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La Chiusa/Cortona/Siena etc.

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Elaine Jul 20, 2000 03:35 PM

I've read some great endorsements on this board for La Chiusa, which really excited me because I'm staying there for two nights in October. Does anyone whose been there have specific menu suggestions? Also, I see it referred to as a "big splurge" - we're definitely committed regardless, but any clues as to how big the big splurge will be?

We will also be staying in Florence and Siena, I know there's stuff on this board and am going to try to dig it out. But if anyone is not absolutely bored with these topics and has any "can't miss" eating tips, I'd love them.

Finally, we'll be spending a few nights at a place called Il Falconiere near Cortona. I've heard mixed reviews of the restaurant and we may not eat there: any insights on this place or other Cortona options?

I'm new to this board but I promise to repay all advice with detailed reviews of this trip and others - I travel a lot and all trips are planned with food as the main objective :).

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    stephen kaye Jul 20, 2000 04:31 PM

    we love la chiusa/stayed there as well. I seem to remember per nite with dinner was $400-500?? but realize, that when we dined there, I just said to the waiter "fatte voy"(spelling is wrong. but it means to the waiter you present us with what you want. it ws a fabulous feast. we also stayed at il falconiere, its tue the food was just fair. a beautful plac, with a beautiful blonde hostess/owner, I forgot her name, but food for italy/toscana, was just okay. we also stayed not far away at locanda dll amarosa, also beautiful, food better tha il falcon, very good, not great. in florence don't miss il cibreo for dinner, cambi for lunch, belle donna for lunch, garga for dinner, za za for lunch. siena, la logge for dinner, la torre for lunch, both next to the campo. there tons of places, its endless. faith willingers book on eating in northern italy is very helpful to newbies to italy. get it, it will help. if you have furthur questions after getting the book, let me know. i'vebeen to a lot of them ovr the years and many amny visits to italy. enjoy.ciao

    14 Replies
    1. re: stephen kaye
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      Elaine Jul 20, 2000 05:36 PM

      Thanks! I'll definitely buy that book - I have Plotkin (sp?) which looks good but is not regionally specific. Will definitely check out your recommendations when we get there. Thanks very much for confirming what I've heard about Il Falconiere, I think we will sleep there but explore further for our dinner!

      1. re: Elaine
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        stephenkaye Jul 20, 2000 06:42 PM

        when are you leaving?? I cansend you some more info?? thx oviously you're renting a car- yes??

        1. re: stephenkaye
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          Peter Jul 20, 2000 11:01 PM

          Agree with Stephan's sound advice. La Chiusa is a marvelous restaurant and is very welcoming. Umberto, the owner, is a charming man who will no doubt help you choose a wonderful dinner. But, do not miss the "pici". Taking your coffee and dolce outside on the patio with Montepulciano in the distance is a moment you will remember with great pleasure. Without wine, dinner will be about $70 per person unless you choose steak. Then the dinner will be somewhat higher. The wine list is excellent and reasonably priced. For another excellent book--and one that is great for chowhounds--is Capalbo's "The Food Lover's Companion to Tuscany".

          Too, the rooms are quite nice. Umberto will no doubt be helpful for suggesting other places to eat, things to do, etc.

          We look forward to reading your report.

          1. re: Peter
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            Peter Jul 20, 2000 11:09 PM

            I forgot to mention Poggio Antico in Montalcino as you will be nearby when you are in Siena. This restaurant is part of the excellent winery. Don't miss the Poggio Antico's Brunellos.

            While I have no personal experience with Tonino in Cortona, it is on my list to try next when I am in that part of Italy as I have read some very good things about it. Ask Umberto about it or others in your travels in Toscana.

            1. re: Peter
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              stephen kaye Jul 21, 2000 10:00 AM

              also, try and get to a trattoria named "da Miretta" its on the laurentana road, that runs between sinalunga(locanda dell amarosa), and mont oliveto. its near asciano. its outstanding!!

