Another post from the Lemurs’ recent travels in Italy. We drove around Lake Bracciano to Cerveteri, a very nice little town near the coast in Lazio, but one primarily known for its Etruscan necropolis. The necropolis was actually amazing, a vast city of the dead with long streets full of beautiful buildings you can just walk into and explore. If this place were in the UK or the US, there would be guards, cordoned-off walkways, and no way to experience the spaces in an unmediated fashion. But in Italy, there’s a hacked off dude in a portacabin who gives you an illegibly-photocopied map and off you go into what feels like a your very own discovery of an ancient civilisation. Granted, we were mildly worried that small children might fall into an unmarked pit but hey, we didn’t have any small children so all was well.
But you need a good appetite to explore ancient Etruscan sites, and we stopped off in Cerveteri to eat at Antica Locanda le Ginestre. The restaurant is located in the main square and boasts a gorgeous garden for those willing to brave the heat and eat outside.
I suspect the waiters thought we were going to spend a bit more money than we did: we weren’t exactly stinting with the vino or the food but the rather starchy staff seemed to imagine that English-speaking tourists would have dollar signs in our eyes. Still, they put up with our indecisiveness and were perfectly charming when we did eventually order.
The best thing about this place was the pasta: all four dishes we ate were really really good. Mr Lemur had red pepper papardelle with eggplant, zucchini flowers, and local pecorino. The pasta itself was ultra-fresh and the zucchini flowers lent a nicely astringent note to the melty softness of the dish.
I had tonnarelli with porcini mushrooms and summer truffles – I find it hard to get past truffles on an Umbrian menu and northern Lazio definitely has a strong Umbrian influence. It was very truffle-y, heady and decadent. Mr Lemur thought that I won here, but our table-mates were horrified by talk of winning and losing.
The secondi were a little less successful for me – still very good, but their updating of traditional dishes felt more strained. I had giant shrimp skewers encased “in camicia di lardo” and served with a basil sauce and grilled vegetables. This was one of the least obviously interesting dishes but it hit my buttons nicely: giant grilled shrimp are never a bad thing and the lardo jackets were, well, you can imagine how positively I feel about wrapping things in pork fat. It all felt a bit Californian rather than traditionally Italian but it was actually really delicious. Plus, look at the sunlight…
We passed on dessert, which I think disappointed the waiters a bit, but we did have some fantastic wine whose name I sadly didn’t write down (too busy necking it). It was the perfect preparation for an afternoon Indiana Jonesing it in the Etruscan ruins.
Antica Locanda le Ginestre, Piazza Santa Maria 5, Cerveteri 00052, Lazio, Italy