Dalla Maria, Best Overall

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I’ll have the tagliatelle with beans, please.

If you’ve made it to Pesaro, you are in the land of good eating. In the old town you will eat well at Zongo, Pasqualon, La Guercia, and Il Moletto. Venture out of town, to Il Sentiero, for example, or to Gennaro, and you will experience both extraordinary natural beauty and culinary excellence.

But do yourself a favor: find Novilara on the map or your satnav. Find it and drive up there from Pesaro. In Novilara you will feast at Trattoria Il Pergolato, affectionately known as Dalla Maria. Lunch or dinner. A telephone call to ensure a table is well advised.

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Dalla Maria you eat tagliatelle with beans, among other things, all of them excellent. But the beans rule. The tags with beans sing. Beans, really? This is a sauce, if that’s the word for it, with a base of onion, carrot, celery, long cooked with borlotti beans and some tomato paste (concentrato) added and, for additional flavor, cotecchino sausage. The end result is thick and brown, fragrant and velvety, served steaming on a bed of hand-made tagliatelle.

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We’ve been eating at Maria’s for 15-20 years. The tagliatelle never get old. I’ve made lateral moves to tagliatelle with ragu. Very good. You can get cannelloni with a light tomato sauce and lovely, weightless gnocchi (shown here with pea sauce—only when peas are in season). Many good things and you feel no regret. But in all likelihood your heart and your stomach will belong to tagliatelle with beans. We are mated for life.

Many other good things on the menu: castrato, pork ribs, sausage, oven-cooked rabbit ala porchetta, all of them good. That’s if you think meat.

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Another option is piada with stracchino and erbe di campagne. Piada, the local flat bread, found in different states of thickness, soft and brittle, the flour impasto mixed with local olive oil or lard. Every local has their favorite piada. Maria’s piada is thick and flaky, frolla, lardful. It is one of a kind. With stracchino and erbe, or with proscuitto or vegetables cooked ala gratinata, you have a perfect food to follow the tagliatelle.

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House wine this year, and last, excellent. Always good desserts. Try un sorbetto al caffe or limone. At the end of the meal, you can finish with a local coffee drink called una moretta—espresso, brandy, anice, and rum, a little lemon rind, and sugar. It’s a drink local fisherman imbibed to fortify themselves on cold mornings. It’s a bomb. It warms you, it anesthetizes your stomach, it finishes off a great meal.

I can’t imagine being in Pesaro and not eating at Maria’s. I can’t imagine not having tagliatelle and beans.  Or their piada. Or the erbe. Some days and nights there, you feel there are just no words. All. So. Good.

Il Pergolato dalla Maria. Piazzale Cadorna, 5, 61100 Novilara , Pesaro PU.   0721 287210

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