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Monticchiello: Osteria La Porta

Via del Piano, 3 , Phone: 0578.755163
www.osterialaporta.it

Reviewed by: Jim B from USA, review #3599

When: 2010

Every course at La Porta was a hit, and the overall dining experience was our best in Tuscany to date.

Osteria La Porta sits at the

After spending the day in the shadow of Mt. Amiata and frolicking in the warm pools of Bagno San Filippo, my wife and I were looking forward to dinner at one of two restaurants on the north face of the mountain: La Taverna del Pian delle Mura in Vivo d’Orcia (very highly recommended by our cooking instructor Sandra Casale) or a little further up the road towards Castiligone d’Orcia: Ristorante il Lecci (highly rated by Trip Advisor folks). Turned out that Pian delle Mura was closed due to illness of one of the owners, and il Lecci didn’t open for over an hour. So instead we drove to La Porta in Monticchiello, one of those restaurants that rated well in guidebooks and with non-tourists as well. It was on my “must try” list, although after our disappointment at the well-reviewed Conte Matto, I didn’t know what to expect.

We arrived (without a reservation) ten minutes before the restaurant opened and were graciously seated by the hostess. She immediately provided us with a complimentary prosecco – not two sweet, not too dry, juuuust right. We were then served another complimentary treat – an egg “square,” a thin slice of what might be called a fritatta in the States.

To start things off, we shared a salad of goat cheese that featured hunks of six cheeses from local farms. They ranged from very fresh to slightly aged (no more than a few months); one was coated in poppyseed. Jess quickly became insistent: “No, no, stop now and try this one on the bread with the lettuce!” A fantastic warm-up. The house red wine paired brilliantly and acted as a booster shot for the goat flavor.

Next, we shared two primi: A vegetable soup with white bean, and a barley risotto dusted with parmesean and parsley. Jess was speechless for a while. She finally said the vegetable soup was the best so far in Tuscany (I couldn’t disagree). And neither of us had experienced a risotto like this one. Our hostess confirmed that the barley was first partially cooked, then further cooked with broth and cheese like classic risotto. The grain had a full, explosive quality that spread the stunning flavor to every corner of the mouth.

Jess was saturated at this point, but I opened the valve to my second (Tuscan) stomach and prepared for the main event: rack of lamb prepared with herbs in traditional Tuscan style. We had a delicious side veggie sfumatino that looked and tasted more like a potato soufflé. The lamb was a worthy star of the show: great flavor, tender, and cooked perfectly, if slightly heavy on the rosemary for my palette. Adding a smidge of the sfumatino with every bite of the lamb proved to neutralize the rosemary issue, and the house wine continued to sing a nice harmony.

We were completely in love with La Porta at this point, and considered leaving without dessert because we couldn’t imagine it getting any better. Plus our multiple stomachs were maxed out. But since we’d been on such a tiramisu tear that week, we decided to share their “amaretto biscotti with marscapone and chantilly cream” dolce (which sounded like tiramisu to me). The presentation was beautiful: the dessert was topped with a spider-web of drizzled chocolate, and arrived with a complimentary Muscat that carried and expanded the amaretto flavor. I would have enjoyed it more if the biscotti had been soaked more fully in the liqueur; instead, I needed to chase the somewhat hard biscuits hidden under the cream and attempt to cut them with my spoon. But what’s a mild inconvenience like that when you’re in newly in love?

Service was superb: efficient, kind and professional. Our hostess spoke excellent English. Jess accurately commented on the “feminine” flavor of the restaurant: that is, you could tell that it was designed and run by women. The environment was relaxing: well-designed, and though the restaurant was full, we found it easy to converse in quiet tones.

The check was 70 euros, which we were delighted to pay for a meal of this quality. La Porta lived up to and crushed (as in “out of the park”) expectations. We both agreed that it was our best meal in Tuscany to date, and we would return in a heartbeat.


Reviewed by: Pokey from MA, review #2760

When: 2007

Warm and inviting, friendly service, out of this world delicious Tuscan home cooking.

