Eating our way through Italy

“I could eat my way through Italy,” a friend enthused when we talked about my upcoming vacation. I presumed she meant in big city restaurants. Or that the food in rural areas would be interesting (in that it would be different than U.S. food), but basic.  I had no idea.

When we arrived, our landlady recommended two local restaurants – La Pizzeria and Il Gattino Bianco. The first is known for its excellent (you guessed it) pizza and the second (The Little White Cat) for seafood.  I was open minded, but moderately skeptical. This is a very rural area.

I’m no foodie, but in the past two weeks, I’ve had my eyes opened.

We tried the seafood place first because it was open when we were hungry. Mary and I shared a combination appetizer plate that included a ceviche seafood salad, crab gratine, and eggplant. The flavor was intense, the portions reasonable. The appetizer left me hungry for the main course – pasta with a mix of clams, mussels, and shrimp, with a light yet spicy wine and olive oil sauce. Mmmmm!

 

The only thing this meal left me hungry for was a chance to try the pizzeria next. Though it was not open until Thursday, it was worth the wait.

Pizza at this restaurant is unlike anything served in the U.S. The menu presents some 30 gourmet pizzas, including vegetarian, meat, seafood, and desert varieties. Other than mushrooms, the ingredients don’t resemble anything from Casey’s or Big Tomato. Speaking of tomato, few of these pizzas include tomato sauce and those that do have received only the lightest touch.

So far our favorites include Gorgonzola and pear on mozzarella, and one called Quattro Stagionati.  We’d seen ‘stagionati’ before in the context of aged cheese, so we might be excused for thinking it was a pizza with four, aged cheeses.  Actually, it was a pizza with four distinct ingredient combinations, ranging from mushroom, to seafood, to zucchini, and cheese. Served with a half liter of wine? Doesn’t get any better than this.

We’ve eaten at the pizzeria twice and are headed back to the seafood place tonight. I now know what my friend meant.

Italian food?  Buonissima!

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