This restaurant belongs to the elegant Orto degli Angeli, an elegant “Residenza d’Epoca” in the heart of Bevagna. It is situated in the cavernous remains of the curved, barrel-vaulted ambulatory that once supported the cavea of the ancient Roman amphitheater, dating to the 1st century A.D. The food is extremely good, yet simple fare, as the chef adheres as faithfully as possible to recipes that date back to medieval times. I chose a tasting menu that followed family recipes, originally created by the Mongalli family’s nonna. These dishes, with an emphasis on the freshest vegetables and herbs, demonstrate how simple ingredients, when placed in the right hands, can be turned into recipes worth repeating and recording. Thank goodness, grandma did. Indeed, Julien, our waiter explained, using no more than four ingredients is the key to the success of these cherished recipes.
Although there are remains of ancient Roman amphitheaters in many parts of the world, in Bevagna, these intact stone galleries are incorporated into the medieval dwellings and are still “lived in” today, something that occurs nowhere else in the world. So to sit at table in this 2000 year-old stone corridor, where the music is soft and the food simply good is a once- in-a-lifetime experience. The Latin name, “Redibis,” however, wishes otherwise, as it means, “You will be back.” I certainly hope so.
Enoteca di Piazza Onofri
Owners – Angelo & nephew Nicola Santificetur
Chef – Nicola Santificetur
One expects good wine from an enoteca, and surely good food to go with the grape. But food prepared by the extremely deft hands of Nicola Santificetur surpasses all expectations. He could not have learned his craft solely in hotel school. His culinary talents are a gift!
We wisely followed the advise of our waiter, Alan, who suggested one superb dish after another. Panzanella, a traditionally “poor man’s” salad utilizing bread crumbs, was a tribute to the simple goodness of a varied garden salad and great bread, when combined and presented to perfection by this young man. His real triumphs were in the artistry and flavors of his game dishes. I had tender pheasant prepared in a crunchy potato crust with a contorno of zucchini, while my husband enjoyed duck breasts, the meat rare and juicy, topped in a crust of pistachios. This was accompanied by couscous with apricots and almonds. Our wines were all selections from Umbrian vineyards: a Palazzone white from Orvieto, a Lungarotti Rubesco Reserve and a Colpetrone Sagrantino from Montefalco. Excellent choices, thanks to Alan’s guidance.
The enoteca opened ten years ago in a 12th century building that previously housed an old olive mill. The candlelit tavern-type tables lend special warmth to the dining room with its vaulted ceilings. Soft music, great Umbrian wines and excellent cuisine – Bevagna at its best.