicacies from the Treviso area— from pasta e fagioli to risotto.
Both the Michelin and Gambero Rosso restaurant guides had stopped highlighting the restaurant, and the prestige of having created such an iconic dessert was not enough to restore the restaurant to its glory days.
It was the late 1960s, when the founder’s wife Alba and pastry chef Roberto Linguanotto decided to reinvent an old recipe called the Imperial Cup. Another restaurant in Treviso called El Toula has also claimed the creation of tiramisu. Neither had patented the recipe, and debate about who deserves the credit has been endless.
Beccherie never stopped being proud of creating an excellent export, just like the carpaccio dish and Bellini cocktail in Harry’s Bar in Venice, which has also since suffered from the economic crisis.
This “energetic” dessert — let’s not forget that tiramisu literally means “pick me up” in Italian — has a certain aura about it, linked to the amorous capabilities of Italians.
Each region boasts a similar version, because everything is complicated in Italy. A similar dessert was known at the time of the Venetian Republic, when the Libertines ate it in the brothels of the Serenissima. General Cavour reportedly enjoyed the Piedmontese version. And further south in Siena, people say that pastry chefs created Zuppa del Duca in the 17th century for Duke Cosimo III, a dish that could be considered the grandmother of tiramisu.
So, what’s the secret to the ultimate tiramisu? A perfect balance of Savoyard biscuits, coffee, mascarpone, cream and zabaglione.
These ingredients are so typically Italian. Savoyard biscuits are typical of the Piedmont region, mascarpone comes from Lombardy, Venice is the capital of coffee and Marsala wine comes from Sicily. In other words, Tiramisu is almost the perfect symbol for Italian unification.
Some people make theirs with Pavesini biscuits instead of Savoyard, others replace Limoncello with coffee. Some people don’t put cream on it, and others deconstruct it, rendering it unrecognizable to the original. But everyone can agree that a meal cannot be finished without sinking a spoon into this culinary delight. Just like the famous coffee slogan says: “What’s amazing about the dessert from Beccherie is that the more you swallow down, the more it lifts you up.”