Castello Banfi has opened two new restaurants at its vineyard estate in Montalcino, Tuscany, offering both formal and casual takes on local cuisine. Dining rooms in a historic stone building offer breathtaking views of the rolling Tuscan countryside, with patios for al fresco dining in the shadow of the medieval castle.
The elegant Ristorante Banfi, with clothed tables, frescoed walls and a welcoming fireplace, serves what has been described as light Mediterranean cuisine. Its selection of meat and fish dishes are inspired by seasonal local produce, offered in tasting menus or à la carte. A complete list of Castello Banfi wines rounds out the experience.
Taverna Banfi, on the other hand, is a casual setting in the vaulted cellars of the building, with sturdy wooden tables placed under the brick arches where oversized wooden casks of the area's traditional Brunello di Montalcino once rested. Castello Banfi wines compliment a 3-course tasting menu as well as à la carte selections of traditional Tuscan dishes and delicacies.
The food for both restaurants is prepared fresh daily by chef Guido Haverkock, who trained with Michelin two-star chef Heinz Beck at the prestigious La Pergola roof garden restaurant in Rome's Cavalieri Hilton Hotel. Chef Beck serves as the managing consultant for Banfi, and is scheduled to host the restaurant's grand opening in February 2002.
A three-course lunch at the Taverna costs Lit. 70,000 (approximately $32), including a serving of each of three wines paired to the meal. Ristorante Banfi proposes three tasting menus with wines offered separately -- three courses for Lit. 75,000 (app $35), five courses for Lit. 95,000 (app. $45), and seven courses for Lit. 120,000 (app. $56).
The Taverna is open for lunch between 12:30 and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, while the Ristorante has a 1:00 p.m. lunch seating Tuesday through Saturday and a 7:00 p.m. dinner seating on Friday and Saturday only. Reservations made three to five weeks in advance are required for the Ristorante and recommended for the Taverna. Visitors to the estate may also arrange for guided tours of the winery as well as wine tastings at the Enoteca and entry to the Giovanni F. Mariani Glass Museum, both located within the Castello complex. Telephone 011-39-0577-816001, Fax 011-39-0577-816021, e-mail email@example.com.