Hospitality: this must be the mission of an inn. And so it is from 1904 to Madonnetta, when the place became the property of the Guerra family who, generation after generation, still manages it today with Barbara, Sandro and Wladimiro, who give us an extraordinary recipe
We know it: the root of Tavern contains the word hospes, closely related to the concept of hospitality. And at Madonnetta they have it very clear.
The mission of hospitality
"Anyone who comes in at any time is welcome," says Barbara Guerra, who with the younger brothers Wladimiro and Sandro is now the soul of the family restaurant a stone's throw from the Castle.
The tradition of these parts included one snack mid-morning: the farmers got up at dawn and worked hard so the stomach made itself felt well before noon. A typical dish was tripe soup, with the addition of a nice glass of red. Here, even today those who have a pang after breakfast and before lunch can find a fantastic hunger at the tavern. And on Sunday it can also be called brunch, nobody is offended.
"Come in and eat what's ready." Nobody tells you: it opens later. An osteria is an osteria and performs its function at any time. Do you want to drink? Do you want something hot after hours? Do you like special vegetables, such as those delicious kilometer and thin green beans that in this area call scurie, that is whips, and purists define asparagus bean? Or do you want a puree, at your own risk, because customers say that this one, made with potatoes grown in sand and transformed into Dobbiaco butter mousse, is addictive and will transform you into a puree addict? What you will be served.
In the kitchen Mrs. Annamaria tirelessly traffics with her young assistants, mostly Millennials who come from all over: Morocco, China, Moldova, it doesn't matter. The red thread that binds them all is passion.
Under the banner of the "Madonna of the Goddess"
The madonnetta which gives the place its name and appears on the ancient iron sign is similar to that of a capital shrine that stands around the corner of the street and is not just any devotional representation: repainted by a woman of the family, Mimma , the sister-in-law of Mrs. Annamaria who is in the kitchen, takes up a Marian typology famous in the seventeenth century, immortalized for the first time by the painter Carlo Dolci and known as Lto Madonna of the Finger (of the goddess, in local dialect), because in clinging on the very blue cloak Maria lets glimpse the tapered index of one hand. Art experts know that Dolci was probably inspired by a certain Byzantine iconography fond of the concept that the Madonna somehow shows the direction to believers; in this case, more modestly, it seems to suggest to the hungry and thirsty traveler to make a stop in the very old building which gave refreshment to customers even before in 1904 the great-grandfather Bepi, a baker, bought it for his wife Erminia on 11 November, the date on which by peasant tradition "San Martino" was done, that is, new contracts were stipulated as laborers or sharecroppers, which often involved changing houses and masters. The beginning of Bepi's host activity thus coincided with the beginning of the new farmer working year.
Since then, 115 and broken years ago, generations have followed one another, continuing to pay homage to the local cuisine, thanks also, for some time, to a productive family garden. The formula consists of cooking small quantities at the moment, with a presence on the menu of cornerstones of the typical cuisine linked to seasonality. Creamed and Vicenza-style cod, bigoli, pasta and beans, lasagna, Venetian liver, meatballs, musetto, tripe and a formidable rabbit with myrtle leaves that bring a refolo of Sardinian perfume into a regional Venetian specialty Doc. And then light sauces quick cooking, such as duck, or with sardea for bigoli, or with cod for Vicenza-style pasta.
Among the desserts stand out the typical maccafame, "to get the better of hunger", that is the stale bread cake that is present in all peasant delicatessens, to be made with poor ingredients, such as old bread, milk, eggs and leftovers of what was at home, (here characterized by the addition of grappa); the Venetian Zaeti made of yellow flour and raisins and finally an apple crumble that Annamaria did not call a crumble, but delighted family and friends long before English became a common language of gastronomy, almost more than French.
A Nobel memory
And speaking of English, a young Red Cross volunteer stopped at the inn towards the end of the First World War. His name, destined to become famous, was Ernest Hemingway. Grandmother Amelia must have served that very particular boy from '99 several times while he was shuttling between Schio and Bassano del Grappa behind the wheel of his ambulance.
To remember the predilection of the famous author for the Veneto, his nephew John Hemingway, also a writer and passionate Italianist, visited Madonnetta in 2016 to find the places dear to his grandfather Ernest.
And memory is a bit the code of the Madonnetta tavern, loved and practiced in the antique furnishings, in the tastes of the past, in the objects of the past, in the gesture recently made by the three Guerra brothers during a restructuring of the part of the room that a once it was used as a stable for travelers' mounts: when the masons removed the mortars, the old irons on the walls to tie the horses came back to light. Just behind one of these rings Barbara, Sandro and Wladimiro have walled up a bottle containing a simple message about them.
"Maybe someday," says Barbara, "someone will rearrange these walls: our grandchildren, our great-grandchildren. We liked the idea that they found a greeting from us. " A thread of memory that unfolds over time and presents to all those who have lived, cooked and tasted a little deserved immortality.
Meatballs in red: the recipe
Appreciated by even younger customers, the meatballs made with the three veal, beef and pork meats are a leitmotiv of the Madonnetta tavern. Mrs. Annamaria cooks them in red, served with polenta, but also fried, as delicious finger food: one leads to another …
This is the recipe that Madonnetta gives to readers of "La Cucina italiana", while waiting to welcome them in person in the city of living chess.
Ingredients for 4 people
0.8 kg minced meat (veal, beef and pork), 1 teaspoon of fine salt, 1 handful of Parmesan cheese, 1 whole egg, 80 g breadcrumbs, milk as required, extra virgin olive oil as required, 0.8 liters of tomato pulp, 2/3 sage leaves and 1 sprig of rosemary.
Chop the tomato pulp, sage and rosemary with the blender. Pour a little oil and 0.5 liters of tomato pulp lengthened with a little water into a baking pan. In a bowl mix the minced meat with the egg, the breadcrumbs, the Parmesan very well, if you want a little chopped sage and rosemary and a little salt. Add some milk until the dough is soft but firm. Form into balls of about 40 g each and place them in the pan. Then cover them with the remaining tomato pulp, still stretched with a little water (rinse water from the container). Bake covered for about 1 hour at 220 ° C.
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