Though we had enjoyed our time in Florence, I was really looking forward to spending the rest of the trip in Emilia-Romagna.
But first we had to get there. We'd be spending the next three nights in an Agritourismo outside Parma. So I rented a car. Somehow, we found our way onto Autostrada A1 in the direction of Bologna. Driving in Italy was interesting, in a good way, I loved that slow traffic went to the right, the middle lane was for most folks, and the left lane was for passing or driving like a bat out of hell. I gotta say, there's nothing like going 160 km/hr (99.5 mph) and seeing some properly dressed "Nonna" driving a Maserati pass you like you're standing still!
I knew we'd have to stop for lunch on the way to Parma, so I did some research on restaurants between Florence and Bologna and one place kept popping up; Osteria dei Sani. So that's where we headed. We got to sleepy little Sasso Marconi (population approx 15,000), found parking next to the park at the edge of town (like three blocks from the center) and easily found the restaurant.
The folks here are super friendly and warm. Something we'd find throughout Emilia-Romagna. I'm sure they found us to be a bit "different" from their regular clientele.
There was just one other table of customers when we arrived.
But the place filled up fast and it seemed that all the customers knew each other.......
This being Emilia-Romagna, I just couldn't wait to dig into some salumi, so I ordered the Sfiziosita de Salumi a combination of salumi, which was only 8 Euros!
That mortadella was delicious as was the salami; but the pancetta canusina, pork belly was so mild and almost silken. And my favorite by far, the culatello, which was firm at first, but then gave way while chewing. The flavor was amazing, slightly sweet, a bit funky, with a finish like cheese. It was love at first bite. I'd end up ordering culatello everywhere the Missus would let me. And each was different......
One of the classic dishes of the region; the Tortellini in brodo (10€). It seems that every area has it's own stuffed pasta that would end up in broth. While this dish seems so simple, it was often times the most expensive primi on the menu. It's because these tiny stuffed pasta is hand made and also so tasty.
The texture is tender, pillowy, yet with a slight pull. Simply stuffed with cheese and a tiny piece of salumi....well, that's all you need. The chicken broth had just enough fat and though we'd have much better brodo later on during our time in the area, I instantly knew I'd love the food here.
The Missus got the Tagliolini con Tartufo (10€). Yes, the Missus was still in "truffle mode".
The fragrance was amazing, but the flavor rather mild. Let on during the trip, the Missus would start switching up to porcini. The pasta was a tad over-cooked for our taste, but this was still very good.
The Missus wanted to try he Scallopina all Aceto Balsamico (10€).
The balsamic vinegar based sauce was quite tangy and sour....it was actually quite good with the bread....at least I thought so. The veal was a bit too lean and tough for us.
Overall, a very nice meal and a great start to our time in Emilia-Romagna.
The Gentleman who seemed to be the owner was very friendly and came by to greet us and shake our hands. Service was warm and friendly. The Missus enjoyed Her glass of wine and the price was very reasonable.
Osteria dei Sani
Via Porrettana 324
Sasso Marconi, Italy
If every place in Emilia-Romagna was going to be like Osteria dei Sani, we were going to have a great time!