Arnolfo – Siena, Italy 👍👍👍👍👍
We arrived at this modest, historic building a short taxi ride outside the little town of Siena. The restaurant basically is a well-appointed dining room on the ground floor. Upstairs is home to four bedrooms (Relais & Chateaux) for guests to sleep overnight after a wonderful night in the dining room…we would have killed for a lift after the wonderful wines and sumptuous victuals. We stayed in one of the rooms as getting back to Florence after this “event” would have been unpleasant! The room was adorable with all the expected niceties.
Giovanni and Gaetano are brothers, who have worked together developing this family business in this house for 30 years. We were honoured to join the celebration of their 30 year anniversary. Giovanni handles management, wine (Sommelier), marketing, taking orders, etc. Gaetano is the Chef. Both Giovanni and Gaetano introduced themselves…nice! Gaetano has been a guest Chef at Grissini in Hong Kong.
They named the restaurant after an Italian architect by the same name, Arnolfo, who built their family home as well as the building in which the restaurant and guest rooms are situated. We were impressed with the brothers sense of history.
The family hails from Sicily, but moved to Siena in the 1960s. They do lunch and dinner five days per week. The kitchen is huge, ie 800 sq feet, and they now have permission to expand another 600 sq feet. Why!? We have seen many restaurant kitchens in our lives, but never one so large and beautiful. A very happy place to work!!!
Giovanni told us about the places around the world he has visited during his one month per year holiday (they close for one month in January/February…nice), ie Bhutan, Myannamar, China, etc. He is an adventurous fella… We shared a glass of the 50/50 with the Chef while discussing Italian Chefs in Hong Kong and Italy. Good fella!
A table of four Italian men are so drunk and loud. I have had my share of idiot moments, but not in this quality restaurant unless, of course, I booked a private room to act the part. They are now high-fiving in suits. C’mon, fellas, there is a private room downstairs…open your wallets!!! I hope they suffer immense hangovers!!!
Crostini. Very nice with each piece having a parmesan flavour. Yummy!
Antipastini. Several sweet, sour, salty and bitter victuals for the palate. Very, very good. Nicely presented.
Sea bass in a potato puree. Another small offering from the Chef. Excellent. Great texture for the fish!
Bread tartlets. OMYG! One tomato, one onion, both stunning. Then a ricotta filled roll and another roll with sesame seeds. Yikes, we ordered the Gourmet Menu. Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!!! Now they added a mini-croissant and baguette. Killing us…happily!!!
THE ESSENCE – GOURMET MENU
Here we go….
Scampi, Goose Liver, Passion Fruit Sauce and a Side of Cold Scampi Sashimi and Passion Fruit Sorbet. OMYG, please end it now!!! The combination with the Frog Grass was inexplicably wonderba! The passion fruit went extremely well with the perfectly grilled scampi, which was so so succulently soft!!! A magnificent hot and cold combination!
Scallops, Lardo di Cinta Senese, Lentils, Beetroot. It was too pretty to eat. Yeah, right!!! Outstanding, especially the lentils. The beetroot really made a nice contribution of almost a BBQ-ness flavour.
Lasagnetta, Prawns, Clams, Broccoli. Yet again, far too pretty to eat, but we sacrificed our eyes for our tummies. A wonderfully light “pasta” dish. The lightest yet. We love the Chef!!!
Ravioli, Sea Robin, Fish Soup, Squid, Red Mullet. WOW, we loved this SUPER-FISHY dish. Exceptional. All the fish and seafood were very soft. Wow!!! C’mon, stop it!!!
Cod, Yellow Pumpkin, Herring Caviar, Carrots, Oranges. Carrots and pumpkin puree….OMYG!!! The cod was beautifully prepared. Everything worked wonderfully together. We found the orange slice a bit too tarty. The caviar went well with the entire dish. WE enjoyed the dish of salted cod with a crispy biscuit “sandwich” and sesame seeds. Hey, this Chef is an outstanding genius!!!
Pigeon Leg and Breast with Shallots, Hazelnuts and Coffee. Coffee and hazelnut flavors covered up the apparent or natural gaminess of the pigeon. Thick piece of meat, both leg and breast, compared to the starved version we usually enjoy in Hong Kong. Another story….
Turbot Encrusted with Almonds with Black Olive Sauce, Spinach and Potatoes. The black olive sauce was nice. The fish was perfectly prepared and worked exceedingly well with the almonds…exceedingly. The spinach and crunchy lil potatoes were very, very yummy. Ranked right up there as one of the top dishes ever to work its way down my gullet! OMYG, AWESOMESAUCE!
Vanilla Cake and Grapefruit Sorbet as a PRE-DESSERT!!! C’mon….done!!!!
Millefeuille, Pears, Cardamom, Gianduja, Pine Nuts from Pisa. C’mon…so succulent!!! The pears were stunning! We felt so healthy….self-knowledge and self-deception…
Petit Fours. We were barely looking…we really could have used a lift to make it to our room on the next floor…ugh…
The wine list was separated into white and red with 90 pages of, well, everything!!! The books were bound by hand and printed on beautiful, parchment-like paper. Molto interessante! Each year they print a new version. Wow!!! 20,000 bottles cellared on the premises with the balance at Capanelle, which has state-of-the-art storage. Wonderful wine people!!!
Gaetano loved Capannelle so we did both white and red from the winery. If we want to do a tour, then he will arrange. Hmmmm….
Ca’ del Bosco Spumante. Very good aperitif.
2008 Chardonnay Capannelle Ratfaele Rossetti – James Sherwood. Only 15,000 bottles produced each year. Bangkok klong (the whiff of human kind wafting through the air) on the nose of this 100% Chardonnay. Excellent, smooth, elegant, slightly powerful. Beyonce with Hanna Montana (Miley Cyrus)…when she was one of Mickey Mouse’s gals ;-). Unfiltered…the cloudiness is showing…no problem on the nose or flavor. Excellent drop!!!
2004 Avignonesi Capannelle 50 & 50 Ratfaele Rossetti – James Sherwood. A blend of 50% Sangiovese and 50% Merlot. Giovanni made us a believer in this winery. A to Z excellent. Big, soft, fruit, licorice, good tanins, spectacular finish that went on for quite a long time. Decanted in a huge, bowl-like “glass”. The actual glasses also were large-mouthed. Good choices for glassware, we thinkist! This wine easily could lay down another 5+ years, easily!
Chef Gaetano Trovato
via XX Settembre n 50, 53034 Colle di Val d’Elsa Siena