Full disclosure. These are our relatives.
My relatives by marriage, and how lucky I was, am, and will always be. (When Tizi’s cousin Pierpaolo shakes my hand and says, Come va, cugino? How goes it, cousin? I sort of pinch myself. How did this happen?)
Every time we’re home, as Tizi calls it–which is what San Marino is to her–when we’re back in Serravalle, we find a day to see the Canducci cousins–Marina, Marco, Pierpaolo, Antonella, Francesco, and the matriarch, Zia Palmina). Often it’s a Tuesday, because that’s the day their restaurant is closed. On a Tuesday evening we’ll meet them at Ristorante della Repubblica in Rimini to have a seafood feast. On their day off, if they eat out, they eat fish.
It stands to reason that if you go out to dinner with people who have a really great restaurant, you’re going to be taken to a really great restaurant. Thus is it with Repubblica. Just one example: Last time we ate there, among many other things we had chickpeas and clams with a couple maltagiiati added for good measure. Chickpeas, great. Clams, great. Put them together in a light broth with maltagliati, beyond great.
But this testimony is really about tagliatelle at Trattoria Delinda, their trattoria named for their grandmother. It’s on the edge of the Marecchia valley, close to Rimini. From San Marino we usually take the scenic drive across the hills on Via Santa Cristina. Lunch and dinner, six days a week, the cousins serve hand-rolled, hand-cut tagliatelle. The way nonna used to make them. It’s a traditional Romagnolo food about which virtually anyone over here waxes nostalgic, then quickly sets nostalgia aside and picks up a fork.
Blazing gold sheets of pasta (the eggs! the eggs! 100 eggs a day, Marina tells me) mixed and kneaded by hand, rolled thin on a board with a mattarello (a long rolling pin a little over an inch in diameter) into the “spoglia.”
And they are then cut by hand. The cut tagliatelle are not smooth, strictly speaking. The surface is slightly rough, porous, which means the ragu adheres to it. In Italian the expression is tengono il sugo. They keep the sauce.
They come to the table on long trays. With them come stewed peas, in small ceramic dishes on the side. There are those Romagnoli who insists on peas, and those who prefer a pea-free ragu. In our clan we go all out for peas. (But we just say no to cheese. While Parmigiano-Reggiano is made only an hour or so up the road, and while it is in a class by itself, at our table the belief reigns that the cheese overpowers the other flavors and is thus out of place).
It’s not uncommon to find home-made pasta, in various iterations, in trattorie and restaurants in the Marecchia valley. It’s what they do. They roll their own. But Delinda stands out, wins awards. Yesterday from noon to 3:00, the place was packed. They turned people away. They serve a long lunch, then close the doors, take a breather, and start up again at 7:30. It’s a serious business, rendering serious joys.
Of course there are other things on the menu at Delinda–cappelletti in brodo, passatelli in brodo, strozzopreti, gnocchi. Those are more of the primi. And the second courses and contorni are all terrific. But it’s hard to not to have the tagliatelle. Like going to mass and not taking communion.
You forget just how good they are. Then you roll them on your fork, taste, and go to heaven. It’s old world good. A tradition carried forward by these amazing people.