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Siena: L'Osteria

Via dei Rossi, 79 , Phone: 0577.287592

Reviewed by: Jeff Whiteaker from CA, review #2492

When: 2007

Simple as simple gets, L'Osteria serves basic, simple Tuscan fare that attracts the locals in droves and a few tourists as well.

L'Osteria (actually, the sign by the door reads "L'Osteria dei Rossi," but everyone - tour books and locals alike - refers to it as simply L'Osteria) was so close to our B&B in Siena - near the San Francesco church - that we passed by it numerous times and thought we'd give it a try. Plus, the menu listed taglietelle with tuffles, and I'm a sucker for the earthy, rich flavor of tartufi.

At any rate, the interior is stock Italian trattoria, complete with old photos of Siena lining the walls. The food is dead simple. Maybe the simplest example of Tuscan fare I've ever tried. In fact, it was a bit detrimental to the experience. For example, the taglietelle with tartufi was simply taglietelle with butter and razor thin truffle slices. That's it! It was a bit on the dry side, and the truffle flavor was not as explosive or potent as it could've been. Many pasta/truffle dishes have a cream sauce to tie it all together. This has the affect of adding to the overall richness of the dish since the cream sauce is often cooked with white wine, and it also absorbs some of the rich truffle flavor. But L'Osteria's variation on this particular dish was a decidedly dry and straight-forward affair.

My girlfriend ordered the pici al cinghiale, which was a bit more interesting, though still not the best example of said regional specialty that we tried. For secondi, we split an insalata mista and a veal dish that could only be described as tasting like stewed beef served with a few vegetables. It was tender and juicy, but the flavor was reminscent of something found in a can of Campbell's. Totally underwhelming, though the ingredients did seem fresh and well prepared, for what it was.

The house red was unquestionably the *only* bad house wine we'd tasted during our entire trip. I wouldn't say it was gut-rot, but it was pretty darn rough. At most places we'd go with the house red and we were often totally surprised with how good the wine actually was, especially for the low price. But if you go to L'Osteria, do your best to avoid it.

Strangely, after all this, each day that we passed by this place it was bursting at the seams with locals, happily occupying the outdoor seating right out front, and eating and drinking to their hearts' content. I wanted to like this place. I tried to like this place! But it just wasn't a very distinctive or flavorful meal. Maybe we ordered the wrong things, who knows?

Reviewed by: jgk from FL, review #1368

When: 2005

Lively little nontouristy trattoria with jazz music and good food. Enjoyed pici with duck, grilled veggies, fresh pasta with porcini. 82 for 4 with wine.

Directions: Off Banchi Sopra towards San Francesco

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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