Category Archives: Uncategorized

Ristorante I Carracci – showing off the cuisine of Bologna

I_Carracci_1_WEBRistorante I Carracci
Grand Hotel Majestic ‘già Baglioni’
Via Indipendenza, 8
Bologna
39-051-225-445
http://www.duetorrihotels.com
info.ghmajestic@duetorrihotels.com

It would be difficult to single out the most praise-worthy aspect of dining at I Carracci Restaurant.  The dome of its lovely ceiling is I_Carracci_3_WEBadorned with 15th century grotesque-style frescoes attributed to the school of the renowned Bolognese Carracci brothers, who are responsible for the frescoed ceiling in the hotel’s Camerino d’Europa.   The sage-green brocaded walls with oil paintings and gilded mirrors and the elegant tables are set to please and prepare diners for a leisurely, flavorful journey at the hands of master Chef Giacomo Galeazzi.

I_Carracci_5_WEB aOur departure begins with a sformato di parmigiano topped with tiny wild strawberries and aged balsamic vinegar, accompanied by a gem-like white wine from the very local Umberto Cesari vineyards. A plate of thinly sliced culatello, the most prized part of Parma prosciutto, arranged like a flower, follows and whets our appetites for the Cucina Bolognese that is about to begin in earnest with none other than tagliatelle al ragù and baked green I_Carracci_6_WEB alasagne alla Bolognese, served in a creamy bath of parmesan sauce. The courses, paired with select wines from the region, continue and we do not let guilt slip into any opening between the chef’s specialties.  This is food that impresses our taste buds, but satisfies the soul.  One can taste the passion.

For wine lovers and those who love the enchantment of an old wine cellar, the hotel’s Morandi Wine Cellar dates back to the 15th century, but is dedicated to Bologna’s 20th century artist, Giorgio Morandi.  The cellar can seat up to 24 diners for a more intimate dinner party arranged at long tables set beneath vaulted stone ceilings and surrounded by an impressive collection of Italian and International wines.

copyright – Ginda Simpson – http://www.rooms-withaview.comhttp://www.gindasimpson.com

 

 

Ristorante Redibis – dining in an ancient Roman arena

Ristorante RedibisRistorante Redibis
L’Orto degli Angeli
Via Dante Alighieri,1
Bevagna
39-0742-361-756
http://www.ortoangeli.it

This restaurant belongs to the elegant Orto degli Angeli, an elegant “Residenza d’Epoca” in the heart of Bevagna.  It is situated in the cavernous remains of the curved, barrel-vaulted ambulatory that once supported the cavea of the ancient Roman amphitheater, dating to the 1st century A.D.  The food is extremely good, yet simple fare, as the chef adheres as faithfully as possible to recipes that date back to medieval times.  I chose a tasting menu that followed family recipes, originally created by the Mongalli family’s nonna.  These dishes, with an emphasis on the freshest vegetables and herbs, demonstrate how simple ingredients, when placed in the right hands, can be turned into recipes worth repeating and recording.  Thank goodness, grandma did.   Indeed, Julien, our waiter explained, using no more than four ingredients is the key to the success of these cherished recipes.

Although there are remains of ancient Roman amphitheaters in many parts of the world, in Bevagna, these intact stone galleries are incorporated into the medieval dwellings and are still “lived in” today, something that occurs nowhere else in the world.  So to sit at table in this 2000 year-old stone corridor, where the music is soft and the food simply good is a once- in-a-lifetime experience.  The Latin name, “Redibis,” however, wishes otherwise, as it means, “You will be back.”   I certainly hope so.

copyright – Ginda Simpson – http://www.rooms-withaview.comhttp://www.gindasimpson.com

Il Vinattiere di Chambord – a wine dinner in an old palazzo

Il_Vinattiere

Il Vinattiere di Chambord
Grand Hotel Entourage
Piazza S. Antonio, 2
34170 Gorizia
Tel: +39 0481 550235
info@grandhotelentourage.it
http://www.entouragegorizia.com

 

Located below the southern slopes of Gorizia Castle, the Grand Hotel Entourage is the restructured 16th century villa of the Strassoldo family, a palazzo with a long and unique history.  During its most recent renovation, which lasted a decade, careful attention was paid to the safeguarding of the architectural and artistic heritage of this famous palazzo and the present owners are justifiably proud of their achievements – not only for the successful conservation of this historical building but also in the realm of the first-class hospitality they offer.

