Restaurant: Ristorante Albergaccio di Castellina
Location: Castellina in Chianti, Italy
Date: June 13 & 20, 2011
Rating: Great food, great service
Albergaccio di Castellina is the first “fancy” place we went to in Tuscany, and it was so good we went back twice, but like any of the repeat restaurants in the Eating Italy set I have compiled both into a single post. The place earns a single Michelin star and is located in the beautiful hills of Chianti Classico, in a town called Castellina in Chianti. The first time we arrived we had a typical “finding mishap” due to a clash between the GPS and a recent road closure. This led us to circle the area for about 45 minutes until we discovered the mysterious new (and roundabout) way to approach the restaurant.
The have lovely plates! And, as our gluten free companion observed, she’s “alergic to the plate!” (but obviously this doesn’t matter through the plastic).
They had both a lovely patio.
And a classic looking Tuscan interior.
I’m going to take to calling this course the “pre-bread” as many places in Italy have two, or even three, different rounds of bread! Those long things were like salty donuts! Yum!
The extensive menu. AC (as I’ll call it) has two very reasonable tasting menus and an unusual but easy method of pricing merely by the number of courses.
We started with a little prosecco.
Then this lighter Chianti Classico, very local.
This amuse was a tiny version of the best minestrone I ever had. It tasted like bacon! (and it had bacon).
On another night we got the Tuscan bread and tomato soup.
And they even had gluten free bread — without pre-warning — earning them big points.
Mixed local cured meats, always great in Italy.
This was the best Beef Tartar I’ve had, except possibly for at Totoraku. It was Chianino, the tough but delicious Tuscan cow. It also had ginger and parmesan. Wow!
Flowers of tuscany. Some tartar, an onion stuffed with pecorino, a meat pate, and a fried squash blossom.
Moving slightly up the Chianti beefiness ladder.
Hand made ravioli filled with blue cheese of Chianti, with thyme leaf and celery soup.
Gnocchi with saffron and beef muzzle sauce, parmesan.
A fantastic baked lasagne.
Swiss shard “meat” balls, with tomato, basil, and cheese. Really interesting (and good).
More homemade pasta, with a tripe and parmesan sauce, with porcini mushrooms. This was delicious, and I don’t even like tripe!
This local super Tuscan gets a 96 from Parker! “The 2007 Cepparello (Sangiovese) makes a case for itself as one of the finest wines ever made at Isole e Olena. It is an open, sublime Cepparello endowed with tons of clarity and definition. The ripe red fruit floats on a core of refined, silky tannins that caress the palate with exceptional elegance and finesse. As the wine sits in the glass its inner perfume gradually emerges, leading to an eternal, beautifully crafted finish. The ripeness of the vintage is beautifully balanced by the acidity that is the trademark of Sangiovese grown in these hillside plots. Simply put, this is an utterly thrilling wine that will be a joy to follow over the coming years. In many ways, the restraint, elegance and polish all suggest Cepparello is the Haut-Brion of Tuscany’s high-end, pure Sangioveses. The 2007 Cepparello was fermented in wood uprights and saw three weeks of contact on the skins. Malolactic fermentation took place in equal parts steel and French oak. The final blend was assembled and the wine was subsequently aged in French oak barrels (1/3 new) for 18 months. Proprietor Paolo De Marchi describes the 2007 season as one where periods of heat alternated with well-timed spells of rain. Overall temperatures remained warm (but never extreme) throughout the year, which allowed the fruit to ripen evenly. Still, it was a challenging vintage, and De Marchi was forced to carry out a stringent selection in his vineyards. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2027.”
Grilled Tuscan vegetables and burrata.
Lamb medallions in an anchovy sauce with herbs. Stewed giblets. Tomato and vegetable millefeuile. The meat was a little tougher than we are usually used to in the states, but full of flavor.
This dish was the single failure. Chick pea crepes with salt cod. This is a traditional salt-packed Italian fish that needs a lot of soaking — and it had 48 hours — but it still wasn’t really to our taste. They very generously pulled it from the bill.
Bisteca Toscana! The giant slab of nearly raw grilled Chianino beef.
The dessert menu.
A pre-dessert of cherry gelato and cherries. Yum!
Another pre-dessert, ricotta and fig.
Local cheesecake with fresh berries.
Two slightly different takes on ricotta cheese semifreddo in a sponge cake, flavored with vin santo.
Summer “caprese” of cream and strawberries.
This place is really awesome. They take local ingredients, and local dishes, and do a wonderful job modernizing them.
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