Tag Archives: Umbria

Titigliano Estate – platters and platters

Titignano (33)Titignano Agricola
Loc. Titignano
05018 – Orvieto TR
39-0763-308000
http://www.titignano.it
info@titignano.it

Not even a forecast of heavy rains could keep us away from our appointment with adventure – lunch in a fortified stone structure dating back to the 1100’s. The original castle overlooking the Tiber River is now in ruins but Titignano, its supporting fortress, remains. Built of stone from the Travertine quarries, it was transformed into a palace and small village in the 16th century, and in 1830 it was purchased by Prince Don Tommaso di Filippo Corsini of Florence. It is still owned by the Corsini Family heirs.  Together with the Tenuta di Salviano, the Titignano Estate comprises 2000 hectares, situated between Todi and Orvieto overlooking the Corbara Lake.

Titignano (31)_modificato-1

Titignano (6) It is indeed a dreary November day and a very wet one, keeping us from fully exploring the estate. But inside, the castle both warms and charms us. The main hall of the castle with its original stone hearth is now the restaurant. We have brought large appetites with us and it is a good thing, a sneak preview of this hall reveals tables laden with countless platters.

In short order, those same platters are brought to our smaller dining room, where families and friends have gathered for Sunday lunch, to be consumed with great gusto. Our enjoyment of the meal unfolds in equal measure to theirs. But can we possibly keep up? The wait staff delivers endless antipasti in a practiced choreography around our tables, delivering focaccia and pizzette, crostini and cheese brioches. There is a tris of pastas: risotto with apples, baked lasagne, and pappardelle with Wild Boar sauce. The food reflects a road map of Umbria, its fields and forests, its valleys, farms, and orchards. The cooking reflects the simplicity and wholeness of the traditional dishes that the grandmothers of Umbria have made for centuries. The beef stew and porcini mushrooms are accompanied by green beans, and the platter of mixed grilled meats is followed by a simple tossed green salad. True “farm to table” cooking – we saw the sheep grazing in pastureland on our approach to the castle.

Titignano (3)

Fortified by glasses of local Salviano wines, we eat like warriors, refusing to surrender. We reach dessert, a light tiramisù and biscotti with vin santo. Wouldn’t it be nice to surrender to one of their cozy guest rooms that now rent out to travelers?

Titignano (36)

copyright Ginda Simpson – http://www.rooms-withaview.comhttp://www.gindasimpson.com

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Ristorante Pomarancio – a riverview restaurant

Ristorante Pomarancio

Ristorante Pomarancio
Via Gabriotti, 14
Umbertide
(near the historic center)
39-075-941-5886

info@ristorantepomarancio.it
http://www.ristorantepomarancio.it/

 

 

At the confluence of the Upper Tiber River and its smaller tributary, the Reggia, sits the town of Umbertide.  Ristorante Pomarancio is across the river, a stone’s throw from the historic city center and is named after the 16th century artist whose paintings can be found in the nearby octagonal church known as la Colleggiata.  Ristorante Pomarancio offers outdoor dining on a delightful patio overlooking the river with a view of Umbertide’s ancient dwellings, their muted colors softly reflected in the waters below the city’s old stone walls.

Pomarancio’s large interior dining room has a contemporary, understated elegance, featuring pure white china on linens in shades of khaki and off-white, accented by napkins the color of pumpkins.  Soft music plays in the background, but at least twice a month, the restaurant offers live music.  Just recently, on Valentine’s Day, they hosted an evening of jazz to their 120+ diners.

We enjoyed a leisurely Sunday lunch.  A pleasant Rosso di Montefalco wine kept us company through a four-course meal that began with a mound of porcini mushrooms on a bed of watercress and rucola greens, topped with shavings of pecorino.  A light primo of spinach-filled crepes was followed by stinco di maiale al vino rosso, tender pork shank braised in red wine.  Pomarancio’s chef is from Puglia, bringing a little southern zest to the more traditional dishes of the Umbria region.  Enrico Bacchetti, the restaurant’s manager is a man of vision, each new idea simmers until it is a fait accompli.  Expect to eat well and be entertained on a regular basis at the Pomarancio – a successful part of Umbertide’s restaurant scene.

view from Pomarancio (sm)

View of the River and Umbertide from restaurant

 

copyright – Ginda Simpson – http://www.rooms-withaview.comhttp://www.gindasimpson.com

 

