Daniel and I have taken our boys to Italy a couple of times and as a result, we’ve devised a list of our favorite restaurants that have served us some memorable meals. One of the dining experiences that we frequently re-live was the night in Rome, after a very long and hot day of sight-seeing, Daniel dragged us from the relative coolness of our hotel room to a pizzeria named “Da Baffeto”. Exhausted and sweating in 100 degree heat, we stood in line outside the small establishment for what seemed like forever, as countless parties ahead and behind us were granted permission to enter. Finally, we were waved in and seated. The place was packed and noisy; with pizza ovens roaring and no air conditioning, the interior was as hot if not hotter than the outdoors and it was creeping toward midnight. Needless to say, we were getting cranky. Eventually, our order was taken. Little did we know it would be well over an hour before our food arrived on our table. The kids and I were about to abandon their father to his foolishness when voila! Pizza for everyone! Our empty threats of violence fell silent upon our first bite. THIS was pizza! Thin, crisp crust, a light sprinkling of toppings, served piping hot---without a doubt well-worth the agonizing wait. The mood at the table instantly lifted; there was much laughing and devouring as we began planning our next visit the following day.
Since returning home and recommending “Da Baffeto” to friends, we’ve learned we are not the only family to have more than one meal there on each visit to Rome. (You can check it out in today's New York Times Travel Section at nytimes.com/travel/florence.)
And what can I say to make you truly appreciate the beauty of the surroundings and the food at “La Chiusa”, a family run restaurant and inn in Montefollonico in the Tuscan hills? Nestled in the countryside, overlooking an extinct volcano, “La Chiusa” is run by the elegant and charming Umberto Luccherini and his wife/chef Dania. Upon our arrival, we were greeted like old friends although wehad never been, and graciously served course after course of dishes suggested by Umberto, each individually tailored to our specific personal tastes. The soups, pastas and lamb were heavenly, Dania’s silky soft papparadelle in Bolognese—a revelation. One of the most expensive lunches we’ve ever eaten, and again, well-worth it. We plan to return on our upcoming visit.
Certainly, the ultimate example of our relationship with good food, is completely rearranging our itinerary yesterday when Daniel fortuitously discovered that “Trattoria Sostanza”, our all-time favorite restaurant, will be closed for the month of August---exactly when we planned to eat there! “Sostanza” is a small and modest place, difficult to find on a close winding street in Florence. The menu is limited but everyone goes for the same thing, which in our family is known simply as “the chicken”; fat, juicy breasts cooked over a blasting fire and served swimming in butter. Simple fare at a reasonable price and a dish we plan vacations to Italy just to eat again. Panicked, we called the restaurant and secured a table during their last seating before closing. Then, in a moment of pure insanity, we cancelled our stay at “Locanda Dell’Amorosa” (firstname.lastname@example.org), and lengthened our stay in Florence, from where we will make due with day trips to San Gimignano, Bologna and Ravenna…but we’ll still get “the chicken”. Feast your eyes on this baby!
Follow along on our trip right here and if you have recommendations for us to consider, leave them in the comments box. I will be photographing and sending you pictures of our meals to serve as inspiration for creating your own memories with glorious Italian cooking! Buon Appetito!