Not a single element you could call design at this manifestly Tuscan trattoria. But here it is anyway, simply because it’s tops in the Maremma for those traditional, local specialties: pure and simple, classic and unembellished, superb old-fashioned country food. And that means strictly non-vegetarian in these parts. Having those aforesaid dishes down to a fine art and, I suspect, a host of devotees who’d be horrified at any abrupt developments, Trattoria da Maria Moretti makes only subtle changes to its set menu over the seasons. Typical antipasti are bruschetta, variously topped, and slices of mouthwatering cured sausages. Next comes a trio of primi generally featuring a superb ragout, a mushroom sauce and a truffle dressing. Followed by the really meaty course in the shape of a couple of roasts or possibly a stew, with vegetables on the side. There’ll probably be fruit, a homemade dessert, almond biscuits. There’ll certainly be wine, and coffee to finish. All very workaday, you might say. Just try it.
Luciano Pallini is the chap who took over from his mum to do the magic in a restaurant established 170 years ago. In favouring substance over form he’s a true Tuscan. His raw materials are locally sourced, fresh from trusted producers, and put together in time-honoured fashion. A congenial character too, practically a friend by the time the main course arrives. All this and plenty of it, in a warm and perfectly pleasant if homely ambiance – with a few tables on the narrow street in summer and an open fire in the hearth when it’s cold out – for €25 at the time of writing. Really. Getting there is another matter. You won’t be passing through Pereta on any likely Italian tour, unless you’re just following your nose off the beaten track or hopelessly lost. It’s around 35 km south-east of Grosseto on a road going nowhere in particular. Still, it’s a charming medieval village on a hilltop with its very own 15th-century tower and around 150 people on a busy day. The countryside is gorgeous. And actually, it’s not a million miles from Saturnia with its sulphurous thermal baths. If you need an excuse, that is.