For a truly unique experience, you can not get better than a very long lazy Sunday afternoon dining at Il Tiglio in Isola San Biagio near Montemonaco.
Upon arriving in this tiny unassuming village set high in the Sibillini Mountains, you really couldn’t begin to imagine what all the fuss is about.
Once you have found the front door, the first secret is to ring the bell and you will be warmly greeted. If you have ever been before the staff always remember a face and wish you ‘ben tornato’ or welcome back. At once you will feel at home.
From the glitzy interior you might presume it’s all going to be a little ostentatious and over the top but far from it. The staff are attentive but unobtrusive, friendly, but not in your face. The cutlery and crockery is perfectly polished and the bathroom spotless (however slightly whacky). A complimentary prosecco is served to get the experience underway and you relax as your Tiglio experience begins.
Soon the wine ‘bible’ is presented. It might take a while to browse through but and you can certainly choose from a well stocked cantina, including many local wines at reasonable prices.
Next the appetisers start to arrive and what a treat. We haven’t even got to the antipasti yet! A nest appears on the table with two ‘eggs’ perched neatly on top. Soon you realised that at Il Tiglio, nothing is quite what it seems. They aren’t eggs, but they do have the most perfectly cooked runny yolk inside, just amazing! The waiters explain the dishes and how to eat them.
Suddenly a tree was bought to the table with wafer thin seedy wafers hanging from the branches and angy red berries filled with a delicious creamy cheese.
And then the richly smoked pork fat cubes served on a bed of pine branches, which just melted in the mouth. Such a rich, intense flavour you will never forget.
Now for the highlight – the truffle – or is it? Neatly presented on a bed of pebbles, these little parcels of delight will amaze you. As you pop one in your mouth, the crisp white cocoa shell just melts away, leaving a delicious creamy cheesy truffly centre which tingles the taste buds!
The delight of the appetisers is now over and the antipasti begin to arrive. Warm winter salad sitting atop a orange sauce, just for starters.
Next is the most creamy baked whole leek – turn it over and scoop out the wonderful filling which can be spread on the warm herb bread.
Our antipasti just continues to come, with a perfectly baked potato topped with cream cheese, and almond ‘ash’ sitting on a bed of porcini mushrooms. The textures and flavours just amaze us every time.
Now for our favourite. Would you expect to find parmesan, potato and passionfruit served in a mountain village in very rural Le Marche? Well at Il Tiglio, you will and the flavour combination is just perfect. Cut into the delicate parmesan shell and watch the warm parmesan mousse just ooze out.
The final antipasti is served and what a delicious combination. Baccala (salt cod), sitting atop an intense rosemary reduction and topped with pine nuts. Once again the flavours are just stunning.
Now onto the pasta course and one which will delight meat lovers. Homemade tagliatelle swirled with a rich wild boar ragu and topped with winter greens. Again the combination of flavours and the flavoursome broth will be remembered for years to come.
Our second pasta course is a homemade tortellini served with a rich broth and topped with delicate truffle shavings. The pasta perfectly cooked of course.
Finally and with very full tummies, we move on to our main course and you have a choice here of 3. We were offered lamb, pork or venison and chose the venison, served with butternut squash puree and tasty red cabbage. So tender and soft, it almost melted in the mouth!
Now for dessert – well not quite – first a pre-dessert pallet cleanser. Creamy vanilla ice-cream topped with a almond cracknel and sitting on a tamarind sauce. Flavours mingle on the tongue once again.
Our dessert is a chocolate lover’s dream. Layers and layers of different chocolate mousse sitting atop a moist cake base, dense but light, texturally perfect!
We were almost coming to the end of our Tiglio extravaganza, but before we did, we were treated to a truffle tree topped with aniseed biscotti and cinnamon soil served with coffee.
Sadly our experience was drawing to an end, but Enrico the wonderful creative chef, made time to chat. So passionate about the food he creates, his customers and his surroundings and you can just tell. Asking which dishes were our favourite (all of them of course) and happy to know we have enjoyed our time with him.
The menu at Il Tiglio changes seasonally and there are three menus to choose from. The €33 tasting menu, which we experienced, the €35 vegetarian menu and the full blown extravaganza of €45, all excellent value for money (coffee and wine not included).
Reservations are essential and you can call Enrico on +39 0736 856441 or mobile +39 335 8006190 or visit Il Tiglio website. The restaurant is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from September to May and everyday in June, July and August.
Go and try the Tiglio experience. You won’t be disappointed we are sure!