Virtually untravelled by Toscana-happy Americans, Le Marche is an excellent culinary example of cross-pollination. The inherent richness of northern neighboring Emilia-Romagna is made evident through rich pasta dishes such as Vincigrassi, a kind of lasagne made with chicken liver ragù and black truffles; and another dish called Passatelli, which utilizes bread crumb, egg and cheese dowels served in rich chicken broth with lots of grated cheese on top. The relatively spare cucina of western-neighboring Umbria is more obvious in dishes like Potacchio, a spicy stew of rabbit or lamb (or even monkfish), or the simple charcoal-grilled meats that appear on every trattoria menu. The more south-central bent is also evident in products like the simple, soft salami made in Fabriano, the excellent dried pasta made by the Latini family in Osimo, or the farro produced by Fattoria di Montesecco.
As in all of the Italian penninsula, the more local you eat, the more art you can find. Here in Le Marche, the cuisine is quite different in the micro-regional sense, particularly between the more experimental and modern touches apparent in the coastal cuisine versus the neoclassical cooking of the interior Apennines. My “faves” start on the southern coast, where several towns house nearly all of the great restaurants.
One of the most enticing things along the entire Costa Marchigiana is the offering of what is one of my favorite meal starters, raw or marinated seafood.
Up past the not-so-pretty port town of Ancona lies another treasure of a town, Senigallia. The guidebooks rave about La Madonnina del Pescatore, but I did not enjoy my experience there.
Farther north is “Truffle Country,” specifically “White Truffle Country,” as well as the zone di produzione di prosciutto carpegna and the cooking matches the ingredients.