Today, on Thanksgiving Day, we went to Bargni.
I wouldn’t blame you if you said, “You went where?” It’s not the kind of place, you go back to the States and say, Hey, when we were in Italy we went to Bargni.
Remote location. A small town on a hill west of Serrungarina. Twice this month on the state highway we’ve driven past the exit for Serrungarina, on our way to Acqualagna, on our way to Fossombrone. This is hilly country between the Adriatic and Gubbio. Along this state road that goes south to Rome, Bargni does not merit a sign. And Bargni, truth be told, is barely a town. More like an abbreviated village. So, that’s where. And I’ll tell you why.
Every year Tizi’s cousin and his wife lead us into temptation. A new place they know about. Gustin they had heard about for while; they’ve eaten here only a few times. Now we are the beneficiaries. I’ll put this down as one of our ultimate eating experiences in Italy.
It’s an all-around tight fit.
Two tables inside this osteria. Ten people for lunch today. The place was packed. It’s truffle time. At Gustin, they do truffles. Totally. We had truffles on ice cream.
Osteria da Gustin, owner-chef-host and all-around-nice-guy Virginio tells us, was opened in 1949 by his grandfather, Augusto, whose nickname was Gustin. The restaurant closed for 20 years, then reopened eight years ago. Virginio and his wife Catia offer seasonal menus, local foods that are homage and preservation and celebration of a local culinary tradition. If I said menu, I mis-spoke. I didn’t see a menu. Virginio says this is what we have today. And you’re in for a treat.
Our lunch began with beef carpaccio and truffles, seasoned with sea salt and pepper, followed by a crostone, a big slice of toasted bread with what looks like a truffle gravy ladled over it, covered with shaved white truffle. Around here, if there’s truffle, there’s also egg. And there’s something about an Italian egg. The yolk is so bright it almost burns your eyes. Beautiful. And edible.
Next came two primi piatti, cresc’tajat (pasta kind of like maltagliati, only made with both regular flour and corn flower) served with porcini mushrooms and tagliatelle with truffles.
We finished with gelato (two flavors, pistacchio and vanilla with truffles), tiramisu, and four dolci secchi (among them the standard issue crostata with nutella).
Standing in the lot in front of the restaurant after lunch, we were bathed in sunlight coming from the west. The valley was flooded with light. Spring and summer there’s seating outside the restaurant. I counted two tables for two, a couple tables for four under a grape arbor. Close by are rooms to rent.
“At this elevation,” Virginio said, “in the summer you are above the humidity. It’s cool.”
And the view.
To Catia I said, “I can imagine the green in spring. It’s enough to make you believe there really is a God.”
She smiled and pointed to the sun. “We have his light every day.”