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FOOD WITH A VIEW
Where: Ristorante Castello Banfi, Montalcino, Italy
Why Go: No one nails the Tuscan countryside fantasy quite like this decadent hilltop hotel-winery, whose medieval stone fortress dates to the 800s.
A Side of Atmosphere: The dining room, housed in one of the "newer" 17th-century buildings, has only seven tables, making for an incredibly intimate experience. Except for the leafy, frescolike wallpaper, the decor is simple: wooden crossbeams, white tablecloths, enormous fireplace. Windows overlook a rolling patchwork of vineyards backed by the rising cone of Monte Amiata, Italy's second-highest volcano.
Appetite for Seduction: Upstart Guido Haverkock has earned a Michelin star for his exquisite, ingredients-driven cooking: white truffle risotto with pork from heirloom pigs; beef cheeks braised with Brunello; and thick, handmade spaghetti in pigeon and quail sauce. Cap off the epic, seven-course tasting menu with a doppio espresso.
The Hot Seat: The fireplace room may be warmer and livelier, but the back room—which has only two tables—is the better spot for an intimate dinner.
Ristorante Castello Banfi
Tel: 39 05 7781 6054