Tag Archives: food

Ristorante San Martino 26 – a “towering” cuisine in San Gimignano

San Martino 26 (16)Ristorante San Martino 26
Via S. Martino 26
53037 San Gimignano (SI)
0577-940-483
http://www.ristorantesanmartin26.it
Owner: Fabio Pernarella
Chef: Ardit Curri

Fabio Pernarella and his family bring 27 years of restaurant experience to this relatively new enterprise in San Gimignano. Perucà is their other ristorante, where their entry into the restaurant business had its humble beginnings. For over two decades it has been a most popular Tuscan restaurant, not to be missed. But in this city of fabled towers, Chef Ardit Curri, a true culinary artist, offers a cuisine that towers above the rest, taking a traditional way of cooking to new and creative heights at Ristorante San Martino 26. Like the cuisine, the ambiance is a harmony of light and contemporary décor, blending beautifully with its ancient stone walls and cellars.

San Martino 26 (3)The only way to really explore these tempting innovations is to sit back and enjoy one of their seasonal tasting menus. Journey along with the chef and let your waiter pair the wines with the various courses, making this adventure a celebration of all that is good and beautiful in Tuscany. Each course was brought to the table like a small gift, beautifully presented, familiar yet surprising: like Il Fegatino Toscano, chicken liver with vin santo on a home-made pan brioche or the poached egg yolk hidden in a mound of whipped egg-whites and Parmesan, topped with truffles. We particularly enjoyed La Chitarrina, fine hand-made egg noodles made spicy with aglio e olio then coated with a more delicate creamed anchovy and shrimp sauce.

Our wines included the famous Vernaccia wine of San Gimignano, a crisp white wine locally produced from the Vernaccia grape. Earliest mention of this wine dates back to records from the 13th century, but since the Renaissance, it has been considered one of Italy’s finest wines. With our main entrée, roast pork with steamed carrot and purée of green beans, we sipped a Super Tuscan Peperino. The sweet Moscadello di Montalcino, with its gem-like topaz color, accompanied our dessert and it was a match made in paradiso. In spite of what seemed like an endless parade of dishes, because portions and flavors were balanced to perfection, we left completely satisfied at meal’s end, ready to explore the treasures of this medieval city.

San Martino 26 (10)

Chef Ardit Curri

copyright ginda simpson – http://www.rooms-withaview.comhttp://www.gindasimpson.com

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Ristorante Pomarancio – a riverview restaurant

Ristorante Pomarancio

Ristorante Pomarancio
Via Gabriotti, 14
Umbertide
(near the historic center)
39-075-941-5886

info@ristorantepomarancio.it
http://www.ristorantepomarancio.it/

 

 

At the confluence of the Upper Tiber River and its smaller tributary, the Reggia, sits the town of Umbertide.  Ristorante Pomarancio is across the river, a stone’s throw from the historic city center and is named after the 16th century artist whose paintings can be found in the nearby octagonal church known as la Colleggiata.  Ristorante Pomarancio offers outdoor dining on a delightful patio overlooking the river with a view of Umbertide’s ancient dwellings, their muted colors softly reflected in the waters below the city’s old stone walls.

Pomarancio’s large interior dining room has a contemporary, understated elegance, featuring pure white china on linens in shades of khaki and off-white, accented by napkins the color of pumpkins.  Soft music plays in the background, but at least twice a month, the restaurant offers live music.  Just recently, on Valentine’s Day, they hosted an evening of jazz to their 120+ diners.

We enjoyed a leisurely Sunday lunch.  A pleasant Rosso di Montefalco wine kept us company through a four-course meal that began with a mound of porcini mushrooms on a bed of watercress and rucola greens, topped with shavings of pecorino.  A light primo of spinach-filled crepes was followed by stinco di maiale al vino rosso, tender pork shank braised in red wine.  Pomarancio’s chef is from Puglia, bringing a little southern zest to the more traditional dishes of the Umbria region.  Enrico Bacchetti, the restaurant’s manager is a man of vision, each new idea simmers until it is a fait accompli.  Expect to eat well and be entertained on a regular basis at the Pomarancio – a successful part of Umbertide’s restaurant scene.

view from Pomarancio (sm)

View of the River and Umbertide from restaurant

 

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

 

Scimitar – a floating restaurant on the Adriatic Sea

SciScimitar 1mitar
Banchina no. 13
Darsena Centrale
Porto di Fano
39-0721-831-473
info@scimitar.it
www.scimitar.it

What could be more enchanting than to dine in a floating restaurant on the Adriatic Sea?  Add the glow of a fading sun, followed by the glimmer of the port lights reflected in the water, and the scene becomes unforgettable.  Built in 1970, Scimitar was once a ship in the British Military Navy, serving in a variety of capacities before eventually “retiring” in the port of Fano.  Damaged by fire, it remained anchored for ten years.  Then, following ambitious plans and years of careful restructuring, undertaken by Marco Pezzolesi, Director of Fano’s Fisherman’s Cooperative, it was given new life in 2007 as a floating restaurant.

