One of the memorable meals during my trip to Tuscany is the one at Walter Redaelli. I found this restaurant on the Gambero Rosso guide, which rates it with a score of 73, although it didn't award it a fork. From my experience of all the restaurants I tried out of this guide during my vacation, I would say with confidence that Walter would surely deserve a fork.
The first bonus is the location of the restaurant, which is placed within a renovated farmhouse, on the edge of a hill, giving a spectacular view of Valdichiana. The building is made of the unique bricks that seem to characterise the whole village of Bettolle, which is about a kilometer from the restaurant. The brickwork can also be appreciated in the arches and ceilings within the restaurant. The combination of the scenic countryside view and the rustic architecture gave me more than ever a complete feel of being in Tuscany.
While browsing through the menu, we were served a basket different varieties of homemade bread. This included the classic Tuscan unsalted bread, a couple of types of rolls, some focaccia and grissini. These were all fresh, and well accompanied with some locally produced olive oil of the highest standard, branded with the restaurant name itself.
I stimulated my appetite with a Cinta senese marinata su misticanza con mele, noci e sedano. This was basically a porchetta made with the local pork (so called Cinta Senese), with a salad of celery, walnuts and black olives, and topped by a few chunks of lightly cooked, warm apple. The delicacy of this dish was outstanding, with every flavour on the plate gently emerging without dominating the rest.
Impressed with the starter, I was eager to try the pasta. I ordered a Pici con guanciale, asparagi, fave e pecorino. Pici is a typical local pasta made of flour and water (egg is generally not added, hence, the white colour) and hand rolled into fairly thick and irregular sort of spaghetti. It is indeed that unevenness that makes this type of pasta taste so rustic. This recipe was of course a refined version than the Pici that you would have in a normal trattoria, but all the flavours were there, with the guanciale and pecorino playing the main role while asparagus and broad beans provided texture and variety to an otherwise common combination.
One of the mains we had was the Costolette di agnello con mandorle, liquirizia e patate gratinate. The lamb was tender and cooked medium rare, but what really animated this dish was the licorice sauce. I never thought of licorice as an ingredient for meat sauces, but it did work perfectly. Such an inspiring combination, that I will probably try this at home, some day.
The tagliata di vitellone al dragoncello con purea di cannellini e insalata verde was also well executed, with tender juicy veal accompanied by a fabulous pureé made from Cannellini beans. This is another inspiring element, so much that I bought some Cannellini while in Tuscany and brought them with me to Singapore to try this out.
We had a selection of quality, hard Pecorino cheeses and a couple of soft goat cheeses, all served with Italian mostarda and honey.
The least impressive of all courses was the dessert, which is often the case with Italian restaurants. It was a sort of soufflé with a cappuccino sauce on top. Quite nice, although not outstanding enough to make me finish it, after such a fulfilling meal.
The total bill including wine was 76 EUR for two people, which makes this restaurant incredibly attractive considering the quality and amount of food, cozy setting and service overall.