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Everything posted by fortedei

  1. This is something I posted about Ne' here in 2005. "La Brinca in Ne'. Ne' is just slightly south of Chiavari, not that far off the autostrada, albeit a little difficult to find (up a winding dirt and gravel road in the middle of the vineyards). Sergio Circella has basically taken his family's trattoria and enhanced the typical 'rustic' dishes (from the Ligurian hills) which are served, with a wonderful wine list and a cantina where you can buy anything from the list. Sergio is passionate about wine (with no snobbism of any kind) and loves to talk about food as well. A fun guy to be with. As Antonio Santini said: "this is a wine list which would rate a 17 or 18 in Gambero Rosso if they rated wine lists of trattorie." A trattoria which, except for the wine list, was commonplace in Liguria 25 years ago, but sadly is dying out. Cucina povera at its best.
  2. We haven't been to dei Mosto in a few years and am happy to see that it is still the same old great place. We've been to La Brinca several times and actually prefer dei Mosto, certainly in terms of food. The wine lists are comparable. The ambiance at La Brinca is better if that has any meaning to you. Both are really excellent trattorie. BTW, La Brinca does open for lunch on Sunday. Wonderful Ne' local color at Sunday lunch. If you're going to go to Chiavari, a must go place is Luchin. Great farinata and many other Genovese specialties, in an osteria setting (i.e. basic, basic) under the arches. Well prepared osteria food. A really fun place, particularly at night, but also a wonderful place for lunch.
  3. And where were the white truffles from?
  4. fortedei


    The best pasta, not necessarily the best restaurant, is Bruna Santini's at Dal Pescatore. No one, for us, makes stuffed pasta the way she does. No one. There is no number two. Third place would be Walter Ferretto's plin at Cascinalenuovo in Isola D'Asti, but it is a distant third. Great pasta and filling that is out of this world (think of the dish finanziera, and then grind the meats for the stuffing; incredibly rich flavor, with featherlike pasta) Up until a few years ago, Romano Tomani at Ambasciata in Quistello made, in our mind, the best pasta, both stuffed and non stuffed. The master was at work. Unfortunately, the restaurant is now outrageously, and I really mean outrageously, expensive. Il Latini and the others are sad. I've had Carlo Cracco's risotto many times, outside of Alba, not at Peck. Eh! Try Luciano Zazzeri's risotto di mare at La Pineta in Marina di Bibbona, made from scratch as it should be, not pre cooked for 12 minutes and laid on a sheet as almost all restaurant risottis are made today, in other than small places. No restaurant in Italy, worth its salt, would ever serve celeriac or herb pasta. Only the French would do it.
  5. fortedei


    You said: "The classic and beautiful spaghetti box (or some called it castle). This is probably one of the most stunning dish presentations in the world; the pasta is meticulously arranged with high precision. More importantly it’s divine – delectable white ham and mushroom with powerful yet balanced truffle and parmesan cream sauce. I think it’s worth the price tag … I couldn’t remember any Italian restaurants preparing better pasta/spaghetti than this one. Bravo! " The reason you couldn't remember any Italian restaurants preparing better pasta, is that this is not an Italian dish and any Italian restaurant worth its salt would never do something like this. Italians eat pasta, they don't play with it. As I've said many times here before, the French, in my mind, are the best chefs in the world, but they (in general) don't know how to cook, nor sauce, pasta and the same is true for risotto. Never eat pasta or risotto in France.
  6. Perhaps when the writer was referring to the undrinkable wine, he/she was commenting on the fact that it was a poor Merlot. What is a restaurant like this serving a Merlot?
  7. Vico does in fact have three one stars and of course Saracino with two. A reading of Gambero Rosso will make you wonder why three one stars. At L'Accanto and Antica Osteria Nonna Rosa the dishes are weird. Young kids trying to make a name for themselves by serving very different dishes from the norm. Maybe it works in the long run, maybe it doesn't. Most of the time, from what I've seen in Italy, the resturants fade... because the Italians don't want to eat that way and/or the chefs really don't have enough experience in running a restaurant on a long term basis. Even Gambero Rosso is very lukewarm in the numerical rating, giving L'Accanto a 78 and Antica 77, ratings that hundreds and hundreds of average restaurants have. Maxi, the third of the single stars, sounds much better. dishes that seem to make sense. Gambero rating is 78. Never having been to any of them, this is my close reading (between the lines) of Gambero. Maybe the Michelin is ahead of the curve this time. I doubt it because for the past 30 years that I've been following it closely, the thought behind the book in Italy is not about the food.