There’s more than just panoramic scenery here – the food is excellent too and the fixed priced menu is easy on one’s wallet.  The all-seafood menu, featuring four courses, changes slightly each day, according to the daily catch.  To begin with, a trio of cold antipasti, fresh marinated anchovies, chilled salmon with arugula and cherry tomatoes, and a “salad” of diced potato and octopus.  This is followed by a warm antipasto of steamed clams and mussels.  There are two primi – a pasta and a risotto and finally, the centerpiece of the meal – a huge platter of fritto misto, calamari, shrimp and sardines, fried in a batter so delicate, they nearly lifted themselves off the plate before we could dish them onto ours.  This abundant mound of fish comes with a crispy fresh insalata mista.  We choose a local white wine, Bianchello del Metauro, and it is a perfect choice for one of the best seafood meals we have had in Italy.

Scimitar is moored at Fano Port, on the central dock between the fishing port and tourist marina.  Beautiful views, soft music, excellent cuisine and choice wines – ingredients that will keep the Scimitar afloat for many years to come.

Scimiar 2

 

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

L’Osteria in Aboca – a family legacy in Tuscany

Osteria in Aboca - terrace
L’Osteria in Aboca
Frazione Aboca, 11
Sansepolcro (AR)
39-0575-749-125
http://www.losteriainaboca.it
info@losteriainaboca.it
Owner/Chef: Massimiliano Giovagnini

Owner/Chef Massimiliano has a story to tell; his gentle words describe a rich family history of genuine food hospitality and his dishes tell the rest. It was his great grandmother who wisely began serving simple fare in a little store that sold foodstuffs in Aboca, a hamlet where there was not even a paved road. Nevertheless, she saw the need to offer sustenance to the woodsmen, coal-workers, and passersby at this isolated intersection where mail was delivered. This was in 1944. Over the course of the following decades, his grandfather enlarged and improved the little store to meet the needs of a growing community, but it was Massimiliano who took his passion for what they had begun and in the mid-1980s turned it into a full-fledged restaurant, ever popular with the locals and visitors to this lesser-known part of Tuscany.

Suspecting that our portions are going to be generous, we practice some self-control, skip the tempting antipasti and start by sharing two primi: handmade ravioli stuffed with mashed potatoes and Parmesan, topped with wilted fresh spinach leaves and tagliatelle al ragù bianco di Chianina, delicate noodles with a simple “white” sauce, meaning no tomatoes, flavored with ground morsels of the prized Chianina beef of this region. For our secondi we celebrate where we are: mixed grill of pork for Umbria and tagliata of Chianina beef for Tuscany, of course. The platter of fried zucchini and eggplant is simply a celebration of what is in season. Valentina suggests that we choose the house wine, a robust red, Pian di Rèmole, from the Frescobaldi vineyards of Tuscany.

Even without dessert, our meal has a sweet ending as we visit with Massimiliano who spends time with us in spite of a large lunch crowd. We savor his enthusiasm for his family’s history and presence on this spot, for countless seasons, through times of want and times of plenty. A humble beginning made rich through love and hard-work. What a legacy!

Osteria in Aboca - Massimiliano

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

Ristorante Le Scuderie – what hand and eye can achieve

Ristorante Le ScuderieRistorante Le Scuderie
Corso Giuseppe Mazzini, 226
63100 Ascoli Piceno
39-0736-258-779
http://www.lescuderieristorante.com
info@lescuderieristorante.com
Owner: Guido Manocchio

The historic residence of Palazzo Malaspina and its stables have been converted into one the most charming restaurants in the heart of Ascoli Piceno. Enter through its covered passageway, and discover an atmosphere that enchants, whether you dine in the handsome, rustic interior of the converted 17th century stables, or in the enclosed garden courtyard, softly illuminated to hint at romance. Upstairs in what was the piano nobile of the palazzo, are private dining rooms, one of which is the Salone delle battaglie with exquisite vaulted, frescoed ceilings. Here private parties as well as business or ceremonial banquets can be arranged.

Antipasto at Le ScuderieWe dine at a corner window table from which we can admire the lovely garden or the large stone wood-burning camino in the adjacent room where one of the cooks skillfully grills the meats. The cestino of Ascoli fried specialties is superb – the traditional fried Ascoli olives nestled among batter-fried artichoke hearts, zucchini and cremini are crisp and savory. To have them along side a platter of famous Norcina salumis is the ultimate indulgence. The house Maccheronicini Scuderie, features the tartufo nero and local sausage. Finally, we get to taste the mouth-watering lamb chops that we witnessed being grilled. A hearty red wine, Rosso Piceno, from neighboring vineyards is perfect for our cena ascolana.

