Tasting Bevagna: From Sagrantino Gnocchi to Norcineria Goodness
You probably already knew that in Italy, accents can vary town-to-town, even at a ten-kilometer distance – or less.
Did you know that types of pasta vary as well…even town-to-town? Many people I know in Assisi have never even heard of picchierilli, a pasta dish of Bevagna (about 30 km distant).
I hadn’t either, until I stopped in at La Casareccia, the small fresh pasta shop close to Bevagna’s main square, Piazza Filippo Silvestri.
That was probably years ago, before or after – or during? – one of my Bevagna guided tours.
I always make a brief there stop now with tour guests to introduce them to pichierilli as well as to Silvia and her mamma Rita who create the goodness in this little shop. I’m convinced, after all, that a medieval hilltown tour must always include art and history – but also local lore, local customs, culinary specialties and…meeting the people. As Vicky and Jane and friends will affirm:
And next time you’re in Bevagna – after you take in Bevagna’s frescoed theater, the medieval house, the Roman mosaics, and the medieval churches – stop in at La Casareccia where either Silvia or mamma Rita will greet you warmly.
…and show you with pride their picchierilli. When I was there with tour guests Derek and Angela, Silvia was behind the counter:
Mamma Rita was back in the workshop, making the picchierilli…or gnocchi…or ravioli…or stringozzi (thick spaghetti) or tortellini or even passatelli, an Emilia-Romagna pasta specialty made with bread-crumbs, egg, Parmesan cheese, lemon zest:
Fresh pasta of various types flanked the picchierilli – including passatelli – and ravioli with black truffles.
And how to resist those gnocchi al sagrantino?
Bevagna, after all, is in that very limited geographical area – the only place in the world! – where the coveted Sagrantino grape can be grown.
There were the ravioli stuffed with spinach and pecorino (sheep’s milk cheese) as well but those ravioli with orange zest and pistachios caught my eye. Silvia packaged me some to take home for our lunch. (I resisted the jars of truffle pate’ lined up in the case just above the pastas):
Silvia recently told me that the ravioli offered at La Casareccia vary according to the season: in springtime, you might find ravioli stuffed with wild asparagus, and close to summer, ravioli stuffed with pears and pecorino cheese, while in the cold weather months, ravioli might be filled with porcini mushrooms – perhaps shaved black truffle as well.
In 1979, Signora Rita had opened this fresh pasta shop – calling it La Casareccia (“the homemade”) – to offer the fresh pasta and gnocchi she had learned to make from her mother and grandmother.
Daughter Silvia soon collaborated. “And for the first time, we started to make picchierilli by machine – “in modo industriale,” as she put it.
Made with flour, ground potatoes, extra-virgin (only!) olive oil and nutmeg, the picchierilli are often enjoyed by the bevanati with a tomato sauce highlighted with guanciale (“pork cheek”).
As you leave the shop, you’ll note on the door the recipe for cooking the picchierilli alla beanata (the Bevagna way)…
You may wish to copy the recipe, head back in, buy the picchierilli of Rita and Silvia…or just walk over to Marco and Rosita’s restaurant, Scottadito (“Scorch the fingers”) Osteria Tagliavento, to taste the picchierilli goodness there:
If the restaurant happens to be closed…
…head to their nearby macelleria (butcher shop) – also a top norcineria (shop specializing in pork products) – to taste the goodness Marco will slice up for you:
If Marco’s in the back slicing meats, his lovely wife, Rosita, will happily slice one of their salamis for you, strings of dried sausages dangling behind her:
…and Rosita will happily offer you, too, a taste of their buonissimo sheep’s milk cheese, pecorino:
They always have bread baked in a wood-oven – the very best accompaniment to their sliced meats:
And with those, prosciutti, capocolli, and barbozze (pork cheek), dangling above, Marco’s ready to join his guests in a “salute!” He knows, logicamente, that a taste of vino rosso locale enhances the flavors of their sliced meats:
And no one leaves without a taste of their porchetta:
When you’re next in Bevagna, be sure to taste the town before you leave, dropping in on Rita and Silvia..and then on Marco and Rosita.
May this photo of Ghigo Roli tempt you to seek out the goodness:
Read about Bevagna’s medieval house – a must-see Bevagna attraction
Click here to read about – and see! – Bevagna’s medieval festival the Mercato delle Gaite
Read about the joys of living the Gaite for visitors
Read more about the Gaite
Read about the splendor of Bevagna’s frescoed theater
Click here to read about the medieval house and other Bevagna treasures
Read about a Bevagna visit with guests in our Assisi apartments
Click here to read about – and see – Bevagna’s esteemed tailor – and other gems