Italian food and wine is much more than meat balls and spaghetti with a fiasco of cheap red wine. It is white truffles, pasta that comes in hundreds of shapes, the great wines from Barolo, Montepulciano, Ragusa, Tuscany and Udine, and much, much more.
When one thinks of Italian food, thoughts naturally turn toward pizza. Of course, just about every country has its own variation, but pizza from Italy is certainly the best known, and likely the best. And, if one wants to eat great pizza, there is no place like Pizzeria Brian, in Brian Italy, which is just a stone’s throw from Venice.
Over the years, we have eaten in hundreds of great Italian ristoranti, osterie e trattorie. Many of our favorites are in the Piemonte. These include La Luna Nel Pozzo in Neive, Ristorante Guido in Serralunga d’Alba, Lou Ressignon in Cogne, Piazza Duomo in Alba (the chef is a cyclist), Enoteca Guanella in Bormio, which made a special birthday cake Il Capitano for his 75th birthday, Restaurant Sissi in Merano, and Villa Maiella in Abruzzo. A special treat, although a little hard to find, is Osteria Da Cippi in Fruili.
If you are a lover of cheese, affettati and good wine at reasonable prices, there is no better place than Boccondivino in Milano. If you are near Cortina, stop by El Brite de Larieto, where they raise all of their own meat and vegetables.
If you are biking around Slovenia, don’t miss the Michelin Stared Hiša Franko. And, if you decide to go South for the winter, there is always Inati (“to share” in Maori) in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Our favorite wineries in the Piemonte and Tuscany are Marchesi di Barolo, Altare, Martinetti, E. Pira (Chiara Boschis), and Felsina.
Of course, there are good restaurants in Los Angeles where Team Polenta has its world headquarters: Providence, Connie & Ted’s, and LAMill Coffee Boutique.
And, as would be expected from any Italian Cycling Team, there is always a quick espresso made at home on our Bezzera, Rocket and Pasquini espresso machines.
Certainly, the primary reason to travel to Italy is to ride your bike, whether up the Dolomiti, across Tuscano, or in any of hundreds of other great places. (See “Giri e Eventi” section of this website.)
Nevertheless, there is nothing more Italian than taking a class in how to make pizza. For that, the place to go is Scuola Italiana Pizzaioli. There you can take anything from a basic course to a specialty course in, for example, Pizza Napoletana or Pizza in Teglia. The school, the oldest pizza school in the world, is located in the beach town of Caorle, not far from Venice. And, if your lucky, your class will be led by Graziano Bertuzzo, the founder of the School, a former Pizza Campione del Mondo, and the owner of Pizzeria Brian.