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VivreManger

Umbria Restaurants: Reviews & Recommendations

94 posts in this topic

Too late for your trip, jg488, but for anyone else going to Umbria, I can suggest Il Postale di Marco e Barbara in somewhat out of the way Cittá di Castello. I had lunch their last July (my second visit to the restaurant) and it was one of the best meals of my 3 weeks in Italy. Barbara is the hostess, her husband Marco, the chef, and her brother is the wine steward; all three are very very friendly and set a wonderful mood. What is very special here is that an amazing tasting menu ("La Terre e li Mare di, Degustazione di Antipasti") can be had for only 45 Euros, the biggest dining bargain I've found in Italy, perhaps anywhere. A gift of the chef, a little ball of liver paté with candied red onions, started the meal. The first course was supposed to be a Miso broth with raw tuna and egg, but I mentioned I don't like egg in soup and was offered a dish of fois gras prepared two ways with homemade marmalade and other sauces (not a bad substitution!). Then, a dish of scallops on a bed of spinach with passion fruit and rasberry sauces (yum!). Then, a broth with shrimp and triglie (red mullet), with a timbale of a tomato puree mixed with bread and vegetables (something like a ribbollita). Then, a sort of joke: two oysters placed on a bed of mozzarella di buffala with green lima beans, made to look a bit like a terrine of pig's feet, but delicious. Then (!), a dish of rana pescatrice (angler fish) with porcini mushrooms and asparagi di mare (a delicious sea alga). And then (!!!), a small portion of guancia di vitello (sort of a rich pot roast) with puree of root vegetables. This was followed by several small desserts. I had glasses of wine to match some of the courses: a great sparkling Riesling from Umbria (La Palazola), a Grecchetto (Palazzone, 2003) from near Orvieto, and a Montefalco Rosso (they poured me two glasses of this one). Wines were only a total of 13 Euros! Not only was this a fantastic bargain, but this is really a great restaurant -- very inventive and everything I had was delicious.

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"Right across the border into Tuscany, near Sansepolcro is fantastic pizza at Il Paradiso (we all call it the Lesbian pizza place as its all run by women...who are totally gorgeous). Try the 'rustico salad" which is simple slices of orange, raw garlic and olive oil. Its an inspired combination."

Oops! That is in San Giustino Umbria and is called "Il Pensiero Stupendo" after a Patty Pravo song from the 70s.

I have no reservations about "il Postale" as I find that for the price it's a great meal. Michelin one star for 30-40 € plus wine?

In C di C there is also "Buongustaio" to recommend any day but Tuesday -- on San Florido. Outside the centro on the road to San Giustino, take the first right after the Cross mall and continue to "Ristorante Pulcinella" for seafood in both Napolitano and Umbrian style. Very good vale. I reviewed it for Slow Travel website.

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Yes! You are right about Il Pensiero. I have a mental block about the name! :biggrin:

I'll have to give Ristorante Pucinella a try, I'm always on the look out for seafood in Umbria.

Judith, have you ever tried La Rocca in Umbertide? Really good fish restaurant, and wonderful people. I crave the lumache....

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Judith, have you ever tried La Rocca in Umbertide?  Really good fish restaurant, and wonderful people. I crave the lumache....

I haven't and must. I am deeply lazy.

I do NOT crave the lumache. They are ruinous to my garden and I hate hate hate them! BUT not enough to eat them for it. I was very careful when planning a party at a restaurant not to get rabbit on my menu, so instead they surprised us with lumache! Erg.

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is la stalla still running, in the hills above assisi? that was a really remarkable little place. very plain, but great bigoli and grilled foods.

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is la stalla still running, in the hills above assisi? that was a really remarkable little place. very plain, but great bigoli and grilled foods.

thats the place that is sort of, like, in a former barn? and has the most divine grilled thing (a big oven right in the middle of the place), and the chairs are not very comfortable? i remember fab: potatoes, sausages, peppers, roasted cheese. the owner is very gregarious, and the decor kinda silly.

but i loved that place. was the place called la stalla or la stella? you're right: remarkable.


