On a fact-finding mission into oil drilling in Abruzzo, we visited the coastal town of Ortona in the region of Chieti, Abruzzo. Our Italian guides for the day, Loretta & Fabrizia, directed us to the charming Ristorante al Vecchio Teatro.
Located near Ortona’s water-front, Ristorante al Vecchio Teatro can be accessed from two points, the Corso Garibaldi and the Belvedere Francesco Paolo Tosti, the latter a sort of promenade looking out onto the port and blue-green waters of the Adriatic. A well laid-out, smart restaurant with super staff, we were given a table in the front conservatory area, nice & light; we were first served a small crisp piece of toast topped with a lightly whipped baccala pate, a delicate flavour and a good introduction to the fine dining available here.
We shared an octopus dish, a lovely light serving of chunks of octopus served in an excellent, grassy new olive oil by Ursini. The primi piatti is split between food of the sea and food of the mountains; we opted for a seafood pasta dish each, both our dishes using tacconi style pasta, perfectly al dente, one accompanied by with pieces of prawn with tomatoes, the other a wholemeal pasta with beans & chickpeas in a light, tomatoey piccante sauce. Both excellent and satiating. So much so that we had no room for secondi piatti… but we did somewhow manage a traditional Ortona pudding course, comprising cakes & biscotti, and a cheeky wee limoncello too…
We had hoped to try and sample another of Ortona’s traditional dishes, a seafood soup or brodetto, but due to strong winds the day before the local fishing boats had been unable to go far enough out to sea to provide a sufficient haul of the various fish called for; we had popped into another restaurant down near Ortona’s castle, where we were told it would be possible, but we would have to wait several hours before it would be ready.
The “teatro” or theatre indicated is just round the corner from Ristorante al Vecchio Teatro, an impressive building with an excellent intimate theatre inside. The theatre of Ortona was first built in c.1930, to honour Ortona’s hugely respected composer Francesco Paolo Tosti (1846-1916). The theatre fell into disrepair but was refurbished and reopened in 2006, and now features theatrical and dance works.
Price – 3 Course Meal, €60 for two people including wine
Value for money – 8/10
Quality of food – 9/10
Ristorante al Vecchio Teatro
largo ripetta 7/8 o C.Garibaldi 35
66026 – Ortona a Mare (Chieti)
Monday & Tuesday 1.00pm-2.30pm & 8.00pm-10.30pm
Friday: 1.00pm–2.30pm & 8.00pm–10.30pm
Saturday: 1.00pm-2.30pm & 8.00pm-11.00pm
Sunday: 1.00pm-2.30pm & 8.00pm-10.30pm