(Near Stowe, Sugarbush, Bolton Valley)
For two decades, chef Tony DiRuacco-a native son of the Italian island of Capri-has been luring Stowe-bound wayfarers to his Tuscanized 1820 farmhouse to enjoy an unusual yet surprisingly successful hybrid: Vermont-Italian cuisine. The dining porch, transfigured by terra-cotta tones and trailing ivy, frames Green Mountains in lieu of Appenines, and the cross-cultural approach finds its apotheosis in an entrée of scallopine alla Vermontese ($16.50), in which maple syrup, mustard seeds and grilled apples contribute to a Marsala-spiked sautée. Those seeking something light (relatively speaking) can assemble or share a meal of "Italian tapas"-small plates ranging from simple spaghetti with garlic and oil ($2.50) to ostriche in camicia, fresh oysters sautéed with leeks and peppercorns in a gratinéed brandy cream sauce ($9.50). Devotees often opt for the $40 tasting menu, a five-course extravaganza that might commence with succulent pumpkin gnocchi and culminate in a volcanic chocolate timbale. On Fridays, for a $5 surcharge, these treats come with entertainment: In the wood-beamed Theatre Barn, local musicians dish up genres ranging from cabaret to Caribbean.
Information: Villa Tragara, Route 100, Waterbury, Vt.; 802-244-5288, www.digitalfrontier.com/saa/villa.
Ski East: Dining In, February 2001