Unfortunately, it turned out that Il Talismeno was shut that day, but, said a young man inside, try that place and he pointed to the Trattoria da Bovere on the other side of the road. Even as an experienced restaurant spotter, I might have been not have been tempted to go in. I’m extremely glad I did.
The Trattoria da Bovere is one a disappearing breed, a modest, family-run business that does simple food extremely well. The walls were white, dotted with photos and pictures in haphazard arrangement. Th floor was black and white composite marble. The table cloths and napkins were coral pink. It was a place where people ate.
And what did I eat? A plate of moscardini alla diavola; spaghetti con arselle e bottarga; seadas; and a little plate of sweetmeats. A 1/4 lt of perfectly decent white wine, a bottle of water, an expresso. Each element was perfect in its way.
Moscardini are tiny octopi. They had been braised in a tomato sauce full of their flavour, piquant with chilli, until they were as soft as kid gloves. The arselle – clams – were fat, meaty, flush with garlic, fresh with parsley. The generous grating of bottarga seasoned the dish. seadas – or sevada as Lina Casu had written in my notebook – is a thin circular tart, filled with cheese and served with honey and grated lemon peel. The pastry of this seadas was delicate and crunchy, the filling of goat’s cheese mild and chewy, and the honey sweet with a hint of citrus from the lemon peel. It was a masterly pud. And then the sweetmeats turned out to have a pompia theme, one being a section of the fruit that had been cooked to a lucent gold and firm density in honey, and the other which had been candied with orange and mixed with almonds, which was chewy and crunchy, fruity and nutty.
And all this with out any fuss, any show, any flourishes. It was an ordinary day in an ordinary day, and yet it was extraordinary, The young woman who was looking after me looked surprised and pleased when I complimented her on the deliciousness of the food.
On the other side of the room, her two young children were having lunch with their father. Her mother, who did the cooking, popped out of the kitchen from time to time to see how things were going. At on point some customers at another had a query about one of the dishes. Did it have garlic? he asked. No, said the cook/mother, onions. Could it have garlic? asked the customer. No, said the cook/mother, and that was that.
The bill for such pleasure was E26.
There are days when you are glad to be alive and thank providence for unexpected joys. This was one of them.
Trattoria da Bovere, via Gramsci 68, Siniscola. Tel: 0784 875375