The hotel has many temptations.  Namely, its cozy wine cellar named “Il Vinattiere di Chambord.”  In a relaxed and warmly rustic atmosphere, we allowed Ennio, the sommelier, to select the wines we enjoyed with a simply satisfying supper, a tasting menu that began with a sformata di zucca, a pumpkin soufflé blanketed in a cream of melted Montasio cheese with a hint of truffle oil.  The bocconcini of veal in a local red wine simply melted in your mouth.  For finer dining and banquets, there is the very atmospheric Bearnaise Restaurant, located on the ground floor in vaulted rooms, the oldest part of the structure, dating back to 1481.  It’s hard to imagine that these rooms once served as the stables.

 

copyright – Ginda Simpson – http://www.rooms-withaview.comhttp://www.gindasimpson.com

 

A memorable dinner at the Pauline Borghese Restaurant

Pauline Borghese Restaurant

 

Pauline Borghese Restaurant
Parco dei Principi Grand Hotel & Spa
Via G. Frescobaldi, 5
00198 Rome
39-06-854-421
http://www.parcodeiprincipi.com

 

Located in the quiet residential area of Parioli, the Parco dei Principi garden offers a beautiful haven from the bustle of the city center.  Just one street separates its garden from the world-famous Villa Borghese Park, designed as a formal garden in 1605 for Cardinal Scipione Borghese, the first of its kind in Rome.

We enjoyed a pleasant passeggiata through the Borghese gardens on several occasions during our stay at the Principi and particularly enjoyed our visit to the Villa Borghese Galleries to see the Canova sculpture of Pauline Borghese.  This we did before dining at the hotel’s Pauline Borghese Restaurant, named after Napoleon’s famous sister.

Taking inspiration from traditional recipes, Chef Gianfranco Calidonna uses regional ingredients in simple yet unusual ways, never compromising their flavors or textures.   Like a master conductor, the Maitre D’ arranged our travel from appetizer to dessert wine, as we sampled the chef’s variations of specialties from more than one region of the Italian peninsula.  Sommelier Riccardo helped select the wines that were to accompany us on our journey through the menu.  A glass of chilled Agricanto from the Veneto was a perfect ending to a thoroughly delightful meal, one of the best we have had in Rome.

During the summer months light lunches and snacks are available every day beside the pool.  From 12:30 until 3:30, a poolside Sunday brunch is offered.
copyright – Ginda Simpson – http://www.rooms-withaview.comhttp://www.gindasimpson.com

Golden Moments – Golden Views

Golden View Open Bar

Golden View Open Bar
Via dei Bardi 58r (Ponte Vecchio)
50122 Firenze
39-055-214-502
info@goldenviewopenbar.com
www.goldenviewopenbar.com

A golden moment, a golden wine, and above all else, a golden view – of the Ponte Vecchio and its shimmering reflection in the waters of the Arno.  This Florentine restaurant/wine bar opened in 2001, dining rooms perched over the river, offering unobstructed views of the old bridge.  The décor is contemporary, sleek yet understated; a perfect visual balance for the fabulous view framed by large windows that slide open this evening to welcome a summer breeze.

Golden View -Chef Edo diGiulioChef Edo di Giulio manages to keep everyone happy with his culinary skills and cheerful presence in the dining room when he comes to check on his dinner guests.  His cooking is superb, novel re-creations of traditional Italian dishes, featuring specialties from the land and the sea – a spaghetti with shellfish for my friend while I feast on tagliolini Amiata, a thin pasta with a beef and veal ragù, and peas and porcini mushrooms, a dish inspired by nearby Monte Amiata.  A Pinot Bianco sees us through to meal’s end, desserts that were stellar creations made by their in-house pastry chef.

Golden View Bar - fruit dessertThe young waiters and waitresses are friendly, energetic and speak enough languages to communicate with an international clientele. The Golden View is open from 11:00 a.m. until the wee hours of the morning – continuous hours to cater to every wish – a family craving pizza in the middle of the day, business friends discussing their affairs over a glass of wine, ladies enjoying a sweet pastry and a coffee together, or sweethearts celebrating a romantic evening.

