Casa della Quercia
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Local Restaurants
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Local Restaurants

We are fortunate to have a good selection of excellent restaurants in our area, many within a 20-minute drive, and one of the best being within walking distance.

Most country restaurants in this area have no menu; your host or waiter will come to your table and announce the dishes in Italian. The pranzo di lavoro is the best deal, the workmen's lunch, ranging in price from 9 to 11 euros in our area. There will usually be two or three choices for each of the three courses; if you don't understand at first,  ask your waiter to repeat the choices slowly, and they can sometimes come up with a few words of English to explain the menu. Pranzo di lavoro is served daily at country restaurants, and sometimes on Saturdays, whereas Sunday lunch is a grander affair and costs from 20 euros per person. On weekdays lunch is served from noon until about 3 pm, while Sunday lunch starts at 1 pm and can go on until 4 pm, or even later.

Restaurants usually open for dinner at 7:30 pm, with most diners arriving at 8 p.m. or later. Sunday lunch is usually a fixed menu with no choices (4 or 5 courses for 20 euro or so, including wine). The meal will start with an antipasto; if you would rather not eat meat, ask for the antipasto vegetariano, and you’ll get a selection of savory tarts and bruschetta.

The Primo Piatto, or first course, always includes a pasta dish, sometimes gnocchi, and occasionally you'll be offerred risotto. In the cooler months, Zuppa di Faro, a hearty country soup made from a local grain similar to spelt, is often served for lunch. The Secondo Piatto is usually meat, chicken or game, though the closer you are to the coast, the more likely it is that you'll be offered fish. The locally-raised meats are pork (maiale), lamb (agnello), beef (manzo), veal (vitello), and chicken (pollo); there's often rabbit (coniglio) and wild boar (cinghiale) or venison (capriolo, or cerva) on the menu, as well as turkey (tachino). Dolce is often pannacotta (literally cooked cream), or cream caramel, or a local fruit tart.

For a change of pace or a special occasion, local chef Pietro Lambruschi will prepare a classic Italian 3-course meal at the villa especially for you from 40 Euro per person. Make sure you book well in advance in the busy summer season.

Lo Spino Fiorito in Padula
Just down the hill from Reusa, about a 10 minute walk
Lo Spino Fiorito (The Flowering Thorn) is our local restaurant, and it’s quite excellent for a country hostelry. Lunch here is 10 euro and includes three courses, plus bread, all the wine you can drink, coffee, and sometimes a liqueur, usually Limoncello. It’s also excellent for dinner (20 Euro). You really can’t beat it, or its spectacular view. Owners are Gisella and her husband Gianfranco, who is the chef; their son Davide is the waiter/maitre d’. It’s closed on Mondays. Sunday lunch is 20 euro, and it’s terrific (you must book ahead).
  On occasion, chef Gianfranco likes to create special dinners—it could be a menu created around Polenta or Wild Game or Porcini Mushrooms. 

Il Giardinetto in Fivizzano
A 15 minute drive into the town of Fivizzano
This is fabulous place to go for Sunday lunch, you’ll really feel you are in Old Italy. It is owned by Bepe and his nephews; it was started by Bepe’s father in the 1880s and the furnishings and decor haven't changed much since those days. The food is good hearty Italian fare; specialties are stuffed rabbit, venison stew and cinghiale (wild boar), and each meal comes with an array of delicious side-dishes of vegetables. The house wine here is excellent. They are open for lunch and dinner every day except Mondays, and it's best to book ahead for Sunday lunch. The drive back along the winding mountain road should not be tackled by someone unfamilar wth the road — or full of wine. On the other hand, there will be no traffic, so as long as you don't drive off the mountain, you'll be okay, just take it slow. We once came across a large group of wild boar on the road when driving home after dinner, so be vigilant!

Da Remo, Monzone
About 20 mins, on the way to Equi Terme
This is another typically Italian family restaurant, rather like Il Giardinetto, where “si mangia bene,” one eats well. It’s great for Sunday lunch, with large parties of Italian families enjoying themselves at long tables covered in starched white linens, and taking the food very seriously. The food is hearty country fare, and the owners take pride in serving only the finest locally-raised meat. You can also get fresh trout here from the neighboring trout farm. 

Il Re de Macchia
Less than 10 minutes' drive to Casola
It's taken us a while to warm up to Re di Macchia (literally, the King of the Greenwood), but the food is so excellent that despite the bright lighting, terrazo floors and the wall-mounted TV always on, we now really enjoy going there. Owned by an Italian family with three generations working in the restaurant, the focus is on hearty local fare—cingiale, local meats, home-made ravioli, tripe—served with the warm smile of the signora as she totters around the dining room in high heels. They serve the best dessert, called the Re di Macchia, a chestnut pudding covered in whipped cream, just delicious! And it's included in the price of the pranzo di lavoro!

