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Monticchiello: Taverna di Moranda

Via di Mezzo 17-13 , Phone: 0578 755 050

Reviewed by: pamela from USA, review #3734

When: 2010

Best food in the area

Directions: Through the town gate and up past the central piazza on the left (across from the bancomat)

We have eaten in many restaurants in this area of Tuscany over the years. Taverna di Moranda is unequaled.

The traditional ingredients are used but the preparations are unique resulting in a much more refined menu. Massimo is a true artist in the kitchen creating memorable meals such as fresh baked goat cheese rolled in chopped hazelnuts on a bed of baby greens with Cinta Senese pancetta (spectacular), handmade pici (the local pasta) with duck ragu, rack of lamb, pork wrapped in pancetta with apple and leek puree and baked apple slices, and the best bistecca Fiorentina we have ever had.

His wife, Francoise, makes all of the desserts with recipes she develops herself for an ever-changing innovative ending for your meal. Try the white chocolate mousse with strawberry coulis or the fresh whipped ricotta and mascarpone 'cheesecake'.

An added bonus is their willingness to alter preparations to accomodate dietary restrictions such as gluten intolerance and with a day's notice will even make special dishes not on the menu to ensure a wonderful and attentive dining experience for celiacs. A delightful and friendly restaurant with exceptional food.

Reviewed by: Rich and Janice from CT, review #3204

When: 2009

Three meals over three years have convinced us that Taverna di Moranda is one of the best. And the village is beautiful.

We spotted Monticchiello up on its hill three years ago while driving to Montepulciano. It looked old and beautiful, and we had read in our Rough Guide about Taverna di Moranda. On that first visit an elderly woman greeted us from the kitchen with a cheery "Mangiare?" She assists her son, who is the chef. We had so delightful a meal there that we have gone back on two subsequent trips.

It is a small place with an arched stone ceiling. We have been there in the quiet season, in March, all three times. The food is very Tuscan, both delicate and hearty, not a contradiction in terms in places like this. On our most recent visit this spring, we had two delicious antipasti: a ricotta and broccoli flan, and a puff pastry stuffed with hot pecorino and pear and drizzled with chestnut honey. The pasta dishes are excellent. I recall a papparadelle and boar sauce entree on one visit--very typical of the region, yet particularly good here. The secondi are also finely done; I remember several meat options, lamb, rabbit, boar, but no fish (maybe I'm forgetting). The desserts are also unique, attractive and tasty. The wine choice is good, which one would expect from this area. On the last visit we had a Rosso di Montepulciano. For such fine cooking, the prices are moderate. We spent about $115 for a full meal for two, including the bottle of wine.

The chef and proprietor is friendly and we enjoyed chatting with him. He has lived in the area since childhood.

Reviewed by: brendt from NM, review #3089

When: 2008

Probably the best meal of our trip: excellent food and great value.

Based on the number of recommendations on travel forums, Taverna di Moranda is significantly less popular with tourists than La Porta, the other restaurant in Monticchiello. The popularity of La Porta is no doubt due to the particularly friendly service, pleasant ambience, and availability of outside dining with a view, but those who value outstanding cooking should not overlook Taverna di Moranda.

Taverna di Moranda is one of the best restaurants at which we have dined in Italy, and on our recent trip we considered it the top restaurant out of a number of other very good restaurants in the region, including Il Conte Matto in Trequanda and II Tufo Allegro in Pitigliano (both of which are described in the very useful Slow Travel guide "Dean's Tuscany Restaurant List"). We found the level of cooking to be comparable to that of a one star Michelin restaurant in France, and significantly preferred it to I Sette Consoli in Orvieto, which did have a Michelin star when we dined there a few years ago. The stuffed pigeon, in particular, was superb, and the duck breast was very good. Lunch was very good value, coming in below 100, including a few glasses of wine, for two adults and two children.

Reviewed by: Imelda from NY, review #1322

When: 2005

Charming restaurant with great food--I wish I had been hungrier!

Reviewed by: Carolyn from CA, review #202

When: 2002

This was a great place! The menu changes daily, according to what is fresh.

Directions: Follow signs from Pienza to Monticchiello (small hamlet about 10 minutes from Pienza). Park at town gates. The restaurant is just up the hill on your left.

It occupies the bottom floor of a building built in the 1200's in the small walled hamlet of Monticchiello. You feel almost like you are in a grotto while eating here - very romantic. The restaurant is owned and run by an Italian and his french wife. They both share the cooking chores and menu development so there is a bit of a french flavor to what they offer.

One thing we liked about this restaurant is that they offered more than pasta for their primo course; a nice change of pace. Try the ricotta souffle if it's on the menu! Yum! Deserts are home made and delicious. Great service.

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

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