After all the wine tasting you'll need to remember to grab a bite to eat. Even more so as a Rosso or Brunello di Montalcino will simply taste best in combination with Tuscan food.
- Re di Macchià is often the locals' first choice when it comes to authentic Tuscan cuisine. Pinci (or Pici - a type of thick handmade local spaghetti) with ragù (meat sause), wild boar, bistecca Fiorentina and a fireplace that crackles along in the winter.
- Porta al Cassero is similar in style but a bit less refined when it comes to interiors (but still a nice place). Mainly it's a restaurant, where the menu never changes. Literally never. Gordon Ramsay won't believe it, but in this case it's a good thing. It's the way the Tuscan farmers had it, Ribollita, Zuppa di Pane and Cinghiale (wild boar). Just simple and plain good.
Out of town
Sant'Angelo in Colle:
Sant'Angelo in Colle:
- Il Leccio is a must. Because of the food but also to get a chance to take in the views from Sant'Angelo in Colle. This tiny but beautiful village offers one of the best sunsets in Southern Tuscany. Admire Monte Amiata and watch the hills of the Maremma turn gold, before you eat yourself through Il Leccio's menu. On Sant'Angelo in Colle's main square. Phone: +39 0577 844175. Closed on Wednesdays.
- If restaurant Il Leccio is closed or fully booked just walk a few steps further on the piazza, where you'll find Il Pozzo, a honest Tuscan Trattoria, with a good choice of local specialities. Closed on Tuesdays. Phone +39 0577 84 40 15
- Come mantled with patience, if you plan to eat at the Osteria Sant'Angelo, my favorite place to eat out in Montalcino. Service can be on the moody side, but if the locals keep coming back, there must be a reason. From handmade pasta to lesser known Italian recipes, everything is prepared with care and the price quality relationship is the best in the area. Tortino di Pecorino as a starter and one of the cakes for dessert are absolute musts for foodies. Via Grossetana, 8 (near to Castello Banfi winery). Normally packed at lunch, so book in advance: +39 340 830 52 90 (it's easier to get a table for a last minute dinner). Closed on Mondays.
BAR and COFFEE SHOPS in Montalcino
All you wanted was a simple snack? Stop at one of Montalcino's bars and forget Star Bucks. In Italy any place called Bar is a coffee shop, snack bar and public meeting place in one. The average Italian will easily visit his favorite village bar several times a day: starting off with a quick espresso or cappuccino in the morning, back for a slice of pizza at lunch and then a first aperitif in the early evening (or well, why not already at lunch-time?). Then they will call it a day with a Grappa or yet another coffee after dinner.
My favorite bars in town (in no particular order):
- Lovers of Art Deco won't want to miss out on a Cappuccino at the Caffè Fiaschetteria Italiana. The bar has been going strong since 1888 and its historic setting will make you feel like you've stepped back into the early years of the 20st century. If you travel on a shoe-string budget do as the Italians do: no sitting down, just stand at the counter like the locals do for breakfast or for a quick glass of sparkling wine. Service at the table is what gets prices to skyrocket.
- If you prefer a more modern approach to Italian design and furniture, have your coffee at Caffè alle Logge di Piazza right opposite of la Fiaschetteria. Their outside sitting area is great on a hot day and makes for a good playground if you travel with kids. On a side note, this bar is also a great choice if you need a restroom: as most Italian bars it has only one toilet, but unlike the ones found in most other bars this one is clean, stylish and has... a fabulous view! Closed on Wednesdays.
- Bar Belvedere (formerly bar Mariuccia) has simple interiors, but as the bar's name suggests stunning views from the sitting area in the backroom, that overlooks the hills of the Val d'Orcia (Montepulciano, San Quirico d'Orica and Pienza can be made out on clear days).
TAKE AWAY FOOD AND PIZZA
If Italy means pizza to you, have a slice or two at the Take Away Pizzeria in the main square (close to Fiaschetteria). But the real thing when it comes to Tuscan Take Away Food is L'Angolo (in front of Montalcino's fortress) which is a mix between a bar and a delicatessen and just the place to taste some of Italy's best prosciutto, salami and Pecorino cheese. My absolute favorite lunch option her looks like this: a slice of the simple unsalted Tuscan bread topped with a couple of slices of fresh Pecorino cheese, topped with Acciughe sott'olio (anchovies seasoned in olive oil, parsley and chillies) - all of it turned into a panino (sandwich) by yet another piece of Tuscan bread put on top. And yes, Tuscan sandwiches are fantastic but on the dry side. This explains why a lot of people don't carry theirs away, but eat them right in the delicatessen, accompanied by a couple of glasses of Tuscan red.