One of the highlights of my post-Vinitaly trip was dinner with Pievalta general manager Silvia Loschi and winemaker Alessandro Fenino at the amazing Ristorante Marchese del Grillo in the Marches (Marche).
There aren’t a lot of fine dining options in the Marches, especially as you head inland.
The Marches are still largely undeveloped and viticulture and other crops generally dominate the landscape. In many ways, it looks like Italy must have appeared back in the 1970s before all the shopping malls and factories were built in the countryside.
It’s beautiful there and the views are truly moving. But it’s not like being in the Langhe hills where there are more dining options — from the humble trattoria to the Michelin-starred — than you can count.
One exception to this is the restaurant in the cellar of the Villa Marchese del Grillo in the valley of Matelica.
The restaurant was top-notch, with superb service and great wine service as well. I was thoroughly impressed by the gorgeous setting, the staff, and the food, which focused on traditional Marchigiana cuisine with a contemporary flourish here and there.
I highly recommend it. Here are some of the things that we ate that night.
The salumi plate included a slice of cinta senese from the famous heirloom “striped pig” of Siena. Otherwise, all the meats were local. However humble, this dish was excellent.
These were the tajuli pilusi, the “hairy tagliolini,” so-called because they are made without egg and are slightly, although deliciously, coarse on the edges of the noodles. They were served with spring vegetables. I LOVED this dish.
This dish, the famous Vincisgrassi of the Marches and Umbria, was such a treat for me. I had never had it in situ and didn’t realize that it is traditionally served so toasted. The layers of delicate pasta were firm and savory. A dish worth the price of admission alone.
Green cannelloni stuffed with lamb ragù. Again, excellent housemade pasta and the filling had wonderful savory balance and was not overly heavy, despite the fatty lamb.
All in all, especially when paired with the Pievalta 2009 Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Riserva San Paolo, it was one of the best meals of a stellar trip.
Thank you again, Silvia and Alessandro, for a truly unforgettable evening!
Top image via the Relais Marche del Grillo Facebook. All other images by Jeremy Parzen for Barone Pizzini-Pievalta.