If you’re out walking in or around the woods or nearby lakes at 833 masl that surround Nerito di Crognaleto in the Gran Sasso National Montagne e Lago Park and it suddenly starts to drizzle (or worse!), head to the family-run restaurant La Rocchetta and enjoy their warmth and refreshments.
From the outside it looks like simply a small hotel but it also hosts a wonderful toasty warm restaurant; the Chef is the mother, and her son the maître d’ (he has excellent English for those that require a little help). It will give your taste buds the most wonderful treat inspired by the local small producers and woods that host them, and because it is a ‘restaurant’ you will get a choice of Teramo’s slightly more complicated dishes and most important for the budget conscious it is affordable and more than worth every penny.
We shared antipasti, which included locally foraged mushrooms that were just divine eaten with a dry un-soggy prosciutto. A paper thin tempura-like omelette held a slither of courgette and cheese that was just melt in the mouth, taking you back to the joys of summer eating – all those bottles and preserves come in very handy later at this time of the year – so much more sensible than trying to grow everything out of season and ship them across the world.
For my primo I had for the first time ‘Rognosa’ or Polenta on a Board. This is a traditional Abruzzo woodland based dish, where a pancake of creamy polenta with Pecorino cheese is spread over a wooden board and on top of this is ladled the richest tomato sauce with some pieces of sausage and in this case a little beef and lamb; it dates back to poorer times in the area, when families used to sit round a large circular board and eat this together, making sure everyone had their equal share and no-one was left out. It was one of the best dishes I have eaten this year here in Abruzzo; the tomato sauce on top of the polenta is without doubt the best I have eaten in all my food-aware years, and…talk about hearty! I can see why this was eaten by struggling families, this rich dish really does fill you up and leave you completely satisfied.
My partner had a wonderful timballo; to all those people (and Garfield of course) that still believe lasagne is the bee-knees, make sure you try out timballo, it’s lasagne’s lighter, delicious sister created by angels in Teramo Abruzzo, or rather a guy from Teramo that had supposedly visited Breton. For those that don’t know this delicate dish, it’s layers of crepes (locally known as scrippelle) which are interwoven with ricotta cheese, herbs, tomatoes, spinach and small pork & veal meatballs – depending on where you are– and there can be up to 20 layers! True-to-form with the restaurant’s other dishes, the Timballo was the best we to date have tried, and we’ve tried a few!
Far too stuffed for a meat dish, even though just from presentation they looked rather good, especially as they came with our favourite crispy rosemary roast potatoes, we opted instead to share a slice of pizza dolce (3 layered torte), washed down by a final glass of house Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. We say go go go – it’s well worth eating at this Nerito restaurant, and for those planning on taking the 3 hour walk up the mountain in the summer this is the perfect base to return to celebrate your walking success with some quite delicious food.
Price – €23 with half litre of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
Value for money – 9/10
Quality of food – 9.5/10
La Rocchetta Ristorante & Albergo
Nerito di Crognaleto (TE)
Via Nazionale SS 80
Telephone: 0861 950114 (No web or email)
Opening Days: Every day apart from Monday