My favorite moments of traveling are those glimpses into places that couldn’t possibly be recreated anywhere else on Earth. Miglionico, Italy’s Il Ritrovo del Cima is a restaurant that surely fits in that category. I was happy to be hosted to experience it!
Its name denotes “meeting at the summit”. It’s a casual farm restaurant that sources most of its food straight off its on-site farm. Patrons walk past animal pens, swollen ripe grapes and figs, green herbs. When people talk about terroir, the flavors of the land, they’re surely here. The restaurant serves local wines, mineral water and olive oil.
The cuisine of Miglionico shares many of the simple, fresh flavors of its neighbor, Matera: steamed greens (arugula, turnip greens, broccoli rabe), made that day fresh pot cheese, chickpeas . . . all unadulterated by extra salt, pepper. The use of olive oil — not butter — and simple fruit desserts are also common culinary styles.
The pasta they serve there is also a staple in Matera: what we call cavatelli, but they often call capunti or orecchie di prete (priest’s ears). As articulated in The Encyclopedia of Pasta, these are seasoned with the local dried red chili pepper and served with wild mushrooms, greens or ricotta. Sometimes, this will be in the form of the elusive pasta arso.
However, because they’re on a farm — not with the tradition of cooking things in donkey-inhabited caves or gleaning them in wild fields like in Matera — there are some more house-made, aged products on their table: dry-cured sausages, aged country ham.
The restaurant has some outdoor long tables.