Marlena the spieler

www.marlenaspieler.com

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got to this late, sorry. yes, that's the place, exactly. i think it's la stalla (the stall) rather than la stella (the star). it is, after all, in the stalls. at one point, i think they were talking about doing some kind of bnb concept.

i remember one time walking up there one early evening in fall, and hearing a barrage of gunfire going off around me. first day of boar season. they also do the cacciocavallo, where they split the cheese, stuff it with prosciutto and roast it on the grill.

why has it been so long since i've gone to umbria?

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Just south of the beautiful hilltown of Trevi is Taverna del Pescatore with a little stream running by, swans and a tiny rapids.  If the weather is good there is no place nearby with the outdoor ambience.  It was just purchased by the son of the man who built the place.  Watch for the one tiny sign when driving south.

Bumping up this thread to give the website. Googling was only giving me the other TdP. This one is La TdP.

Having eaten at the restaurant several times, I was much looking forward to lunch there last week. Alas, weather-related flight delays out of Philly resulted in our arriving at the restaurant at 3PM, just after service.

We did speak with Moreno about planning a party for 40 or so this fall. He's quite passionate about his dedication to traditional Umbrian cooking, and he was more than happy to craft a menù degustazione that embodies his style and fits our budget. As Dale mentions, the ambience is terrific, both inside and out.

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The Osteria del Trivio, 16 Via del Trivio in Spoleto, (PG), 0743.44349, closed Tuesdays, was a 2007 Slow Food Guide aka Osterie d’Italia recommendation. It looked much like any other osteria/trattoria; widely separated tables, one man working the front room, while two female chefs were in the back, strings of garlic, sausage, dried peppers etc., over the bar. We started with very generous portions of sausages and ham and cheeses served with white pizza plus brochettas with tomato as well as olive oil and garlic self-applied – the product was spectacular, true to Slow Food standards. Then Colette had raviolis of cheese and spinach and I had a pasta with mushrooms. How good were they? So good that upon leaving we booked for dinner; when I had a stuffed artichoke and Colette the minestrone; both real, great product and homey. Then we had biscotti and another regional “cookie” with vin santo. To complete the Spoleto experience we had the crescionda, a gateau of chocolate, macaroons and mistral. Our wines were a Sangiovese and a Montefulco. Lunch was 56 € and dinner 46 €; thus a full meal for two - with two antipasti, two pastas, two mains, three desserts, and two bottles of water, wine and two grappas was 102 €. Take that Mario!

La Trattoria, Strada de Vene, 7, Campello sul Clitunno (PG), 0743.275797, closed Thursday, a few klicks from Spoleto (PG) is a real dump you might easily pass up if driving quickly – unless you had looked in your Osterie d’Italia Guide and read that it served a host of regional specialties. Which we promptly ordered. The amuse bouches were a local version of brochette, but the bread was pretty pallid – I thought it was awful but Colette insisted it was just tasteless. She ordered a pasta with wild asparagus which was OK but not great, whereas my pasta with rancetto (bacon, pecorino and tomato) was superb. Then we shared a pigeon stuffed with its innards with wine sauce and fabulous peppered potatoes roasted with rosemary. The coffee was an unexpected moka (no espresso); the house and only wine was 6 € for a 75 cl bottle (this was wine country after all); the bill 41 €.

Umbria, via S Bonaventura 13, 075.8942737, Todi (PG). “Delectat & Nutrit” the sign says; even I can figure that out, and how true it was. This dark and dingy dump with beamed ceilings in back of the Palace on the main square in Todi was a revelation. You face out over the Umbrian plains, sitting besides a big lit fireplace with a well-used pot-belly stove in the center of the room in winter or on a grape-vine protected terrace in summer. There’s a case full of proscuitto and other hams, cheeses and delicacies. That’s just the start. While not having hit the Slow Food Guide yet, Faith Willinger, an old Osterie Guide and friends were correct in labeling this one a winner. First was a plate of goose chips in bean sauce; their specialty is game; top drawer. Then Colette had braised venison with mushrooms and I a wild boar cacciatoria - terrific. She had a craving for something more and the local cheese was simply superb. The bill, with ample local wine and a grappa was 65.50 €.

