The Townhouse Caffe

The Townhouse Caffe is inserted in the La Bandita Townhouse Hotel and follows the same lines of the house, an audacious decoration with a good combination of modern and classic pieces.
The kitchen is open, and who, like us, has the opportunity to seat at the counter while accompanying the confection of their dishes will have guaranteed fun, though Gordon Ramsey is not around. All the work flows orderly and with competence.

Back to the space, the restaurant is open to the exterior, so the guests don’t have to enter the hotel to get to the restaurant, something that unfortunately so many times keeps the clients away from the hotel’s restaurants. Another point of interest is the terrace and certainly it will be the highlight for those who visit Val’Orcia and Pienza in the warm summer days. The ambiance, such as in the hotel is relaxed and informal, no towels on the tables neither great ornaments, with wood, flowers and the orange color to warm up the room.

But let’s go to what matters the most, the food, here the starting point of the menu is the quality of the ingredients, mostly organic and supplied by small and local producers, therefore the menu flows along with the moment, day and season meeting the best flavors you can find. The inspiration of the cuisine is clearly Tuscan, transported to more modern combinations/presentations by the chefs.

We started the meal with a nice Prosecco, courtesy of the house, to which followed the choice between not many but interesting offers of the menu. Regarding the wine list the highlight goes to the great Brunellos of the region, also following the same principle applied in the kitchen, small producers with organic work. We chose to start with zucchini flowers, stuffed with ricotta and tomato sauce. An excellent start, with a crunchy and dried batter, creamy filling well matched with the acid and fresh notes of the tomato sauce. Followed by a burrata with tomato sauce, a crispy crust around a creamy and delicate cheese, as a good burrata should be, nicely combining with a basil sauce and the same tomato sauce that came with the zucchini flowers. The first impressions delighted us while we accompanied the preparation of the remaining dishes, tagliolini with Porcini mushrooms and the Chianina Burger. The homemade pasta, tagliolini, cooked on spot and wrapped in a velvety Porcini mushrooms sauce, unbeatable during their season and always present in any Tuscan restaurant. It was dish as simple as good, where the ingredients shined. With the burger they tried to bring a little of America to their kitchen (it being also the origin of the overwhelming majority of visitors in Tuscany), Chianina veal (traditional of the region), Pecorino cheese from Pienza and a great mint mayonnaise. The meat was perfect and very succulent and a cheese that leaves memory, in an excellent combination, where only the bread didn’t fully satisfied.

Chianina Burger

To end nothing as a classic, Tiramisù, present in all Italian restaurants (or most of them), here in a deconstructed and lighter version. Thin layers, as paper, of dough and chocolate, a delicate mascarpone cream and a light coffee foam. Different, yet not compromising the flavor and wining with its texture and lightness.

We accompanied the meal very well with a Corto Pavone 2008 Brunello of Montalcino, as it should be. This is a wine with excellent quality, full bodied but with good balance, excellent acidity and fine tannins with strong presence of dark and ripe fruit. The Service is similar to the hotel, relaxed and casual but done with competence and real sympathy. From the kitchen it was interesting to watch the work of Chef Dario, where the importance of a good mise en place is easily noted, in order to the correct running of any kitchen.

Final Remarks
While entering the Townhouse Caffe, the idea is that we enter a restaurant in London or New York, in a hipster and relaxed foodies’ friendly environment, but it’s not the case, we are in Pienza, one of the smallest and loveliest towns in the world, where the Renaissance classic is almost an exclusive feature. To those who travel through town the visit is mandatory, just put aside the idea of the food of an Italian grandmother for a moment and embrace the modern approach to the most crafty and typical produce of the region. The dishes are correct and well matched without being lush, in a way to make the feed stock shine. When the goal is to relax and eat good food, what more can you ask?

And guess what, you can also go there by breakfast, where a goat yogurt, handmade in Pienza, left me astonished.

*Text: João Oliveira | Photos: La Bandita Townhouse

La Bandita Townhouse
Rooms from 195€
111 Corso Rossellino, Pienza
+39 0578 749 005

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