Sunday lunch is nuts in the Lunigiana. You have to reserve a week in advance to get a seat at most restaurants. There’s only one seating—from 12:30 or 1 to forever.
Our pick of restaurants, the Osteria Boccondivino, was inexplicably closed on Sunday according to a hastily scribbled note tacked to the door. So we pointed the car toward Ristorante Gavarini in little Mocrone, a restaurant that seems to have many times more seats than there are local inhabitants in the tiny village.
Gavarini was full, too. There was a first first communion party going on—a big one.
But it helps to have friends you can horn in on, and ours happened to be sitting conspicuously at a table near the entrance. Friendly waiters found us a couple of chairs and we were set. We’d have to eat whatever the party was having—no ordering—but that hardly proved a problem.
First came the typical Lunigiana antipasti. Plate after plate of meats, vegetables, the little fried bread pillows typical of the Lunigiana, torta delle herbe, and more.
We could have quit then. But no.
Following were ravioli stuffed with greens and prosciutto lightly tomato sauced and covered with a layer of fresh arugula leaves.
But we weren’t done with the primo piatti. No, there was a very nice linguini with seafood right after.
Then came the meat. First an ok roast beef. Then a fine suckling pig braised with chestnuts—roast potatoes on the side.
Then dolce—dessert. Throw in a few bottles of local wine, lots of water as befits a hot day in a crowded ristorante, coffee and a grappa and you have the anatomy of a rather long Sunday lunch in the Lunigiana.
The total for this gut-expanding quantity of great food eaten over three and a half hours of good conversation—food surprisingly well prepared considering the over-crowded party conditions—set us back a mere €35 a person. Frugal? You bet. You won’t want dinner. Trust me.
Via Benedicenti, 30
Mocrone di Villafranca Lunigiana (MS)