Friday, July 15, 2011

Trattoria al Principe

Address: 52100, Arezzo, Localita' Giovi, 25. 390575362046.

Review: As I was passing through Arezzo to other destinations in Tuscany, I followed a recommendation and stopped at Trattoria al Principe in a small town called Giovi.

The location for Trattoria al Principe is deceiving. You first drive through a suburb of Arezzo that appears like any other Italian suburb. However, just before reaching Principe, a Medieval piazza envelopes your eyes. Its diminutive size does nothing to detract from its aged beauty.

You couldn't pick a better location for a restaurant, IMHO. The natural beauty of the place almost imposes itself on the food, enhancing flavor as if by magic. And now, on to the food.

I ordered the anguilla al caccio (eel in tomato sauce), and verdure grigliate (grilled vegetables). The eel came in a scalding hot terracotta bowl with the sauce bubbling away.

The eel came accompanied by crusty grilled pane toscano. (Pane toscano is a non-salted bread eaten regularly in Tuscany. Without salt, the bread is bland and unpleasant alone. Ultimately, it is designed to be eaten with other salty items.) The eel was served bone-in, as it were, which is about the only way eel can be served because its more spine than meat. This make for a fastidious eating process, because, after taking eel from bowl to plate, all the meat must be carefully removed from the spine and the skin before begin eaten. Once it is though, eel has a very mild white flesh taste. It is only on the very back end can you taste any hint of the eel's nature as a water-dweller. This meant my eel was fresh from the nearby Tyrrhenian Sea. Crusty, hearty bread was the perfect accompaniment to the light meat. And the tomato sauce was hot and spicy and salty and full of basil, which added flavor to what could have been bland dish. Quite good in all.

The grilled vegetables were a bit drab by comparison.

They were grilled through but a bit mushy. They were also entirely unsalted. In the end, I wish they had come to the table with some flavor enhancer. Vinegar, salt, herbs I could taste. Anything.

In the end, if you are looking for a good seafood experience in a beautiful setting, Principe is your place.

Rating: 7/10 (5/10 is average).

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