Despite being composed of two parts (a lesser and a greater no less), Ornano near Colledara, in the Teramo province of Abruzzo, has never seemed to be overly endowed with eateries that we could see on our numerous drives through. It was thus a huge relief, on a late night run from Rome to home, to stumble across Bar Pizzeria Ristorante Giglio Rosso.
Tucked off the main road through Ornano Grande, this restaurant and pizza take-away is housed in a large, modern building which also serves as a hotel (La Locanda del Parco) and conference facility. This family-run hotel and restaurant started in more modest style just round the corner, but was given a grant from the Italian government to expand the premises and provide much needed facilities for both Italians and foreign visitors, the latter ranging from academics researching at the nearby University of L’Aquila, property speculators and tourists, all looking to take advantage of the magnificent Gran Sasso mountains that provide spectacular backdrop to Ornano.
The pizzas we got after our Rome bolt-back were fine, thicker than the nearest competition La Fornace (Colledara) pizzas, flavoursome and more than adequate for our Unito Regno bellies. We were ably assisted and entertained by the owner’s son, Sandro, who had developed his English in the foothills of Glaswegian academia, fortunately without simultaneously developing a Rab C.Nesbit accent…
We decided that we should pay the restaurant Giglio Rosso a proper visit and returned to Ornano Grande a few nights later; greeted at the bar by young Sandro, we were taken into the large dining area, a loft-ceiling area which could easily accommodate 100+ people, and was in fact that evening catering for a large group from the local swimming club’s competition night, who proved good-spirited and boisterous company throughout the evening. The restaurant has a large TV , it’s own bar and numerous pillars to allow some sense of intimacy.
Food in the Giglio Rosso doesn’t just involve pizza, though that was in high demand this eve. We went for the house antipasto, a huge plate of mixed fritto dishes, ulivi d’ascolana, croquettes, bruschetta with ham, mozzarella & tomato, all very good.
Primi piatti we opted for gnocchi with four types of cheese and fettucini with porcini, both huge portions, the gnocchi very rich…both very filling.
Secondo piatto was a wonderful ‘aberdeen angus’ steak served with salad, tomato and shavings of parmesan, even served slightly rare upon request (rare indeed in Abruzzo). Chips were also on the cards but we had to admit defeat and pass…a digestif limoncello and a coffee finished us off nicely.
Giglio Rosso also does have an excellent selection of wines and beers, the former almost a who’s-who of the best Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (of which we chose Emidio Pepe’s, relatively expensive but an excellent, always interesting red), whilst the latter could contribute to the hotel’s popularity amongst Germans, alongside the cleanness and elegance of the decor and the largeness of the food portions perhaps…