I have been to Il Graal various times over the past three years. Mario, apart from being an incredible host and chef, is amazingly knowledgeable about wines. He is also someone who knows and loves the land, and this shows in his choice of dishes in his wonderful restaurant. Mario shuttles between the kitchen and his clients. His care in ensuring that the clients' experience is the best possible one for their culinary escape, is a joy to watch.
And onto the food: an inviting and varied choice of bruschette, cured meats, and cheeses, accompanied with an exquisite honey, begins the meal, and gives one an indication of the feast to follow. This was accompanied with their house wine, which rivals that which I have tasted in many places in Tuscany. Next, pappardelle with a ragout sauce made with wild boar, wonderful! I have also tasted Mario's ravioli with truffles and porcini mushrooms, as well as his famous "nido" pasta, roasted tagliolini with a sauce of asparagus with mushrooms. Both are of the same quality as the wild boar pappardelle.
For the second course (pure gluttony dictated that the meal continue), spezzatino of venison, stewed to perfection. The other meat dishes that I've tried, especially the piquant beef (pepato), melts in mouth. The meat was accompanied with sauteed greens, with just the right amount of garlic. Grilled mushrooms are also available when in season, which are a lovely side dish.
Convinced that there is always room for desert, I chose the pear and chocolate cake. Not a crumb was left on the plate. They also make delicious tiramisu'!
The price, for the quantity and especially quality of food was surprisingly on the lower side. A comparable meal in one of the large cities famous for tourist attractions, would easily cost close to EUR 50 a person! This was NOT the case at Il Graal.
The added value of Il Graal, is of course the location, right on the main square of old Calcata, a tiny, once abandoned hilltop town. With less than an hour's drive north of Rome, one is immersed in the lush greenery of the natural reserve of theTreja valley.
Both Calcata and Il Graal, are experiences that are not to be missed!
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