L'Hosteria del Castello di Verrazzano - Greve in Chianti (Italy)
Visited - April 2017
Location - Greve in Chianti (Tuscany), Italy.
Ever had one of those amazing, joyful meals that will remain in your collective memories for the rest of your days? Our lunch at the L'Hosteria del Castello di Verrazzano (The Restaurant at The Castle of Verrazzano) was just one such meal.
We briefly visited the Castle and its grounds the day before as we meandered around Chianti, taking in the sites with no particular destination or timeframe in mind. And so as our morning wondering the streets of Florence was drawing to an end, and the crowds in the Tuscan capital swelled, D suggested we jump online and see if we can sneak a table at "the cool Castle we saw yesterday".
Booking ahead is highly recommended, and seems to be the requirement throughout much of Chianti. Of course you can always try your luck, but most restaurants seem to prefer bookings and can certainly fill up. We were lucky on this occasion, finding ourselves at a cozy table, squeezed in between four groups who had all been enjoying a tour of the Castle and the wine making facilities.
Castello di Verrazzano is located in the heart of the Chianti region along the SR 222, the "Chiantigiana" which winds through the hills connecting Florence and Siena. It is part of the commune of Greve in Chianti and took us less than an hour from Florence (including photo stops).
Introduction and Menu
We were in a jovial mood after a beautiful morning in Florence, so as we took our seats and our waiter informed us "this is not a Three Michelin Star restaurant but this is a traditional restaurant, we serve local food and local produce" we took the advice as intended, even if it was a little self-deprecating.
The menu is simple as is the way in these parts, referred to as "Tuscan Farm Restaurant" style and as mentioned has a focus on local produce in season and available fresh at the time. In fact much of the produce is from the Castle farm fields and gardens, or otherwise it is sourced from local farms or Tuscan Protected Designation of Origin suppliers.
Cold cuts and cheeses, two starters, three mains, a side and a dessert (well technically two) make choosing quick and easy.
We both started with the pasta con ragu di cinghiale (pasta with wild boar ragu) and to be honest, we could have ended the meal there and we would have been completely satisfied. Super fresh, super flavoursome, prepared with love and tradition. It really was that good and it set the scene for the entire experience.
Accompanying our starters were of course the obligatory Chianti spices. This is a simple blend of black pepper, parsley, garlic and a little chilli. We just had to purchase a bag on our departure, it should be a staple on all tables!
Mains were shared, tagliata di manzo alla brace con fagioli cannellini (grilled, sliced beef with cannellini beans) and grigliata chiantigiana con insalata del nostro orto (grilled sausages and pork with salad from the garden).
The beef was perfectly cooked, flavoursome, and a delight. The sausages and pork (we know, it sounds a little dull, but), were among the best we have come across, lots of character and surprisingly moreish.
The side was the patate al forno o verdue dell'orto (roast potatoes or vegetables though in our case it was the former) and it was the ideal accompaniment, and perfectly cooked, golden and moist.
The farm is, of course, primarily a winery, specialising in none other than the ubiquitous Chianti Classico (majority Sangiovese grape). All available wines and derivatives are from the Verrazzano stable.
We enjoyed the Chianti Classico (non reserve) and found it rather quaffable and a great match for both the food and the relaxed atmosphere. At the end of the meal, as a semi-dessert, we tried the biscotti dipped in (with) Vinsanto (sweet, dessert wine). We capped the experience off with easily the smoothest grappa we have had the pleasure of drinking.
After all that, we were powerless to avoid the wine shop on our way out, and found ourselves nursing bottles of both the Chianti Classico as well as that very fine grappa on the, slow and cautious ;), drive home!
Its probably fairly obvious, we had a highly memorable experience at L'Hosteria del Castello di Verrazzano and would highly recommend you lock in a relaxed, likely extended, lunch if you are in the Chianti region.
The Hosteria is open each day (though check in relation to holidays) from 12.30pm to 3.00pm (closing a little later on weekends).
You can also combine tours and wine tasting with a lunch.
Dinner is served Friday and on request.
Price wise, our meal came in around 80 Euro for two including drinks and was worth every cent.
You can learn more at www.verrazzano.com