Let me tell you a story. Then, you decide whether to visit this restaurant.
On September 11, 2002, we made our third visit to Italy. On the first anniversary of 9/11, we were staying at Villa Vignamaggio and made our way to La Botte di Bacco in Radda, a restaurant I had read about. When the Maitre d'hotel presented i menu, I found a dish I had read about, but never tasted -- linguine con bottarga -- pasta with dried fish roe. I ordered it, while my wife ordered something a bit less adventurous.
Moments later, the matre d' approached and asked if I knew what I had ordered. I assured him I did and told him I was anxious to try it. Had I ever tried it? No, I told him, but when in Rome ... He smiled and wished me bon appetito. A few minutes later, he returned to the table and said, "With respect, bottargo is an acquired taste. We want you to enjoy your experience. If you wouldn't be offended, may I suggest we serve you something you know you will like?" I gave in and ordered a pasta con funghi, a safe (and delicious) staple of Tuscan cuisine.
Moments after our revised order was delivered, the maitre d' (not just our waiter) emerged with a steaming plate of linguine con bottarga. "Sir, I want you to have the opportunity to taste this dish. You don't need to finish it, but because you so wanted to try it, I present it 'offre la casa.'" I thanked him, took one bite, pushed the piatto do funghi aside and finished the bottarga dish. The maitre d' was, of course, delighted that I had defied his assumptions about American tastes.
(As a side note, that evening we attended a 9/11 memorial service at the Chiesa di Santa Croce in Greve at which a choir from Radda performed. I thought it was a professional chorus. It was not. After the concert, townspeople came over to greet us. It was our most memorable day of this trip.)
Back to the restaurant. You will spend more here on pranzo than you will at other restaurants for cena, but we have never had a more enjoyable meal in Italy. The choice is yours. I hope you'll save your money and make the right one. :-)
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