Osteria Teatro Strabacco

When it comes to restaurants in Ancona, Osteria Teatro Strabacco  is our favorite.  A restaurant that offers typical Italian food in the middle of the city center, but is hidden enough so that it’s not crowded and is frequented only by those that know of it’s existence (now you know, so, go!), this cozy nook has drawn in names from all over the globe.

StrabaccoAt Strabacco, food hospitality is treated like the theater- every evening, and every meal, is a different scene with different props, backdrops, actors, colors, tastes, smells, and audiences.  With its three levels and solely wooden furnishings, even the building itself can be likened to a stage.  Add the mass of colorful objects, old photographs, candles, old-fashioned lamps, and plastic figures, and you truly feel like you’re walking back in time (yet somehow eccentrically modern) through a fairytale.  And this is all before food even comes into consideration.

The quality of dishes leaving the kitchen is always superb, and the selection of wines is truly remarkable (1,200 of them to pick from!).  If asked, the oste Danilo Tornifoglia (known as Kiki to friends and native Ancona-ians) will take you downstairs, where you will find an old piano and a wine cellar that is tough to beat when it comes to showcasing the wines of Strabacco3Marche.  Both cuisine and wine inventory focus mainly on traditional productions from the region, but there are also rotating specials and unusual twists.  Pasta with a minty cream sauce?  Bruschetta al lardo?  Yes, please, we’ll try it all.

And, is is worth to add, that their tiramisu is the best that I’ve ever had- and, while traveling the world, I have made an effort to try my favorite dessert every time that the opportunity presented itself.

Whether you are an artist or a professional, need a nice date spot, a casual dinner, or a wine break, Strabacco will impress.  Even if you are just passing through the streets, alone and without a destination in mind, come set food inside.  Much like a “chef’s table”, there is the special tavolo quattro; one of the large communal tables that is filled with just as many personal stories, laughs, and new friendships as with memories of people (both famous and anonymous) that have sat at its benches and discovered Danilo’s charm.

Osteria Strabacco
Via Oberdan,2
Tel:  071 56748

 

Giulia Mare

One of the restaurants lining Via del Golfo, Giulia Mare was chosen as our lunch stop due to its snazzy design and name (after all, anything with Italian Julia‘s in it can’t be too bad).  Good choice, overall.

Giulia Mare is technically on the beach strand, but on the “city” side of the road.  Thus, you can still watch the herds of bathing suit-clad people stroll by and the line of the sea in the distance, but you are separated from the sand (or, pebbles) by the main street along the Numana beach.  The perpetual roar of passing motors would by my only real criticism of this abode; especially in the outside patio, it’s difficult to hold a conversation with a constant stream of scooters whizzing past on the other side of the low hedge.  Once moving inside though, the noise subsided and I enjoyed the experience.  Walls made up of huge windows; kind of like an aquarium, almost.

The cuisine is simple: seafood.  Especially for popular seaside towns, portions were big and prices not expensive.  After an antipasto misto di pesce and a shared pasta dish, we were both pretty full.  Service was swift and professional, and she answered my indecision with a list of tasty suggestions (and a lot of time for deciding).

Giulia Mare 1The main draw of the place, at least for me, is its design.  Neo-architecture, simplicity, minimalism, glass and the color green.  A nice change of environment from the old, sepia stone houses that host most things in Italy .

Giulia Mare 2Nice atmosphere, clean place, good-sized portions, and fresh food.  If you’re looking for a meal on the summertime Numana strand (near the port, in transition between Numana and Marcelli) this place gets out vote.  Simple, but with taste (both for the eyes and the mouth).

Giulia Mare
Via del Golfo 5
Numana
tel: 071 7360192

Portonovo

PortonovoFrom Ancona: 12 kilometers southeast along the Adriatic coastline, Portonovo.  Nicknamed the Green Bay of the Adriatic.  Hosts several internationally-acclaimed restaurants.  Known for its azzurro waters, numerous mussels, and luxurious resorts.  Full of history and exotic birds.  The new port that became the gem of the Monte Conero park and attracts both food and nature fans.

As a place of nature, Portonovo offers an isolated excursion from the rest of the region.  Monte Conero, the forested mountaintop that breaks the characteristically smooth Marche coastline and juts boldly into the Adriatic sea, has a silhouette recognized throughout the Ancona Portonovo Pondland.  And at its base, a couple hundred meter drop in elevation from the main road, is an ancient fisherman village that strives to protect its natural beauties.  In addition to the sealife (especially the mussels, or, moscioli in the local dialect) off the shores, there is a variety of birds that call this terrain their home.  There are also two lakes: il Lago Profondo and il Lago del Calcagno (also known as il Lago grande), both of which offer a variety of ecosystems due to the mixture of salty ocean water and water from multiple freshwater sources in the bay.  From herds of ducks waddling across the parking lot to information boards with detailed diagrams of flowers, there is a collection of fauna and flora to document.

Ancona Portonovo BeachOther than the short-scale walking paths throughout the area, there is also a nice stretch of beach.  At the northern end is la spiaggia di mezzavalle, a long stretch of white pebbles reaching all the way up to Il Trave.  At the southern end is another series of beach stretches (le spiagge della vella, dei Sassi Bianchi, and dei Gabbiani), but access varies throughout the seasons due to water levels.  Regardless, both extremes of the beachline tend to be of finer pebbles, while the middle stretch consists of gigantic boulders separating buildings from sea; these are great fun to climb on.  Especially during a windy, rainy night, when the waves crash against the lowest level of rocks and cast great walls of ocean mist.  Caution advised though.

For the architecture enthusiast, there is an old tower named Torre Clementina (La Torre di Guardia).  Ordered to be built by Pope Clemente XI in an effort to combat the pirate intrusions (pirates!), this beautiful building has since been handed down through generations of a particularly wealthy family.  I used to have daydreams of buying this property, but the only way to do so would be to marry into the royal family and become the next heir- and I am quite happy with my current Italian love life, so I’ll let that be.  Although, once a year, the tower is open to the public, so that everyone has the opportunity to walk its balconies and pretend that it is their estate for a few minutes.

For the history geek, there is La Chiesa di Santa Maria, a roman gem erected in 1034 and dedicated to monastic life.  There are also the remains of an old fortress built in 1810 by Napoleaon’s Italian viceroy.  Every year, there is a procession to honour its military history.  Today, the fortress has been converted into a remarkable 4-star hotel and restaurant.

Ancona Portonovo1For the food lover, there are several restaurants and bars dotting the oceanfront: Da Anna, Da Emilia, Il Laghetto, Il Molo, Da Giacchetti.  All of these dining establishments specialize in seafood, especially in the different types of clams and other shelled critters in surrounding waters.

Portonovo is, theoretically, ‘uninhabited’ in the sense that there are no residential houses there.  There are, however, two camping grounds (Camping Club Adriatico and La Torre), and several upscale hotels containing either dining options or spa facilities (or both).

Whether you are looking for a scenic afternoon walk through oaks and pebbles, or a luxurious weekend away, Portonovo is sure to fill the task.

Getting there:
During the summer, Bus 94 takes you straight from the city center of Ancona to Portonovo.  During the winter… call us, and we’ll show you around ; )