Where to eat in Isernia: the best restaurants chosen by Gambero Rosso

Feb 27 2024, 13:41
Molise carries a reputation as a transient land, a place of transhumance, although it is an area rich in resources and traditions deserving of a dedicated stop. Isernia, in particular, is worth a visit for its history and also for its dining scene, where surprises abound

With just over 20,000 inhabitants, bordered by the Volturno River and featuring a historic gem of a city center dominated by the Cathedral of San Pietro Apostolo, Isernia is a town with a centuries-old history. Positioned on hills amidst the Southern Apennines and surrounded by the Matese Mountains, it's no wonder it's known as the "city of trekking," thanks to numerous trails perfect for hiking enthusiasts.

Another highlight is its role as the host of the European Carnival of Zoomorphic Masks, an event with ancient roots that attracts a large number of visitors and tourists. It involves a spectacular parade of hundreds of participants dressed mainly as animals from the jungle and pasture. Regarding food and wine, Isernia is at the heart of a land rich in resources with a deep-rooted agropastoral gastronomic tradition. The city's dining scene is closely tied to the typical repertoire, with a few delightful surprises, even on the seafood front. Here are the restaurants, pizzerias, trattorias, and grills selected by Gambero Rosso.

Where to eat in Isernia

Distinto Ristorante

Restaurant. Since its opening, Vincenzo has grown significantly, reinterpreting tradition instinctively, with balance and respect for raw materials. From the modern technique of molecular Spritz to the legacy of crispy warm bread, his cuisine is a constant surprise. The homemade pappardelle with sausage ragu and fennel crumble is a harmony of crispiness and flavors. Successful fusion with the oriental chicken roll. The idea of colorful chocolates is delightful.

Distinto Ristorante - c.so Marcelli, 321 - 0865 250396 - distintoristorante.it

Existo Osteria Molisana

Trattoria. A solid establishment that has earned a large following over the years thanks to the passionate promotion of local resources. Just read the frequently changing menu that mentions all suppliers: Pallotta cac'e ova with caciocavallo fondue, fresh truffle, and sun-dried tomato pesto; lasagna filled with buffalo stew, roasted Isernia onion cream, and sweet pepper powder; "ode to cod and onion," Senatore Cappelli tagliatelle with cod, Pentro saffron, sun-dried tomato pesto, and crispy onion. Pleasant surprises also on the seafood front. Family-friendly atmosphere and service, local wines, and frequent themed evenings.

Existo Osteria Molisana - c.so Marcelli, 317 - 0865 299379 - Facebook

Guakamaya da Carlo 2.0

Pizzeria. Carlo Tamburro, a self-taught native of Molise, relocated his business from Sant'Agapito to the historic center of Isernia about three years ago. Here, he runs a spacious venue (around seventy seats plus outdoor seating), assisted by his parents and a small team of young individuals like him (he is just over thirty). He offers round pizzas made with a mix of selected flours, 70% hydration, and 24-hour leavening. For toppings, he mostly relies on local resources, especially in the vegetable department. Also, try the fried options.

Guakamaya da Carlo 2.0 - c.so Marcelli, 282 - 366 3628546 - Facebook

Iallonardi Sapori Autentici

Grill. A small and well-maintained venue showcases the specialties of Iallonardi, an artisanal salami producer born in the 1960s in Cerro al Volturno, a small mountain village in the province of Isernia, later expanding with various outlets. Butcher shop and deli, here you can taste excellent selections of salami and cheeses, and sandwiches made with local meats (you can also shop and order specialties to go). Don't miss the hamburgers and the sandwich with their own production of porchetta. Welcoming with cordiality and competence.

Iallonardi Sapori Autentici - via P. Patriarca, 26 - 0865 221389 - iallonardisalumi.it

O' Pizzaiuolo

Pizzeria. The location already speaks for itself, and the attentive management ensures quality all around, with an encyclopedic menu featuring the Molise sandwich and the "majesty of cod," sea and land alongside a varied selection of pizzas (also available for lunch except on Saturdays and Sundays). Regardless of the dough, whether classic, whole grain, or seven cereals, tasty rounds come out of the wood-fired oven, the result of careful leavening and well-appreciated cooking. And then the toppings: a nice journey both in simplicity, with options like Margherita, Marinara, or Vegetariana, and when choosing among the "specials." This includes the Molisana, composed of broccoli cream, fiordilatte, dry sausage, and Agnone caciocavallo. Good beer and wines.

O' Pizzaiuolo - c.so Marcelli, 214 - 0865 412776  - ristoranteopizzaiuolo.it

Sorsi & Morsi

Restaurant. Molise is present and manages to offer excellent fish even in the mountains by adopting a Neapolitan, in this case Peppe, who presents fish in always new forms without overdoing it. The venue is welcoming, well-maintained without excess, with wooden tables without tablecloths. The number of appetizers may be reduced, but not their quality. If you love anchovies and Lucio Battisti, no hesitation: Mare Nero, a spaghetti with black garlic, Cantabrian anchovies, and colatura. Unmissable is the homemade lemon delight at the end. A passionate and non-trivial wine list. Friendly service, but prices have increased.

Sorsi & Morsi - via Umbria, 4 - 0865 414650 - Facebook

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