L'Angolo d'Abruzzo

Insalatina di ovuli e sedano a julienne
Valerio Centofanti
Country: Italy
City: 67061 Carsoli (L'Aquila)
Address: Piazza Aldo Moro, 8/9
(+39) 0863 997429
Closed: wednesday, in autumn is always open
Price: 60 €
Tasting menu:: 30/55 €

The Abruzzi is a region that brims with generosity. We gourmets clearly feel it when we visit its restaurants. A sensation we perceive in a particularly intense way when we sit at the table of L’Angolo d’Abruzzo, at Valerio Centofanti’s.

Many things have changed since our last visit in spring 2008. Three years after, in 2011, Valerio (aged 31) offers a much more precise and defined cuisine, more mature. Although his dishes are more refined and rustic, they preserve the sincerity that characterizes both the cuisine and the people from the Abruzzi.

Just as we arrived, we were welcomed by young and radiant Valentina, Valerio’s sister. At the end of the dining room was the big hearth, with the grill and the ember, conducted by Lanfranco, the father, whose cook wear said “braciere” (“barbecook”), under his name. We call him “Maître rôtisseur”, actually! Lanfranco’s presence in the restaurant is an important added value, as he is an experienced man who has got a huge gastronomic culture. The wine cellar is his business: he prefers great bottles of Abruzzian wines to profound vintages. Although we don’t know his wife, Valerio and Valentina’s mother, we know she is always there, “blessing” all the dishes that leave the kitchen.

As soon as you sit down, you are served a little assortment of local cold meats, all very good. As an accompaniment, different kinds of homemade bread made with mother yeast: white, with olives, bacon or under the form of delicious little sticks. If you come along at mushrooms time, try the funghi porcini cut in half, placed for a few minutes next to the red-hot coal and then seasoned with garlic, parsley, salt and olive oil; exquisite. The Caesar’s mushroom salad with julienned celery and a hint of olive oil is as good as the previous proposal: top quality of the raw materials and delicate execution of the seasoning. The grandeur of the products is also evident in the bruschetta with grated black truffle, olive oil and boletus edulis.

Valerio’s technique shows up since the very starters. Don’t leave the place without tasting the raviolis stuffed with sheep yoghurt and served with a rather particular garnish: rabbit tuna, crunchy vegetables and grated Pecorino cheese; a tasty and perfumed dish that has a different consistency and that is characterized by the good balance between the sourness of the yoghurt and the flavour of the Pecorino. The macaroni alla gricia (from Benedetto Cavalieri’s pasta shop, see Products on the website) are cooked in a pan with vegetal broth, just like a risotto, and refined with pork fat, chopped thistle, black pepper and Pecorino cheese. What a personality! What a great al dente doneness! As far as I remember, I haven’t had such a pleasant and good dish of pasta for all the year. Cod filet, tomato and tomato water: another demonstration of great raw materials intelligently exalted by the chef. The fish is vacuum-cooked at low temperature and served together with tomatoes that have been confited in the oven, peeled and sautéed Datterini tomatoes, Taggiasche olives and tomato water. The cod expresses itself in all its purity, like the top quality tomatoes, cooked separately from the fish.

The meats and the grilled proposals are also worth it, not only the steaks and the entrecotes, but also the typical lamb from the Abruzzi, the sausages, the Scamorza cow cheese, the anchovies, … We personally opted for the lamb stuffed with egg and cheese over pea cream (delicious) served with fried courgette flowers (exquisite, too) filled with anchovies and Scamorza.

The desserts rime with delight. The ricotta mousse over morello cherry coulis accompanied by morello cherries and powdered almond cake is optimal. And what can we say about the grandeur of the toffee cream with saffron from Navelli and orange caramel: perfect texture of the pudding (thanks to the quality of the eggs) and great balance between creaminess, caramel and the unprecedented fragrance of saffron variety.

The guest really feels that the chef is determined to work hard, to improve his proposals and that he is above all convinced by the intelligent use of top quality raw materials.