Monday, April 28, 2008

road food--Italia

We found the Trattoria Vicarello on the road to Bracciano. Yes, this is the same Bracciano where Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes were wed at the Castello di Odelscalchi only two years ago. Given that the previous owners of the castle (circa 1500) met tragic marital fates (think unknowing gigolos sent to gruesome deaths via a surprise trap door in the floor after they had been useful, and wives strangled in their sleep simply because a husband wanted to marry someone else....), I'm not sure TomCat chose well for their matrimonial good fortune. However, our friends Mari and Fa were the first to marry in the castle, and they are still both standing, and rather happy.

The Trattoria Vicarello appears in a bend in the road. It is in a partially renovated barn across the street from an abandoned villa. It is the visual ideal of a roadside "trattoria", created out of the pure philosophy of a countryside restaurant. We stop of an afternoon to look at the menu, to see when they are open. But all is quiet. A tractor sits idle in the farmyard, and someone has hung laundry out to dry from a broken window.We peer in through the glass doors and spy a table with two beautiful marmalade crostate. We imagine they have been set out to cool. There are signs that someone has been there: a coat flung over a chair, a newspaper tossed on a table, but the lights are dark.

A few days later, we drive the road from our adopted Sutri over the hill through thick hazelnut groves in the dying evening light. We admire the lights coming on across the still waters of the lake. We arrive at the trattoria rather late as most other tables are finishing their business and leaving. One table remains, eating dessert.

The interior is warm and comfortable. We order simply: the house-made ravioli stuffed with fresh ricotta and spinach served in melted butter and warmed sage. There are baby Roman artichokes, a radicchio salad with fresh orange, a plate of the dark green of the wild cicoria wilted in salt and oil. There are dishes of involtini--veal rolled and stuffed with artichoke served in a mushroom sauce, veal in lemon sauce, and Saltimboca alla Romana, veal with pancetta and sage. We finish with some local cheeses, and the plum marmelade tart.

The trattoria's visual promise does not disappoint. The kitchen lives up to its ambiance, and this is true cucina casareccia, or home cooking. The little restaurant is run by two sisters plus husband whose parents have another restaurant down on the lake. Their faces are tired, but they are ever-quick to smile and hold a conversation. Even though it is Wednesday, this is their "Friday" night, and they are ready for a day of repose. We are well fed, and we will leave them to it.



Nancy said...

WOW! Wish we were there with looks enchanting! Please know that the Barringtons are anxiously awaiting your return and all of the delicious new dishes you've "dreamed up" over the past month. Safe travels home...we'll see you Sat!


Victoria said...

Wow. Oh gosh, I just read about all the foods you've been eating and it made me so hungry! I wish I were there with you, I'm homesick for Sutri!!

cc55 said...

Hi Deirdre and Caleb,

When are you getting back to VT.?
We'd like to make reservations to have dinner at Pane e Salute!

Chris and Barb Conner

Deirdre and Caleb said...

Hi all! Sorry, we've been quiet, but travelling back home and jet lag. We will be opening Thursday May 8th, back in the office tomorrow, Monday the 6th and taking reservations then. Victoria when do you come home? Nancy--we'll see 4 Barringtons on Saturday, and Chris and Bob, give a call this week.....

Thanks for reading! And looking forward to seeing everyone soon!