Great food, beautiful decor & location, fresh flowers and magnificent window views onto Chieti’s hill-top towns such as Guardiagrele and out to the sea, is to name but some of the wonderful things to enjoy at La Torre di Pretoro.
We arrived following a morning up in the ski-resort of Passo di Lanciano where we’d been watching a snowboarding competition. We needed something a little more chilled than the full-on ski restaurants and, no matter how much I adore reggae, sometimes, especially in the snow, you crave for smaller, calm & toasty restaurants with log fires far away from the vibrations of clumping snow boots. This need is answered by La Torre, which is in the small hill-side medieval town of Pretoro, a short 20-minute drive back down the Pass.
It sits 496 masl, almost organically embellishing a steep-ish hill on the Majella’s eastern side, offering incredible views all the way to the coast. You can literally play I-Spy with each town in your line of sight, as you work out which one it is. Stone-clad houses, which like the restaurant contain rooms carved from the mountain itself, you can see why it’s called Pretoro, a bastardisation of Pietra (stone).
It’s a town famous for craft, wood-carving to be precise, helped by the plentiful beech woods that surround it. There is also a wolf sanctuary here that adjoins a small learning centre about the environment, but we got there too late to view this, way past the cut-off Sunday closing time of 1.00 pm! A ramble around the beautiful little streets of its historic centre is recommended.
The owner Signora D’Innocenza thought we were Canadian as she has a Canadian friend in Lanciano who is busily spreading word-of-mouth referrals. It was only Italians dining when we were there. No one speaks English but being that it is a restaurant and does have menus if you take a dictionary you will have no problems, even if you don’t speak Italian.
We loved the beautiful restoration of the restaurant; local lace tablecloths and, yes, an open fire burning brightly in the grate in the Grotto room. I also loved the simple roses on the table, those little touches you don’t get in agriturismo and it’s good to enjoy once in a while… Menus were great, they listed the local supplier for some of the main ingredients, i.e. Farro. Small canapés of pancetta on farro bread were divine. Antipasti dishes are created from the best of what is in season. We tried the Fantasia d’inverno, which included a wonderfully light custard-like pie with pumpkin, ricotta and broccoli. A cauliflower cream-like dip was wonderful to dip the excellent selection of home-made breads into. Pear wrapped in speck with gorgonzola, such a simple favourite but without trying to sound too pretentious the best I have ever eaten of this dish. Savoy cabbage leaf stuffed with sausage was wonderful. We shared this between the 2 of us and although portions weren’t huge they made for perfect sharing especially with the richness of flavours.
For primi we tried the earthy faro tagliatelle and truffle & mushroom sauce and the chestnut gnocchi in provolone sauce, this cheese sauce was a little too creamy for me but otherwise all good. We finished with local steak that was excellent in flavour and salad and a rather beautiful dessert of Cachi semi-freddo, in this case the custard variety with cachi preserve.
Recommend? Yes, I would love to go back in the summer and sit on their terrace as it has quite a view, and although the window view was good, eating good food in the great outdoors beckons!
Price – c.€30 per head for 3 courses not including wine
Value for money – 9/10
Quality of food – 9/10
Ristorante La Torre di Pretoro | Rua di Livio, 1 | 66010 – Pretoro (Chieti)
Telephone/Fax: 0871 898400 | Email firstname.lastname@example.org
(If you are going through on a weekday, telephone or fax for a booking before arriving)