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Antica Osteria Di Vico
Excellent Food in Tuscany
by Don and Peg Doman
We drove by this restaurant on our first afternoon in Pastine. I saw a crowd of people milling about and entering the building. I thought it was a community hall. It never entered my mind that the Antica Osteria Di Vico was a restaurant.
A couple days later we were exploring the region and thought we would take a closer look. We knew from driving around that we were in a village and there should have been a restaurant there. Donn and Deb walked from the parking lot to check it out. Donn came back quickly and gave us a finger wave that said, ďCome on in.Ē
From the parking lot, there is a slight hill and a pathway that separates two buildings. The barn on the right was disappearing. It wasnít in the best of repair. There were items stored inside, but you would have to take care in your selection for retrieving a rake or hoe.
Behind the barn was a shed roof covering a complicated farm wagon, which looked mysterious enough to propel Starbuck from The Rainmaker into rain making dreams and fancies.
To the left was a building and a makeshift courtyard. It was the courtyard that captured our imagination and drew us in. Like the falling-down barn, the court yard looked a little dangerous . . . and exciting. It looked like the roof could come down on us at any time. After we were there awhile, we realized that the danger was only in our minds . . . I think.
The covered area had a tile floor. Eating there provided lots of shade and a nice comforting and cooling breeze. We sat down to tables with cloth coverings and read menus printed on parchment paper. The food items sounded good. We ordered the house wine and water. Some like the bottled water with gas, and some of us prefer it without gas.
We asked the waitress to explain certain menu items and then took our chances. We won. The food was excellent. Peg and I returned once with members of our group, once on our own, and I returned once by myself and was disappointed that the restaurant was closed.
I donít know the proper name of what Jan ordered, but I loved it. She passed around samples. It was a special of the day, it wasn't on the menu. It was a traditional peasant soup of fresh tomatoes, olive oil, basil, and bread. It was not soupy, but coursely chopped up and so thick you could eat it with a fork. I think it would be delicious both hot and cold . . . maybe with a little black pepper and a few capers. Everyone seemed to enjoy it "as is," however.
I believe in ordering more than you can eat, so you can share and discover more delights. I encourage sharing.
There was a gorgonzola and citrus pasta that was excellent. Iíve eaten this several times, but never ordered it myself. The pasta is served with thin slices of lemon and orange peel with probably a squeeze of juice added to the pasta on the serving plate. Gorgonzola is crumbled on top and mixed into the pasta for a wonderful multi-level and flavorful taste treat.
The tagliere with boarís sauce was perfect. It would have only been better if the noodles were wider, but then that is a personal preference. The pasta was perfect and the sauce was hearty and left you wanting more . . . well, almost everything does.
In between courses the restaurant cat asked for rubs and pats, which Rob provided. It was a little disconcerting that the feline had just been playing cat and mouse with a local lizard only a few feet from us, but if Rob didnít mind having his legs and feet licked by a pregnant lizard-killing cat, who am I to complain.
For dessert Jan ordered little cookies which were served with a port-like wine. The cookies were dipped into the wine and eaten. It was very elegant. Jan walked aournd the table offering everyone a taste. The wine was good and the little biscotti were very nice with the dipping sauce.
To Donn, nothing says the perfect end to a perfect meal like gelato. We had the perfect end to the perfect meal. We all enjoyed the food, the wine, and the entertainment, such as it was (the cat and the lizard). Donn was happy and so were we all.
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