Friday, July 22, 2011

Osteria del Gatto

Address: Via San Marco, 8, 53100, Siena, Italy. 0577287133.

Review: A friend recommended Osteria del Gatto ("the cat osteria") because she worked there for two summers in college. Having been to Siena a few times, but by no means being an expert on its food or restaurants (other than having made panforte a couple times), we took her advice.

Gatto has about four indoor tables. You may end up with your own, or you may have to share with another family. And that's just fine. Communal dining is an Italian staple. We ended up not having to share, ultimately.

I began with the parpadelle al sugo di chianina.

This was strait up classic farmer fare. Parpadelle are wide pastas, and these were perfectly cooked, and possessed that intensely yellow color that comes from fresh pasta prepared in-house. The sauce was hearty, the chianina imparting a great beefy flavor, and the vegetables, while there, had been cooked to the point they simply melted into the sauce. One of the things I enjoyed most about this was that chianina is a lean meat, and yet here it was soft and juicy. Well done.

Keeping on the meat theme, I ordered the affetati misti (assorted cuts of cured meats).

As you can see, there's some prosciutto crudo in there, as well as a couple types of salami, and some capicola. They were all quite good, and better than I had expected them to be. Siena is a tourist town, and usually one of the first things to go to pot in tourist towns are the meats. Tourists are, for whatever reason, usually okay with crappy prosciutto and mundane salame, so purveyors give them what they want. At Gatto, however, all the meats are cured in-house. The prosciutto was salty and moist, more moist than any other prosciutto I've tasted. The peppered salame packed a punch with whole peppercorns running throughout. The capicola (using meat from the shoulder and neck of the pig) was likewise tender and moist. Heck, these meats made pane toscano taste good, and that's a true accomplishment. After finishing the affetati misti and discussing them with the waiter, I realized how much a labor of love those meats were to Gatto, and it showed. Good show.

Wonderful, hearty stuff.

Rating: 7.5/10 (5/10 is average).

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