The next stop in our culinary Italy tour is the beach town of Roseto degli Abruzzi, on the Adriatic coast in the region of Abruzzo. There are only 15 trattorie in all of Italy with a tre gamberi (3 ‘shrimp’) rating by Gambero Rosso, and one of them is in Roseto degli Abruzzi. It is Vecchia Marina, the only seafood restaurant in Italy awarded tre gamberi. A trattoria is a simple restaurant that serves traditional food without any frills, and Vecchia Marina certainly meets the bill.
On this warm summer evening there was outside seating only. We didn’t receive a menu, but instead the waiter asked whether we would be okay to start with antipasti. The selection of cold and hot seafood antipasti is a house specialty. Naturally we agreed, and we also agreed to the suggestion of a bottle of the local white wine from pecorino grapes. Now you may think that pecorino is sheep’s cheese, which it is, but it is also the name of the local white grape variety. Pecorino whites have good structure, minerality and notes of ripe white fruit.
The first round of antipasti was mostly raw stuff including gurnard, red mullet, pink shrimp, red shrimp. There was also marinated baby squid and a shrimp cocktail. Everything extremely fresh and served only with a bit of olive oil or a small piece of lemon, orange or tomato as a garnish.
I’ve included this close up of the canocchie (mantis shrimp) as they are not well known outside of the Mediterranean. These were cooked, and the taste and texture of the canocchie was somewhere in between regular shrimp and fish.
Nope, the final round was baby sole with vongole and cherry tomatoes. They call it antipasti, but it’s really a degustation of the best the Adriatic has to offer, prepared in a very simple way to let the fresh seafood shine. This seafood feast was 30 euros per person by the way.
Since the antipasti were a meal by itself, we shared the homemade tagliolini (fresh pasta, in this case made only with flour and water) with seafood. The pasta was dressed only with the cooking juices of the seafood (shrimp, calamari, etc.) and a bit of olive oil. Not even parsley. And it was delicious!
There are many seafood restaurants like this along the long long Italian coastline. I can see why this one was awarded the tre gamberi by Gambero Rosso. The seafood is exceptionally fresh and well prepared, which means doing very little to it and certainly not overcooking it. On the other hand, the difference with many other Italian seafood restaurants is not that large, as you can eat well at most of them.