The best places to eat, stay, shop and visit in the South West

Stirring opera, sexy sports cars, preppy style and religiously regional food – we’re enraptured by the pleasures of Italy. No need to travel though, as at Jano in Totnes, Alexandra Lappon and Mino Oggiano demonstrate their foodie culture with flair and warmhearted hospitality, discovers Rosanna Rothery

From organic olive oil made on their Lazio farm to sharing details such as the name of their salami curer, Italians Alex and Mino celebrate genuine regional produce, cooked simply and served with love.

VISIT to be beguiled by the Jano team’s enthusiasm for the cured meats, cheeses and antipasti that they import specially from producers in Italy. Alex is on hand to tell you the culinary lineage of an unpasteurised cow’s milk cheese reaching back to medieval times and to extol the virtues of baby peaches matured in truffle oil.

The pleasure is as much in listening to the tales behind each delicious item as it is about savouring each flavour. Sharing plates of cold cuts, cheeses, marinated artichokes, peppers stuffed with tuna, wild broccoli and olive pâté make for a tangle of forks and cries of: ‘you’ve got to try this’. And when it comes to the outrageously good gorgonzola, be ready to fight for your fair share.

But as this cosily atmospheric restaurant also has a deli and online shop selling the produce it serves, you can have a second go at it all at home.

DON’T VISIT for red gingham tablecloths and chianti bottle candles; this is a far cry from the identikit trattorias and their anglicised dishes.

WE LIKED the freshness of the pasta. Leave carbohydrate and gluten reviling to others and revel in the sublime comfort of vegetarian lasagne, beef cannelloni, and ricotta and spinach ravioli.

Pasta isn’t the only way to soothe the soul though; try consoling yourself with baby octopus cooked in red wine or beef carpaccio, followed by a decadent chocolate and raspberry mousse and mind and body will be blissfully becalmed.

Insider's tip

Finish in the fine Tuscan tradition of dipping almond cantucci biscotti into sweet vin santo.

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