Ristorante Dei Pini was our stop for lunch after picking up some wine at Cantine Lunae.
Ristorante Dei Pini advertises itself as specializing in carne alla brace. It’s just like a Tuscan restaurant, you know, to specialize in something so simple you might shrug it off. Grilled meat. Hmm.
So we had pasta. Martha ordered the spaghetti frutti di mare, and I ordered penne with a sort of pesce azzuro I hadn’t heard of. In fact, the menu was hand written, and I couldn’t make the name out, so I had to do some web research. Pesce azzuro are those red-fleshed fish that don’t go very deep—the ones with lots of flavor that flash a bluish silver to the casual observer who sees them in the sea (and degrade horribly in flavor when they’re not fresh). We’re talking anchovies, mackerel, sardines and others, including the delicious bits of the mystery fish found in my red sauce (see the picture above). Both pastas were good, but mine was better.
The pastas come on platters. The waitress seemed surprised at the amount. “Abbondonza!” she exclaimed, shaking her head like she’d bonk the cook on his zucca if he didn’t get skimpier with the portions.
When she cleared the pasta plates, she asked us if we wanted fruit or desert.
“Forse…carne alla brace?” I asked timidly, surprised that she’d skip the second course.
She looked at me like I was daft. Imagine, an overeater in Tuscany!
I went ahead and ordered a braciole di maiale. A pork chop.
And only 8 Euros. I guess you can’t tell the size, though it pretty much fills the plate. An inch and a half thick, tantalizingly smoky from the wood fire, and dusted with a little wild thyme, which grows well in these parts; I’ve often wondered why Italians don’t use it much.
Anyway, this was the bomb. Fantastic. And you know what? I could almost predict it, since I had seen the fire and immediately after ordering it heard the whack, whack of the cook’s cleaver hacking my chop off the rack—no opening a shrink wrapped package for Ristorante Dei Pini.
40 Euro for what’s described above plus a quarter of wine, a bottle of water and a large mixed salad.
I also discovered that the Dei Pini offers a special kind of prosciutto that comes only from Castelnuovo Magra, “made like speck, only not smoked,” according to the server. It’s called La Prosciutta Castelnovese. Yep, feminine. I didn’t have it this time, but will try it next time. There’s always something to put in your mouth in Tuscany…
Ristorante Dei Pini
Via Olmarello, 50
Castelnuovo Magra (SP)
Tel. 0189 / 67.40.84