A Sheffield restaurant has unearthed an 'extremely rare' fungus – and it is worth over a thousand pounds

A Sheffield restaurant received a special delivery this week when a truffle over three times bigger than the usual size arrived from the owner’s hometown in Italy – and in 42 years in restaurant service he hasn’t see one of this magnitude.

Friday, 22nd November 2019, 11:35 am
Updated Friday, 22nd November 2019, 5:01 pm
Owner Vito with the winter white truffle

The winter white, a variety of the mysterious and flavoursome truffle, a luxury in the culinary scene, arrived at Vito’s Italian restaurant on South Road this week.

The truffle arrived from Bella, owner Vito Ciaraolo's hometown in southern Italy, and had been sent over by a friend.

However, it certainly didn’t arrive how Vito had expected it.

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The gigantic truffle will be used this week in pasta and risotto.

He said: "I rang my friend, a truffle hunter in Italy, and I said, ‘when you get the white truffle will you send me some?’

"Soon after, he rang me up and said, 'I've sent the truffle, see what you think when it comes'.

"When I opened the parceI, I was absolutely shocked because of the size of it.”

These truffles are extremely hard to find, needing specialists to dig them out from underground.

Vito Ciaraolo hasn't seen a truffle like this in 42 years in the hospitality industry

This makes them notorious for how expensive and desirable they are; for restaurateurs and diners alike.

This particular type, the winter white, is a commodity native to Italy during this season.

They usually arrive at Vito’s Italian restaurant at a size of 70 grams.

This particular truffle is a massive 300 grams, over three times bigger than the usual truffle found in restaurants across the UK.

Vito said: "In 42 years of my restaurant career I haven't seen one of them that big.

"The truffle is very rare – to get one like this, especially in England, is extremely rare.

"This one is like a big, big jacket potato."

The bigger the size of the truffle, the more expensive they get as the bigger truffles have more flavour to them and are more difficult to find.

Finding this gigantic luxury would not have been easy for Vito’s friend.

Vito said: "I have been truffle hunting with him a few times myself.

"I bet to dig that truffle out it must have taken him about half a day.

“When you find the truffle, you have to be really careful as you don’t want to split it.

"To dig out a truffle like that you would have to dig a hole with about a metre diameter.”

The white truffle has a lifespan of about a week, and will be used to make pasta, risotto and to accompany steak in Vito’s restaurant which has been serving authentic Italian cuisine to the people of Sheffield for 28 years.

Vito added: "The plan is to make some money out of it - it cost a fortune.

"It cost about £1,500 so if it doesn't sell i'll eat it myself.

“It’ll be a good diet.”

You can find this monster of a truffle at Vito’s Italian restaurant on 284 South Road, and it is open for dining from 6pm Tuesday to Sunday.