  8. If you look at the comments here and see what he served,and have been there and experienced it, there is no debate and scandal. What he was serving and the way he served it was scandalous. This is similar to the huge demotion in Gambero Rosso for Cracco. As I've said here many times, Carlo was a very good restaurant owner and chef, when he was in the countryside outside of Alba. He was a good regional chef. A really charming guy. A pleasure to eat at his restaurant. To elevate him to close to the top within two years of the time he got to Milan was sheer folly. And as quickly as they rise, that's how quickly many of them have fallen... and will fall. Question? With thousands of recipes in Le Ricette Regionale Italiane, why do these guys, and they're almost all guys, think they have to re-invent everything. If some of them had a good understanding of the basics of cooking, it might be one thing. It is totally another when they don't have more than the rudiments of cooking. Not much of real significance changed in Gambero Rosso, Michelin and L'Espresso, except as noted above and Vittorio. Quistello lost its second star (one of the great ones in former years going back to the early 80s, not so much in the last few)and some changes in Tre and Due Gamberi. Gambero Rosso, the restaurant, is nowhere listed (closed at this time last year as the guides came out),and at least by this writer won't be missed. What an over-rated place. On a very sad note. Some of us had wonderful meals during the 70s, 80s and 90s (and perhaps some of you had good meals there more recently) at La Mora in Ponte a Moriano outside of Lucca. Sauro Brunicardi was a wonderful restaurant owner, the possessor of an incredible palate re wine (and just about as good re food), a warm, extrodinarily giving man, both as a person and a restaurateur. A friend to many. Sauro died last week. He will be missed. What a really nice guy. http://iltirreno.gelocal.it/dettaglio/trovato-morto-sauro-brunicardi-patron-del-ristorante-la-mora/1794283
  9. Our tastebuds must be different. The zucca is the sweet part of the tortelli di zucca, the amaretti are bittersweet (from the almonds and sugar) and the mostarda is very sharp and spicy from the senape. How does that translate to sweet unless you use commercial amaretti and even then...? Use only fresh zucca and you get sweet (Emilia-Romagna). Use mostarda and amaretti and you don't get sweet (Lombardia), at least in the restaurants I've gone to. Sweet wine (by the way, red or white?) with tortelli di zucca? Wow. That sounds like Emilia-Romagna to me. Clearly we don't go to the same places in Lombardia.
  10. It IS the natural habitat of tortelli di zucca, the kind that contain amaretti and mostarda, but the food of that corner of Lombardia has a lot more in common with Emilia-Romagna than with, say, Milano. I always say the regional divisions are for the convenience of cookbook editors, who have 20 ready-made chapters, and that the gastronomic map would show very different divisions than the political. The natural habitat of the non-sweet tortelli di zucca is Ferrara, in Emilia-Romagna. ← With all due respect to you, I have spent an extensive amount of time, over the last thirty- five years, eating in that little corner of Lombardia and that little corner of Emilia-Romagna. Mantova, not Ferrara is the natural habitat of non sweet tortelli di zucca. All you have to do is see where most of the zucche grow and where most of the mostarda is made. I agree that food in that corner of Lombardia has more in common IN GENERAL with Ferrara or even Parma. However, and this is very important, once you get south of the Po, even a few kilometers, the change from olive oil to butter is significant and the cuisine changes dramatically. This is the "south of the Po butter rule", except for that very tiny pocket of land south of the Po that is in Lombardia, where olive oil still holds sway. To paraphrase the late Tip O'Neill... "all cooking fat is local."
  11. Why did I think the natural habitat for tortelli di zucca was Mantova (in Lombardia)?
  12. The photos alone, to say nothing of the food that is presented, leave a (very) lot to be desired.
  13. Are you kidding me. This is Italy, not France.
  14. If you were thinking of going to Gambero Rosso, go to La Pineta in Marina di Bibbona
  15. Lorenzo is very expensive. Your non fish eating 12 year old will be very unhappy unless he wants a steak. For fish go to Bagno Bruno, a bagno on the Lungomare. Only lunch except Friday and Saturday for dinner as well. The best fish, scampi, mussels and pasta with clams etc. in Forte. Trust me.
