Sissy and I arrived in Montepulciano yesterday, via our Fiat 500 – which beeps at you if you go over the maximum capacity of 130 km per hour. We opted to take the partial coastal route, and drive east through the rolling hills of Tuscany. I wish I was able to take photos, but I was the driver. We saw fields of sunflowers, vineyards, cypress trees, and even a little green lizard crossing the road.
Montepulciano is a tiny little town up on a mountain in Southern Tuscany. It’s a little quiet, very old, and has many small restaurants and cantinas (wine shops). I’m in Heaven.
Months ago I made a reservation at a restaurant called Osteria Acquacheta, a small restaurant known for its eccentric owner and butcher (Giulio Ciolfi) and incredible Bisteca, which he chops in the back of the restaurant for all to see. He presents the cut to you before he cooks it so you can confirm if it is the right size that you want. He is also a total ham, and has the craziest eyebrows I have ever seen. Needless to say, it was one of the most memorable dining experiences of my life.
Our eyes may have been bigger than our stomachs, but we decided to order an appetizer of prosciutto e melone, followed by a pasta course of gnocchi with arugula pesto and tagliatelle with ragu de carne (meat sauce). And of course we ordered the Bisteca Fiorentina, and Sissy got the chicken cacciatore dish because it’s her favorite. We ordered a liter of vino de rosso but they ran out of liter bottles so we each got our own half liter carafe. I didn’t complain. They also give you a liter of sparkling water, but no extra glasses. They encourage you to drink the water in the same glass as your wine between cups of wine. This is something my father taught me a long time ago, so I was pleased to practice this philosophy.
Everything was outstanding. The pastas were fresh and somehow light, and the arugula pesto was unique and perfectly seasoned. But it was really the steak that stole the show. Bisteca Fiorentina is a Tuscan specialty; a huge cut of t-bone steak seasoned simply with olive oil and salt and pepper, usually served pretty rare (with no choice of the diner). Giulio’s Bisteca was positively the best steak I have ever had (sorry, dad).
They do two seatings at the Osteria: 7pm and 9:15 pm (we opted for the later seating). Reservations are a must, and I recommend the later seating so you’re not hurried out at the end of the meal. They seat you family style with other dinner guests, which Sissy and I loved because we got to chat with a couple on the left from Barcelona celebrating their 20th anniversary, and another foursome on my right who were from Northern California and Westchester County. One of them even practices dermatology in my hometown of Rye! What are the odds? There was another large group of young fencers who were banging on their tables and cheering for the owner, rallying the entire restaurant to join them. I guess steak makes people really happy.
A the end of the night Giulio wrote down our order on the butcher paper on the table, and gave us a gracious discount of 50 cents. But for €75 for two people and five dishes, including a liter of wine, I had no complaints.
I’m looking forward to today’s adventure in Montalcino where we will visit three wineries and have another delicious meal at Trattoria il Leccio. A presto!