Just like people, restaurants have “good days” and “bad days.” The night we went to Trattoria il Pozzo in Sant’Angelo in Colle (Montalcino), it was one of those off-the-charts good days (and not every meal we had in Italy was worth writing home about, believe me). I’ve been going there since 1989 when I first began to “frequent” Montalcino (the fons origo of my passion for Italian wine). Paola (in the kitchen) and Franca (front of the house) Binarelli have owned and run Trattoria il Pozzo since 2001 and honestly, the food there has never been better. It was just one of those magical culinary nights, when everything came together just perfectly. I’ll let Tracie P’s superb photos do the talking…
Salt-less bread crostini topped with liver and spleen (the chestnut-colored spread, classic Tuscan), chopped mushrooms, and tomato (not so traditional but now part of the pan-Italian culinary lexicon).
Salt-less bread soup, drizzled (rigorously) with extra-virgin olive oil by Il Poggione (more on Il Poggione later).
Pici (long, hand-rolled noodles) with sausage, mushroom, and tomato (this was UNBELIEVABLY good).
Pici with wild boar ragù (the boar meat was so tender and flavorful and the combination of textures and flavors was sublime).
We had to sneak a peak in the kitchen since they were still rolling out the pici that evening.
One of the sine qua non elements of the bistecca fiorentina is that it must be charred on top — to heat the meat on the bone without cooking it through.
Need I say more? To look at the meat you’d think it was over cooked. But the secret is that the beast is slaughtered young. Older than a calf but still relatively young and so the meat has a pink rather than blood-red color.
Fried artichokes. Franca told me that Italian celebrity chef Gianfranco Vissani once complained that they had served these with lemon wedges. So no more lemon wedges!
The chicory was at once bitter like Tuscan dirt and sweet like Tuscan heaven.
The 2004 Brunello di Montalcino by the dearly departed Gianni Brunelli, one of the great Tuscan restaurateurs of our lifetime. Beautiful acidity, gorgeous fruit, and man, the combination of the red fruit flavors of the wine and its acidity against the fat and flesh of the steak was better than… well, actually, it wasn’t better than… it was our honeymoon after all! ;-)
Ristorante Il Pozzo
53024 Montalcino (SI) – Piazza Del Pozzo, 2
tel: 0577 844015
You shall learn how salt is the taste/of another man’s bread… Cacciaguida to Dante, Paradiso 17, 58-9.