              1. re: stephen kaye
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                jen kalb Jul 21, 2000 10:31 AM

                I remember driving that road! asciano is one of those hill towns with nothing much going on and little of touristic interest - but it was so quiet that you could enjoy the singing of people's caged canaries in the sun. sinalunga, similarly was a rather unprepossessing hill town - we remember it as rather grimy, crowded feeling and grey, and also very quiet - but at least 15 yrs ago there was another trattoria there which was fine for a long, peaceful lunch - if you don't have the bucks for or can't get into the locanda dell' amorosa (it was closed while we were in the area). Its hard to go too wrong in the italian countryside.

                1. re: jen kalb
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                  stephen kaye Jul 21, 2000 10:40 AM

                  couldn't agree w/you more Jen!!

                  1. re: stephen kaye
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                    Elaine Jul 21, 2000 10:52 AM

                    Wow. You guys have been incredibly helpful and my mouth is watering (and my waistband feeling more snug) just thinking about it.

                    This trip isn't actually until Sept., but having just discovered Chowhound and its message boards, I was so excited, I figured I'd ask now! I've ordered the recommended books from Amazon and can't wait to start reading!

                    I do have a couple of procedural questions: 1) What's the best way to approach reservations - how far in advance, is it safe to wait until we are there and get help from concierges, inn owners, etc.? 2)For the more "upscale" places, what would you say is the appropriate dress code for men?

                    Thanks again, everyone. My one previous trip to Italy was an extremely low-budget affair that involved many incredible takeout snacks and combing markets for treats to cook in our (borrowed) apartment - it was truly memorable, but I'm looking forward to being able to explore a bit more!

                    1. re: Elaine
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                      stephen kaye Jul 21, 2000 12:41 PM

                      do not wait. make as many reservations as early(now) as you can. for men, neat/relaxed/very few jackets ever seen at dinner. but if you prefer, its no big deal either way.

                      1. re: stephen kaye
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                        Alison Aug 1, 2000 08:36 PM

                        Ditto to SteveKaye's Il Cibreo. Make the reservation now, via fax. Also in Firenze a must is Cingali Bianco(the white boar). Food is fabulous...riboletta, the beefsteak Florentine. A warm and comfy place. While in Siena, see if you can get to Osteria al Loge. It's just off the piazza. Had malfatti w/truffles. Dinner may be difficult to come by but we walked in and they seated us at once for lunch.

                        1. re: Alison
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                          Elaine Aug 2, 2000 01:18 PM

                          Thanks for all the advice. I had been planning to ask an Italian friend of mine to call some of these restaurants, but she's away at the moment, and I have been concerned because time is certainly of the essence. Is the consensus that fax is better than phone anyway? If I fax, will they fax me back?

                          Grazie,

                          Elaine

                          1. re: Elaine
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                            stephen kaye Aug 2, 2000 03:14 PM

                            yes, fax, it may take 1,2 or 3 tries till you get a return fax. also pls remember, some folks are on vacation now as well. good luck!!

                            1. re: stephen kaye
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                              Michael Aug 3, 2000 02:41 AM

                              Good point about lots of people being on vacation. And when they go on vacation, they close up their shops and restaurants for 4 weeks. I was in Florence on Ferragosto day one summer (August 14, I think), and easily 3/4 of all shops were shuttered. The Florentines go to the beach and the mountains (Spoleto, etc.). Many Sienese also go on vacation for the month of August.

                              Personally, I'd just show up, find out what was open, and go there - it's really hard to eat badly and easy to eat well in Siena - but do what you like.

                              1. re: Michael
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                                stephen kaye Aug 3, 2000 02:52 PM

                                ferragosto street fair fyi, sunday 8/13 arthur ave & 187th st bronx ny

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      Pepper Aug 13, 2000 04:19 PM

      La Chiusa is indeed a good restaurant, but I would recommend ordering a full meal off the menu rather than relying on the rather tourist-oriented tasting menu--which is rarely the best choice in Italian restaurants anyway. The chickpea soup, the braised duck with wild fennel and the supernal lamb with rosemary oil are the best dishes. Do not miss the local pecorino. A small warning: your meal will cost at least three times what you might spend at other restaurants in the region, and you will hear an awful lot of English spoken.

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