  16. Domaine Tempier is open to the public for tasting... at least it was two years ago.
  17. Very close to Busseto and about 12km. from Miriam's (La Buca) in Zibello. It is a very similar restaurant to Da Ivan. The food is a bit more flavorful and better plated, the cooking a touch more refined. Both, however, are wonderful places in the style of the late great Beppino Canterelli of San Busseto (who was the father of the post war revival of regional Italian cooking). Of course, on a different scale because it is an entirely different type of place, there is nothing (and no one) like Miriam's.
  18. Locanda La Fiaschetteria in Besenzone is in the heart of culatello country ( they produce their own culatelli) and for opera fans, very close to Roncole Verdi and Busseto. Run by Giani Rigoni and his wife Patrizia Dadomo, Fiaschetteria offers excellent food and wine (his passion) in a wonderful setting. The Locanda is set surrounded by farms and green fields. It has three very comfortable rooms (all with redone bathrooms), so there is no need to drive after dinner. Well paced service is very professional but casual and friendly, not stuffy. Well prepared, well plated, flavorful dishes. A very good place to eat and stay in the Parma area, run by friendly accommodating hosts. To give you an idea of the menu: for antipasti my wife had millefoglie di alici marinate al prezzemolo, mousse di capperi e bruschetta; I had fiori di zucca al forno ripieno di faraona. For primi, Savarin di riso (ciambella di risotto allo zafferano, con sugo di porcini, polpettine ai tre macinati e ricoperto con lingua di manzo salmistrata).I had the ravioli riepieni di brasato di vitello. For main courses: Lumache sgusciate cotte nel coccio and I had the Arrosto di capretto. Two desserts, aperitivi, one glass of dessert wine and a bottle of 2005 Taber Lagrein Riserva, came to a toal of 165 Euros. The room was 120 Euros. GO !!! The web site is www.la-fiaschetteria.it
  19. Chez Georges on the rue du Mail in the 2nd.
  20. On the way down from Nice, for fish, would definitely have lunch at Muraglia Conchiglia d'Oro in Varigotti (near Finale Ligure). Here in Forte (and nearby in Viareggio), in spite of the fact that Romano is a close friend of more than 30 years and Roberto is a great sommelier, I'd definitely choose Lorenzo, not only for the food, but for the incredible wine list. Of course, I'd choose La Pineta in Marina di Bibbona over both of them, not because the food is necessarily better (it's different), but because of the total experience (there is no one nicer than Luciano) and the setting (a "shack" on the beach).
  21. kai-m. You didn't miss anything re Gambero Rosso (see below from 2006). After having a dozen meals or so at La Pineta, Robert is choosing the better restaurant. Just try Luciano's version of cacciuco and his gnochetti al nero di seppie and his millefoglia di baccala. Oh, and don't fill up on his sicchine (thin, thin foccacia) before the meal... totally addictive. Great restaurant... no. Very, very good... you bet and with no attitude. A happy place. Gambero Rosso in San Vincenzo. This was originally written to a friend when my wife and I went to Gambero Rosso in early June, three years ago. Contrast Gambero Rosso, (which is one of the best restaurants in Italy according to the Gambero Rosso and L’Espresso and has two Michelin stars) to La Pineta, both restaurants in the Maremma just 20 kilometers from one another. “What can one reasonable expect from a two star Michelin where we had a lunch bill of 275 Euros? Should one expect a nice, perhaps even warm, greeting…perhaps a buon giono or a buona sera? In this case we had a 300 pound maitre d’ in a tux who merely asked our name and escorted us to our table. No greeting… no nothing! Perhaps one could expect that La Signora might be a presence in the dining room, perhaps even make one feel as if it were good to have them come to the restaurant that day. La Signora entered the restaurant at precisely one o’clock, dressed in Bermuda shorts, a fancy tee short, and a sweater thrown over her shoulders, almost as if she were going to the beach on that early June day. She was. There were 15 