Golden moments…

 

copyright – Ginda Simpson – http://www.rooms-withaview.comhttp://www.gindasimpson.com

 

Buca di San Francesco – Echoes of the Past

Buca di San Francesco
Buca di San Francesc
Via S. Francesco, 1
52100 Arezzo
39-0575-23271
inbuca@tin.it
www.bucadisanfrancesco.it
Owner: Mario De Felippis

 

 

Echoes of the past… An ancient road, left behind by the Romans?  The Etruscans?  How many individuals have tread across these timeless paving stones that make up the flooring of this 14th century structure?  For the past eight decades, these worn stones have been polished to a warm patina by the tread of diners at the Buca di San Francesco.  Opened by Mario De Felippis’ father-in-law, Buca di San Francesco is now owned and managed by Mario, who is proud to announce that they have been in business for over 80 years.

Upon entering, I am drawn through arches from one intimate dining room to another, each one with walls that are frescoed and softly lit, inviting one to linger at a table and sample the traditional Tuscan cuisine that has made this such a popular place.  As we sit and sip their house wine, the rooms quickly fill with locals who know good food better than any of us.

The tables are set simply, graced with rustic table linens calling to mind a farmhouse kitchen.  The menu is extensive and the offerings are pure homemade goodness – the kind of fare Nonna would have made for a Sunday lunch.  The heart and soul of this restaurant, Mario moves swiftly from table to table, and I am amazed by his energy.  Is it fueled by three espressos, his natural good will or simply his passion for what he does?   Perhaps all three.   Running the restaurant is a family affair; son, Davide, is one of the chefs in the kitchen and his daughter is waiting tables.  Like her father, Barbara ensures that each diner feels welcome and leaves satisfied.

Pampered first with Pappa al Pomodoro, we move with ease from mixed antipasti to a sampling of “Bringoli fatti in casa condite con le briciole,” homemade noodles with a sprinkling of crunchy, garlicky breadcrumbs.  Good is better when it is pretty, and these are garnished with one green and one white heart-shaped spinach ravioli.  Everything that comes to our table is prepared with care and a bow to the time-honored cuisine of Tuscany.  Bravi!

 

 

copyright – Ginda Simpson – http://www.rooms-withaview.comhttp://www.gindasimpson.com

 

Celebrating Life at Ristorante Umbria

Ristorante Umbria

Ristorante Umbria
Via S. Bonaventura, 13
06059 Todi (PG)
39-075-894-2737
http://www.ristoranteumbria.it
ristoranteumbria@gmail.com
Owner: Alessio Todini

Who needs wine when you can drink in these heart-stopping views of the valley below? We are perched on the terrace of the Ristorante Umbria in Todi, a Ristorante Umbria Terrace 1family-owned restaurant that has been wowing diners for three generations. In 1954, Nonno Todini opened the restaurant and was himself chef extraordinaire, followed by his son who is still in the kitchen, and now by his grandson, Alessio, an energetic man who does his family proud.

Their menu is extensive, featuring the bounty of Umbria in all their dishes whether pasta, soups, meat or game and, of course, what comes in fresh from the surrounding fields and orchards. Even when pared down to the Ristorante Umbria tableofferings on the menu of the day, the selections are many and all tempting – it is a tough decision. We choose the home-made linguine made with the famous durum wheat of Gragnano, and then tossed in a delicate mixture of fresh herbs, asparagus, pancetta and pecorino cheese. Pappardelle are one-inch wide flat noodles made by hand and in the Todini hands, this dish totally satisfies in a heartier way. Pappardelle al sugo di lepre show off what can be done with a tomato sauce flavored with hare. These dishes lead up to our secondi: braised pork ribs with polenta and lamb cacciatore-style.

Ristorante Umbria interiorJust as inviting as the terrace, the interior dining rooms are cozy, one with a large camino for fireside dining during the cooler months. The other retains its frescoed walls, beneath vaulted ceilings, a room that dates back to the 1500’s when it served as a meeting place for the Accademia dei Convivanti, a group of literati of the time.

We lunch slowly on this sun-lit day, fully mindful of the blessing of this outstanding meal delivered to our table where a soft breeze caresses our shoulders and the views renew our spirits. We do drink wine – a local Sangiovese. After all, it feels like a celebration, if for no other reason than to honor the Todini family and their dedication to the traditional cuisine of Umbria. Perhaps we will stop at their newly opened Caffetteria Beganti to enjoy our after-lunch coffee, or we may just want to linger here for awhile…

Ristorante Umbria - owner Alessio & waiters

Alessio Todini (center) with his waiters

 

copyright – Ginda Simpson – http://www.rooms-withaview.comhttp://www.gindasimpson.com