Gnocchi di pane al pecorino, photo by Mindy Smith

We (two people) ate here on Monday Oct. 29, 2007. La Porta was recommended to us by Pamela Sheldon Johns, our host and cooking teacher at Foodartisans.com (Poggio Etrusco). We sat upstairs in a cozy little corner where we enjoyed looking down onto the intimate dining area below.

We were each served a complimentary glass of white wine, ramekins filled with creamed chickpeas and EVOO, along with toasted bread with cheese spread mixed with walnuts. All delicious and beautifully presented.

For our meal we shared (uno per due): Tortino di zucca con ripieno morbido al tartufo e crema de pecorino! Squissito! This was 9.50 euro.

We also enjoyed gnocchi di pane al pecorino 9 euro. Again, beautifully presented and drop dead delicious!

Our mouths were watering while we ate Filetto di maiale con crema di pecorino e funghi (I don't normally eat funghi but this was out of this world-crazy delicious)! 17 euro.

Sharing each plate was a great idea because the portions were very generous.

I ordered a second glass of their house white, Bianco Toscano 2006.

Total for two was 43.20 euro.

One of our top 5 meals during our 17 day stay. Daria and her staff went out of their way to create a dining experience that we would remember. She succeeded! We both highly recommend this restaurant.

Photo is of our Gnocchi di pane al pecorino.


Reviewed by: Colleen from CA (moderator), review #2523

When: 2007

Good food and service, and a lovely terrace from which to view the gorgeous countryside.

Tagliatelle with shaved truffles!, photo by Colleen

Five of us stopped into La Porta late one afternoon, intending to have a snack and a glass of wine - but ended up staying for a very enjoyable dinner!

Sometimes it's hard to just walk into a small restaurant with a party of five and be seated right away. The young woman who greeted us at La Porta made us feel welcome as she arranged a large table on the terrace for us.

We wanted to have our own personal wine tasting, so started off with glasses of two different Rosso di Montalcino wines, a Brunello, a prosecco ... and sparkling water for the driver!

We ordered crostini misti and bruschetta with fagiolini to share during our taste test. All were very flavorful - we especially liked the fagiolini, which were simply prepared with olive oil, a touch of garlic, and a little salt. As we snacked, enjoyed the wine (and ordered more), and watched the light change over the Tuscan hills, we decided we were perfectly content to stay for dinner.

The menu was intriguing, and it was hard to decide what to have. Finally, we agreed that for dinner, we'd order a mix of items and "share the wealth." We had: grilled vegetables, chick pea soup (more like a hearty stew - very good), tagliatelle with shaved truffles on top (Excellent!), gnocchi, papardelle with beef ragu, and sage, pecorino and prosciutto ravioli (delish). We ended up passing the plates around until they were empty!

The view from the terrace was just lovely, our server couldn't have been kinder, and the food was very good. We were pleased with our meal, and planned on a return visit. Dinner for five, including the glasses of wine we started with, 2 bottles of mid-priced wine, and 2-3 bottles of water: €162.


Reviewed by: SL Jones from IL, review #2509

When: 2007

Obviously a SlowTrav favorite, we loved this place for coffee and meals.

Directions: Just inside the town wall, the only main entry into the village.

Staying for the week near Monticchiello, we frequented Osteria La Porta. How lucky for us that the closest restaurant/cafe was also a very special place! We loved the coffee in the morning - among the best we had. We enjoyed light snacks in the afternoon. But the dinners really dazzled us. The food is delicious and all four of us had choices to please.

The one dish that we probably like the most was pici (the local pasta style - long, round, soft noodles) in a guinea fowl broth, with diced vegetables. Delicious. There is a very good wine selection.

The owner (I wish I'd caught her name) was extraordinarily warm and welcoming. She took the time to make you feel like a personal guest. The interior of the restaurant is rustic and comfortable. The view from the terrace - up a few steps and set into the wall - is wonderful.


Reviewed by: kaydee from TN, review #1708

When: 2005

Very enjoyable spot for lunch, with an amazing view over the countryside. Good food, good service ... and in our case, good friends!

