Our first stop was in the Marche region, on the Adriatic coast, where Massimo Mancini’s family-owned factory produces pasta. The cream-coloured spaghetti is a great support for a glistening, perfectly emulsified vongole sauce made with butter and white wine.
Niko Romito has a passion for bread, which he distributes, frozen, all over the country. His superb sourdough has a crunchy crust and moist crumb—and is a course in itself in the tasting menu at his three-Michelin-star restaurant.
The best pizzas in the world can be found at Pepe in Grani. Every mouthful there was breathtaking, including this margherita gone “wrong,” with the familiar toppings reversed. The mozzarella rests directly on the crust, with tomato sauce and dollops of pesto on top—but it’s delicious.
Choosing a single favourite bite in Tuscany proved to be a challenge. But the winner was the risotto with tomato water and shrimp at the Gucci Osteria. Perfect rice in light, sweet tomato water, with barely cooked shrimp placed on top, the dish was everything I wanted: sophisticated, elegant and just sweet and creamy enough.
Instead of pairing mozzarella and prosciutto with the usual tomatoes or melons, Antonia Klugmann puts them together—but first she transforms the cheese into gelato. Its acidity and silkiness combine perfectly with the buttery cured ham.
The Cacio e Pepe at Lido 84 in Gardone Riviera has become a new Italian classic. All the ingredients—pasta, water, salt, pecorino, pepper—are stuffed into a pork bladder which is then sealed and poached. The result is pasta infused with the flavours of the cheese and pepper. Servers open the bladder and serve the pasta tableside.