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Restaurants and cafes near Villa Il Melo, Le Marche, Italy


In the past year or so, renowned British chefs Heston Blumenthal, Jamie Oliver and Gary Rhodes have all visited and filmed in Le Marche, Italy and featured the area's food in their TV programmes - and they know a thing or two about cooking (and eating!). Here's what Gary said about the region:

"Adjacent to [Tuscany] we discovered a less commercialised region called Le Marche. On the eastern side of central Italy, between the Adriatic Sea and the Apennine mountains, Le Marche is where you really can meet true Italians."

Forget your preconceptions about Italian food. Dishes here are not even regional, they are local and the food you will get at Monte San Martino is different from what is served on the coast just 30 miles away. Of course there are pizzas (here they tend to have exceptionally thin bases) but even normal pasta dishes will have a local twist (wild boar ragu is a speciality) and grilled meats from the wood burning brace are delightful everywhere. Don't forget either that wondeful truffles grow round here (both the black and possibly even more prized white varieties). For seafood go to the coast (or eat out on a Friday - where fish is universal in this still-catholic country).

And don't forget that we have English speaking baby sitting available if you want the odd night away from the family.

Here are some of our favourite places to try out the local cuisine - they are listed in approximate order of distance from Il Melo.


Dei Priori
Piazza XX Settembre
0733 660209
Closed Wednesday

Dei Priori is in the main square of Monte San Martino. Actually on the square itself is the bar/café and you enter the restaurant either through the bar or by walking down the steps beside the building. Old fashioned and dark inside, Dei Priori offers traditional
Marche dishes in a tranquil atmosphere with local artists’ work on the walls and various news clipping (check out Prince Charles’s visit). Good antipasti and pasta to start and wonderful grilled meat. Some think it’s a little overpriced.

Le Querce
Contrada Barchetta
0733 660207
Closed Wednesday
Busy and noisy and the best place for a pizza in Monte San Martino.

Agriturismo San Martino
0733 660515
You can’t miss this agri on the main road to Amandola. Wonderful old fashioned dining room (like being back in the fifties) with super home cooked food (home made pasta, meat all brace) and very friendly service (eat it all up or they’ll want to know why!)

Osteria del Lago
Lago San Ruffino
0733 660477
Closed Monday

Lago San Ruffino is an artifical lake created by a dam in the Tenna a couple of miles upstream from Il Melo. This is one of our favourite places for lunch on a sunny day – sit outside on the shady terrace, enjoy the view or take a stroll by the lake between courses. Barbeques on the lakeside during the summer.


Tre Querce
0733 669157 / 335 608 2620 Bookings only C*
Signposted between Penna S Giovanni and Falerone

An agriturismo with large grassy lawns where the children can run off their energy, this friendly place is one of our favourites. Host Daniele speaks good English and explains the menu choices which are on a blackboard. Not cheap but worth it for fine, authentic food (much of it home grown) in a lovely setting. Wonderfully straightforward and authentic, the cooking is truly
marchigiana farmhouse and organic to boot. (We once saw porcupines crossing the lane in front of us as we drove down to Tre Quesrce.)


0734 780171
Closed Wednesday
An absolute favourite with us to sit out on the terrace on a summer evening (book in advance or you may be disappointed) or in the cosy interior. Dishes featuring local truffles (homemade tortelloni are sensational), stews, meat dishes and some of the best pizzas around (see this piece in the
Guardian for a chef’s view.)

Unlike most restaurants, Farfense has a printed menu

Taverna Vittoria
via della Vittoria, 34
Another favourite, a bit more to the cheap and cheerful end of things. This is the place to go when the kids have had enough pizza and pasta as they do hamburgers (without buns) and even
uove con pancetta e patatine fritte (bacon egg and chips) but the Italian dishes are good too. The taverna has a printed menu.