people at seven different tables (three others came in and sat at another table much later). La Signora took the orders from each table, and exited the dining room at 1:15. Seven tables, fifteen minutes! We saw her go to the beach after she left the restaurant. This left the maitre d’ in charge, a maitre d’ who didn’t care whether he poured our wine into the glass or on the table, and who left the dining room at two o’clock, never to be seen again. At 2 PM you had a situation in the dining room with no Signora, no maitre d’, no chef… no presence in the dining room except for two inept junior waiters. Perhaps one might expect Fulvio Pierangelini to be a bit gracious. Not a chance. When we got up to leave, the last people in the restaurant, my wife nicely asked Pierangelini if we could have a menu (the computer insert which he had in profusion by the register). He refused to give it to her and was unbelievably rude. That was a first for us in a very long history of dining in Italy over the last 35 years. Pierangelini and we have a number of restaurant owner friends in common... he didn’t care. We were better dressed than anyone in the restaurant. We weren’t loud. My wife speaks perfect Italian. In the many times we’ve asked for a menu (and this was not even the menu, merely an insert), never once have we been refused. But then again, perhaps he doesn’t want or need repeat customers who are willing to spend 275 Euros for lunch. Now the food. One dish was extraordinary, two were good, one should never have been served. The ameuse was a very intense terrina di pesce with a basil sauce. It was delicious but looked atrocious; far too much sauce on a plate much too small. Plating in general was very poor and all the plates had flowers on them. For an antipasto, I had the passatina di ceci con crostacei. This should never have been served. I don’t want to say that the gamberi at some point were frozen, but they had no taste and the texture was bordering on soft cardboard. The plate was overwhelmed by the passato of chick peas. My wife had a misto piccolo verdure, which consisted of several marinated vegetables. It had little taste and was served in a bowl. For the primi: Lassagnetta alla marinara. Very thin eggless pasta (really excellent) wrapped around a mixture of seafood (good). The truly outstanding dish was the tortelli di cozze . The intensity of the mussels was not to be believed and the pasta was wonderful. Secondi: My wife had the spigola con prosciutto, which although sounding strange, was okay. I had the maiolino “Cinta Senese.” This was, of course, a takeoff on the French serving all the parts of a duck. Here it was everything from salami to prosciutto to the liver. Ten different parts, served ten different ways. Very creative and served nicely (a platter held four small dishes which could be lifted out and replaced as the course progressed). Very creative, but with very little taste. For dessert: Fresh figs with fig ice cream. So, so. The candied orange peel detracted from the figs. Also, a raviolo arance which was okay. Coffee that could have been from Starbucks. Wine: The best wine list I’ve ever seen in Italy, with the exception, of course, of Pinchiorri (but why would anyone want to eat there?!). I think that is why so many people like the restaurant. They can do vertical tastings of Sassicaia, Solaia, Ornellaia and the “great” Barolos and Barbarescos (which are not so great) and then brag to their friends about what they had. However, even here, Pierangelini has a very bad affectation. For some of the wine, he has no price, only his initials FP. This is supposed to mean that it is wine in his cellar and not for sale. As one of the guides said... what a conceit. If you don’t want to sell it, don’t put it on the list. Other strange things: The inept staff brings out bottled water and then in full view of everyone, pours it into a silver pitcher. Does the water get better when it is transferred, in the dining room, from a plastic bottle to a silver pitcher. Tacky. For 275 Euros, could they give us more than one breadstick apiece? We’ll never go back. Way, way overrated, but he’s laughing all the way to the bank.
