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Teano. Al Vecchio Mulino restaurant, dishes rooted in the culture of Caserta


The restaurant owner Dino Casale at market in Vittoria square in Teano (CE) on the lookout for high quality raw materials

by Phyllis De Stavola

This restaurant is immersed in the nature of the hills of the Roccamonfina Regional Park. Here you will find a beautiful place and a peasant cuisine which includes the history of the territory and its products.

Vegetables and fresh fuit at Teano weekly market

This restaurant was opened in 1993 by chef Pietro Balletta and the sommelier and cheese taster Dino Casale who are cousins and have a great passion for catering. They propose fresh local products.

Dried pulses

They think that a great dish is based on simplicity. The dishes vary according to the season. Every day Dino buys fresh products buy local producers at market in the historical centre of Teano. He buys vegetables, fruit, tubers, spices and other typical products like cheese.

The market in the historical centre of Teano. Florinda's stall

They also think that a good dish can be made with high quality, simple and tasty ingredients like wild aromatic herbs, vegetables, fruit, cheese, red and white meat (free-range chickens) and homemade bread with natural leavening.

Homemade bread with natural leavening

Different sizes and kinds of bread with potatoes, cereals, fennel and oregano

Chef Barletta told me that a good chef isn't a good chemist as the ingredients are important. Genuine products should be used and other important factors are high quality raw materials, right cooking to keep the organoleptic and nutritional properties and the recipe.

A type of local potato

When they use Porcini mushrooms don't add truffle as they both have an intese taste.

The local sweet-smelling oregano

Chef Pietro Balletta also gives a series of afternoon lectures at the IPSART school in Teano and during the tasting evenings organized thanks to the cooperation with the Caserta Chamber of Commerce to promote the local cuisine, even abroad (Munich).

The entrance of Teano e Borghi municipal tourist board

Margherita shows the 'Menestrella'

Porcini mushrooms are a typical local product from Teano which, thanks to the temperate climate, is rich of the scents of undergrowth. In autumn they are in the tasting menu or in dishes like "scialatielli pasta with Porcini mushrooms" and "Porcini mushroom gratin on a bed of tomatoes". These dishes are well rooted in the local peasant culture. There are also other dishes like "dried cod pie with potatoes, sausage and onions", the meat obtained from the Caserta black pig with "annurca" apples and the "annurca apple" dessert with crisp short pastry.

The red turnip (tuber)

Dino Casale smelling the parsley

Among the autumn menus chef Balletta recommends the following ones with Porcini mushrooms:

Mashed potatoes with a sprinkle of coarse salt and the extra virgin olive oil produced by San Massimo farmhouse

Porcini mushroom gratin

Chestnut and Porcini mushroom soup served with black bread

Laticauda lamb in a crust of mushrooms and potatoes

Chestnut cake with butter sauce

Fresh vegetables at Teano market (CE)

They propose traditional recipes in an innovative way like the raw mushroom salad with royal agaric, a kind of mushroom which is more valuable than the Porcini one. The Romans called these mushrooms "God's food". Then there is also a salad made with another kind of mushroom, the "russula" one, and crumbled bread with watermelon, cherry tomatoees and extra virgin olive oil. The cocktail with orange and watermelon juice and white melon, pineapple and slices of orange garnished with fresh blackberries is in a summer style.

The vegetables used for the soups including the "weeding soup"

The extra virgin olive oil produced by San Massimo farmhouse in Teano

All year round the menu includes the Prosecco and rose water cocktail which is prepared with rose petals coming from their rose-garden.

Cheeses and salamis coming from Matese

They use the extra virgin olive oil produced by San Massimo farmhouse. The variety is "pignarola" which has a low yield and medium sized berries. Every year this farmhouse produces only 1.200-1.400 litres. It is intense fruity with scents of artichoke, it is bitter and hot in your mouth. It can be used raw to season grilled buffalo steaks, chickpea soups, seafood soups or salads.

Blackberries, potatoes, zucchini and cucumbers at Teano market

Dino Casale told me that this building was a watermill in the first half of the twentieth century and worked even at night during the second world war.

Annunziata bell tower, the symbol of the city

Today in a room of the restaurant there is a waterfall instead of the old watermill. There is also a waterfall outside where were there was trout fishing in the Seventies. This space is full of plants and flowers. The water which feeds the waterfalls comes from the Savone river which goes from Roccamonfina to Mondragone.

Dino Casale with the lettuce produced by Carmela

The cellar springs in grey volcanic tuff. Here many wines are preserved at a uniform temperature. There are IGT, DOC and DOCG wines from Campania and all the Italian regions and abroad (Germany, Spain, Slovenia, California, Chile, Argentina and Australia).

Chef Pietro Balletta at work in the kitchen

The rum and coffee lists include refined and high quality products. You will find Giamaica (Blue mountain), Kopi Luwak and Puerto Rico coffee which is freshly ground and was beloved by Kings, Queens and Presidents.

The room

Teano has a millenary history as you can see in the Roman Theatre (II century b.C.), the Longobard and Norman- Castle, the old Cavallerizza in the Palazzo dei Principi where there is the Archeological Museum now and the medieval village with many alleys, churches, cathedrals, convents and basilcas. Pasquale Fascitiello, the guide of Teano e Borghi municipal tourist board, showed all the details of the history of the old Sidicinum and the meeting between Vittorio Emanuele II and Giuseppe Garibaldi which took place in 1860.

Bread with watermelon, cherry tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil

Pasquale Fascitiello showing and commenting upon the map of the medieval city in the Teanum Sidicinum Archeological Museum

Pasquale Fascitiello told the fights of the Sidicini against the Samintes, the story of Cavallerizza and the roots of the local food and wine culture. The musesum also includes the statue of Ceres (the Roman Goddess of fertility and agriculture), the earthenware and the ceramics portraying the products of the soil.

The waterfall outside 'Al Vecchio Mulino' restaurant

Teano, a view from the terrace of the Archeological Museum

Al Vecchio Mulino
Via Boccaladroni, 1
LocalitÓ Furnolo, Teano (CE)
Phone 0823-886291

Closed on Monday evenings and Tuesdays

Masseria San Massimo
Collina S.Antonio, 1
81057 Teano Caserta
Phone 0823-875055

Proloco Teano e Borghi
Piazza della Vittoria, 30
81057 Teano (CE)
Phone 0823-875168

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