Il Borghetto, Pieve San Lorenzo
About a 15 minute drive from Reusa
The owner of Il Borghetto, Giuseppe, used to be a chef on the Love Boat cruise ship and is quite a character, but he has recently leased the restaurant to a local family, who now focus on serving excellent wood-fired pizza. The atmosphere inside is nothing to write home about, but dining outside on the terraces in warmer weather is very nice. It’s closed one day a week, as of this writing, it’s Monday. The town, situated on a rushing river, is interesting to wander around, with a very nice church (pieve), and a village shop that sells the best Garfagnana prosciutto and local eggs.

Il Baffardello, Metra
On the old road to Lucca, about 10 mins.
This is a typical workman’s lunch place which serves pranzo di lavoro every day for around 10 or 11 Euro. It is owned by Mario, the octogenarian carpenter who made all the doors and windows in the middle and lower levels of the villa; it is run by his daughter-in-law. The drive up to Metra has incredible views of the entire valley, and it's just a few minutes further up the road to the pass over the Apuan Alsp at Carpinelli. Next door is a shop where they sell their own homemade cheeses and sausages. All the meat served here is locally raised, and the Zuppa di Faro (traditional spelt soup) is the best. The atmosphere inside is basic, but there is an outdoor patio for warmer weather.  

Cecchi's Bar in Pugliano
In Pugliano, just before you get to Metra, you'll pass an eatery with a sign that says BAR and in very small letters, Cecchi, the owner's name. Here you can have a simple but hearty meal 3-course meal with a liter bottle of local wine for just 9 euros—a pasta course, a meat course, followed by a generous slice of homemade cheese with fruit for dessert. There are no choices, you get what they are cooking. Simple as it is, we have some wonderful times here! From here you can walk up the hill to the town's church, with wonderful views of the mountains to the south, and you’ll be able to see Reusa off to the north-west. 
  There’s also a pizza restaurant in Pugliano, just up the road from the bar, only open in the summer months.

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Casa della Quercia

GILLIAN DRAKE • RONALD JAMES
Via della Quercia 12, Reusa, Casola in Lunigiana, MS 54014, Toscana, Italia
Italy telephone: 0-585-949-155 • Italy cell: 331-332-1935
USA: (508) 255-5084

 

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View from Il Castello Restaurant in Vernazza

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Left: Gianfranco (on right), owner and chef of Lo Spino Fiorito, talking with neighbor Professore Gilberto.

Below: Lo Spino Fiorito

Cinque Terre and Portovenere
There are many wonderful restaurants in these towns, most featuring locally-caught seafood.
   For fish lovers, we highly recommend Il Pescatore in Lerici; there is no menu, the wait staff will bring you dish after dish of fresh seafood, with as much white wine as you can drink. You will know the meal has come to an end when you are presented with a delicious lemony dessert. No menu, fixed price, around 40 euros per person.

   In Portovenere there are many restaurants, some are no more than tourist traps, while others are good, but very expensive. We have found that the place that offers the best value for money is Le Tre Torre, on the right hand side of the town square.
  Our favorite restaurant in the Cinque Terre is Il Castello in Vernazza, owned by a friend of one of our neighbors. The setting is extraordinary, perched high up on the rocks just under the old castle (in photo above, you can just make out the umbrellas) and the view is magnificent (second photo).


Dining outside on the terrace at Casa della Quercia

Sharing a glass of wine and espresso at our neighbor Lina's house.

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"A super week in a great villa and setting. Lots of relaxation, but some good days out as well. Lerici is great – we took the boat to the Cinque Terre villages. Do not miss eating at Il Pescatore in Lerici, it was the best seafood meal we have ever had!"

—Simon, Sue and Kate,
Leics., UK

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"We have had a really wonderful, relaxing holiday. The villa and surroundings lived up to the description on the website in full. Il Pescatore in Lerici, Da Remo in Monzone and of course Lo Spino Fiorito were all as described and excellent value. Many thanks, Ron, for your helpfulness and attention. We hope that it will not be the last time we visit this idyllic place."

—Derek and Anita
Oxford, UK

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"Many thanks Ron and Gillian for an amazing week. The villa was all we hoped for—fabulous weather, stunning views, luxurious rooms, we couldn’t have asked for more. Outstanding lunch at Spino Fiorito—highly recommended. We hope to return soon!"

—The Hart Family, London

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"Thank you for sharing your wonderful restoration! It is magnifico! We enjoyed our stay here—it was our home away from home while we explored this beautiful country. We loved your local restaurant and sight-seeing recommendations, evenings on the terrace, and visits with Pepe [the dog]. You have a piece of Paradise here.

—The Moore family, USA