Have you ever had a meal you just can’t forget, no matter how many years have passed?
Well, I have.
And it wasn’t cooked by a Michelin-starred chef, or prepared using elaborate molecular gastronomy techniques. No, in fact, it was at a simple osteria in Arricia with casual service and an atmosphere best called rustic.
Ariccia is one of the Castelli Romani (Roman Castle), a collection of small wine-producing towns located at the foot of the Alban Hills. Historically, because of it’s refreshing summer climate, the region was frequented by Roman noblemen, and then the Popes, who today, still have their summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, on the shores of Lake Albano. If you’re driving to the area from Rome, you can look for the castles rising above each of the 13 Castelli Romani towns.
It was there we headed as soon as the opportunity presented itself. Just 3 days after we landed in the Eternal City, still dazed and jetlagged, we squished ourselves into the car with a group of friends from Seoul, and drove an hour southeast to Osteria Aricciarola to meet Agri’s best friends from high school, for what I hoped would be another memorable meal.
The Castelli Romani is famous for porchetta and slightly frizzante red and white wines – 2 things we made sure to indulge in on our visit – but at Osteria Aricciarola, it’s really all about the antipasto.
When olives so fresh, juicy and green, they actually felt like a fruit, an Italian charcuterie board full of house-cured salami, prosciutto, and cheeses, roasted veggies, and porchetta so perfect appeared on our table, we pounced like people who’d been fasting for 40 days and 40 nights.
And it did not disappoint.
The only unfortunate thing? Being so full, I was unable to eat more than 1 or 2 bites of the impeccable plate of pasta I’d ordered as my primi (and only) piatti. 🙁
Visiting Osteria Aricciarola
The drive down to Ariccia, takes about an hour, but if you don’t have a car, you can take a train from Termini Station in Rome to Albano Laziale.
Seating at Osteria Aricciarola is informal, and we showed up without a reservation and had no trouble getting seating for 7 + a baby, but we visited on a weeknight. The situation may differ on weekends. Best to get in touch with them to confirm.
If you still have room in your belly, after that insanely huge antipasto, you can order pasta, or a variety of meats for a main meal. If you decide on pasta, you could opt for the Cinghiale, or wild boar ragu, which the area is also famous for.
And while you’d think such a feast would break the bank, plates of pasta go for about 6 euro, bottles of wine are super affordable, and the antipasto very reasonable.
Where was your most memorable meal? Have you been lucky enough to eat it twice? Share your experiences in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you.