Italian food is all about the ingredients…
~ Wolfgang Puck
Believe it or not, since I arrived in Italy last week, I have had pasta and pizza only one time. In all honesty, while I was in Pettorano, I ate dinner only one night. The first night, I slept through everything, and the second, I had just a snack because neither of the restaurants in town was open.
Pettorano sul Gizio
My good friend Cristina and her family own and operate Bar al Cortile in Pettorano. Cristina makes some of the most wonderful cakes, pizzas, and other items. Of course, the view can’t be beat, either.
Fun Fact: The first time I was in Pettorano, the first people I tried to talk to were sitting in front of the bar that evening. The next day, Mike and I went back and bought a Coke there. I didn’t meet Cristina until 2015 or 16, though.
My last night in Pettorano, I went to Il Torchio, which has been in town for about 40 years or so. This was my first time there, and I tried their sausage (I love Abruzzese sausage) and crustole, a fried dough topped with different things. The sausage was a bit overcooked, so it was a bit tough. The crustole, though, were wonderful. I had not really had savory crustole before as my mom made them with sugar. I think I’d take the savory any day. If you look at the photo on the right, my crustole had grilled eggplant and tomato, prosciutto, and something that I’m not sure of. I ended up eating just the crustole because I wasn’t sure what that orange thing was.
Side note: Il Torchio is known for its polenta, a huge local dish in Pettorano. Polenta was a hardy and nutritious meal that most of the men took for lunch daily when they worked in the hills or on farms. Every year, Pettorano throws a festival to celebrate the dish. You may remember that I went to the festival in 2018. I didn’t order the polenta last week because it is heavy, and the restaurant opened at 8 pm….
By the time I got to Bologna Saturday, I was starved. I had a few things to do, so I headed downtown and stopped at Anema e Core (Heart & Soul). It occupies a space in which there was another restaurant I frequented prior to COVID. Just as the other restaurant featured Neapolitan foods, so did this one….supposedly. The menu was full of other regional dishes, like the Pasta alla Gricia that I ordered.
Pasta alla Gricia is one of the dishes Stanley Tucci tried when he was in Rome, if you remember. Like other Roman pasta dishes, alla Gricia is simple and has few ingredients—pasta, Pecorino Romano cheese, black pepper, and guanciale (pork cheek). Quite simply, it is a grown-up version of mac ‘n cheese, and when made correctly, it is delicious. Unfortunately, this one was way too salty and not hot enough.
BeB Santo Stefano
COVID put a huge dent into the breakfasts most bed and breakfasts offered. Luckily, I think all of them have come back, including BeB Santo Stefano. The offerings here are plentiful and varied. I particularly like the raviole (cookies, not the pasta kind) that I think Carina, the housekeeper makes. Carina will also make you coffee, cappuccino, or even eggs if you want…. I didn’t.
Fun Fact: The first time Mike and I visited Bologna, we stayed in BeB Santo Stefano….and it was almost exactly 10 years ago to the day. Giovanni, the owner, remains a good friend to this day.
Griglia da Lili e Cesare
On Sunday, my good friends Lili e Cesare invited me to lunch at their house. They live down the street from the bar they own and the BeB where I stayed, so it was an easy walk down. Cesare had bought an electric grill (You can’t have a charcoal one in the condominiums) and grilled sausage, veal, and pancetta. Lili prepared spinach, rice, and other vegetables, and we wrapped all the goodness in huge lettuce leaves.
You might notice the bottle of Prosecco in front of the beer in the first photo. Note that only one glass is gone. Note that only one of us has a wine glass. Note that in the bottom photo, the Prosecco bottle is almost empty. Note that I am falling over….just kidding. I didn’t do that until I got back to my room.
Fun Fact: Cesare and Lili took over Bar Santo Stefano in 2014, and I was one of their first customers. I think I need a badge or certificate or something.
I have gone to Vasiniko since it opened about six years ago. The food is okay….It’s a chain. It was raining a lot yesterday, so I went up there since I wouldn’t have to go far. Their menu is large, and they offer a number of different pizzas, which is what I wanted. Unfortunately, my head was still reeling from that Prosecco, so I just pointed to the Pizza Ripiena (Stuffed pizza) without thinking.
In case you don’t know, pizzas are pretty big, and this one was huge. You can see that the pie is folded, and the second photo shows the creamy ricotta, mozzarella, and prosciutto filling. It was way too much, and I ended up giving most of it away.
Now that I’m in Umbria, I’ll be trying some Umbrian dishes for you. I might, however, stay away from the tartuffo nero.