La Vecchia Ostaia
January 26, 2008
Via Provinciale, 34;San Biagio Della Cima
0184 28 92 49; from France 0039 0184 28 92 49
(January 22, 2008). The ladies at Enoteca Re in Dolceacqua have struck again. La Vecchia Ostaia was one of three or four restaurants they recommended to us a few weeks ago, and David and Frédérique were game to try as always. We met in front on the main road up from Vallecrosia (40 minutes from Nice) and went inside to an unassuming looking place, with one other table occupied. Within one-half hour the place was buzzing with lively tables of Italians and French and various combinations of them. For a moment we thought it must be Sunday, but, in fact, here we were on what should have been a quiet Tuesday. We opted for the “Menu La Vecchia Ostaia” at 30€, including wine, water and coffee, and were prepared to make our choices among the two listed pasta dishes and the three listed main courses but the man taking the order didn’t seem to want more information after we said we would take the menu. The reason, of course, is that the menu included ALL the dishes listed.
With our Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, in a bottle no less, we began with a plate each of cold meats and marinated vegetables. A young woman, obviously fresh from in front of the stove, then brought out two platters of mixed hot antipasti, including stuffed peppers, frittata and a pastry filled with some pureed vegetables and then a platter of small, delicious pizzas. By this time we had realized that we were going to get everything listed so we began to pace ourselves.
The next two platters were pasta—a lovely tagliolini al Ragu and ravioli d’Erbette al Burro e Salvia. All the pasta is house-made and the ravioli was particularly interesting. The shape was more rectangular than the typical square ravioli and it and was kind of crinkly looking. It was also wonderful. Still pacing ourselves, we left a lot of pasta on each of the serving dishes.
The platter of coniglio al Rossesse e Olive was full of tender pieces of rabbit in a rich brown sauce. The platter of rare roast beef was just that but perfectly cooked and thinly sliced. Finally, the sliced lamb pieces had been breaded and then sautéed and were an interesting complement to the other meat dishes.
Let us not forget the side dishes, also served family style. The heaping platter of oven-roasted potato pieces vanished quickly (“pacing” forgotten) but the green salad of fresh leaf lettuce did not, good as it was.
The husband of the young chef, and son-in-law to the senior chef (who clearly and charmingly runs both the front and back of the house), came to take dessert orders. These were not served family-style but we each chose a different one and shared. Two outstanding ones included the fruit pastry with patisserie cream and a chocolate concoction, although the strawberry mousse was pretty good. I have forgotten the fourth dessert and, of course, we have no idea what the other three or four on offer were like.
As one can gather from this review this is a family restaurant. The mother (actually, a grandmother) and her daughter cook everything that is served. The daughter’s husband takes care of the seating, drinks and bills and their adorable little daughter was trotted around for all to admire by her doting grandmother. The food is hearty and traditional. The atmosphere is warm and welcoming. All in all this is a place to visit again, especially with hungry visitors eager for a taste – a big taste – of Italy.