‘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
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
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!