Broseccheria, via Garibaldi 43/45, in Foligno (PG), 02745950548. We’d driven long, it was dark and late, we arrived soaking wet. The welcome was marvelous, our host smiling, tie and handkerchief just right; the bit of white bubbly, perfect – what a find! And, we congratulated ourselves, it possessed three primo indicators in the Osterie d’Italia Guide; the cheese, wine and slow food (snail) symbols. The antipasti delivered unrequested were generous: proscuitto, foccacia, cheese bread, meat in bread pastry, ham in bread pastry, stuffed zucchini and tomatoes, beans – all in very rich, almost greasy products. Colette was the first to express doubts; the antipasti starches were too rich, too much like lard, enough already. The lights went out, power off. I looked over at the bar and saw a sign that said Broseccheria, my bird brain must have recognized that this place was not the Bacco Felice we’d reserved at; hadn’t I asked the concierge, the neighboring hotel, indeed our host when we entered? But I was snowed, even after a one-hour wait for the pasta – hey, said I, this is slow food, you want McDo’s, you go there, this is real food. Firsts were forced choices of pastas with a “kind of broccoli” and arugula – no taste, call for cheese, a bit better, but still pretty pathetic. Now it’s dawning on us that this place defines the bottom of the scale, all food in Italy is not great, some is dreadful, even for 45 €. Out! But they don’t take credit cards – the last straw! P.S. Once back at the ranch we realize that our ideal and real restaurants were one block apart. What a difference 26 numbers on the via Garibaldi in Foligno make.


John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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As one who used to spend a lot of time in Spoleto (playing at the festival) I'm curious: can you describe where the Osteria del Trivio is--lower or upper town, near the market or duomo, on the corso? (I don't think it was there back in my day.)

Thanks.

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As one who used to spend a lot of time in Spoleto (playing at the festival) I'm curious: can you describe where the Osteria del Trivio is--lower or upper town, near the market or duomo, on the corso?  (I don't think it was there back in my day.) 

Thanks.

Good question. It's in the lower town, in fact we parked in the Piazza Garibaldi (where S. Domenico and the bank etc are) and walked up the Corso Garibaldi (a largely pedestrian street) about three blocks to the via del Trivio, turned left, and it's a door or two down the street. Neither Mapquest nor the Michelin Rosso are of terrific help.

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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We found 2 fine places in Spoleto. This was close to 10 years ago so things may well have changed. I can't tell you their names or precise locations (though I could walk you drectly to both if anyone wants to fly me over :biggrin: - my brain is wired that way, I can always find my way back to anywhere). One was on a street off the square where they hold the market, off to the left if you're walking uphill - sort of a modern looking trattoria, reasonably priced, distinguished by the best tomatoes that we had in Italy that year. One of those "every bite a revelation" experiences.

The other was still in the upper town but way down the hill near the edge. Small owner-run place - one guy seemed to do everything. A bit cheaper than most places in town, no doubt due to out-of-the-way location, which made for the most affordable truffle dishes we encountered. Also, cruets of the most marvelously green & fragrant olive oil on every table for pouring & dipping bread. This one we found in one of my guidebooks so I probably have its name somewhere. The first one wasn't recommended, it just looked inviting & had something on the menu that I wanted to try, though I forget exactly what that was now. But I remember the insalata.


Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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Spoleto really is full of great restaurants, and truffles are everywhere! I remember a dinner at my landlord's one summer, bruschetta swimming in truffles, and then strangozzi (the local pasta) drowning in truffles. I had no idea how lucky I was back then. That was also when you could get a bottle of brunello for about 20,000 lire or less.

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Four-year (!?!) bump -- but then again, some of us have engaged elsewhere in a discussion of the "lousiness" of Umbrian restaurants. :hmmm:

Had a most enjoyable meal last Sunday at Il Postale, which recently turned down a 500% rent increase at its old digs in Città di Castello and took its Michelin * down to the eastern outskirts of Perugia in the beautiful, historic Castello di Monterone. The restaurant is small, with just five tables, and retains some of the trappings of the old castle (inscription above the fireplace read "Fortebraccio", hathor) with a pleasing, modern overlay.

