Thursday, September 3, 2015

Baglio Oneto

Rich in historical details, such as an ancient well of Arab architecture, Baglio Oneto was built in the late 18th century and is surrounded by the fertile countryside of Marsala, a few minutes from Trapani, the medieval town of Erice and the Lagoon Nature Reserve enclosing Mozia and Saline. The name comes from Baglio Balarm (home fortress), indicating those houses built in defense from pirate attacks, but also from the Latin ballium, courtyard surrounded by tall buildings or walls. Oneto is the surname of the family owners, who are descendants from the Consul of Genoa Odonetto, which have roots that date back to 1300.  

We stayed at this lovely resort for a couple days during our trip to Sicily.  On the first night of our visit, we first took a tour of the  vineyards and aging wine cellar.  The wines produced here are of high quality, and a special feature is their Marsala DOC Reserve aged over 14 years. We enjoyed the "typical" wine tasting that allowed us to sample: Dara Inzolia, Nero d’Avola Imaginari, Nero d’Avola Barrique Odinetto, Marsala DOC,  as well as Olio Extra Vergine d’Oliva with some bread sticks, cheese and salami.  I had only known Marsala wine to be a "cooking wine", but learned there are different varieties that can be served with a meal or as a dessert wine.  We tried a dry amber colored variety that was super strong, and a sweet purple colored variety that was fragrant of figs.  Paola, the resident sommelier, did an excellent job with the tour and explanation of wines, and we really enjoyed this little tasting.  

We then ate dinner outdoors in the historical court.  All the wines were also available at the restaurant, so we ordered my favorite from the tasting - Dara Nero d'Avola.  This grape is typical to this area of Sicily and the medium bold red wine was smooth with a little peppery finish.  It was a great wine to drink with snacks or a full meal.

For our first dinner we opted for the four course tasting menu for only 35 Euros per person.  I started with the Caprese Salad.  Frankly, it was the only light option that appealed to me, and I figured it was 'salady' enough to start out with.  Again, the portion was huge - more than plenty for one person.  The mozzarella was very fresh as were the ripe tomatoes.

Keith ordered the Swordfish Carpaccio.  He'd never had this type of fish raw before, but it was quite flavorful with a simple drizzle of olive oil and herbs.

For his secondi, Keith chose the Risotto made with Nero d'Avola wine.  It was enriched with the red wine and was very comforting. 

I chose the Pasta alla Norma - a classic Sicilian dish of handmade long corkscrew pasta, called busciate, with eggplant in a tomato sauce topped with lots of ricotta salata.  To say this dish was my favorite, is an understatement. I LOVED this dish.  It really hit the spot, and I enjoyed it so much, that I ordered it again the next day for lunch.  You can see the long curly pasta much better in the picture to the right.  The combination was just so familiar, but to a whole new level.

Next, Keith enjoyed the Veal Marsala.  The sauce was made with wine from their own estate, and the meat was cooked tenderly.  It was served with grilled zucchini, the only vegetable that seemed to be in season besides tomatoes or eggplant.  (It was on every menu and incorporated in almost every dish at every restaurant we dined at during our trip.)

I tried the Roasted Octopus served with plenty of cherry tomatoes.  It was a bit chewy and I was too full from the pasta to eat much more than a few bites.  

For dessert, I chose the Berry Tart.  It was more like dry cake that was hollowed out and stuffed with mixed berries.  It was pretty meh.

Keith chose the Chocolate Semifreddo as his dessert.  It was more cake than ice cream, but had intense chocolate flavor.  It actually paired well with the red wine, as most chocolate does.

On our second night, we had actually planned to dine elsewhere, but that restaurant had a special event going on so no tables were available.  We didn't mind dining at the Baglio Oneto resort again, as it was just so convenient.  This time, we knew what to expect from the portion sizes, so we skipped the appetizers.  We ordered another wine we enjoyed from the estate - Sabina Merlot 2006, a silver medal winner.  This Merlot was pretty strong and deep in purple color, much better than other American Merlots I have tried.

I was debating between another pasta dish or a fish entree, and opted for a pasta with a fish sauce as a compromise.  The busciate was coated in a tomato sauce thickened with fish, which gave a nice salty depth. 

Keith ordered another pasta dish - also using busciate - but his sauce was lighter tossed with olive oil, tomatoes, and shrimp.

 Keith also ordered a secondi of Pork with a Pistachio Cream sauce, served with cooked carrots.  He secretly wished he ordered another veal dish, but the pork was not bad either.

All in all we had a good meal at Baglio Oneto and enjoyed the wine even more.  The dishes were traditional Sicilian fare with emphasis on seafood and fresh vegetables.  The portions were incredibly generous and the prices reasonable.

Total Rating: 3.9
Food: 4, Price: 4, Service: 3, Ambience: 4, Accessibility: 4

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