I wrote this review for Trip Advisor to add a little English language reviewage to the coverage there, a few days after dining at the Casolare. I'm going to be 100% lazy and reprint it here!
LAZY AMERICAN REPOSTS HER OWN TRIP ADVISOR REVIEW
Il Casolare dei Segreti -- The Secret Cottage
Marche region near Cingoli and Ancona, in Macerata
Perfect mix of intimate, family-run restaurant/event venue with upscale, foodie, chef-driven menu from the Slow Food tradition, and delightful organic wines like Verdicchio (native to the region) and Nebbiolo from local producers known personally by the restaurant family.
Bonus: a beautiful, stunning view of the valleys around Treia. For impeccable, relaxed service, amazing Marchigiano cuisine and expertly chosen wines, it is a must if you are in the Marche region of Italy. And it's near Cingoli, where they have little cafes for aperitivi and a sidecar museum. (Seriously.)
My favorite dish out of a multi-course meal (we asked if the chef would send out little tastes of each and every aperitivo, as well as a couple of the primi pasta courses) was a maltagliate (torn handkerchief pasta) sauced with a sugo of tomato and slow-cooked guinea hen. Good gracious. So good. So rich. So light, all at the same time. No picture of that, but here are pictures of a lot of other great stuff.
|Path from parking to entrance at Casolare dei Segreti|
|Central interior dining room with view of exterior patio|
|One of the Lucamarinis being stylish and hospitable|
|This outdoor patio is on a hillside and has quite the beautiful view.|
|If a bed and breakfast has a swimming pool, I'm in.|
|Meatballs in the old style, w/peas. All of the Italians at the table remarked that this dish was fully authentic comfort food they remembered from when they were kids.|
|Don't even get me started on the gnocchi.|
|You like deep-fried squash blossoms? So do I.|
|Gatti Prosecco, made in the Champenoise method (ferment in the bottle) instead of the big batch Prosecco method of fermenting in big batches. O, the tiny bubbles. Female winemaker, a friend of Amy's. Rad.|
|Fab wine. Find it. Vignale di Cecilia, Cocai 2011.|
|Grumello Rocca de Piro, Riserva 2004, Valtellina Superiore. What a refined, beautifully aged, smooth, rustic red wine. Oy.|
Dishes don't stretch past $8 to $14 euros, pricewise, with most primi hovering at 9 euros and secondi at 12-14 euros. It is amazing to me, actually, how affordable it is to dine in amazing farm-to-table restaurants in the Marche -- at least in the region around Ancona and Macerata where we were staying.
|Apologies for these crummy quality images. Instagram no so good at night, no?|
And don't even get me started on the wild herb-filled agnolotti at the Casolare -- the wild herbs are foraged by the family matriarch, and the pasta is made by one woman, Delfina, who makes all the pasta for the restaurant and for all of the weddings held on site.
(The venue is booked out 2 years in advance for weddings.)
|There is a giant tree in the middle of the dining room, surrounded by cylindrical glass and lit rather hiply. Like.|
Her sons run the restaurant, and one of them, Mirco Lucamarini, lives upstairs with his fiance Amy Wadman, who runs DiVino Tours and Costa Digiano olive farm and knows EVERYTHING about eating and drinking well in the Marche and all over Italy.
As an American who has lived in Italy for 25 years, Amy is pretty much the perfect resource for food and wine geeks researching the best cuisine in Italia -- not just the east coast, either. (She is cited in a recent issue of Food and Wine magazine, in fact.)
I asked her about good hotels and restaurants in Rome over coffee one morning, and 20 minutes later had a bucket list in hand with anecdotes about dreadlocked Champagne experts and hotels where they will wash your Ferrari for you. Ha! Look her up for guidance if you're going to Italy -- she steered us the right way every time!
Check my post on Clandestino for a photo of this cool lady with the yurt she and Mirco and their friends were building this summer on her olive farm, but here's another just for fun: