Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The best yet

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Campobasso, 19 May, 2015—
I SET THIS PHOTO here to suggest the elegant simplicity and the total taste-genius of this place. The waiter was almost excited when he told me the artichoke came from within a few kilometers of the restaurant, also the potatoes. Their flavors, their sweetness, the freshness they both spoke, their textures, even something about the shapes they took on the plate — all those things said two things, in perfect harmony: faith in their quiddity; reliance on simplicy of treatment.
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We'd chosen the place from Slow Food's Osterie d'Italia 2015 , and I can't believe the book will often be as perfectly descriptive as it was on this page.

There was no menu, of course, and after a tiring drive my Italian wasn't up to the waiter's, so I asked him to repeat, and I wrote things down on the paper tablecloth:
Pizza minestra
Pasta e fagiole
Taglialini, fagiole verde, pomodori, basilico
Tagliatelli, spinaci, favi, finnocchio
I chose the last; my companion the Taglialini. Both plaates were absolutely delicious. The idea of combining pasta, string beans, cherry tomatoes, and basil had never occurred to her; I'd bet we'll be having it at home this summer. The basil was very discreet, as was the fennel — the fronds only — in my tagliatelli. Then came
Spezzatini al sugo
Bollito di manzo
Coniglie al vino
Scamorza arrosto con pere
Fegato di maiale
Uove con la ciambotta
Salsiccia arrosto

and, the waiter almost forgot, that artichoke with potatoes.
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My companion chose the rabbit, roasted in wine as if it were veal; I had the veal spezzatini, delicious in a very pointed tomato sauce. And afterward, of course, that artichoke.

Dessert was, for me, a chocolate torte, bittersweet, dense, substantial.

This is one of the best places I've been to. In the kitchen, three women, the oldest in her seventies I'm sure. Two waiters. Two dining rooms packed with, say, forty very happy diners.

House white (dry moscato, very nice) and red of the locality in carafe
•Trattoria “La Grotta” da Concetta, via Larino 7, Campobasso; 339.614.4678
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

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