On our last trip to Italy, we discovered the beautiful little town of Lari, Tuscany. It is a hill-top town, reached by windy roads (most entertainingly traveled to by Vespa).
Lari is home to the makers of Martelli Pasta – arguably the yummiest pasta out there! And you know I love my pasta. I will be sure to dedicate a whole post to the beauty of this pasta soon.
We head to Lari out of season in October, one Sunday, for lunch. We’d never been to eat there before so wasn’t quite sure what was on offer. We stumbled into the first restaurant in town, which unfortunately was full of Italian families enjoying their Sunday lunches (note to self: phone ahead next time!), so we carried on walking and pledged to come back and try that place another time.
We walked a hundred metres or so further on to the main square by the Castello, where we stumbled across the Antica Osteria al Castello restuarant. We popped our heads in, expecting to be turned-away again, but luckily they had a table for four with our names on it!
Now, we weren’t expecting anything special, just good honest Italian grub. But when we got the menu, I was impressed that they didn’t have the, what I call “standard” Italian dishes on there (ie. caprese salad, spaghetti bolognese/pomodoro etc), but instead a selection of seasonal dishes with local ingredients. There was truffles (which were in season), wild boar ragus and a selection of bruschetta…which is what I had to start with and was seriously impressive!…
I wasn’t expecting all of this on one plate and it was one of those dishes where you spend the whole time trying to work out which is your favourite bit and biting a chunk out of each piece in rotation. There was a bruschetta with olive oil, one with tomato, mozarella and oregano (basically a mini pizza), one topped with mushroom pate, and one topped with chicken liver pate and the final one with melted pecorino with fig jam. Then there was a block of baked polenta with a tomato chutney and then a sort of pea frittata. I seriously couldn’t tell you which bit was my favourite but it was all delish!
Now I must apologise for my lack of photography – it was the last meal of our holiday and we were hungry! So the food didn’t last long. But take my word for it, it was seriously good and really reasonably priced!
I had the Martelli fusilli dish as my main which was in a pork, mushroom and white wine sauce…mmmm…
Hubby went for another pasta dish, my father-in-law had steak tartar and the mother-in-law had a red cabbage risotto with baked pecorino and pine nuts…
We skipped dessert on this occasion as we were full to the gills. But there’s always next time.
Antica Osteria al Castello was such a gem to stumble across in this pretty small town and we’ll be sure to head there again next time we’re in Tuscany. I’d really recommend it and I bet it’s stunning in the summer time.
Where else should I be eating in Tuscany?