L’Asinello is not your usual Michelin-starred restaurant. It is housed in an old barn in the small 9th-century town of Villa a Sesta, a fraction of Castelnuovo Berardenga, where the population is just sixty, surrounded the iconic endless rows of vineyards. You can go around this tiny town in just a few minutes and one of its nearest neighbors is another Michelin-starred restaurant of 20 years. In the outskirts of Siena, L’Asinello is in the heart of Chianti where the roads leading to it present you with endless panoramas of vineyards and terracotta structures. Walking through its gate, it reveals a patent countrified structure with a garden and an indoor dining area with restored wood-beamed ceiling, terracotta floor and periodic wooden Tuscan furniture. It has a frankness in its discretely refined setting with a homey character that enfolds you. It’s a place where dining is personal – between you, the food, the wine and the tranquility that surrounds you.
Owners Senio Venturi, originating from Siena and his wife Elisa Bianchini, originating from Rimini, had the extraordinary courage when they renovated the old stable to create L’Asinello in 2011. They arrived at Villa a Sesta by chance and quickly fell in love with the old barn. It was a daring move to resurrect it but there was optimism that it would become a referral point for Tuscan hospitality and cuisine as the couple work side by side with Senio in the kitchen and Elisa in the dining room. They called it L’Asinello because like the animal, it signifies stubbornness which is how they were when they went against all odds, away from tourism and the cities, when they decided to make the small town their new culinary home. Perseverance was the key that they invested on. It was a steep road to their attainment but truly, their faith pushed through. In 2019, a Michelin star arrived at their doorstep. A year later, it landed on the 28th position in the Cucina d’Autore 50 Top Italy and most recently, in 2021, the 18th position at 50 Top Italy. Like Midas touch, the couple have gone through an incredible voyage together from ruins to gold in an unexpected place.
Born in 1978, Senio started his professional undertaking in the starred kitchens of Gianfranco Vissani at Casa Vissani in Umbria where he remained for a year, then in Rimini with Riccardo Agostini at Povero Diavolo for 2 years and following him afterwards at Il Piastrino for 3 years, and finally a year at Acero Rosso with Fabio Rossi. Senio and Elisa met at Povero Diavolo wherein from that moment, they became inseparable at work and in life.
The kitchen is strongly supported by the solid pillars of Tuscan cuisine with an approach of sobriety in its creativeness. The raw materials, are of course of excellent quality from local suppliers who believe in the same philosophy of respect for traditions and genuineness. Senio’s dishes feature the soul of Sienese cuisine with a diversity in its contemporary proposition. They are straightforward and sincere focusing on the territory and raw materials but in constant evolution. They’re not too modern that it loses the tradition but just to keep it wrapped in his personal signature with the scale of classic tastes evident in every bite.
The prices are reasonable: appetizers are between €18 to €22, first dishes of pasta and risotto between €20 to €22, main courses between €24 to €30 and desserts at €10. There are two Tasting Menus: four courses chosen by the chef at €60, and five courses chosen by the chef at €70. The wine list curated by Elisa, has more than 200 labels, from local proposals to national and international.