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The Highway Stop Turns Gourmet: Introducing the First Autogrill Bistro

Who hasn’t, at least once before, driven along Italy’s “highway of sunshine”, locally known as the Autostrada del Sole? Highway A1 which, since its inauguration in 1964, crosses Italy and brings us to Bologna, Florence and Rome. The road which, seemingly infinite, is synonymous why an escape from our beloved Milan: towards the piadina (flat bread sandwiches) of the Riviera, towards the artichokes of Rome, towards the thick, linguine-like scialatielli of the Amalfi Coast. And again, who has never stopped at one of the Autogrill’s along the way? We may have never found the guy or the girl with the “dimpled smile or the bright teeth from an advertisement” as Guccini once sang, but we surely found stories: the ones written on the walls of the bathrooms, with phone numbers, little hearts and (the occasional) obscenities. The one where people, just ordinary, casual people, seemed to meet for appointments in the middle of a trip leading to who knows where. The one where people stop, late at night, for a coffee to help them keep their eyes open on the road.

Over the past few days, the story of an Autogrill, the one located in Fiorenzuola d’Arda in the province of Piacenza (roughly an hour southeast of Milan), has caused buzz around its healthy and delicious food and short distribution chain (read: food made on the spot with local products). The first highway bistro was inaugurated here on Tuesday – the one I had written about in the article about the Mercato del Duomo in Milan. The location of Fiorenzuola wasn’t selected at random: it is the largest in Italy and the first to be built with a bridge (allowing access to the same Autogrill from both sides of the highway) in all of Europe. In the coming year, over 1 million 900 thousand people are expected to stop here: incredible, isn’t it?

What can you expect to find here? All sorts of goodness, carefully selected in collaboration with the University of Gastronomic Sciences of Pollenzo and with the finest local producers. The philosophy behind the project aims to promote local products and recipes through the short distribution chain mentioned above and promote the producers of the territory through a rigorous selection process that takes into account the principles of good and healthy food.

Autogrill Bistrot Fiorenzuola d'Arda

Purple Potato Fries| © Caterina Zanzi

Autogrill Bistrot Fiorenzuola d'Arda

The Array of Italian Meats| © Caterina Zanzi

On the ground floor, there is the oven with its pizzas and bread made with natural yeast, and the typical sweets; the cafeteria where one goes to recharge thanks to a Neapolitan coffee made with a kettle; the fruit stand with its freshly pressed juices, fresh smoothies and fruit salads. There is also the market where you can buy local products such as vinegar and more good Emilian cold cuts. But it is on the top floor where you’ll be really amazed: here, the pasta makers prepare a wide variety of fresh pastas on the spot, using flour from the Voghera Mills and extruding it through bronze. There are meat specialties from the grill and the barbecue and salads or cold gastronomy dishes.

Having tried them, I suggest, above all else, the Fassone beef hamburgers and the meats (all of them, from the capicolla to the felino and even to the strolghino). I promise that, as legendary as it is, you won’t be missing the classic Autogrill Rustichella sandwich that much! 

Autogrill Bistrot Fiorenzuola d'Arda

The Fresh Pasta Corner| © Caterina Zanzi

Autogrill Bistrot Fiorenzuola d'Arda

A Delicious Fassone Mini-Burger| © Caterina Zanzi

Autogrill Bistrot Fiorenzuola d'Arda

A Taste of Piacenza-style “long” Tortellini| © Caterina Zanzi

Autogrill Bistrot Fiorenzuola d'Arda

Some of the Products| © Caterina Zanzi

Autogrill Bistrot Fiorenzuola d'Arda

Handmade Pasta| © Caterina Zanzi

What do you think, is it worth a stop during your next trip? 


Read the original article on Conosco un PostoThis English version was translated by Kelsey Rivett.

This post was offered by Autogrill. 

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