We met in the lobby at 7:30 pm, somewhat refreshed, then piled into two vans and headed to the center of Bra, about 4 km away (our hotel is located in Pollenzo, which is a small frazione—portion—of the town of Bra).
We walked down a long narrow brick road to reach the restaurant, Osteria “Il Boccon Divino”. The restaurant was chosen because it was the birthplace of the “Slow Food” movement, and there was a large red statue of a snail in the courtyard to prove it. One wall of the courtyard was completely covered with ivy; another courtyard border was the restaurant itself. There were two narrow tables set up for us in the courtyard, some distance away from the other restaurant guests, which were either a very large family or a group of people who all seemed to know one another. It was a warm summer night and perfect for dining al fresco. The tables were set with bottles of sparkling and still water, and red wine, of course.
The first course was the vitello tonnato, very thinly sliced veal with a sauce made with puréed tuna, capers and anchovies, which might not sound delicious, but it was, although the tuna was the dominant flavor. Our second course, the pasta course, was agnolotti “del plin” al burro e rosmarino. This was stuffed pasta with butter and rosemary sauce. The wait staff was circumspect when we inquired about the filling, but we thought it contained mushrooms and definitely a bit of meat, since the two vegetarians at our table were served an alternative pasta dish. The third course was stracotta di vitello in umido, a thick slice of veal accompanied by roast potatoes. And finally, the dessert course was a semifreddo al croccante e pistachio di Bronte, slices of a confection sort of like a cheesecake with pistachio nuts and something else wonderfully crunchy inside. The meal concluded with small cups of a very strong espresso, and my family and friends will be very surprised to learn that I (a tea aficionada) actually drank half of mine. Andrea insisted; she says that while I am in Italy I need to try everything.
The meal lasted nearly three hours; by the time we were ready to go the sun had set and the evening had become cooler. We already felt like old friends by the time we got hiked back up the hill to meet our mini-buses for the ride back to the hotel and a much needed nights’ sleep.