Eco-gourmet isn’t a word you hear bandied about in Abruzzo, but Ekk’s new restaurant in the former Città Sant’Angelo co-operative cantina could soon be making the term Ekko-Gourmet more prolific regionally, perhaps even nation-wide. “Ekk” in local dialect means ‘”here”, and here is Abruzzo under one roof, from a culinary point of view at least. If you haven’t got time to dash about to source, taste and shop Abruzzo’s provinces this could be one place to aim for rather like Eataly.
The Ekk restaurant is run by Chef Gabriele Marrangoni who is fiercely protective of seasonal cuisine; this may be Italy but if tomatoes aren’t in season don’t expect to have fresh ones included in the menu for dinner now matter how much you plead. He utilises some of the 1200 products that are sold on behalf of 130 suppliers across Abruzzo’s four provinces from the EKK food & wine store. I love that he hosts guest ‘Chef Evenings’ bringing in smaller, famous provincial agriturismo and restaurants to enable those in the Città Sant’Angelo area to try. Such events may be commonplace in Italy’s larger cities but this is the first time I have experienced this in Abruzzo and I really hope they continue at EKK, it’s a fantastic initiative where you can taste and learn something different from what is served locally, and a great way for the smaller restaurants to be discovered across the whole region and beyond.
Before eating you can choose to have aperitifs in the bar or down in the deli served by Stefano whilst tasting produce in-store. A big jazz fan, Stefano’s laid-back lovely stories combined with real local food knowledge was a delight. The best is definitely pulled in from across the provinces even the bread comes daily from L’Aquila’s famous San Gregorio Bakery. In the near future I will be making this a monthly stop-off for food shopping; the prices were surprisingly competitive with those in our local supermarkets and if it is helping smaller suppliers I know who I would rather support. It was incredible the depth and range of foods & wines, most seen for the first time, and perfect for those who love to experiment and want to try the breadth of Abruzzo’s products.
We went on the night that La Cantina di Porta Romana’s Marcello Schillaci was guest chef, profiling the city of Teramo and the people’s cuisine. This meant sardines in fried red peppers, anchovies and zolla (the floral sprout from garlic), snails in rich wild thyme sauce, penne in a soup with river prawn, tripe and mazzarella. All wonderful, even the snails that I am not too fond of in Abruzzo, have always found them a little too salty, but these were great. Whilst we ate the anti-pasti there was a small and brief interesting talk by a local food historian about the profusion of herbs used in this local cuisine, that is very much povere cucina, how the river prawn dish has just 1 prawn and is almost in a soup in an effort to make a little go further, no complaints from me! Still very flavoursome and probably the best mazzarella and tripe I’ve had. The 2 wines served were great, I particularly enjoyed the Pecorino by Azienda Agricola Marina Palusci, (though you would never guess they did wine from their website!). I need to find out the Ratifa too as it was one of the best I’ve had, oh such a perfect way to ratify a great meal drinking this cherry liqueur.
We had a sneaky look at the rooms: chic, modern & elegant, my partner particularly enjoyed their use of gadgetry, I must admit I do love all these type of transformational hotels, those that have been born out of former factories… it’s always intriguing to see how they re-use space and so much more friendly to the environment than knocking it all down and starting again. Each room has its unique personality stamped by a stanza from the Abruzzo power poet Gabriele D’Annunzio so you’ll never lose touch with where you are or what was here formerly, as you walk about every now and again there is a spectral whiff of red wine which I thought was great, am sure in time this will vanish but at the moment it’s a selling point and personally if I was a business-person or even thinking of a long weekend I wouldn’t mind an airy chic room here, especially due to it only being 15 mins from the airport, 10 mins from the beach, and enfolded within fields of vines.
Price – €35 per person including 4 courses, white & red wines, coffee and liqueurs
Value for money – 10/10
Quality of food – 10/10
Ekk Ristorante Cantina Santangelo
Address Strada Lungofino, 185 (Vicino Centro Ibisco) 65013 Città Sant’Angelo (Pe)
Website: http//ekkristorante.it | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Tel: +39 085. 9153083