Friday, July 13, 2012

Garantito IGP: Bazzini -- A Place From Other Times In Canneto Pavese

This time Carlo Macchi takes the stand:

What  is the Pianura Padana
From six o'clock on
Fog that seems to be
In a glass
Of water and anise

This speaks Paolo Conte, referring to the area around Broni and Stredella, known by many as the Oltrepò Pavese. If the six o'clock happens to be on a summer afternoon, with a muggy 95 in the chade, the picture changes. Then the fog is called heat haze and towards dinnertime you look for a place in the hills, thus discovering that the Oltrepò has a great many of them. From broni they tell us to climb towards Canneto Pavese and stop to eat at Bazzini's. Perhaps it's the Tuscan last name, or it may be the road winding among the vineyards, or the landscapes, but I start to feel hungry; the idea of dining in this restaurant, opened in 1940 seems better and better.

Canneto pavese is a small town, and it's therefore easy to find Bazzan's: It's right in front of the other local landmark, a church with a huge bell tower. Bazzani's is in a neat two story building with a number of halls, and a terrace with views beautiful enough to make the heart throb.

It's not luxurious, but the tables are nicely set, and the (plastic) chairs have cushions. In short, here they cut to the quick, as you'll realize from the few dishes listed in the menu (some actually rather obvious), from the one waiter, who looks as if he was born between these walls, and from the behavior of the brothers who own the place: One is a showman, and the other silent, but both know how to make one feel welcome.

In short, the views from the terrace made my heart throb, while my stomach was already throbbing; nothing left to do but order. My companion is rightly tempted by the fried frog's legs (a fine choice, perfectly fried and quite tasty), by the agnolotti with braised meat sauce (good), and by the snails (not at all bad, but not a summer dish), whereas I start with cold cuts and some excellent pickles, followed by something one can't pass up upon finding it on the menu: Chilled minestrone with rice!

The portions are over the top, but everything is so good that the dishes go back as empty as my pockets.

At his point satiation sets in and you let your guard down -- just in time to see the next table receive two cotolette alla Milanese of such glory one might want to marry them. First of all, meat with the bone, breaded and fried purely in butter, they're close to two fingers thick and I certainly admire them. My companions egg me on but I resist, promising myself a second visit.

A promise kept a couple of days later, at lunch, when I order the cotoletta and, as Commissario Montalbano might say, go to town. I realize I haven't said a word about the wines. There isn't a list per se, but one needs only look at the racks of local wines in the entrance and the problem is solved: Crausé and Bonarda, the latter alas a little warm, until a family-sized ice bucket appeared and chilled everything. The prices are pretty cool too: 25-30 Euros plus wine, and for that you also get the views and the atmosphere of another time.

Ristorante Bazzini
Via Roma 11
Canneto Pavese (Petit Verdot)
+39 038 588 018
Closed Tuesdays

Published Simultaneously by IGP, I Giovani Promettenti.

We Are:
Carlo Macchi
Kyle Phillips
Luciano Pignataro
Roberto Giuliani
Stefano Tesi

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