Getting to the town of Zocca from the high plains of Mocogno was
difficult: one switchback after another leading down 1300 meters from
the the plains to the sea, and then another 750 meter climb to Zocca.
Obviously, if you're coming from elsewhere, say Modena, you need not
follow the path I had to.
Zocca, or "block of wood" (what zocca means in dialect), is an attractive town, and is where Punto Radio, one of the first independent Italian stations, began transmitting in 1975; among the station's frist supporters was Vasco Rossi, now one of the great names of Italian rock. Those who know him well will also remember Massimo Riva, the guitarist and composer who left us all too soon, but had time to play with him in the 80s, and also wrote some of his most popular songs.
We are not here to talk music, however, but rather something more material: Food, good, rigorously traditional food. Zocca indeed boasts one of those places that only locals know how to find: No signs, and hidden from the rest of the town, on Via M. Mesi (Mauro Antonio Tesi, known as Il maurino, painter, engraver and architect); you'll only see it upon coming around a bend to the left. Of course finding it isn't that difficult; one need only ask, and everyone knows where the Osteria del Sole is. They also know it's a place one can eat well without being plucked like a chicken.
It's Saturday, June 16, and very hot; I have an appointment with Arianna fugazza, a painter from Ferrara known for her airbrushing, and her friend Ilaria, but I get there first and take advantage of the opportunity to tour the town, admiring the pretty parish church (being restored, alas) and meet Francesco Ricci, a wonderfully cordial man who immediately makes me feel at home. He oversees the hall, while the kitchen is managed by Andrea Nocetti, from Modena….
Despite the stereotype that holds women incapable of being on time, my companions arrive a few minutes early: I can't go into the reasons for this meeting, but can say the technique Arianna has mastery over fascinates me and there is a project that will, sooner or later, come to light. Or subject here is the Osteria del Sole, which deserves the attention.
In reading the menu we discover that all the ingredients are local, from small producers: the Parmigiano, Tasone, Ricotta, Butter and Mascarpone are from the Caseificio di rosolo di rocca cheesers, who are working with some of the historic farms to recover the ancient Modenese breed of cattle, and use its milk exclusively in their parmigiano. The pasta, fried breads, and baked goods are made from organic flours from the Fratelli Mesini's organic farm, once again in Rosola di Zocca. In particular, they use soft wheat flour from the Marzotto cultivar (a cultivar grown in the Appenino Modenese that had almost gone extinct, whole wheat flour, corn meal, and chestnut flour that are all stone-ground. The pork and pork cold cuts are from the Mora Romagnola pigs (a Slowfood presidium) rasied and worked by Cà Lumaco, an organic farm in Montetorte di Zocca. The salt is sweet sea salt from Cervia, another Slowfood presidium. The fresh pasta is of course hand-made. This sound like enough?
And here are some of the dishes we enjoyed: A scrumptious, intensely flavored porcini mushroom carpaccio; Tortelloni with Ricotta from Rosola and Radicchio Trevigiano, perfect tagliatelle with locally picked mushrooms, and a juicy, well thought out pork fillet with wild radicchipo, strawberries and balsamic vinegar, all accompanied by a fine unfiltered Pignoletto Classico from Orsi San Vito, an organic winery (the wine list is correctly and exquisitely local). As we had no intention of passing on dessert we left space for an irresistibly delicious Crema Catalana and a magnificent chocolate salami with Mascarpone cream. The cost? 90 Euros for three people.
Eating this well in a clean, welcoming in that also offers magnificent views doesn't happen every day. Our meal certainly merits another visit.
Osteria del Sole
Via M. Tesi, 1109/b - Zocca (MO)
Tel. 059 987361
Open: Tuesday to Sunday, for lunch & dinner. Closed Mondays
Published Simultaneously by IGP, I Giovani Promettenti.
NO STAR goes to wines that are correctly made but nothing to get excited about.
ONE STAR goes to wines that are good. TWO STARS go to wines that are very good to excellent. THREE STARS and a POINT SCORE (90-100) go to wines that are superb to extraordinary. And I will give pairing suggestions, which I consider much more important than the scores.