The Raw and the Cooked

I wasn’t well pleased when yet another building rose up on the Lodovica road which by-passes Diecimo on its way to Lucca. The kind of ribbon development that has taken place here, with buildings reminiscent of American drive-ins and with absolutely no reference to anything vernacular, is quite abhorrent, especially when it is “developed” in such a beautiful river valley.

This squarish building may be in place in some more southern clime but not here. Nearby is the more authentic local architecture of a hobbit-like place where a very good cobbler will repair anything from shoes to bags that is worth repairing.

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Next to it is the recently finished building which I tended to avoid like the plague until yesterday when a couple of friends each told me that it contained a very good and cheap restaurant.

I checked out the place which goes under the name “Di Cotte e di Crude di Marotta” (“crude” meaning raw, as in French crudité) and was very pleased with my repast. This was the menu:

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As one can see there was a vegetarian option for each course as is widely the case now in Italy.

I started off with an ample portion of penne with a ham ragù sauce.

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I followed this with nicely lemon-flavoured escalope with rosemary-scented roast potatoes, both excellently done.

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The meal was accompanied by bread, sparkling water (I was actually asked for the first time not just whether I wanted still or sparkly water but whether I wanted it at room temperature or colder) with a quarter litre of very drinkable house wine and concluded by excellent coffee.

The price for everything was 8 euros 90 cents. (about £7). I would have gladly paid double for such a good meal and probably would have had to pay at least four times that amount in London. Also, as is the normal practice in Italy, tipping is not compulsory.

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There is also a take-away menu at only 6 euros which I must try next time I decide on a mountain ramble in the vicinity.

The decor of the restaurant is designer-modern with some nice touches including this carved stone of the mediaeval Ponte Della Maddalena, which is only a little distance away.

I found this clock amusing.

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When I was there at lunchtime the place was full, mainly of local workers, although there were some people who’d come from Lucca.

The attached butchers are run by the same partners and the restaurant meat dishes come directly from and, thus, are very fresh and well prepared. The shop also has an excellent collection of wine, some very good Austrian Theresien beer and other tempting items.

There are special steak lunches and dinners, too, which will delight non-vegetarians.

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The gourmet’s delight doesn’t stop here. Next door to the restaurant is an excellent fish shop, the second outlet of the same company that opened its first near Pian della Rocca only a few years back. There was an excellent selection of fish, although the oysters I was seeking were not there.

The fun continues upstairs – for ladies that is, as there is also a hairdressing salon.

The entire building may not be one’s idea of a country restaurant but if you are seeking brilliant food at very economical prices, don’t want to go up a lonely valley but prefer, instead, to find nearby guaranteed parking and contemporary décor, and delight in being served with a smile, then this is the place to go for.

Incidentally Marotta’s facebook page is at:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Di-COTTE-e-di-CRUDE/554536884626644

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3 thoughts on “The Raw and the Cooked

  1. Well it is always a pleasure to see food presented in a nice way as it most certainly was at both Borghese and Circolo dei Forestieri restuarants which are sorely missed by all that enjoyed them it would be nice if ever this new venue needed to expand to do so in the Bagni area! It is great to see that they also cater for vegetarians I do hope that one can learn where the meat is reared and also where the fish is sourced to ensure that both the animals and fish have been reared caught or slaughtered in as humane way as possible.

  2. I completely agree with what you say regarding those strange concrete block buildings which one comes across on the road from BDL to Lucca and all around the area. I suppose the one redeeming factor is the food on offer. €8.90 for a Pranzo is the lowest price i’ve heard of in recent years. I understand Del Sonno offer one for €10 but i’ve never tried it.

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