Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Montepulciano: Sensational Ristorante La Grotta

Nestled at the foot of Montepulciano beside the historic Tempio di San Biagio, one of the greatest expressions of Renaissance Tuscany, is the elegant Ristorante la Grotto, located in a charming 16th-century building that was once the home of the famous architect Antonio da Sangallo. The service is exemplary and the courtyard garden divine. Established in 1966, La Grotta is beautifully located with magnificent views of the Val di Chiana hills and majestic Tempio di San Biagio, made of travertine and consecrated by Pope Clement VII in 1529. Under the guidance of Chef Cristina and David Mazzuoli, the sister-brother team who run the restaurant, guests are taken on a delicious culinary journey which strikes a clever balance between traditional Tuscan cooking and a passion for culinary innovation. The menu, inspired by traditional recipes and prepared with locally sourced ingredients, features dishes such as Aubergine and Zucchini Sformato with crisp Tuscan bacon, Tuna Tartare with olives and orange, Ravioli stuffed with pheasant and flavoured with saffron and pecorino, superb Bistecca Fiorentina with cannellini beans, a rich variety of local artisan cheeses and an excellent selection of classic Montepulciano wines. Pampered with warm, gracious and attentive service and sensational cuisine, sitting outside in the garden or in the gorgeous dining room and enjoying a meal at this classic restaurant is truly one of life's greatest pleasures.

Madame Meow guarding the culinary threshold of La Grotta

One of the greatest expressions of Renaissance Tuscany, the stunning Tempio di San Biagio is just across from La Grotta

The cypress lined avenue leads to Tempio di San Biagio and La Grotta, 
nestled in the foothills of Montepulciano

The warm and inviting interior of La Grotta, a 16th-century building that was once the home of the famous architect Antonio da Sangalo

The beautiful garden courtyard

Setting up a table outside

We began with a glass of prosecco to allow us some time to look over the menu

Lovely fresh baked breads

A perfect rose on our table

Amuse-bouche of Ricotta Mousse with local olive oil and chickpea wafer

Owner David Mazzuoli opening our special bottle of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano with an almost ecclesiastical reverence

The bottle and glasses wait as we finish our prosecco

Sformato di melanzane e zucchine con pancetta croccante

Uova in camicia su vellutata di piselli e sfogliata di parmigiano

David presenting the Bistecca alla fiorentina we ordered for our decadent lunch

Our table in front of the 16th century fireplace

Bistecca alla fiorentina al sangue — grilled to bloody pink perfection — and garnished with olive oil and sea salt

Carved table side, there was little meat left on the bone

White cannelloni beans are a classic accompaniment with Bistecca alla fiorentina

The decadent Dolce menu of homemade desserts

Clafoutis alle ciliegie

A perfect Macchiato

A sweet finish to our lunch — little morsels of homemade panforte by Chef Cristina Mazzuoli

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