As Siena revs up for the Palio, serious devotees of the Contrada Sovrana dell‘Istrice – the Porcupine quarter – can be found enjoying a light breakfast of salted cod, anchovies in pesto or tripe – quite possibly all three – at Osteria Il Vinaio in Via di Camollia. Such is their tradition. Il Vinaio is one of those wonderful taverns Tuscany does so well, where they shun refinement and stick to their traditional guns with good simple food, a merry mood and rudimentary décor. Neither shabby nor chic, just honest-to-goodness.
Brothers Bobbe and Davide Porciatti opened here a couple of years ago, after a glorious experience running a smaller but historic Siena eatery. This one’s roomier, with counter space enough for a full deli service. If not smack in the town centre, it’s still within the medieval walls, tucked beneath the brickwork vaults of one of the ancient buildings which once housed craftsmen and labourers on the historic Via Francigena pilgrim route. So the location changed, but not the winning style, or indeed the winged-pig logo.
Dishes at Bobbe and Davide’s osteria are as Tuscan as they come, traditional country recipes made up with genuine, organic ingredients, locally sourced and certified when not actually home-grown. Excellent wholesome crostini, minestre, sausages, meatballs, tongue and other such no-nonsense fare. And then the specialities: the cheeses, cured meats and pickles crowding the counter, from selected local producers. All washed down with a grand house red – their red – or a craft beer. They’re open all day Monday to Saturday, 10am to10pm, for whatever kind of meal or snack. The mood is invariably jovial, irreverent. You can see it as you watch them, Bobbe, Davide and the rest of their ‘dream team’, enjoying hard work and principled fun. You won’t be dazzled by design, but you’ll likely come away feeling replete and warm inside with all that honest-to-goodness goodness.