Civitella del Tronto, a citadel suspended in time, is home to Hotel Zunica 1880

The Hotel Zunica 1880 is witness to how Daniele Zunica wanted a restaurant that merged contemporary cuisine while respecting tradition.

The fourth generation to manage the family hotel, Daniele Zunica is an old-time gourmet.

The great credit for the venue's growth is also having been able to find valiant people to involve in this project.

In the kitchen there are two young chefs: Luca di Felice and  Sabatino Lattanzi. A close-knit duo that is constantly growing, who shift intelligently between rigorously traditional dishes and preparations with a more ambitious creativity, maintaining the focus on flavours and on the essence of tastes.

In the dining hall and cellar one can benefit from the experience of Andrea Biondi and Maurizio Neri, who are experts and well prepared in the art of welcoming.

The day of our visit, our palates were spoilt by the fragrance of a delicious home-made bread, served with a cured ham, also home-made, and softened by precious new olive oil from Teramo.

Attractive and delicious was the idea of salted codfish in a cone of crunchy bread with tomato and pepper sauce: a classic combination made special by the raw ingredients.

A dish that transforms the term simplicity into a synonym of great gratification.

The charcoal-grilled eel with liquorice was an excellent example of cooking and assembly, although we felt it was lacking an adequate side dish to support the greasiness of the fish.

The seared escalope version of foie gras was very pleasant with a precise and gluttonous cooking: an international dish not very connected to the territory, but well turned out thanks to the combination with a reduction of raspberry and caramelized fruit.

Again in the quest for simplicity, we allowed ourselves a great classic created by a talented hand: an organic egg produced by the Melampo farm cooked in capon broth and olive oil with a dusting of white truffles from the Monti della Laga mountains. Having been cooked immersed in broth and oil, the egg has a soft and voluptuous consistency, with a surface more sustained by the engaging chewiness. The truffle exalts the flavour with its pleasant and aromatic touch.

We continued with what can be described as two seasonal paintings in the dish. An intense and corroborating pumpkin velouté with small squares of pasta with black truffles and crunchy guanciale and a spectacular risotto with porcini mushrooms, cooked until almost ready and then left to stand in the northern style, an impeccable creamy consistency and with the grain cooked perfectly. Made all the more precious by a raw and dressed porcini salad placed on the rice. A great risotto, chapeau!

Among the unavoidable main courses, we suggest the agnolotti filled with sheep alla callara with L'Aquila saffron: how to translate a traditional dish of the local cuisine with a contemporary twist.

We ended the savoury part of the meal with black pig, which has been rediscovered by Zunica among forgotten breeds: in this version, million light years away from the stereotypes of pork cooked at low temperatures that have invaded restaurants, the meat is alive and succulent, ready to be bitten before melting delicately in the mouth.

Those who sit at this table cannot miss out on the fried lamb, a legacy of Daniele's father, or the colossal chicken cooked in salt (must be ordered in advance).

We rounded the meal off with the attractive and delicious desserts prepared by the young pastry chef Mirlinde Saljija, preceded by an excellent Anisetta Meletti liquor flavoured ice cream: a zuccotto (a dome-shaped sponge dessert) with spiced chocolate and a ricotta, pear and almond tart. The final touch to this experience is given by the excellent home-made pastry-making that manages to portray the territory thanks to bocconotti.
These are typical cakes from Teramo that consist in short crust pastry with a filling of grape jam, chocolate and crunchy Sassi d'Abruzzo (toasted almonds coated in sugar).

Tags: Abruzzo / Zunica / Civitella del Tronto /

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