A Culinary Secret in the Marches Region
We just had our second feast at Ciro’s ristorante near Jesi. How did we ever discover such a Marches region culinary treasure?
Just a dash of buona fortuna.
We’d headed to San Marcello (pop. 2000) so that Pino could make a site-inspection of the nearby 18th-c monastery his team would soon be restoring. It was a July day and I remember the buttery yellow sweep of sunflowers on the marchigiane hills surrounding San Marcello just below the monastery. I took photos of those fields – and of Pino photographing his future restoration project.
We then briefly wandered the fortified town of San Marcello – and set out to find a lunch spot. There weren’t many (probably no others, in fact..) and we pulled off the road at the first “ristorante” sign we found.
Young waiter Leonardo, welcome us into the airy spacious dining room then brought us the menus, winning us over at once…..especially Sicilian Pino. Tasty fish dishes starred as well as marchigiano specialties, like wild boar.
“Ciro è napoletano,” Leonardo explained.
I knew of course Pino’s antipasto choice: steamed mussels. I enjoyed watching him enjoy but then set to my seafood pasta dish typical of the Amalfi coast, scialatielli ai crostacei.
After the mussels, Pino reveled in the grilled swordfish with a colorful pickled vegetable medley on the side. Following my pasta, I ordered just raw summer vegetables, verdure alla cazzimperio, as the Romans call the fresh vegetable dish generally known in Italy as “pinzimonio.” Temptingly and elegantly presented in a glass goblet, Ciro flanks the veritable bouquet of colorful vegetables not just with a cup of the traditional olive oil/wine vinegar mix for dipping but also includes cups of balsamic vinegar and spicy yogurt. Our feast ended with shared grilled radicchio drizzled with balsamic.
Ciro joined us for a chat as we finished up, explaining to us why boxes of Mediterranean sea water are stacked for sale next to the wines. He uses it in the pizzas he makes: “I use only stone-ground flour and Mediterranean sea salt water – no yeast needed.” All seafood pastas at Ciro’s are cooked in Mediterranean sea water, too and all seafood is cleaned in that water and covered with that water til cooking.
We bought a box of sea salt for Pino’s next seafood dish. And before we left, Ciro brought out limoncello and his homemade walnut liqueur, nocino. (How not to try that one?)
Too bad that San Marcello is over an hour-and-a-half from Assisi. Or we’d go there some evening just to try that pizza.
Click here for more on pinzimonio
Read about – and see – more Marches region splendor
Read about – and see – our favorite Marches seaside gem, Sirolo
Click here to read about a fascinating Marches town near Sirolo
Click here to read about our trip to Tolentino, a Marches area gem
Read about October 16 earthquake damage in Tolentino
Read more here about the Basilica di San Nicola da Tolentino
Read, too, about San Ginesio, another Marches gem
Read about earthquake restoraton needed in San Ginesio
Read about Visso, another Marches gem damaged by the 2016 earthquake
Click here to read about Marches jewel, Ascoli Piceno
Read more about good eating at Ciro’s
Read about the restoration of the 19th-c monastery by Pino’s team in San Marcello, the Marches region.