Le Logge
0734 79129
Closed Thursday
Come to Smerillo for wonderful views from one of the highest towns in the area (over 600m, or 200m higher than Monte San Martino) and stay to eat some of the best local food. Portions are large and many – definitely a place to take your time.
set in the walls of this ancient village. The mixed antipasti is a must: half a dozen dishes including poached quails eggs with pancetta and bean and porcini soup. Handmade pasta like little ravolini are served with seasonal sauces like asparagus and truffles are scrumptious. Save room for the local alla brace meats and homemade puds.

Contrada Durano
0734 786012
An agriturismo run by Jimmy and Concetta; he is the host and she does the exceptional food. Everything uses local ingredients, much of it grown by themselves. Every day has a different menu (no choices but we've never been disappointed) and Jimmy chooses and serves the wines to go with it. We can't say how highly we rate Concetta's superb cooking but Contrada Durano is about the experince of dining in intimate surroundings, meeting other people (the evening starts round a big table in the bar first before going through to the dining room.) They only open in the evenings and they don't take children under 12 so book a babysitter too.

La Rimessa
P. Risorgimento,31.
0736 847915
Closed Monday - open lunchtimes from May.
Great family pizza /pasta / bar in the main square with seats outside in summer. It has a printed menu.

Eat your main course here then wander across the piazza for coffee and cakes or ice cream at

Gran Caffè Belli
P. Risorgimento,13.
0736 847412
A great institution in the area at all seasons: delicious hot chocolate in winter and fab gelati in summer (take a container of a mix of your favourite flavours back to the freezer).


Pippo & Gabriella

0733 661120
Closed Monday
On SP45 2kms between Passo and village.

Pippo and Gabriella is a local institution – a bustling family restaurant. A fair drive, we usually stop there on the way from visits to the north of the region.


Tilt Due
Via Dante Alighieri 13
63016 - Pedaso (AP)
Tel. 0734931916

One day our house hunting took us near the coast. Tired and hungry after several viewings we went in search of a restaurant for lunch but it was getting late and we could find nowhere open. We ended up in Pedaso. It’s not, frankly, the most attractive town on the coast but we really were starving and the only place we could find was Tilt Due. It didn’t look promising: a bar in a back street with a sign outside featuring a picture of Snoopy! We went inside and, at first, thought it was just a bar but we were shown into a smallish back room that was full of people and were brought some of the most unpretentious (seafood pasta brought to the table in an aluminium pan) yet delicious food we have had. There’s a warm welcome (try getting out without sharing a
digestivo with the patrone), super food and great prices. Sometimes there’s also a lady who speaks English but if she isn’t there don’t worry – just let them bring the food and you won’t be disappointed. Tilt Due is definitely our hidden gem of the Adriatic Coast.

Ristorante Campanelli

Via G Properzi, 169
Tel: 0734 673 338

Buying a house in Italy isn't like doing it in England; like so many things here, it's much more personal. On a snowy day in March 2008 we drove down to San Benedetto del Tronto on the Adriatic coast to meet the vendor, Sig Mancini, in the notary's office where the contracts were read out and signed and cheques (yes paper cheques) exchanged. And then Delio Mancini insisted in taking us - including children, our lawyer and is secretary and Delio's own advisor - out to lunch. We drove 20 miles up the coast to Pedaso but then Delio changed his mind and we carried on till we came to Ristorante Campanelli in Porto San Giorgio where we were joined by Delio's wife Maria and their son. My goodness it was worth the journey! If we had to pick one restaurant in the Marche this would probably be it - they have every type of seafood, all ultra fresh and cooked in a huge range of ways. The restaurant celebrates its seventieth anniversary this year and is a true local institution.

Trattoria Da Enzo
Via Goffreddo Baldelli 22
60015 - Falconara marittima

If, as we once did, you arrive at Ancona Falconara airport at lunch time and want to eat before driving down to Il Melo we suggest you head to Trattoria Da Enzo at Falconara Marittima. We had never been before but it was nearby and sounded like a nice seaside town. In fact it’s home to a big oil refinery and Da Enzo is on the gorund floor of an ugly apartment block on a dusty main road overlooking said refinery – definitely not a tourist trap! Don’t let that put you off, however. Go in and have the
fritto misto di mare and your taste buds will thank you for being adventurous (your wallet will be happy with you too.)

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