The whole point of a restaurant in Maintecatini Terme, above all, should be in “restoring” one’s well being. I mean, that’s what the town is about.
Osteria di Poneta restored mine. I mean, just look at it. It’s like being 12 again and visiting your aunt and uncle who lived in a too-small Chicago apartment and there’s something that always meets your eye, fascinating little things you didn’t notice on your previous visit when you were 11, along with the familiar smell of the book glue and of dinner simmering away while Auntie puts on the tablecloth…
And there is no blaring “popular” music. Crooners from the dark ages when microphones were first invented softly whispered in the background soothingly.
There is a farm behind the good eats at Osteria di Poneta called Fattoria di Poneta. They do a walloping good sott’olio, vegetables preserved by packing them in olive oil. You can order the assortment with grilled artichokes, grilled zucchini, balsamic onions (Martha’s favorite) and sun dried tomatoes along with a handful of onions. It’s enough for two as a starter.
Then you have the pasta, freshly made. Lots of choice here. I had the Fettuccine della Robbia that comes with a long-cooked sauce of Porri, Radicchio Rosso, Lardo di Colonnata e Pecorino di Fossa, or leeks, red radicchio, lardo, and pit aged pecorino cheese. I had envisioned a dish that balanced the bright bitterness of the radicchio with the lardo, but the long cooked sauce came across as sweet and had lost it bitterness, and the pecorino wasn’t sharp and salty enough to balance it. I’m sure many would love this dish, but I’m not a fan of sweet so it was a poor choice for me. Martha’s pasta with asparagus fared much better.
But here’s the thing. I was right on the verge of ordering the Spaghetti alla Carrettiera, described as augmented with Salsa di Pomodoro, Aglio e Peperoncino. The guy at the next table ordered it. I could have lived on the perfume arising from the dish. I mean, it may be too simple for you to consider, but just do it unless garlic isn’t your thing. And I’m not talking garlic overload like you get when you order the garlic fries at the ball park, but a perfume of garlic that will entice you.
I could have grabbed that dish of pasta from the guy and run with it. No kidding.
So, after these larcenous thoughts, Martha does something she almost never does. She orders this:
A simple pear poached in Chianti. It was a fine end to a fine meal that, despite the sweetness of the pasta I ordered, restored me so that I could go out and photograph some of Italy’s finest metal objects arriving from the Mille Miglia course.
Travel Planing Information
Osteria di Poneta
via Solferino 12, Montecatini Terme