The Italian expression alla cacciatora is actually a relatively ancient one.
Many would have you believe that it denotes as per the hunter’s custom.
Above: 1/4 liter of gently sparkling white, most likely Verdiso; 1/4 liter of red, mostly likely Raboso, traditional table wines in the province of Treviso.
In fact, it means roughly or coarsely [dressed] (it begins to appear in Italian as an adverbial phrase by the mid-eighteenth century).
There’s no doubt that it comes from the word caccia meaning hunt (from the Latin capere, to seize), akin to the English chase.
Above: Housemade salumi, so rich in flavor (and fat) but not overbearing on the palate.
But when Artusi canonized the recipe pollo alla cacciatora (chicken stewed with red wine and tomatoes) toward the end of the nineteenth century, he surely perceived the meaning of its designation as roughly dressed (and not in the style of the hunter; like a hunter is a more apt translation).
Above: The pasticcio (layered pasta and ragù pie) was one of the dishes I most looked forward to. It didn’t disappoint.
When you make your way to the Osteria al Cacciatore in the village of Zuel di Qua (literally, the hill over here, as opposed to the Zuel di Là, the hill over there, in the township of Cison di Valmarino in the heart of Proseccoland), there’s just a small sign to alert you the presence of a restaurant in the house on the side of the wine country road. You’d think it were just a private home if not for the cars parked outside.
Above: Tracie P craved steak last night. Beef in the Veneto is excellent and the meat had a wonderful sweetness that balanced its savory char.
There’s no menu. And there’s no wine list.
Owner Maria Gusatto’s daughter simply comes over to the table and asks what would you like tonight?
Above: Spit-roasted rabbit and chicken. This was my splurge meal of the trip. The sage leaves were seared into the skin of the rabbit and the bones were so juicy you could crunch them between your teeth.
Georgia P put on quite a floor show: she’s just begun walking and insisted on marching around the restaurant like a drunken sailor.
When I apologized to one lovely older couple for the nuisance, the lady said, non sono i piccoli che danno fastidio… sono i grandi (it’s not the little ones that are bothersome… it’s the big ones).
Above: The white polenta was so tender and light but firm to the bite.
The chef added: when they’re little you wish you could eat them up… when they grow up, you regret not having eaten them.
Osteria al Cacciatore is the type of place where people speak in proverbs.
Above: The beans are cooked gently with white onions. We had to take them away from Georgia P… she couldn’t stop eating them and neither could we.
Our bill? €51.
I handed Mrs. Gusatto a 50-Euro bill and a 1-Euro coin. She said, “50 Euros are plenty. May I offer you a coffee or a digestif?”
Thanks, again, to Riccardo Zanotto, who first brought us here. I can’t recommend it highly enough…