  22. Tupac, You said: "If you praised or at least mentioned by name the places you like with the same sort of fervor you display when talking about the places you don't, then I think all the readers of this forum would benefit from it greatly." Gee, that's really a strange comment. Thought for sure I wrote many reviews of places I liked, to say nothing of the very extended colloquy a few years ago on this site about restaurants of the 80s and 90s (many of which are still around and serving great food). In fact I have written extensively on places I enjoy and below are just a few (the search function is poor and there are many more). My criticisms have been about places which Ptipois described so well on the French board: "Self-centered chef cooking, narcissistic cooking, cooking aimed at the chef's self-expression rather than feeding the customers in a generous, sensuous, unselfish way, what is referred to in French as "faire à manger". ...cuisine narcissique" is an inward movement, a reality that is often blurred by the admirers of the chef who value "innovation" and "creativity" over taste, and maintain the illusion that they are really satisfied for sensorial reasons, when in fact it is more a matter of being part of a cultural elite." wow, did he hit it on the head. Just perfect. There are many of these places in Italy. Most won't last in the way that they are cooking. They'll go out of business or change. As I said recently, one very big name is in a lot of financial trouble because very few Italians want to go to his restaurant more than once and not enough non Italians want to go their either. Some of my positive reviews that have been posted: June 12, 2007. A few years ago, the Gambero Rosso, in addition to listing its thoughts on the best restaurants in Italy, started to list its thoughts on the best trattorie in a section called Tre Gamberi. Over the last few years, we have tried two of them, La Brinca in Ne’ which is south of Chiavari in Liguria and Osteria della Villetta in Palazzolo Sull’Oglio, near Brescia. This past weekend we tried two more, Da Amerigo in Savigno, 30 km. southwest of Bologna and Locanda al Gambero Rosso, near Bagno di Romagna, in the very southern part of Emilia Romagna at the Tuscan border. We have been to La Brinca many times and very much enjoy it, even if we don’t think it is the best trattoria in Ne’ (we think Antica Trattoria dei Mosto is the better of the two on food, and almost, but not quite, comparable on wine). Sergio Circella of La Brinca has a passion for wine and we’ve never seen a better wine list in any trattoria. Osteria della Villetta is a gem and Maurizio Rossi is the consummate owner. A wonderful trattoria with hard to find Bresciani dishes, skillfully prepared. So… it was with much enthusiasm that we looked forward to two more Tre Gamberi. The two trattorie are very different. Da Amerigo is the real deal. It is a classic trattoria serving very skillfully prepared Bolognese dishes. We arrived in Savigno late in the afternoon. Peaking through the window of the trattoria, we see the classic tableau… three elderly woman sitting at a table in the dining room, oblivious to the outside world, intently focused on rolling pasta, filling pasta and shaping pasta, for that night’s dinner. The ingredients used in the dishes are first rate, the flavors are full, the plating is well done, the menu changes frequently and the wine list is well thought out. The owner, Alberto Bettini, his wife Susanna, and the rest of his family are warm and welcoming, the service is casual but professional, courteous and helpful, and most of all the whole meal was “natural” i.e. this is how we’ve done it for a long time, we enjoy doing it this way and we hope you like it. It is a very relaxed place and Susanna runs the dining room very well, helpful but not obtrusive and with a pace in the service that allows you to eat and then sit for a while before the next dishes are served. This is not a “rush rush” place; they want you to really enjoy the evening (on the other hand, there was no half hour wait for the next course). The physical setting is classic trattoria and reminded us of both Villetta and La Buca, very comfortable, but the decor is much the same as it was fifty years ago. As I said, the quality of the ingredients is exceptional, whether it was in the coniglio all’ aceto balsamico (the best example of this classic that I’ve ever had) or the guancia di vitella brasata al barbera. The lasagna al forno was so well prepared, my wife said that the pasta was only a notch (no pun intended) below Bruna Santini’s (our standard for excellence). Cherries from nearby Vignola on a simple baked dessert of light pound cake with a little vanilla custard was fantastic. Whether it was the warm tigelle or the quality of the mortadella, Bettini “gets it.” One other thing: their nocino is fantastic and is available to buy at their dispensa. What a pleasure to have a meal at Da Amerigo. And again. October 1, 2007.Ah, Alberto Bettini still doesn’t get it. Either he hasn’t heard of Senigallia or he doesn’t care (or both). No molecular magic, no weird combinations of food, no green bread (as Cedroni does at