This time Roberto Giuliani takes the stand.
The food world has in recent years been invaded by phenomena, inventors, scientists, and people who mix, transform, or nebulize food molecules, all rigorously called chefs, because the term “cuoco – cook” is suffering an irresistable decline, especially in Italy, where we only feel Italian during the world soccer championships. I certainly won’t deny that inventiveness and originality are excellent things, in all fields, but sometimes we exxagerate, forgetting that excesses are never good, and end up penalizing those who have always cooked with care, concentrating on the quality of the ingredients, and keeping in mind that food must serve to provide sustenance, and perhaps pleasure to the senses, without emptying the wallets of those blessed with healthy appetites.
I have long been familiar with Il Pozzo, and when I was in Montalcino for Benvenuto Brunello took advantage of the opportunity to go with Franco Ziliani, Carlo Lisini, and Silvana Biasutti, mother of Francesca e Margherita Padovani, the twins who run the Campi di Fonterenza estate. It was the perfect occasion to enjoy the fine food of the trattoria run by Franca and Paola Binarelli.
It’s located in Sant’Angelo in Colle, a delightful hamlet a few miles from Montalcino; their pasta is hand-made, as are their pici (also called pinci), made from flour and water, and in some cases, a little egg. They are piciati or appiciati
(terms that mean pressed), to form thick spaghetti, which range from 5 to 10 inches in length depending upon the place, and are about a quarter of an inch thick. Towards Umbria, around Orvieto, and in the Provice of Perugia they’re called umbricelli or umbrichelli, from umbrico, earthworm, whereas in the Ternano area they’re called ciriole. And in the Spoletino area they’re called stringozzi or strangozzi, and are generally thinner, and sometimes square in cross section. Finally, in the Marche and Romagna they’re called strozzapreti (priest chokers), and are made shorter, with a twist.
At Il Pozzo they are prepared with breadcrumbs (one of the most classic frugal peasant dishes, and very tasty), all’aglione (with garlic), and with meat sauce or mushroom sauce.
There are of course also fettuccine, also home made, while among the second courses the Fiorentina is supreme; mine had just the right degree of firmness and was perfectly cooked. Among the alternatives are beef stewed in Brunello, or mixed grilled meats, while the side dishes include seasonal vegetables and roasted potatoes, and there are also cheeses. And desserts, including crstate, ricotta creams, and other home-made delights. I haven’t touched upon the antipasti because I skipped them, but there are an abundance of cold cuts and cheeses.
In short, a cuisine based on a few, top quality ingredients, filling flavorful dishes that work perfectly with the wines, which won’t be wanting considering we’re in the land of Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino (they also have other wines, but it seems foolish not to go local here…). In this case selecting was easy; I was sitting with one of Montalcino’s top winemaers, Carlo Lisini, who set out three of his Brunelli: Ugolaia 2006, the Riserva 1980 and the Riserva 1975. As one might expect, despite our being just four, and Silvana’s limiting her drinking, we emptied them all!
Trattoria Il Pozzo
Piazza del Pozzo, 2 – Frazione Sant’Angelo in Colle – Montalcino (SI)
Tel. 0577 844015
Price: 30-35 Euro plus wines