King of antipasti is going to be my catchphrase for Abruzzo’s La Loggia Antica agriturismo, located just outside Arsita in the province of Teramo. It is a hard-won title! Abruzzo agriturismi offers a wide variety of scrummy antipasti, little hot & cold teaser dishes that are often fried, stuffed, stewed and roasted in addition to the usual platter of salami and cheeses of other regions, and in the case of La Loggia wonderful offerings these could be eaten alone as a filling lunch or dinner for those that fancy a meze style lunch.
Situated amongst panoramic sweeping hills that promise easy[ish] hiking; overlooked by the Gran Sasso mountain range just outside Arsita, it’s the perfect location for walkers and those that have an appointment to view the nearby wolf museum…
Our visit to La Loggia Antica in late winter yielded some excellent examples of the more standard fare – home-made prosciutto, lomo and salami; the salami was wonderful both in its flavour and its lack of fatty globules which I know you must have for flavour’s sake, but these lost nothing for their absence. Wonderful soft young cow cheeses were served with pear salsa, followed by piping hot, soft and squishy frittelle. This was followed by blessed cardoons drizzled with a balsamic reduction, a puree of potato with swiss chard and dressed in the fruitiest olive oil, and my favourite a soft but crunchy carrot giardiniera with truffle, wide orange strips taken lengthways from the carrot resembling almost sweet potato shavings.
Next came along warm chickpeas sprinkled with crushed hazelnuts (sublime and something I am going to try at home), the softest diced lambs’ liver that melted appropriately mid mastication, a moist pork & artichoke dish, dreamy smashed potatoes with roasted peppers, succulent stewed lamb and finally peppered pork.
We had no idea that the antipasti would span quite such a range, so ordered our usual pasta courses blissfully ignorant of the veritable antipasti banquet. Pasta alla pecorara, (shepherdess pasta for those that don’t know) with pasta shapes in the shape of the top of Little Bo Beep’s circular crook; a piquant sauce, courgettes, aubergine, mushrooms, olives and a sprinkling of ricotta on top made this one of the best pasta dishes we’ve had in Abruzzo, and the gnocchi in a luscious truffle and mushroom sauce my partner had was equally excellent.
Service was great, a chat with the owner Sig Di Mercurio who came out to speak to all the diners present, and wasn’t put off that we were English nor our horrible Italian. His array of homemade cream liqueurs are superb, something for everyone here: coffee, chocolate and limoncello in addition to Genzano. Those all around us were onto their meats by this stage which left us thinking how lucky locals are to have such hollow legs because I really really don’t know where they were putting it all.
Do so recommend, there is loggia-style dining offered in the summer but if going at the weekend phone ahead and book, this place is very popular with locals. They offer a B&B facility too for those looking in the Arsita & Bisenti area.
Price – €35 for 2 people including 2 courses, 1/2 litre of house wine, coffee and liqueurs (we took home most of our pasta dishes & ate for dinner, portions here are enormous)
Value for money – 10/10
Quality of food – 10/10
Contrada da Carbonesca | Arsita | 64031 (TE)
Telephone: 0861 995720 | No Email or Website