Madonnina in Senigallia). Just great Bolognese food (and he hasn’t let the Gambero Rosso’s Tre Gamberi go to his head) at its best. So for Saturday night, antipasto - porcini freschi on a little passato of borlotti (and a plate of warm tigelle) Then the lasagna al forno which is not to be missed, and the tortellini in brodo, something we never have, but the forcemeat in the pasta was not to be believed in terms of taste. Hunting season just started so one of the day's specials – fagiano, the real thing, with the dark meat stewed in wine, and the breast meat browned in a pan and then roasted in the oven. Moist… and nice and gamey. Baccala 3 ways - bolognese (poached and served with olive oil on lemon slices); classico (stewed in a light tomato sauce); and mantecato. Fabulous. We finished with semifreddo di zucca with amaretti, and of course Alberto’s own nocino. A 2003 barbera from La Stoppa. Wonderful place with Alberto and Susanna providing a restaurant experience not to be missed in terms of great ingredients, skillfully prepared, plated well, served nicely by a staff that wants you to have an enjoyable time (and doesn’t point out each ingredient in the dish), a wonderful wine list and very moderate prices (our meal was 110 Euros). Definitely worth the detour. January 6, 2006 Marina di Bibbona is a strange town. South of Livorno and Cecina, near Bolgheri, it is overrun in the summer and empty in the winter. Bolgheri is a wonderful little town (hamlet is more like it) which is wonderful in winter. All the wine stores are open and there is a vast selection at reasonable prices, not only of the “Super Tuscans” (which have high prices even here, a stone’s throw from their place of origin), but of all Tuscan wines. The area around Bolgheri is filled with gorgeous hills and vineyards planted with vines and olive trees. Cypresses line the lanes, particularly the long road which passes by Sassicaia and leads to the town. But getting back to Marina di Bibbona. Closed up tight in early January which is when we were there in 05 and 06 and overrun (with campers, the kind you travel in, and campers, the kind that go to campgrounds) in early June of 04 when we went to the restaurant La Pineta for the first time. Don’t let that discourage you from going. The restaurant is a gem. It’s a bit difficult to find, but eventually if you head toward the spiaggia libera, you’ll see a sign. You go on a dirt road between a clearing in the pineta, and after about 600 yards you’re at a beach. You look around and the only structure you see is what looks like a large shack with a corrugated roof. Can this be it? Well, there are certainly a number of cars wedged into the spaces in front. You enter and you’re in an oasis. Simple Tuscan style, with a wood floor and windows which have an incredible view of the sea. If you walk on the beach after lunch (it is a narrow and rocky beach, with very little fine sand; why would anyone want to go to that beach is hard to understand) and look back at the restaurant you’ll see that it is right up against the dunes and the building is divided in half, with a bagno and snack bar on one side (and boarded up in January) and the restaurant on the other. Our take on that is two brothers owned the building, had a fight, and split it up (it sounds good). Luciano Zazzeri is passionate about food and wine. For a number of years he has gotten very good write-ups in Gambero Rosso and L’Espresso and this year, 2006, got his first Michelin star. If any of you have ever been to the wonderful fish restaurant Muraglia Conchiglia D’Oro in Varigotti on the Ligurian coast, La Pineta will remind you of that. An open kitchen, twelve well set tables comfortably set apart (but not too far apart) and a few pieces of art on the walls. The food is not fussy and with Sig. Zazzeri you have the feeling that although he’s seen what others have done in Italy and France (so he is not wearing blinders), he decided, some years ago, to emphasize sound combinations on the plate… combinations that are Tuscan and that will let the ingredients shine. You will not find the slightest whiff of fusion dishes, nor of any exotic spices. What you will find are the types of dishes we had today and on our two previous meals. The ameuse was marinated anchovies with slivers of red onion strewn on top and an extra dose of deep green olive oil over it. The bread is delicious as is what we here in Forte call secchine, a very thin Tuscan flat bread that is highy addictive. For the antipasto my wife and I shared a dish of tonno alla griglia con sale grosso e rosmarino. Simple preparation using great tuna. Five slices, about a half inch thick, of tuna, quickly seared on both sides, but with 90 percent of the slice just barely cooked. Dribble on a bit more of the olive oil, mop it up with the crusty bread and you really don’t need much more to make you happy. There was more. For the premi I had gnochetti al nero di seppie, con seppioline e carciofi fritti. The gnochetti melted in your mouth, the seppioline were tender and flavorful, there we a few pieces of fried artichoke strewn on top and the sauce was wonderful. My wife had ravioli di baccala con salsa di cipolle