Alongside the Vomano river on the road between Montorio al Vomano and Campotosto is the understated restaurant Locanda del Cervo. This excellent roadside restaurant, 900masl, has become one of our favourites in Abruzzo, particularly for special days.
Locanda del Cervo prides itself, quite rightly, on its stunning Gran Sasso Park location, as its proximity to walking terrain & lakes makes it an ideal base from which to explore the immediate area, on foot, horse, bicycle or boat depending on your inclination. Locanda del Cervo has several rooms, with an option of booking out the entire suite of rooms for larger groups – the rooms are spacious and clean, though there was a feeling of slight damp in the one we stayed in one time, probably only us being too sensitive.
The restaurant comprises a large long room, with plenty of tables, all perfectly presented with crisp clean table clothes, sparkling glasses and shiny cutlery. At the far end of this room there is a huge fireplace, where apparently it is possible to grill meat in traditional Abruzzo style on certain winter’s nights. When we were there the fireplace did seem to dwarf the actually rather frugal firewood that was gently smouldering on the hearth, but the restaurant was nevertheless lovely & warm and our host’s kind anxiety that my tank top would be leaving my arms chilly fortunately proven unfounded.
We love antipasti. Unfortunately for our waistlines we are not anti pasta either. But it is definitely an excellent find for us when an Abruzzo agriturismi, ristoranti, whatever, do a good selection of hot & cold antipasti, especially with things we have never had before. And it is on this front especially Locanda del Cervo excels. The range of antipasti is staggering. Chickpeas with chestnuts, lamb’s liver with rosemary & wine sauce, a wild mushroom melange providing a funghal froth on a wave of the lightest polenta; prosciutto with amazingly fresh & lovely fresh local cheese that hadn’t quite reached its set ricotta state, soft Abruzzo brown lentils in broda, bruschetta, to name but a few…all wonderful (although there was a pork-based dish we could not quite work out and left us both a bit nervous, this translated later as ‘scamper’ so i guess it was the inside of a trotter!).
Pasta dishes were equally fabulous, a pappardelle with finely chopped local Gran Sasso National Park sausages & mushrooms was delicious as was the chitarra con polpetini (little meat balls); pasta in both cases cooked to perfection. To follow a remarkably moist succulent pork dish, cooked with apple, quite amazing…literally dropping off the bone, and carved at the table by the delightful manager of the establishment.
Apparently anciently known as the “Road to Oblivion”, or the Strada Maestra, the SS80 that takes you to Locanda del Cervo now suffers due to the introduction of the A24 autostrada, with considerable decline in the fortunes of the small communities on the older route. However, an undertaking has been made to revive the area, utilising its natural beauty and outdoor facilities, and Locanda del Cervo is part of that revival, with support from the National Parks association.
Christmas special meal cost us about €60 for two people including wine & coffee.
Value for money – 9/10
Quality of food – 10/10
Locanda del Cervo
Telephone: 0861 950429 / 0861 950149
Fax: 0861 950429
address: on the SS80, loc. Paladini Crognaleto (TE)
there are good parking facilities to the right of the building
Official Website: Locanda del Cervo