“Il vecchio ristoro” is a typical trattoria located in Rocca Pia, a characteristic medieval village within the Majella National Park, in the Abruzzo region. An out-of-the-way place from the great routes of gastronomy, but which, thanks to its distance from the great centers, has maintained its peculiarities. Il Vecchio Ristoro has gone deeper and further: its cuisine is not the peasant one, and the tradition is not meant to be improved but rediscovered. In fact, their recipes were lost to be found again. In this sense, the Ciottis, owner of the restaurant, did a real research work, rediscovering forgotten herbs, spices and types of cooking.
Therefore, the trattoria keeps alive the memory of the agro-pastoral gastronomy. The creations are born from typical and unique ingredients, coming from the memory of the peasant and pastoral culture. The territory, of course, is the lord and undisputed king of the table prepared by the Ciottis.
Cazzarelitte de grandinie, Graviuole, Pecora al cotturo, Gnocchi with orapi (Good King Henry, also known as poor man’s asparagus, personally harvested over 1000 Meters) are just some of the unique recipes proposed. Pasta and desserts are homemade, while the meat – strictly grilled – comes from local farms. The essential ingredients used are mountain potatoes, lentils, spelt, solina wheat (common wheat typical of the Abruzzo mountains), while the red garlic from Sulmona enhances the intense flavors of the Abruzzo region. The trattoria only offers regional wines. Montepulciano, Cerasuolo, Trebbiano, Passerina, and Pecorino. In autumn and winter, instead, you can taste the famous Nouveau wine (called vino novello). The ambiance and the furniture are those typical of the trattorias, very cozy, with references to peasant and mountain culture.
Typical recipes of “Il Vecchio Ristoro”
Cazzarellitte de grandinie
It is a typical soup with dumplings (called gnocchi) made of otto file corn and solina wheat (Solina wheat is a traditional agricultural product of the Abruzzo region grown between 600 and 1400 meters, and it is today a Slow Food Presidia). To the dumplings are added the Rocca Pia potato, chicory, and beans, a typical Maiella crop.
Graviuole is a dialectal word meaning ravioli (pasta in the form of little cases of dough with a filling) and are those typical of Rocca Pia with sweet ricotta. The peculiarity of this dish is given by the filling, which is sweetened with sugar. It is undoubtedly a dish linked to the long pastoral tradition of these mountain places. The recipe is strictly seasoned with tomato sauce, which with its acidity counteracts the sweet ricotta.
Gnocchi with orapi
The gnocchi is made with potatoes from Rocca Pia and is then seasoned with the orapi, a mountain grass collected by the Ciottis. Besides, the dressing is made from the EVO oil of Pettorano sul Gizio (rustic and delicate from L’Aquila) and pork sausage. The Buonenrico herb in this area is called Orapi. It is wild spinach that grows and expresses itself best above 1000 meters.
Pecora al cotturo
It is a sheep stew, perhaps one of the most important dishes linked to transhumance and, in general, to the Abruzzo region. Indeed, it is one of the longest preparations. It takes from 4 to 6 hours to cook it depending on the age of the sheep. Once cut into pieces, the meat is washed in plenty of running water, then it is rinsed and cooked. In a large cauldron boil the pieces of meat together with tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, celery, red garlic from Sulmona and olive oil. As it gets to the surface, the fat is usually removed with a skimmer. After the cooking is finished, the sheep is served in the bowls using the cooking water. In the past, this broth was used for cooking the canaruzzitte, dried pasta eaten by the shepherds to refresh themselves after the long journey.
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