di Tropea e bottarga; intense flavors and soft pasta. For the secondi, cacciucco- what more be said about a perfect rendition (and gorgeously plated) of a dish that is all too often thrown together in a haphazard manner. I had pesce all’Isolana… roasted sarago (a little bit thicker than orata, and from the same bream family) with roasted carrots, potatoes, zucchini and onions. For dessert, which La Pineta does very well, a flan di ciocolato, with the inner chocolate just slightly oozing out, and a tortino di ciocolato bianco con salsa di arance, light and airy. A bottle of 2000 Cepparello from the extensive list of reds. The total check was 172 Euros. This is basically the same experience we’ve had the other two times we’ve gone. Whether it was the pappa al pomodoro con le cozze in June or the spaghetti al tonno fresco ed erbe last January, all the dishes were well thought out, well executed and delicious. All three times we’ve gone, the restaurant was full (all Italians except for us) even for weekday lunches in January. He must be doing something right. One final note. Walking on the desserted beach, you look back at “the large shack” and you ask yourself… could that be the place I just had that wonderful meal? The answer is yes and La Pineta just keeps getting better and better. And again April 28, 2006 For those of you who prefer Fulvio Pierangelini’s (the exalted, and two star Michelin chef, and according to the Gambero Rosso, both the best chef and owner of the best restaurant in all of Italy...Gambero Rosso in San Vincenzo!) conception of food (fried eggs with lard; crusted eggs with lard ice-cream and stripes of candied lard; lard and ricotta ravioli with lard zabaglione and balsamic vinegar; rosemary and thyme cream with lard , gold, cocoa, cinnamon and Sichuan pepper chocolate roulades), go to his restaurant Gambero Rosso in San Vincenzo, enjoy it, and read this post no further. You simply will not like this restaurant. You will not enjoy it, so don’t bother getting agitated by reading this note. Today, at lunch, we went back to La Pineta in Marina di Bibbona (see post for January 6th). Here is what we ate: for an amuse, a little marinated fresh anchovy topped with mildest of slivered onions and a little olive oil (mopped up with very good crusty bread). Then for an antipasto, pappa al pomodoro con le cozze - what an excellent idea on an old Tuscan staple, especially when you have great bread, great olive oil, wonderful tomatoes, good fish broth and spectacular (yes, spectacular) cozze. For the primi, spaghetti with bianchetti (little just-born versions of local fish - tiny white babies (uh oh, the bianchetti police will be after us), mild fresh garlic and sage - very delicate and outstanding; also gnocchetti al nero di seppie with seppioline and carciofi fritti - strong flavors, but the gnochetti as black, and as light as could be, and also outstanding. A fritto, very light and crisp and not oily; also spezzatino di tonno with cherry tomatoes, fagiolini and mild spring onions. The tuna was not quickly grilled, but was still rare on the inside (how does Luciano Zazzeri do it?). A brilliant dish. Rather than our usual sangiovese, we drank a Paleo 2001, from Bolgheri, which is 100% cabernet franc. Dessert was a flan di cioccolato. Outstanding meal but we really missed having that lard ice cream that we might have gotten 20 km. from Pineta at Gambero Rosso. The restaurant was almost full, and people were really enjoying themselves. The beach was still deserted, and the adjoining bagno closed; you sit there with the windows open and only the sand and sea in front of you. The place has a wonderful feeling - the diners are happy, and so is the staff. The area in the hills is gorgeous. May 21, 2006 Just came back from our favorite seafood place in Liguria, Muraglia Conchiglia D’Oro. Have had perhaps a dozen meals there over the last seven years. Each one outstanding. Thank you MZ and JZ for telling us about it. A true maestro who doesn't bat an eye that the Gambero Rosso dropped him for whatever reason (hasn't stopped the other two guides from continuing to extol him). Again, one recognizes everything on the plate... pasta that is pasta, seafood that is seafood... all exquisitely, exquisitely prepared and of the most pristine ingredients. True Ligurian flavors. No fusion anything. Spaghetti with anchovies (tossed with the pasta as a sauce and extra grilled anchovies around the plate); rigatoni with tonno e piselli. Incredible flavor in both cases. Then orata alla ligure (olives, capers, pinoli, marjoram and thyme) and San Pietro with Tropea onions. For dessert an apple baked with candied orange and lemon peel, a chocolate cake with chocolate sauce, and a pound cake with citrus. Right on the lungomare in a non descript town, in a restaurant setting that could be out of California. Beautiful simplicity. This is a guy who thinks Adria is a misspelling of a sea bordering on the Italian coast Not a shred of "modern Italian haute cuisine." I think this one goes only to athinaeos who seems to really appreciate restaurants of this type. March 15, 2009 We went down to Montalcino yesterday to buy some wine. Usually we