It wasn’t a surprise that the meals at Al Vecchio Convento in Portico di Romagna were delicious since we knew ahead of time a bit about their history. Before the Cameli family opened their hotel and lodgings (albergo diffuso) in Portico di Romagana, owners Giovanni Cameli and Marisa Raggi had for many years a thriving restaurant in this small village of Emilia-Romagna. In 1975, they had moved from Milan to Portico di Romagna, which was Marisa’s hometown, and opened their restaurant. Their success grew based on the reputation of their exceptional cuisine.
At Al Vecchio Convento, they abide by the “slow food” principles of preserving traditional and regional cuisine prepared with locally-sourced meats, dairy, fruits and vegetables. The menu changes daily and seasonally. Much of what is served is grown in their own gardens and, as we learned first-hand, you may be served truffles that were foraged earlier in the day by their son, Matteo Cameli, and his truffle-hunting dogs.
In the kitchen
Giovanni Cameli is the master chef who cooks in the kitchen alongside his sons, Massimiliano and Matteo, each having their specialty dishes.
We were fortunate to be staying at Al Vecchio Convento to enjoy their fresh, traditional and innovative dishes — breakfast, lunch and dinner. These are a few of my favorites of which Mr. TWS and I managed to get photos before we eagerly dug in with our forks!
Starting with a good breakfast
I don’t have a photo of the breakfast buffet, but here’s a taste of the offerings. On the left, is a frittata with fresh bread. In the photo on the right, the shavings on the scrambled eggs are from the truffles that were found during our truffle hunt in the woods the day before. The bread is baked fresh daily and I had a lesson in bread-making from Matteo (more to come). There were also delectable pastries and an assortment of meats and cheeses — more than enough to prepare us for our active days.
These are just a few of the dishes we enjoyed. I think that he photos speak for themselves, but everything was beautifully prepared, presented and paired with just-right wines selected by Massimiliano, who is also the sommelier.
Tortelli di erbe e ricotta al burro e salvia
Herbs and ricotta tortelli with butter and sage
This was the first meal that we were served upon arrival at Al Vecchio Convento as we sipped an accompanying white wine at a table on the quiet, secluded back patio. It was a good sign of more wonderful meals to come.
Crespelle con ricotta e fiori di zucchine e zafferano
Crepes with ricotta, zucchini flowers and saffron
Gnocchetti di ricotta al gorgonzola
Ricotta gnocchi with gorgonzola
Fried porcini mushrooms
Ovine croccanti con spuma di parmigiano e salvia fritta
Crispy lamb with parmesan mousse and fried sage
Risotto al porcini e galletti
Risotto with porcini and chanterelle mushrooms
Melanzane alla parmigiana ,muffin di zucchine e squaquarone e rucola
Eggplant Parmesan, zucchini muffins and rocket squaquarone
“Squaquarone” is one of the typical cheeses of Emilia-Romagna.
Tagliolini in insalata con pomodori basilico e cipolla rossa dell’orto
Noodle salad with tomato basil and red onion from the garden
On our final day in Portico, we enjoyed this dish while having lunch at tables set on the lawn with artist Luca Freschi and Here-Everywhere curator Matteo Lucca of the Portico in Arte project.
Torta mousse alla vaniglia e fragole con gelatina di ribes
Vanilla mousse cake with strawberries and currant jelly
Zabaione alla birra coi frutti rossi e caramello
Beer sabayon (a light custard) with red fruits and caramel
Buon Appetito from Portico di Romagna!
For more information: Al Vecchio Convento