[apologies for the blurriness]

postale 02.jpg

The evening was warm, and some diners elected instead to eat outside under an elegant covered portico.

A wedding was winding down as we arrived, and that delayed service a bit. We were ushered into a sitting room and promptly served an aperitivo.

postale 01.jpg

In addition to à la carte, two tasing menus were offered: "Dall'Acqua" (fish) and "Sensazioni" (sorta Greatest Hits 1997-2008). We decided to each order one and share each dish, giving us 10 plates to try.

Amuse was a scallop.

DA first: Battuto di scampi, salsa al campari, gelato limone e basilico (camera failure here). Though paper-thin, the scampo was really rich and held up nicely with all the other flavors at work here.

S first: Baverese di bufala, crema di pomodoro, pesto di basilico, croccante di alici

postale 03.jpg

This was one my favorite dishes of the evening. The mozzarella had the consistency of a flan (a "Bavarian creme"), the tomato broth was delicate but really flavorful, and the anchovy bits added a nice touch of salt.

DA second: Calamaro farcito con verdure croccanti, purea de melanzane al nero, peperoni in tempura

postale 04.jpg

A bit difficult to eat, flavors weren't really there for me. The tempura was a nice touch, though, imitating the squid's tentacles.

S second: Millefoglie di lingua di bue, fegato grasso, crema di cipolla de Cannara

postale 05.jpg

A bit of a misnomer, but delicious all the same. Ox tongue and fois gras -- why don't I do this at home? The onions are a variety local to Umbria and, fwiw, recognised by Slow Food.

Midcourse: Carbonara distrutta

postale 06.jpg

Deconstructed carbonara, one of Chef Marco Bistarelli's signature dishes and really not to be missed. The egg in the bottom of the dish was kept warm by the spaghetti atop it. You compose your own forkful of guanciale and noodle and swirl in the egg. Really good.

DA third: Cappesante in potacchio, aria di finocchio

postale 08.jpg

Perfectly braised scallops, nicely paired with the fennel "foam".

S third: Pappa al pomodoro e trippa di vitello all parmagiana

postale 07.jpg

Not much to look at, but really good. The tripe was soft as butter.

DA fourth: Ravioli di seppia e piselli

postale 09.jpg

I found these to be somewhat underdone. The filling was light and summery, though.

S fourth: Tortelli di alici, zuppa di ricotta e mentuccia, uova di aringa

postale 10.jpg

Standout of the night. The tortelli were perfectly cooked, the anchovy filling was delicious, and the combination of ricotta, mint, and herring roe was really, really outstanding. The gold leaf was a tad much, though my dining partner's son, a 10th-grade science nut, was amazed that one would actually eat gold.

DA fifth: Gabillon al vapore arrostito sulla pelle, gazpacho di pomodoro, olive taggiasche, chips di calamari

postale 11.jpg

The pollack was very good -- delicate yet flavorful -- as was the tomato and olive broth.

S fifth: Piccione arrostito con la sua coscia farcita, scaloppa di fegato grasso e verdure croccanti.

postale 12.jpg

No big surprise of preparation here, but accomplished well.

Desserts were competent. A tasty semifreddo with pineapple and lime and a "mojito" and raspberry sauce

postale 13.jpg

and a tagliata di limone, liquirizia, grattachecca di caffé -- I liked the coffee sorbetto part quite a bit

postale 14.jpg

My dining partner doesn't drink, and since I was driving, I indicated I'd drink open wine. This was waved off, and I was presented with a choice of two whites from the wine list (I opted for the Grechetto, hathor, which I have been missing). Midway through the meal, I was poured a Lautizio red from Spoleto, which is made with the ciliegiolo grape and does taste distinctly of cherry.

Service was impeccable. Chef Bistarelli passed regularly through the dining room to check on how we were doing.

With mignardises, coffee, digestivo, water, etc., bill for two came to bit over € 200.

I'm looking forward to a return visit.


Edited by cinghiale (log)

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Very enticing dishes! Thanks for this report, it's an area of Italy I know very little, gastronomically and otherwise.

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