One has two choices for dining at Ristorante Tiratappi – indoors in a cozy interior or outdoors in the sunlit piazza, in the shadow of Sant’Andrea’s Basilica. On this delightful sun-splashed day in early April, we dine en plein air, our white table linens brightened by colourful hand-painted ceramic dishes from Sicily, the island of our chef’s birth. Orazio has evidently mastered the specialties of Mantua, but he adds his own personal flair inspired by his Sicilian roots.
It is suggested that we have Lambrusco with our meal and who are we to argue the wisdom of our chef? After all this is the area where the Lambrusco grape is grown. A lightly sparkling red wine, it pairs well with the richness of the cuisines of Lombardia and Emilia Romagna. We start with antipasti – a scalloped potato bake smothered in a creamy Taleggio cheese sauce and a warm octopus salad with potatoes and olives. Between us, we sample pumpkin gnocchi and agnoli stuffed with meat bathed in butter and sage. Orazio’s linguine with shrimp and pistachio pesto tempts the taste buds before the first bite. He uses the famed green pistachios from Bronte, Sicily to make the pesto and it is absolutely delicious. Who needs a meat course? We move onto desserts – a white chocolate mousse with berries accompanied by a sweet wine and Sbrisolona, a Mantuan dessert of ancient origin, named for its crumbly consistency. Orazio offers this with a glass of grappa.
It is clear that the success of this family-run restaurant is due to the expert preparation that takes place in the kitchen and the friendly atmosphere that reigns in the dining rooms, both in the intimate rooms inside and outside in the shade of the wide canopies. Complimenti to the Scicolone family!