Pioneering Italians were not only the first to put tomatoes in cuisine, they were also the first people to take photographs of themselves pretending to hold up the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Delight in their inventiveness with today's Groupon: for $20, you get $40 worth of authentic Italian fare at Trattoria Il Vesuvio in Lenox.
The sage chefs of Trattoria Il Vesuvio's kitchen use recipes passed on through generations to coax rich, classic flavors from a menu of traditional Italian dishes. The melanzane alla griglia ($8.99) plates paper-thin slices of eggplant marinated in garlic, mint, and red-wine vinegar for up to three days before being grilled and ultimately served cold, like a polar bear's revenge. Baby clams and mussels coast across waves of red-wine tomato sauce and linguini in the fra diavolo ($20.99), while culinary architects lay a foundation of homemade pasta beneath load-bearing layers of eggplant, braised spinach, and cheese to create the lasagna di verdure ($18.99). Wield sharpened steak knives to slice through 12 ounces of sirloin coated in a mushroom and marsala sauce from the bistecca al funghi ($23.99). Chefs slow-roast the osso buco veal shank ($33.99) before serving it over risotto to give the meat a more tender texture than sealing it in a bag with Otis Redding’s greatest hits album.
The lofty, barn-like building houses hearth ovens within traditional wooden siding, excitingly accented by bright red eaves and window frames. A brick chimney stands in the middle of the dining room and sprouts from the sloping, shingled roof, puffing out promises of warmth and well-cooked food, while exchanging recipes with other local chefs via smoke signal.
242 Pittsfield Rd.
Lenox, Massachusetts 01240