stay overnight in the town. This time we decided to try Il Silene (ilsilene.it) about about 15 miles south of Montalcino in Seggiano, near Monte Amiata. This place is everything Carlo Cracco (see topic Cracco Milano) is not. Actually. this is not quite true. This place is very similar to what Carlo Cracco had when, several years ago, he was in his locanda between Alba and Bra. A few comfortable rooms and very good food. A talented, extremely nice owner/chef (Roberto Rossi) and his wife. A good, very reasonably priced wine list with oodles and oodles of Brunellos (but you won’t find Cracco’s Gyokuro green tea on the list). There wasn’t any foam in sight. No sous-vide, no molecular food, no food in Mason jars, no fusion. The usual sign vietato fumare could have been replaced by vietato Adria’. Carlo Cracco would have recognized all the food; he once cooked this way. I started with the zuppetta di piccione and my wife had the zuppa di scottiglia. Then for primi piatti, raviolini ripieni al piccione; tagliatelle con asparagina selatica di macchia. Some other choices for primi: tagliatelline con ragu di coniglio and risotto al lampredotto (Rossi’s version of Cracco’s risotto con olio d’acciuga, limone e cacao). For main courses we had rognone di vitella and wonderful agnello alla brace. Also available last night was animelle di agnello, tagliata di petto d’anatra, composizione vegetale di verdure miste in varie cotture. and three or four other main dishes. The menu changes often (Roberto is a whiz with a Mac and so it doesn’t faze him to print out a different menu every day depending on what he wants to cook and what is in the market; would that all restaurants did this). Dessert was a delicious zuccoto (and two dessert wines). Da bere: 1995 Brunello Il Poggione (100 euros). Finished off the bottle and so had a glass of 1995 Brunello Fanti as well. The food cost was 103 euros. Great meal? No. Very good. Yes. Wonderful flavors, excellent cooking skill, friendly service, very reasonable check, don’t have to drive anywhere after the meal (just walk upstairs). You’ll recognize everything on your plate (and the plating was good). It’s a very good place to go if you’re in Montalcino. September 22, 2008 High above Riomaggiore (you’re in the upper vineyards and the sea is far below), is the hamlet of Groppo. High up in the hamlet is the restaurant Cappun Magru. We were there for the first time five months ago and the meal was so good we decided to go back (it is about an hour plus from Forte dei Marmi). It didn’t disappoint. The dining room is on a promontory, almost cliff like, overlooking vineyards and vegetable gardens. Spectacular view. It holds at most 20 people. Typical husband and wife team, Cristiane in the sala, Maurizio in the open( to the dining room) kitchen. Very carefully prepared Lugurian food with vibrant flavors. No modern nonsense (read that to be, no foams, no experiments, no Fernand Adria school of cooking), you’ll recognize everything on your plate and it will taste delicious. A real cut above most anything in Luguria and certainly a far cry from the usual Cinque Terre menus and execution. Yesterday we had Cappun Magru and filetto di Lanzardo al vopore as antipasti; tagliolini di faro con scampi, seppioline in a salsa di ricci… and Ciuppin (with a lattughe ripiene of fish) as primi; for secondi, polpette di manzo con crema di borlotti freschi and filetti di Nasello con purea di sedano rapa e zucchini in fiore. Dessert was a torta di fichi freschi, which was excellent as well. A great bottle of a Walter Batte white and a glass of his Sciachetra' for dessert. A very good wine list, with very moderate pricing. The list reflects the Bordoni’s taste and travels (and they have great taste in wine), in Italy and France. Very friendly service, but not of the fawning kind. An absolutely delightful place with wonderful food and wine.
  23. I'm asking, fortedei, not challenging definitely: (caveat: first, I don't speak fluent Italian, but I'm pretty good on food items) -- seems to me the menu is based in large part on early season greens and vegetables, in addition to all-season meats and sea stuff. No? A few odd things in there (strawberries, at least here in cold Utah, USA), but most of it seems pretty April-ish, especially given the maritime environs nearby. Again, I'm just wondering what you think. As I said earlier, I'm de-volved into liking places that are more down-home rustic, but this menu looked pretty drooly to me! And, to plug my selfish gene, where do you recommend in the area? So many choices, so little time ... ← Lamponi and zucca. Certainly Da Renzo and an often overlooked place that has extraordinarily good food well served... totally seasonal, great wine list, wonderful owners (Roberto and Walter), a very comfortable place to stay (so you don't have to get in your car after dinner), Cascinale in Isola D'Asti.
  24. tupac, We often disagree on the Italian food we enjoy. Most of these dishes sound less than enjoyable to me, but that's my problem. What I'd to know is why this guy has things on the menu that are not seasonal? Is that too much to ask?
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