When I say that Ristorante Daniela is my favorite restaurant in Italy, friends are initially skeptical. In all of Italy? Really? But that’s only until they travel to the slightly out-of-the-way Tuscan spa town of San Casciano dei Bagni, and try it for themselves. This charming restaurant reflects the happy marriage of the innovative and the traditional, as well as that of classics professor-turned-chef Silvestro Baraldo and his wife, Daniela Boni, who runs the front of the house and whose family owns the tiny cafe next door. Each week, Baraldo and his staff travel throughout the countryside, seeking out wild mushrooms, artisanal cheeses, and rabbit and boar from hunters who traverse the surrounding forests. Each time I return, it’s my fantasy to eat through the entire menu, which reflects Baraldo’s inspired, original takes on traditional Tuscan cuisine. The first time I visited, in early spring, I had tortelli stuffed with pigeon ragu; lamb polpettini (meatballs) in a lemon-artichoke sauce, and—a perennial house favorite—baked pecorino with truffles. Most recently, I arrived in autumn, at the height of mushroom season, and feasted on a salad of raw, earthy caesar’s mushrooms, followed by roasted rabbit stuffed with wild fennel, green gnocchetti with kale and truffles, and a wild boar stew with chestnuts, plums, pine nuts, and raisins. The food is glorious, the atmosphere welcoming, the clientele (stylish Romans enjoying a rural weekend, a huge family driven over from Perugia to celebrate Grandma’s 80th birthday) simpatico. After your meal, you can sip your coffee in the cafe and feel like a native.
In this year's SAVEUR 100, we take stock of our favorite things: recipes, people, places. We consider every last one a new classic.