Guido Manocchio, the owner, is an accountant by profession and a restaurateur by passion. He is a man who lives up to his name. I suggested to him that he did indeed put his hand and his eye into creating and opening this restaurant. “And my wallet too!” he quipped. I have no doubt that his investment will reap many rewards – it has all the right ingredients – great food prepared by a fantastic chef, a well-trained staff, and a captivating ambience.

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

Truffle Heaven at Ristorante alla Balestra

Alla Balestra

Ristorante alla Balestra
Via della Republica, 41
Gubbio (PG)
075-927-3810
http://www.ristoranteallabalestra.it
info@ristoranteallabalestra.it

Owners:  Marco Paciotti & Gialla Bianconi

If there is a truffle heaven, then my daughter and I are seated at the banquet table in one of its palaces. We are enjoying the shade of its canopied terrace with a view of the terracotta rooftops of Gubbio, a medieval hilltown in Umbria. Ristorante alla Balestra provides the magic. Twenty years ago when a local restaurant was closing, present owners Marco and Gialla had the foresight to purchase it and turn it into what soon became and remains today a favorite with the local eugubini. The unsurpassed quality of their Umbrian cuisine – a cuisine that is exquisitely simple and wholly satisfying – is the reason why. Their truffle offerings put them right over the top.

The pumpkin-colored table linens and sleek putty-colored chairs blend well with the warm ancient stone of this centuries-old palazzo. Subtle beauty enfolds us. It is quiet as we embark on this truffle journey, led by the owner who chooses for us. A dish arrives, like a temple offering, holding a thin slice of pork with pear and caciotta cheese, crowned with delectable truffle shavings. Our panzanella is topped with a large prawn, Marco explains, “to far figura” and indeed we are impressed. This is followed by scrambled eggs with truffles. What do you call an antipasto that follows an antipasto? Divine!

Our banquet in paradiso continues with a sampling of umbricelli alla norcina al tartufo – thick hand-made noodles bathed in a cream sauce of sausage, porcini and truffles followed by a tasting portion of tagliatelle con sugo d’oca (duck sauce). In Umbria, pork is king and it reigns here prepared in a reduced Rubesco wine sauce with red onion from Cannara. Our wine? A DOC Grechetto from Vigna di Clara,

We were wise to have Marco guide us through the this multi-course meal. If we had looked at their menu, truly we would never have been able to decide. La Balestra, by the way, means cross-bow or catapult. It might take a catapult to remove us from this table.

Alla Balestra - Owner Marco

Marco Paciotti, Owner

 

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

 

Ristorante La Rocca – Seafood in Umbria

La Rocca

Ristorante La Rocca
Piazza Ca
duti del Lavoro,
06019 Umbertide (PG)
075-941-1828
Owners: Mirco e Daniela Fiorucci

The 20th century Ristorante La Rocca sits comfortably in the towering shadow of La Rocca, a 14th century fortress in the historic center of Umbertide. The outdoor dining room is in the middle of a busy square and parked cars, but in spite of this, one is pleasantly surprised by the seafood lunch that unfolds like a leisurely walk along the seashore. Brother and sister owners, Mirco and Daniela, know how to satisfy customers in search of a quality seafood meal in Umbria, the only land-locked region on the Italian peninsula. The restaurant was opened by their parents 28 years ago, starting simply as a pizzeria, then a spaghetteria, and finally offering what they loved most – seafood, influenced by the many years they had worked in Naples. The fish is delivered fresh from Fano, on the Adriatic coast, three times a week.

 

The tables in our sheltered outdoor dining room are cheerful with their raspberry-checkered table linens and jewel-tone glassware. The feel is homey and the food both genuine and abundant. Although typical Umbrian cuisine of all kinds is on the menu, we select a sampling of their seafood offerings, beginning with an appetizer of varied tastes and textures: marinated fresh anchovies, a crisp calamari and cuttlefish salad, shrimp in a home-made cocktail sauce, to name only a few. The delicious handmade pasta is coated with a tomato-based sauce that started as a fish broth and was made creamy by adding a purée of calamari and other gifts from the sea – a ragú di mare.

 

A platter of fried calamari and shrimp arrives at our table and we manage to find just enough room to savor their goodness. Oh why did we eat so many slices of their freshly baked bread with sun-dried tomatoes! All this with a local white wine, sparkling and refreshing on this sunlit day. We have lunched for over two hours, recipients of the 28 years of experience that went into making this experience so memorable.

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