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Montepulciano: Osteria Acquacheta

Via del Teatro 22 , Phone: 0578.75.84.43

Reviewed by: FB-Bear from VA, review #3077

When: 2008

Great atmosphere and a no-nonsense approach to delicious food

We happened upon this restaurant by chance. The boards on the outside indicated that the meat was grilled on a wood fire, which caught our attention. The staff was cleaning up the place and getting ready for the evening service. They were very welcoming and talked with us about the menu. We made a reservation for later that day.

When we arrived the place was packed and had a convivial atmosphere. Our table was waiting for us. We decided to eat Bistecca alla Fiorentina as it is the restaurantís specialty. My husband and I decided to share one steak as they are huge. 1,500 gr. is about the smallest that can be cut. At 3 euros per 100gr., the price is very reasonable, compared to other restaurants that charge 4.00 - 4.50 euros per 100gr. with meat of lesser quality. We placed our order with our waitress, who knew every detail for each item on the menu. The host explained to us that he gets his meat from farms in Tuscany and the Piedmont and knows his providers well.

There is house wine by the carafe. A selection of a half-dozen bottles of local wine is on a shelf against the wall and the waitress points out the prices, the differences and helps make the selection. After the order was placed, the host came over and discussed the particulars of the various cuts of meat and got a feel of what we wanted. He then proceeded to the back where the kitchen is. There is a massive butcher block in the middle of the space and a huge side of beef from which he cuts the meat. He then came over to show us the cut and wrote the weight on the brown paper on our table that serves as the tablecloth. They then brought fresh and delicious olive oil, balsamic vinegar and red wine vinegar, salt and delicious bread.

The place is small and hectic. The tables are close and the staff waltzes through tight spaces and have the greatest of attitude, humor and professionalism. The place soon became loud and convivial. Everyone seemed to have a good time. There was a crowd outside waiting for tables. The host is also in charge of cutting the prosciutto of boar and other cured meats for the appetizers. A cook in the kitchen near the fireplace prepares the other dishes.

When the steak came, it was cooked to perfection, that is, very rare, like a good Florentine steak should be. The meat was of a wonderful quality and very tender. We ordered ours on the bone. The host offered to precut the meat, which he did for us. The steak was perfect, grilled on the wood fire and served with a little salt sprinkled on top. We had mixed salads on the side, was very fresh and delicious with a little olive oil and salt.

Everything is homemade, including desserts. My husband had a melt-in-your-mouth lemon tart, and I had a type of sponge cake with chocolate and strawberry that was out of this world. The final bill is added up on the brown paper. We would travel back to Tuscany just to have dinner here again.

Reviewed by: Kevin Clark from Italy, review #2406

When: 2007

Crowded, noisy, and great fun. Some of the best bistecca fiorentina I've ever tasted.

Directions: On the main street of Montepulciano a bit below Piazza Grande

Acquacheta was recommended to me by a colleague at work as a great place to go for bistecca. When we later asked Nico (owner of Sant'Antonio, where we were staying) for his recommendation for bistecca nearby, he also named Acquacheta and even made the reservation for us. There were nine of us - Kim & I, her parents, Jane & Ken & Casey, and Ken's brother and sister-in-law Bruce and Sandra. This was the second GTG (this one unplanned) we'd had with them in as many days. I guess that means we got along!

The restaurant is fairly small and quarters are tight. We were among the earliest arrivals, but it filled up fast and there was a crowd of people waiting for tables by the time we left. It is noisy and hectic, but also a lot of fun. Service was quick and friendly. The customers seemed to be about evenly mixed between tourists and regulars. The menu is fairly limited (only the bistecca and salsicce were listed as secondi, for example, though there were several daily specials).

We decided to share two of the massive steaks among the whole table, and the owner brought them over for our approval before they were cooked. Meanwhile, I started with pici al'Amatriciana (a pici preparation I have never found elsewhere, and very very good), Kim had ravioli con asparagi, and her parents shared an insalata di radicchio con aglio (lots and lots of aglio!). Then came the steaks, which were cooked to perfection (i.e., very rare) and were absolutely delicious, along with several plates of roasted potatoes. It seemed impossible, but we somwhow managed to finish both of the steaks.

It was a huge meal, but a very good one. With house wine, water, and coffee dinner cost around 25 euros per person. We wanted to return, but didn't manage it on this trip. There's always next time! Very highly recommended if you're looking for a nice bistecca.

Reviewed by: AlliK from DC, review #1294

When: 2005

Fantastic food - reasonable prices, good locals/tourists mix, friendly staff

We loved this place in Montepulciano - so much that we ate there 2 nights in a row. The owner and his staff were very friendly and the food was excellent. Go early or make reservations, as it's a popular place with locals and tourists alike. The food...

On our first night, we both had the zuppa francolana which had lots of greens, white beans, and bread). As mains, we ordered 1 arugula salad with aged pecorino cheese and pear and 1 incredible veal and potato stew (spezzatino di vitello e patate). We also had some chick peas with rosemary as a side dish. We drank the house red, which was very good. Total cost for 2 = a very reasonable 30 euros.

On our second night, we split the potato-leek soup and a great panzanella salad (bread salad with tomatoes, green onion, onlive oil) to start. For a secondo, we were very interested in the bistecca fiorentina but didn't quite have the appetite for the full portion (the owner slices the steak in kilo+ size servings and brings them out for your approval before cooking), so he suggested we have filets (not on the menu) instead. They were cooked just right, and had an extra deep, beefy flavor. In the future, I'd go with a bigger appetite or more people and order the incredible looking bistecca! We had a side of swiss chard, and split the fresh, homemade ricotta with honey for dessert - I could eat that every single day! With the house red to drink, total cost for 2 = 42 euros.

Mmm...makes me hungry just writing about it!

Reviewed by: Monica Pileggi from MD, review #881

When: 2004

A small restaurant, which is always crowded. Sometimes noisy, but worth it for the food.

We dined here two times while staying in Montepulciano for a week. I wanted to go here based on reviews on Slowtrav. On our first visit, I had pici with a red sauce (first time having pici and it was very good!), followed by a goat dish. Reene had a boiled meat dish (overcooked and dry), which we later asked, "Why?" It was just boiled chicken with vegetables! We had a 1/2 liter of white wine and bottled water. Equivalent of US$28

On another night we dined with friends Dawn and Francesco. I tried their Riboletto, the poor man's soup of Tuscany - a bean and bread dish. I enjoyed it very much. I also had rabbit and grilled eggplant. Dawn and I shared a 1/2 liter of white wine (and the eggplant), while Reenie and Francesco shared a 1/2 liter of red wine. I didn't write down what Reenie had, but she really enjoyed her meal. We all had dessert. $48.80 per couple

Both nights the owner came by to ask what we had. He wrote the prices down on the paper placemats and usually rounded down. He gave a discount to Reenie when she complained about the dry chicken.

Reviewed by: Jean from MI, review #793

When: 2004

Casual, inexpensive restaurant in Montepulciano.

Directions: Just off the main street that runs through Montepulciano.

A fun place to eat where the food is good and inexpensive.

Reviewed by: Bill Sutherland from Italy, review #192

When: 2001

We love dining here - very good food - very good prices.

The owner will either love you or insult you - the choice is his, not yours. Some nights, it's just like a big family dinner and you'll know most everyone before you leave.

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

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