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Pistoia: La tavernetta di Jack

via del Presto, 9 , Phone: 0573.20491

Closing day: Tuesday/open only for dinner on the other days

Reviewed by: Alice Twain from Italy, review #689

When: 2004

An acceptable experience, but decidedly on the cheap side.

Directions: Right in the center of Pistoia; a couple of minutes of walk from piazza del Duomo or piazza della Sala.

The problem with eating out in Tuscany, in my opinion, is that Tuscans love to eat at restaurants the same kind of stuff they eat at home, this makes the experience in Tuscan restaurants a bit boring, at least to someone who is used to eating out to have a different experience. In this sense, I have not yet found a restaurant in Tuscany and in my budget range that really left me "oooh!"

This is the case of "La tavernetta di Jack", where the food turned out to be decent, honest, but basically the same as in other places, though the price made it pretty good. Our group of four people spent 21 euros per person eating a primo, a secondo and a contorno each, plus a couple bottles of water, one bottle of house wine, three coffees and a few shots of limoncello. Let's say appropriate. Mind you, I didn't say nor I mean that I would not eat there again, it's just that I am not looking forward to a second visit.

Being in the middle of a festive periods with lots of large meals, we chose to skip antipasti and ducked into primi: I was quite surprised in not seeing any soups on the list (and I craved a soup, this may be part of the reasons I was not too enthusiastic about the meal). I opted for "Pici al ragł di salsiccia", that turned out too salted for my taste, though not unpleasant (and despite the fact that pici require a strong tasting sauce).

Luca chose one of the three vegetarian options for primi: "Casarecci alla frantoiana" (pasta in an olive sauce), tha tturned out pleasant enough, just like the "Fagottini di spinaci e ericotta con salsa di noci" (again vegetarian: ravioli filled with ricotta cheese and spinch and garnished with a nut sauce) chosen by our friend Enrica.

As a second course I chose "Coratella d'agnello", a rich mixture of lamb inner parts, that tasted very good, but I couldn't finish my portion due to the amount of pasta I was served as primo (and I have a rather large stomach). My friend Gabriele had an excellent "Stinco" (a roasted pork front leg, only the lower part of it), while the veal and the deer of Luca and Enrica looked suspiciously alike.

The menu included a few traditional Pistoiese dishes, such as carcerato (tripe). Meat courses do not include a vegetable contorno, that must be ordered separately. A list of a few contorni is provided: simply prepared vegetables or potatoes. Two of these might be a good choice for the vegetarians. The restaurant also offered a small list of cheeses.

The wine list was just like the food, on the cheap side but decent. We only took a liter of house wine, that turned out to be a good choice. The meal was completed with three coffees and a few shots of limoncello: the owner was kind enough to leave us the bottle after we asked for a second round (though there was never a third one).

The positive sides of the restaurant are: the extremely small room (only eight tables), and the opportunity to take a look into the kitchen, so we could be sure that the pasta was actually cooked on the spot (making the wait a bit longer, but the meal more pleasant). Wine bottles are exposed on one side of the room, along with a Che Guevara scarf and a few bottles bearing portraits of Karl Marx.

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

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