Directions: Just outside the old walls of the village.


Reviewed by: AlliK from DC, review #1295

When: 2005

Good (not great) food in picturesque town

While we enjoyed everything at La Porta, but weren't totally wowed by the food. The dining room is quaint and the town itself is beautiful for a stroll - and the road from Montepulciano to Monticchiello is a real treat with hills, forest, and twisty cypress lined roads.

We shared bruschetta misti (3 total, with tomato, eggplant, cannelini toppings) and an order of ravioli di patate e pecorino. The ravioli ended up being fairly heavy and weren't much distinguishable from pierogies - try something different. As mains, we ordered a roast lamb special that had a lot of fat but great lamb flavor, and a mushroom and truffle-stuffed rolled beef - this was very good, with that funky truffle flavor throughout.

With a side of chick peas, a carafe of house wine, and decaf coffees, we were pleasantly satisfied but not overwhelmingly enthusiastic about the meal or the value (Aqua Cheta in Montepulciano was much preferred). Total cost for 2 = 58 euros.


Reviewed by: philip from CA, review #1089

When: 2004

Dine on Tuscan specialities on a terrace overlooking dreamy countryside.

Directions: Near Pienza. Follow the road signs to Monticchiello. Restaurant is situated at the gate to the village, thus "la Porta."

Just loved it here. Delicious Tuscan specialities such as wild boar and porcini mushrooms. A wonderful small souffle as a starter with shaved truffles and bechemel sauce. Add the wine, friends, a convivial owner, and views of enchanting countryside along with an after lunch stroll in a magical medieval village ... and you have the ingredients for a perfect Tuscan day.


Reviewed by: Jean from MI, review #798

When: 2004

One of the best meals of our trip! Highly recommended!

Osteria La Porta seems to be a Slow Traveler favorite based on all the positive reviews. It is a delightful restaurant, and we had a great dinner there. The barley risotto was wonderful! And our dessert was fabulous... kind of like a parfait with cookies, amaretto, cream and chocolate sauce. Heaven!

Be sure to make a reservation. We saw several people arrive and be turned away without one. La Porta website


Reviewed by: Jane from CA, review #503

When: 2003

Have eaten here on past trips. It's still good! Small establishment with reservations usually necessary. Owners are super friendly and nice. Great, simple food.

Directions: Small hamlet outside of Montepulciano on way to Pienza

La Porta is one of those little places that are always fun to revisit. They specialize in typical dishes that are specific to this area of Tuscany, particularly pici. It is home cooking at its best. There is a nice terrace overlooking the countryside that is often nice for lunch visits. The owners are people you remember as they take an interest in their guests even though they are only there for one night's meal. We wouldn't come to this area without having one meal here.


Reviewed by: Edna from NY, review #199

When: 2002

This is an excellent osteria with simple but delicious basic cooking.

We enjoyed a relaxing lunch sitting on the terrace with views of Pienza and the valley. We also tasted a variety of local wines by the glass as it is also a wine bar.


Reviewed by: Carolyn from CA, review #200

When: 2002

We ate here twice and found the food to be very good, upscale Tuscan cooking with an emphasis on wild game.

Directions: Follow signs off S222 for Monticchiello. The restaurant is at the main town gate.

There are wonderful views on the terrace but to secure a terrace table you absolutely must have reservations. The dining area inside is also nice. Good service and friendly staff. They prefer that you pay in cash and are not shy about saying so, but they will accept credit cards.


Reviewed by: Jane from CA, review #198

When: 2001

Local cuisine at a nice restaurant in the countryside.

This is a small restaurant sort of in the country side. We went there the night we arrived at the suggestion of Nico, our host at Sant’ Antonio. It was very good local cuisine and the owner was welcoming and friendly. When we left, she gave us a nice bag of biscotti and sweets for the morning as we had told her we would like to buy some since we hadn’t had a chance to shop. She would not let us pay for them. They had home made picci which is sort of a thick spaghetti.

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

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