Truffle Heaven at Ristorante alla Balestra

Alla Balestra

Ristorante alla Balestra
Via della Republica, 41
Gubbio (PG)
075-927-3810
http://www.ristoranteallabalestra.it
info@ristoranteallabalestra.it

Owners:  Marco Paciotti & Gialla Bianconi

If there is a truffle heaven, then my daughter and I are seated at the banquet table in one of its palaces. We are enjoying the shade of its canopied terrace with a view of the terracotta rooftops of Gubbio, a medieval hilltown in Umbria. Ristorante alla Balestra provides the magic. Twenty years ago when a local restaurant was closing, present owners Marco and Gialla had the foresight to purchase it and turn it into what soon became and remains today a favorite with the local eugubini. The unsurpassed quality of their Umbrian cuisine – a cuisine that is exquisitely simple and wholly satisfying – is the reason why. Their truffle offerings put them right over the top.

The pumpkin-colored table linens and sleek putty-colored chairs blend well with the warm ancient stone of this centuries-old palazzo. Subtle beauty enfolds us. It is quiet as we embark on this truffle journey, led by the owner who chooses for us. A dish arrives, like a temple offering, holding a thin slice of pork with pear and caciotta cheese, crowned with delectable truffle shavings. Our panzanella is topped with a large prawn, Marco explains, “to far figura” and indeed we are impressed. This is followed by scrambled eggs with truffles. What do you call an antipasto that follows an antipasto? Divine!

Our banquet in paradiso continues with a sampling of umbricelli alla norcina al tartufo – thick hand-made noodles bathed in a cream sauce of sausage, porcini and truffles followed by a tasting portion of tagliatelle con sugo d’oca (duck sauce). In Umbria, pork is king and it reigns here prepared in a reduced Rubesco wine sauce with red onion from Cannara. Our wine? A DOC Grechetto from Vigna di Clara,

We were wise to have Marco guide us through the this multi-course meal. If we had looked at their menu, truly we would never have been able to decide. La Balestra, by the way, means cross-bow or catapult. It might take a catapult to remove us from this table.

Alla Balestra - Owner Marco

Marco Paciotti, Owner

 

copyright Ginda Simpson – http://www.rooms-withaview.comhttp://www.gindasimpson.com

 

Ristorante La Rocca – Seafood in Umbria

La Rocca

Ristorante La Rocca
Piazza Ca
duti del Lavoro,
06019 Umbertide (PG)
075-941-1828
Owners: Mirco e Daniela Fiorucci

The 20th century Ristorante La Rocca sits comfortably in the towering shadow of La Rocca, a 14th century fortress in the historic center of Umbertide. The outdoor dining room is in the middle of a busy square and parked cars, but in spite of this, one is pleasantly surprised by the seafood lunch that unfolds like a leisurely walk along the seashore. Brother and sister owners, Mirco and Daniela, know how to satisfy customers in search of a quality seafood meal in Umbria, the only land-locked region on the Italian peninsula. The restaurant was opened by their parents 28 years ago, starting simply as a pizzeria, then a spaghetteria, and finally offering what they loved most – seafood, influenced by the many years they had worked in Naples. The fish is delivered fresh from Fano, on the Adriatic coast, three times a week.

 

The tables in our sheltered outdoor dining room are cheerful with their raspberry-checkered table linens and jewel-tone glassware. The feel is homey and the food both genuine and abundant. Although typical Umbrian cuisine of all kinds is on the menu, we select a sampling of their seafood offerings, beginning with an appetizer of varied tastes and textures: marinated fresh anchovies, a crisp calamari and cuttlefish salad, shrimp in a home-made cocktail sauce, to name only a few. The delicious handmade pasta is coated with a tomato-based sauce that started as a fish broth and was made creamy by adding a purée of calamari and other gifts from the sea – a ragú di mare.

 

A platter of fried calamari and shrimp arrives at our table and we manage to find just enough room to savor their goodness. Oh why did we eat so many slices of their freshly baked bread with sun-dried tomatoes! All this with a local white wine, sparkling and refreshing on this sunlit day. We have lunched for over two hours, recipients of the 28 years of experience that went into making this experience so memorable.

copyright Ginda Simpson – http://www.rooms-withaview.comhttp://www.gindasimpson.com

Trattoria Volpelli – truffle treasures

Trattoria VoTrattoria Volpelli - winelpelli
Via Cortonese, 14
Loc. Calzolaro
06019 Umbertide (PG)
39-075-930-2305
http://www.trattoriadavolpelli.com
info@trattoriadavolpelli.com
Owner: Marco Caproni
Chef: Irina Caproni

