CORTONA PROFILES - NO.9

AL TOCCO IS A RESTAURANT WITH A DIFFERENCE! LUCY WOOD INTERVIEWS THE TEAM WITH A DREAM THAT HAS COME TO FRUITION...

‘Al Tocco’ in Tuscan dialect refers to the hour after noon and after midnight.  It also denotes something special (extravagant or even a little crazy) and quality, as in the round hats worn by judges, lawyers and university professors on important occasions.
So, it comes as no surprise that ‘Al Tocco’, in Cortona’s via Benedetti no. 24, embraces all of the above. It expresses the passion and ingeniousness that Mattia Santiccioli (chef) and Mirco Bruni (owner, manager, sommelier), bring to the table.
A team with a dream, the creative duo, offer an innovative tasting menu which combines local produce, an abundance of fresh seasonal vegetables and traditional Tuscan dishes, presented and flavoured with a beautifully creative, modern touch.  These are accompanied by a series of wines, recommended by Mirco, to complement the pleasure and flavours of each dish.
Mirco, a true Cortonese, has always worked in the food industry. Trained as a sommelier, he has always worked in other people’s restaurants, until recently, when he realized he had to make a life choice – to continue working for others or to set up on his own. He decided to take the plunge and took on the premises in via Benedetti, embracing its medieval setting with a stylish contemporary design.
Mattia was born and bred in Cortona to an Italian father and an English mother. After schooling locally, he did his formative chef training in Arezzo, before heading to London. There he cooked for an array of prestigious restaurants, including the 5-star Bulgari Hotel, Pétrus by Gordon Ramsay (learning about French cuisine), Annabel’s (a Birley club), the Iris Bar in the City of London and The Criterion in Piccadilly, among others.
Asked if he could name one particular chef who most inspired him, he immediately cited James Cochran of the Islington based 1251 restaurant. Cochran, who has had an extraordinary culinary career, rose through the ranks to win the Great British Menu award in 2018 and has gone from strength to strength ever since.
Mattia’s return from London fortuitously (for us) coincided with Mirco’s desire to go it alone, but initially things didn’t go quite to plan. Al Tocco opened on Feb. 9th 2021. Nine days later, due to Government-imposed COVID restrictions, it was obliged to close.
The indomitable duo did not, however, give up. To stay afloat, they set up a take away service until May, when Government regulations allowed them to serve meals outside.
Since June 2021, ‘Al Tocco’ has been operating fully with an evening menu from Tuesdays to Fridays and a lunch menu on Saturday and Sunday (closed on Mondays).
The tasting menu, invites you to sample an array of Mattia’s signature dishes in one sitting. We chose the 7-course menu and stuck with a light Rosé, recommended by Mirco, throughout the meal.
Our particular tasting menu, which can only be described as superlative – and accommodated a gluten-free intolerance communicated beforehand – was as follows:
·       Dumpling-sized serving of deep-fried lentil polenta.
·       Gazpacho with tomatoes, melon, ginger, and a sprinkle of feta cheese and black olive crumble.
·       Confit of charred leek, topped with almond truffle, almond gel and truffle mayonnaise.
·       A muffin - encasing an egg yolk cooked to liquid perfection - topped with crispy pancetta and a typical Tuscan           smoked sauce.
·       Tagliatelle with miso butter sauce and girelle (chantarelle) mushrooms.
·       Pan-fried beef fillet with potato and bean hummus, radishes and curly salad.
·       Marshmallow meringue with fresh mango, mango chips and mango sorbet.
Al Tocco has seating inside for 20 (max 25) people, in a romantically lit ambience, with stylish table settings and candles. The menu changes each day as Mattia takes you on a culinary journey of discovery with exquisite presentation and wine pairings for each course. 
Whether passing through Cortona or living here full time, I highly recommend paying a visit to Al Tocco and enjoying a chat with Mirco as he serves you the delights prepared by Mattia. And of course, after your first visit, you’ll be sure to return again and again, as no doubt, will we!
Lucy Wood, 14/09/2022 09:26:15
Other articles that might interest you
For me, living in Cortona has meant enjoying the refreshingly different culture, community, cuisine and natural beauty.  But after a ...[continue]
Clelia Tondini, ceramic artist, clearly has the most enticing spaces in Cortona, and that is no easy feat. Many of her ...[continue]
It’s no coincidence that sculptor/designer Antonio Massarutto was celebrating World Earth Day – April 22nd – preparing a land-art project in North ...[continue]
Marie Lardino, seems like one of those gifted achievers who has sailed through life without a cloud.  She is a ...[continue]
Walter Venturini is well known in Cortona not only for his art and restoration works, but also for his exceptional ...[continue]

SOMETHING
TO SHARE ?

Send us your posts, viewpoints
and/or personal experiences
CONTACT US NOW

MY CORTONA

OUR BLOG IS INTENDED AS A CENTRAL HUB FOR CORTONA LOVERS WORLD-WIDE, BRINGING YOU USEFUL INFORMATION, PROFILES OF THE MANY INTERESTING PEOPLE WHO LIVE & VISIT THE TOWN, UP-DATES ON LOCAL NEWS, SPECIAL STORIES & UPCOMING EVENTS


Have a story or an anecdote to recount? Someone interesting you’d like to profile? A place you’ve visited that you’d like to recommend? Whether it’s useful, funny or informative, why not share it on My Cortona blog and add your name to our list of regular contributors? We’d love to hear from you.

AMBASSADOR'S HOME

Price: €.985.000

PALATIAL HOME

Price: €.580.000

IL CASALE DELLE VIGNE

Price: €.1.250.000