Anne's Blog

Near Montepulciano, Discovering That Pici all’Aglione  Giant Garlic

Date: December 18, 2017 - categories: , , - 2 Comments

Pino and I knew that garlic (“aglio”) highlighted the tangy tomato sauce for a favorite southern Tuscan pasta favorite, pici all’aglione, but now we know that not just any garlic will do. The garlic for this dish must be the ivory-colored aglione della Valdichiana, indigenous to the southern Tuscan area, now recognized officially as an agricultural product of excellence, registered as a PAT (Traditional Agricultural Products). The garlic can weigh up to nearly a pound!

Aglione della Valdichiana can weigh up to a pound!



We learned all this at lunch near Montepulciano at Ristorante Pizzeria L’Angolo in the small town of Acquaviva – nearby lives one of the Italy’s ten Italian aglione farmers – where chef/owner Paolo’s pici all’aglione (“thick spaghetti with garlicky sauce”) won over Pino.

Ristorante Pizzeria L’Angolo, Acquaviva (near Montepulciano)



Pici all’aglione for Pino



That pasta would have been my choice, too, but In wintertime, any dish with winter squash tempts: I ordered a buonissimo Paolo creation, garganelli alla zucca e noci. A sauce of crushed walnuts, pine nuts, Parmesan, pepper tops the pasta, chopped arugula adding color and a flavorful bite. The white foam mystified me: whipped steamed milk, Paolo told me. Squisito!

Garganelli alla zucca e noci


Paolo serves up his pasta creation


Pici all’aglione for Pino and garganelli for me


…..and before our primi, we shared a tasty Tuscan antipasto of liver pate’-topped crostini, crostini con porcini and mozzarelline:




On this cold December day, the restaurant was empty except for a table of local workmen savoring Paolo’s homemade gnocchi with creamy gorgonzola cheese:



As the workers enjoyed their gnocchi, Pino took on the tagliata di chianina, the steak dish typical of the Valdichiana area, but with a ‘Paolo touch”: rubbed with garlic, rosemary, hot red pepper before grilling.

La tagliata – with the “Paolo touch”


Pino squeezes lemon on his tagliata


No way I could follow up my pasta dish with a secondo as Pino did: a plate of steamed artichokes more than satisfied:


Before we left, Paolo showed us a cookbook featuring some of his recipes – and telling all about the aglione della Valdichiana.


Ah, this Italy, “land of the endless discoveries.” Our Montepulciano outing revealed one: l’aglione della Valdichiana. The search for new treasures continues…..



Read about another favorite spot for pici all’aglione
Click here to read about a food festival in southern Tuscany where pici all’aglione is a favorite dish
Read about a southern Tuscany spot for the tagliata di chianina steak
Read about another southern Tuscan spot for the eating of pici
Read about the nearby butcher and links to this restaurant


  • Jenny Hannan says:

    Aglio – I love it, and miss the real taste of aglio. In Sydney we only get a mild variety, which never satisfies.

    Great article, and the artichokes look great – would have been my pick too.

  • Ann Krapf says:

    Just wow to everything! Any chance of a basic recipe for the walnut pasta sauce?

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