I had visited Irsina in 2000, and the town was memorable for its lack of dining options, despite wonderful meats and produce in the local markets. I was curious to try the new, "antique" black swine, or Suino Nero, recently rescued from near extinction in the area, and served exclusively at Fuoco di Vino. My appetite was further whetted by Gareth Jones' Oct. 21st, 2013 food blog, describing in mouth-watering detail a special meal with the owners.
Luckily, we arrived just after the restaurant had re-opened after it had closed for renovations and expansion. The new dining room was lovely, with warm terra cotta touches highlighting the cellar atmosphere, allowing space for a more casual. wine bar feel in the front room. Outdoor tables mark the spot in the city wall where Fuoco di Vino has become a favorite gathering place.
And rightly so. The owners are all local people, children and grandchildren of local people, who seem to know and greet everyone who comes by to say hello, and who appear even more excited when a newcomer inquires about their food. They pride themselves on using locally sourced products, and the owners themselves grow and produce much of the food.
We were a group of five, and endeavored to sample everything, including the unique "pork that tastes of tuna." I even had seconds on that one, since it was such a special combination of flavors. However, for me, the standouts were the salami and prosciutto appetizers from the black swine, along with the best sausage I've ever eaten. Because I became a pig myself, I didn't leave enough room for more than a couple of bites of the gorgeous grilled steak that was brought to the table or the fabulous dessert, but I definitely look forward to going back!
As Gareth Jones said in his article, "if this is pork, what have I been eating all my life?"
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