We arrived at our hotel on the outskirts of Siena, Italy in the mid-afternoon on Thursday, May 17th, and spent about an hour wrangling with the hotel staff at Hotel Garden about our not so cool room situation. If you go to Siena, I do not recommend this hotel. All that aside, we decided to clean up and go explore what we could inside the walls of the city and grab some dinner on our own. I did some quick, down and dirty research on tripadvisor.com and found Ristorante Osteria Enoteca Sotto le Fonti, gave them a call, made a reservation and consulted a map to help us find the place.
We grabbed a cab and the driver dropped us off at one of the piazzas inside the walls of Siena and we wandered around the city’s streets, checking out the shops and the sites. Siena is lovely and hilly, with cobbled streets and loads of shops lining them and it is very clean. Auto traffic is minimal so it’s nice for walking.
We wandered aimlessly for a while along the maze like streets and then finally consulted our map and started wandering toward our dinner destination. Siena is a beautiful and quaint city. Every time you turn a corner, there is another incredible scene to photograph. I love the clothes hanging out the windows! We had a nice walk down steeply cobbled streets on our way to the restaurant.
Just after we left the walls of the city behind, we came to the Fontebranda, the Talking Fountain. This was a remarkable and unexpected discovery and just so cool!
The Fontebranda was one of the main confluences of the ancient Sienese aquaduct systems. Built in the late 1100′s, it had tiered usage – the first basin was used for drinking water; the overflow from that basin was for domestic animals’ drinking water; and the third basin was a washing trough and then the water went on to be used in mills, etc. Those Romans, they were pretty incredible!
Just a short distance from the Fontebranda, we found our dinner destination … Osteria Enoteca Sotto le Fonti. We were early for our 7:30 reservation so we stopped for a cup of Joe and then finally made our way to the restaurant. This is a family run restaurant owned by Britta and Roberto and they were still finishing up their dinner with their children when we barged in.
Britta is from Germany and Roberto is Italian … they met in college and they have been working together in their restaurant for about 10 years and we were excited to share their experience.
Joe started us off with a nice bottle of wine which Britta decanted for us.
Joe ordered the bruschetta as his starter. The tomatoes were amazingly fresh and the olive oil? Yum!
I ordered the asparagus quiche. There is an art to creating amazing quiche and Roberto added mascarpone cheese to his quiche. It was rich and creamy and I know asparagus is a vegetable, but it almost tasted like dessert.
This wild board ragout is one of Roberto’s specialties and Joe was happy to try it out as his Primi. Even I had a bite of two and it was amazing. Boar is not something we often see on a menu in Nashville. I’m not saying it never happens, but it isn’t all that common … maybe it should be! I think they are a lot of them running around in the swamps of Louisiana.
For my Primi, I had pasta with rocket pesto and zucchini. I love pesto – even the grocery store kind which is full of all kinds of things other than basil, nuts and olive oil. And … I love zucchini. While I liked this dish, it was just a little bit too green to be pretty and it seemed to need a little something else flavor-wise as well, perhaps due to the use of arugula instead of the typical basil used in pesto. It lacked something.
For Joe’s Secondi, he took advantage of the fact that we were visiting during the time when truffles are at their best. And other than the tour welcome dinner, this was the first time that Joe had ordered some of the wonderful Italian beef I had been scarfing up. This was a beautiful dish to look at and to taste. The truffles are paper thin and so buttery tasting.
For my Secondi, I ordered the pork steak. In addition to Italy’s fine beef, they also have the cinta senese pigs and that is the type of pork that Britta and Roberto use in their dishes. The pigs eat a lot of nuts and acorns and graze on organic food stuff and typically it takes about twice as long for these little piggies to be ready to go to market as other breeds, but they are worth waiting for.
My pork steak was sliced rather thin and was cooked in white wine and topped with a sauce made with juniper berries. The meat was tender and the juniper berries gave the sauce a nice zing to its flavor.
We finished our meal by sharing this beautifully presented panna cotta. It had more of those lovely, fresh strawberries and we ate every single bite.
The atmosphere at Osteria Enoteca Sotto le Fonti is rustic and the food is authentic and delicious. It is like being invited into a friend’s home to share a meal. We had a lovely time and if you are ever in Siena and want to venture outside the walls of the city, I am certain that Britta and Roberto will be happy to see you.