We discovered Al Pugnalone on accident while waiting for a different restaurant to open. Our friends sat down in a small shop and ordered some some antipasti (we were very hungry). Mara was our hostess, and when we told her why we were waiting around in her shop, she told us that her husband owned the best restaurant in Acquapendente. We sent a couple friends over with Mara to check it out and they came back jittery with excitement. "We have to go there," they said.
We changed our plans and went to Al Pugnalone, and wow are we ever glad we did.
When we entered the restaurant, our eyes immediately lifted to the gorgeous vaulted ceiling. A fountain trickled over rocks in the far wall of the vaulted room, a delight to our ears. We learned that the dining room is actually a 1,000 year old converted stable, and the the fountain flows from a natural spring. So for ambiance, Al Pugnalone has it all. We were enchanted, to say the least.
I'm not a food writer, so it's difficult for me to describe in precise terms the extent to which we enjoyed chef Francesco Sacco's creations. It was some of the best food we had in all of Italy--and since Italy served us some of the best food we'd eaten in all our lives, that put Ristorante Al Pugnalone at the top of our lists for best ever. The service was wonderful as well. We made friends with our hostess, Mara, and with the fantastic British cook, Joe, who also helped translate some of our more detailed questions. We were exceedingly impressed with Acquapendente's local wine, Saino vino rosso, and now all of us want to order cases of it to be shipped to the States.
We ate at Ristorante Al Pugnalone on our last night in Italy after visiting Florence, Rome, Pompeii, San Casciano dei Bagni, Trevinano, Naples, and Acquapendente. It was the perfect way to end our stay, and one of the most magical, memorable dining experiences any of us have ever had. I only wish it wasn't half a world away from where we live. I'd go back tonight (and next week, and the week after, and the week after...).
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