New is not always better. Sometimes there is a very good
reason for a classic dish to be classic. Sometimes trendy doesn’t satisfy and
sometimes you can simply be blown away by a combination of good service, good
wine and outstanding food.
We went to Locanda al Gambero Rosso a few years ago and had a sublime
evening and for no particular reason, we haven’t been back since. Just over the
border, in Emilia Romagna, it’s about a 40 minute drive from Montone, and it is
beyond a doubt worth the drive.
There is nothing pretentious, stuffy or trendy to be found
here, even though it could be. It isn’t even expensive, although they could
charge more. Maybe the décor could use a little update, maybe its absolutely
perfect the way it is. Who can
find fault with local dishes served with utmost respect and top notch
We arrived early (by Italian standards), but it’s a Saturday
night, and we don’t have reservations, so we’re a little worried. But, the
smiling Guiliana congratulates us on getting the last available table and our
worries disappear. We’re scruffy
from a day of adventures, but Guiliana welcomed us and made us comfortable
A treat arrives within moments: a chilled panzanella salad
with some exquisite shreds of house made pickled zucchini.
As we lick that plate clean and settle in with a spectacular
and very reasonably priced bottle of wine: La Terrazze, a Rosso Conero; another
treat arrives. This time it’s a
small bowl of ‘fricassee’, or stewed tomatoes, onions and eggs. Jeff declares
he would like it served in a baby bottle and he would be quite content to just
take sips all day long. I suppose that is what you would call nurturing food.
The dark, nearly black, wine is soft and fruity and works so
very well with the carpaccio covered in summer truffles. Carpaccio and truffles
being one of the world’s great, underused combinations.
Once again, we made the Pasta Pact and we share two entirely
different pastas: a creamy, decadent truffled lasagna and strongoprezzi with
‘erbe’. “Erbe” is sort of a catch all word for stewed bitter greens. We’re
still debating which was better, and I doubt there will be a clear winner.
No Pact was made for secondi, and I was happy because I
didn’t really want to share my stuffed rabbit. Jeff was equally content to just
give me a nibble of his roasted pigeon. Each dish came with about four
different vegetable bits that could have been a star in their own right.
We actually even opted for desert, something we almost never
do. I tried the local dish “lattiolo’, which is a dense, eggy custard and Jeff
had a simple crema catalana. Even dessert came with a little treat: a small pot
of yogurt mixed with homemade berry marmellata.
We could not have been a happier, more satisfied couple and
we are completely mystified why we haven’t been back sooner. We are already
plotting our return.
My apologies for the lousy photos, they don’t do the food
justice, but I don’t like whipping out my big camera in an intimate dining
setting, so I guess you’ll just have to go and eat there yourself.
Locanda al Gambero Rosso
– via G. Verdi, 5 – 47021 Bagno di Romagna loc. S. Piero (FC) – tel e fax +39