One of the really welcome surprises in this tiny mountain village is the great choice in restaurants. On our very first day in Cianciana, after a busy morning looking at houses, Nick and I wanted to find a place to get some food and talk about what we had seen. After a couple of unsuccessful attempts at finding an open restaurant we asked two fellows just standing in the street. They motioned for us to follow them in their car. A short 6 or 7 blocks away, we found ourselves on Via Siracusa in front of Cortile Halykos, a restaurant and pizzeria owned by Andrea Giannone.
His restaurant, like every other in town, was only open for dinner, but he welcomed us in and said he would make lunch for us even though he was closed. From the outside, you would not realize that there was a restaurant behind the doors but inside! Old stonewalls and a stone floor lead you uphill to an entrance marked by an ancient stone well. Walking past the well you find yourself in an open-air garden courtyard. Half a dozen tables sit here. To the side is a stone archway, which leads to a covered area, again with half a dozen tables and the kitchen through a doorway on the side. Again, through another archway and you find yourself in the last garden courtyard, surrounded by the omnipresent stonewalls. Andrea served us wonderful spaghetti that day. We were so surprised at his kindness and his desire to welcome us and also at the wonderful flavours of the spaghetti, I completely forgot to take notes. Nick and I did, however, return a few days later, in order to try his pizza and deserts, which we had been told, were excellent.
We were not disappointed. Nick ordered Eclissi di Luna (Eclipse of the Moon) – a pizza that came in three parts: one third was encased in pizza dough like a calzone, one third was pizza and one third was salad made of the vegetables, cheese and fish on the pizza. This is a house specialty and was delicious (yes, I made Nick share a little!). Its toppings included tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, parmesan, arugula, cilantro, bresaolo and flakes of a fish for which I don’t know the name. I ordered the Madrilena. It was a full pizza covered with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, wild mushrooms, smoked meat, sausage, and scamorza. Again, delicious.
The pizzas were large and filling but when we were tempted with the desert menu and were told by the smiling young man who served us that there were two desert specialties of the house, Nick and I gave in and tried them. I had Cannolo con Ricottadi Pecolla – a cream puff filled with homemade cream made with ricotta that is a local treat. The cream puff was then rolled in chocolate gelato and covered with chocolate sprinkles. This was as close to rapture as I think a non-Catholic can come.
Nick had the Crostata ai Frutti di Bosco, a cake covered with fresh berries. Between the layers of cake was the light and luscious cream filling. Scrumptious doesn’t even start to describe it.
The service is wonderful. Apart from the pleasant young man who tempted us with the deserts, we were also served by Andrea’s wife whose name (please forgive me) has escaped my peri-menopausal mind. She is a strikingly lovely woman who was very friendly, particularly when she discovered that we were renting an apartment from her aunt, Rosalia, another very friendly and helpful Ciancianese.
If you make your way to Cianciana – or even close to Cianciana – Cortile Halykos is well worth a visit. You will not be disappointed.
Cortile Halykos Ristorante e Pizzeria di Giannone Andrea
Via Siracusa, 20, Cianciana (AG)
338-314-2813 or 328-915-2784