La Pizzeria Mediterranea
Lunch and dinner served
The score: We have waited in line for an hour under a driving, icy rain for this pizza.
The pizza (all they make here) is fabulous, but no reservations are accepted. Try to get there either right when they open or a little later on, otherwise you may be huddled outside with your numbered ticket (ask for it inside) for quite awhile. But it’s worth it. My favorite is the classic Margherita with mozzarella di bufala.
Via Torgianese, 1
The score: Nothin’ fancy, just great pizza (and fish).
This has no ambience at all. Zero. But the pizzaiolo and all the staff come straight from Naples, and know how to make a good pizza. My husband says the fish dishes are good, too. The place is hopping most nights, so call ahead.
Via Eremo delle Carceri
Lunch and dinner
The score: The ceiling is low, the walls are black, the air is heavy with woodsmoke. What a great place.
This is a renovated barn. Now, if you are thinking “renovated” along the lines of “This I.M. Pei glass, steel, and stark white space gives nod to its heritage with its art-deco cow hide couches and original Hirst calf suspended from the soaring cathedral bleached beam ceiling”, you are set to be sorely disappointed. When I say renovated barn, I mean to say the only renovation they seem to have done is move out the head of cattle, sweep up the pies, and throw some long tables and benches in there. But somehow it works. The food is good, the meat prepared on the big wood fire that dominates the middle of this smoke blackened room, and prices are fair. This used to be a standby when we were younger and dirt poor. Now we are older (though still poor), but we still go back and rediscover our roots from time to time. Plus, we can take our son.
Agriturismo Le Cocce
Loc. Pian della Pieve
Serves only with reservation.
The score: Okay, so it’s a renovated garage. The food is home cookin’ and your own mother would charge you more.
Remember your basement rec room circa 1978? Well, you’ve got the decor. But what do you care? You just want a good home cooked meal, and that’s what Marcella’s got for ya. Dinner is served family style…and I mean family style; quite often you dine with Marcella’s husband, sons, daughter in law and grandaughter….on one or two big tables. You will almost never meet up with non-Italians, and no one here speaks English, so bring your dictionary and a bit of good humor. Marcella’s smile is international sign language for Welcome.
Marcella serves a fixed menu with an antipasto (we had a farro and cheese risotto that was the epitome of comfort food), a primo (tagliatelle with goose sauce, for example), a second (roast chicken with potatoes), and a dessert (crostata). She also serves their farmer’s wine and home-made liqueurs to end the meal. It is strictly all-you-can-eat, and I found that bodily throwing myself across my plate was pretty much the only way to stop the food from being served up three or four times. Marcella will also make specially prepared vegetarian dishes, and takes requests. I’m not kidding. If you call her up and tell her you’re in the mood for duck, she’ll make it for you for dinner. More than just a meal, this is a real peek into an Italian home and family.
The fixed menu is about 20 Euros a person, including drinks and coffee. You have to reserve first; Marcella only cooks when she knows folks are coming.
Full disclosure: These folks are neighbors and friends and Marcella would sooner sever a limb than charge us for a meal.