Pietracamela ‘s Gran Sasso Residence is a wonderfully intimate little restaurant that is really worth checking out if you’re looking for a sensory adventure sourced from local ingredients from the Gran Sasso National Park. It is conveniently located for those out walking around Pietracamela, giving a great base to come back and have lunch before you set off on your afternoon hike or ramble.
The restaurant is owned by the two Montauti brothers, whose service was attentive & charming. The dining room is light and spacious, decorated with the warm colours of the local earth, as well as Primitivism paintings by the acclaimed Italian artist Guido Montauti who was born & returned to work in Pietracamela.
With just 5 tables, this little restaurant offers character that can sometimes be missing in lofty good-for-value agriturismi, making it perfect for a romantic dinner or somewhere to take friends and family a little bit different with character if you live in Abruzzo. Don’t be put off by the front which looks like it is a bar only, go in, turn left and you will see a side door that takes you straight into a cute little dining room.
I must confess I am a huge fungi lover so any time I get up high in the Apennines woods I do tend to get very excited about mushroom possibilities. Pietracamela is surrounded by different woods, hazelnut, ancient chunky and lofty silent pines, beach & oak woods, I could go on and on. Whilst rambling through these you will probably bump into another mushroom lover up from Rome who is on their way to pick their fungi up on Prato Selva which just reinforces how great a place for this for mushroom lovers to stop by to eat.
We shared an antipasta, and were surprised and happy to have a savoury version of delicate ‘latte fritto’ (fried milk) served, which we haven’t had for ages. For the uninitiated the nearest one can describe the texture of this is like a delicate tofu custard but with all the taste of milk, mixed with flour and deep fried, it is divine when done right and worked beautifully with mushrooms. Their preserved sun-dried tomatoes were incredible and more like eating a fresh tomato than the tough old things you can be served in places. The selection of cold meats was excellent as was the cheese
a really young, soft pecorino.
For my primo I had Fettucine Boscialo, made from feather light fresh pasta ribbons that didn’t fight the texture of divine assorted local picked mushrooms. My partner had timbalo, 12 layers of crepes interspersed with local fresh-water fish, a first-time taste for us both but delicious and not too fishy.
For our main, we tried the local park sausages. These were delicious, made from wild boar, and not at all fatty. Due to their density, no nasty fillers in these beauties, if you do go for the sausage option I would advice sharing 1 between 2, you get 3 which even though were incredibly tasty were almost too much. This we had with a good salad, nicely dressed and the best French fries that really were made home-made looking at their irregular shapes and wonderful flavour.
The house Cerasuolo was very good, and worked perfectly with the dishes that we had chosen without overpowering them. The cook, who looking at their website is called Dina, managed to ensure that our dishes arrived with time to digest the last but at the same time promptly – great!
There is a menu that is quite extensive whilst keeping to local flavours and dishes and those on a budget you will like as all prices are there so you don’t overspend. They don’t take credit cards, but there is a Bancomat just around the corner so it’s easy to access cash. I would advise booking before you set off on your morning walk; Pietracamela is quite a local attraction at weekends and especially during the ski-season, when it is best to phone or send an email.
Price – €44 with 1/2 litre of Cerasuolo
Value for money – 8.5/10
Quality of food – 9/10
Guido Montauti, Pietracamela artist