The seasons in Le Marche are all fascinating, but now, after the hot summer, we should enjoy the autumn with golden sunlight, the scent of mushrooms in the forest, the end of vendemmia (grape harvest), the beginning of the olive harvest, chestnut gatherings, polenta festivals, discolored leaves, wood and fireplace scent and of course the white truffles. (I said “we should” because temperatures are really high for this period).
In Le Marche, from north to south, there are truffles all year round, but the white truffles only exist in winter and are considered the most aromatic and valuable. See also our posts about the truffle hunt in Acqualagna or the truffle market in Pergola.
Not only in the truffle centers like Acqualagna, Sant’Angelo in Vado, Pergola, Amandola etc. you can eat truffle dishes. Throughout Le Marche, there are several traditional restaurants, mostly inland, that offer truffles in autumn and winter. We already spoke about Le Copertelle in Serra San Quirico, but we also suggest Da Maria in Pierosara.
Here the specialties are porcini mushrooms, wild boar goulash and, of course, truffles. They actually have black truffles on the menu all year round, but in autumn/winter they often have white truffles as well.
Da Maria is located in Pierosara, the place with the tragic love story of Sara and Piero, high in the mountain above Genga and near the famous Frasassi Caves. The road up there has some pitch-dark serpentines that make you doubt whether there really is a restaurant waiting at the end. But then you often find yourself in the well-filled parking lot and. During the day, the restaurant car park is a popular starting point for hikes followed by lunch at Maria’s. At the parking lot there is also the church of Saint Beata Virgine delle Grazie.
The founder of da Maria, Maria Locci, is no longer alive today, but one of her sons continues to run the restaurant with his wife: he is a sommelier and usually serves, his wife is the head chef, but likes to come to the table to take orders or explain the dishes. Housed in the wing of a former monastery, da Maria offers around 100 seats in the rustic interior, plus additional seats outside during the day in summer. They are open for lunch and dinner most of the year, with a few weeks of vacation mostly in January and a day off on Thursdays.
They are popular for their local cuisine, which uses local produce and traditional recipes, including unusual ones like trippa (tripe) and coratello (lamb offal and heart). On request, there are also crayfish or snails in the appropriate season. The pasta is of course homemade, as are the tortellini in Italian colors (see also the little video by Chef Gabriela). Gabriela was even on Rai TV in 2020 with her Castagnole recipe.
In addition to the truffled pasta or meat dishes …
… there is also the cheese fondue (Elke’s favourite starter): three types of melted cheese (pure, with porcini mushrooms and with truffles) with pieces of bread for dipping. But beware! If it’s actually supposed to be an appetizer, then it’s better to share it with someone else, otherwise you’ll be full.
We think that the prices are fair, if relating to the quality of the produce. Of course, some specialties are a bit more expensive, but the boss makes sure that the price-performance ratio is good: she doesn’t offer any in the years when white truffles are too expensive. On the other hand, last year we could get all pasta dishes with white truffles shaved on top for 25 EUR. Anyone who has ever eaten truffles in Piedmont or southern France appreciates such prices here.