Trattoria La Grotta is situated right off the main square of Piazza della Republica in the southern Tuscany town of Cortona, Italy. Although I’m typically wary of restaurants in close proximity to main squares, Trattoria La Grotta lured me in with its medieval atmosphere and a menu that I couldn’t resist. It feels like you are eating in the basement of a castle that is somehow cheery. This creates a unique ambiance that I enjoyed, though it is also possible to eat outside in the secluded square when it is warm.
The bread was served immediately, and had a standard composition for this region of Tuscany – not too airy yet not too chewy – but it was served warm, which is a nice touch not all that common in Italy.
The house appetizer was amazing. It presented Parma ham wrapped around a fresh slice of canteloupe, conferring a pleasant blend of salty and sweet flavors. Various salami and other forms of ham were scattered around the plate, along with some delicious olives. There were four different varieties of bruschetta – two truffle, one marinara and one chopped tomato. Two of the cheese samplings were a slice of Parmesan, and an unidentified chunk of something tasting similar to flan – rich and smooth. It could have been the wine kicking in, but this was one of the best antipastos I’ve had yet in Italy.
The spaghetti noodles were as thick as a pencil with the chewy density of soft calamari and the texture of over boiled potatoes. The sauce was perfectly spicy and sweet, inviting me to sop up every last bit of it with bread.
The Florentine steak was not “3 fingers thick”, as they make it in Firenze, but it was perfectly salty and delicious. Not too fatty and fairly tender.
I typically do not make it to dessert after an antipasto, first course, second course and side dish. But, from what I saw while stealing glances of other tables the desserts looked great, as did every other dish I saw come out of the kitchen.
Overall this was one of the better meals I’ve had in Italy. The service was fast but the pace was slow, and friendly, and the flavors of this meal won’t leave my mind anytime soon.
The restaurant is apparently popular with Americans as well as Tuscany locals, as I heard many languages spoken around me, including English. The waiters do not speak much English, but the menu is subtitled in English.
Total cost: 45 Euros (a great value in my book for the quality and quantity of this fine Tuscan food)
Piazza Baldelli 3
Recommendations for other Tuscany Restaurants