This unassuming little restaurant exemplifies the Italian talent for making something out of nothing, i.e. turning an alleyway between two blocks of flats into a charming little spot in which to eat your lunch.
The tall buildings somehow emphasise the brilliant Italian blue sky which you can just see between them.
We first spotted the Clarice when walking up the Corso Mazzini from the sea. In those days, by the time we had got out of the airport, it was too late for lunch. Lots of places were shut, and although I Tigli, our then favourite in Corinaldo, our home town, would have served us, they were shut on Monday. As we wandered disconsolately around Ancona in the heat, we spotted this sign.
We turned down the little alley behind the sign, found the trattoria and asked doubtfully “Servite pranzo (Are you serving lunch)? ” “Come no (Of course)!” the waiter replied and we sat down. By that time they didn’t have a lot left, but the seafood spaghetti was fine. NB If you don’t like dried chilli flakes, have something else, or ask for “senza peperoncini”.
The Chelsea Fan noticed a framed newspaper cutting about football on the wall inside and on enquiry was told that the place had been founded by the present proprietor’s grandfather, who played for a famous Italian team – he can’t now remember which. When I tried to check this on the Web I couldn’t find anything about a footballer, but I pass it on anyway. However, it is definitely over 60 years old and situated in the former Jewish ghetto. I enquired last year on the restaurant’s Facebook page and they told me that it was founded in 1952 by Clarice Francelli, mother of Amico Franco, who then took the restaurant over, probably in 1959.
We last ate there in May, after our trip to Sirolo with Angela. By the time we left Sirolo it was quite late, and we were glad to know that we’d be able to eat at Clarice’s.
I thought the little fountain on the wall of the watering-hole opposite, the Liberty Cocktail Lounge, was particularly charming. Actually the Cocktail Lounge looks quite charming too, but it’s always about to close when we arrive.
I was impressed by the attractive way the tagliere was served. It tasted good too.
As usual in May, they were serving fresh raw broad beans (fave), delicious when they’re young and tender. At a guess I’d identify the salumi, clockwise from left, as prosciutto, lonza, ciauscolo (spreadable cross between salami and paté), salami of some kind and salami Fabriano, the local salami from the town of Fabriano. The cheese is probably a more mature pecorino on the left, and a pecorino fresco on the right.
This was our starter, after which I had a seafood pasta dish and the Chelsea Fan had an excellent steak. Coffee to finish.
After this we thought we’d see if there were any exhibitions on at the Mole Vanvitelliana, aka the Lazzaretto, a cultural centre,
but in these days of austerity there didn’t seem to be anything. In many ways Ancona is an attractive historic city, but somehow the shopping centre is lacking pleasant places to sit and relax or stroll, though it has improved since some of the main thoroughfares were pedestrianised. You can always go to the Passetto,with its war memorial and sea view, but that is not convenient for the shopping centre. So we decided to go home.