Some of Umbria’s most precious gems are wrapped simply and hidden in the most unexpected places. Trattoria Volpelli is one of them. In the tiny town of Calzolaro, on the outskirts of Umbertide, this family-owned trattoria is unpretentious, its owner modest, its food genuine. Owner Marco is a tartufaio, which means he knows a thing or two about truffles, taking time to explain to us the varieties and their seasons. And he is deeply passionate about preparing dishes that celebrate this prized tuber. He is also knowledgeable about the meats, especially pork, and wild game of the Umbrian/Tuscan countryside and he knows just how to grill them. Simply.

An antipasto platter of hot and cold crostini and salumi is as colorful as a painter’s palette, brought to our table as an introduction to Irina’s culinary talents. The best part of the meal, without a doubt, are our primi, a half serving each of hand-made tagliatelle al tartufo – featuring the Scorzone, or black summer truffle – and delicate gnocchetti with fresh porcini. “Add nothing but un filo, a ‘thread’, of olive oil,” Marco advises and we know not to add any Parmesan, even though he has placed some on our table.

A bottle of a Sangiovese under their own label serves us well. We share a portion of Marco’s mixed grill of pork as he shares the secret to grilling meats to perfection, using lard flavored with sage for chicken, with rosemary for lamb, and with wild fennel for duck. I think we are going to have to return!  Irina, his foreign-born wife, has learned well from her time in the kitchen with Marco’s mother. Thank you Irina, for your skills, Marco for your truffle passion, and the dog who helps you find them.

 

copyright – Ginda Simpson – http://www.rooms-withaview.comhttp://www.gindasimpson.com

Celebrating Life at Ristorante Umbria

Ristorante Umbria

Ristorante Umbria
Via S. Bonaventura, 13
06059 Todi (PG)
39-075-894-2737
http://www.ristoranteumbria.it
ristoranteumbria@gmail.com
Owner: Alessio Todini

Who needs wine when you can drink in these heart-stopping views of the valley below? We are perched on the terrace of the Ristorante Umbria in Todi, a Ristorante Umbria Terrace 1family-owned restaurant that has been wowing diners for three generations. In 1954, Nonno Todini opened the restaurant and was himself chef extraordinaire, followed by his son who is still in the kitchen, and now by his grandson, Alessio, an energetic man who does his family proud.

Their menu is extensive, featuring the bounty of Umbria in all their dishes whether pasta, soups, meat or game and, of course, what comes in fresh from the surrounding fields and orchards. Even when pared down to the Ristorante Umbria tableofferings on the menu of the day, the selections are many and all tempting – it is a tough decision. We choose the home-made linguine made with the famous durum wheat of Gragnano, and then tossed in a delicate mixture of fresh herbs, asparagus, pancetta and pecorino cheese. Pappardelle are one-inch wide flat noodles made by hand and in the Todini hands, this dish totally satisfies in a heartier way. Pappardelle al sugo di lepre show off what can be done with a tomato sauce flavored with hare. These dishes lead up to our secondi: braised pork ribs with polenta and lamb cacciatore-style.

Ristorante Umbria interiorJust as inviting as the terrace, the interior dining rooms are cozy, one with a large camino for fireside dining during the cooler months. The other retains its frescoed walls, beneath vaulted ceilings, a room that dates back to the 1500’s when it served as a meeting place for the Accademia dei Convivanti, a group of literati of the time.

We lunch slowly on this sun-lit day, fully mindful of the blessing of this outstanding meal delivered to our table where a soft breeze caresses our shoulders and the views renew our spirits. We do drink wine – a local Sangiovese. After all, it feels like a celebration, if for no other reason than to honor the Todini family and their dedication to the traditional cuisine of Umbria. Perhaps we will stop at their newly opened Caffetteria Beganti to enjoy our after-lunch coffee, or we may just want to linger here for awhile…

Ristorante Umbria - owner Alessio & waiters

Alessio Todini (center) with his waiters

 

copyright – Ginda Simpson – http://www.rooms-withaview.comhttp://www.gindasimpson.com

 

 

Bevagna at its best – Enoteca di Piazza Onofri

Enoteca

Enoteca di Piazza Onofri
Piazza Onofri
Bevagna
39-0742-361-926
info@enotecaonofri.it
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.

Chef at Enoteca

Chef Nicola Santificetur

copyright – Ginda Simpson – http://www.rooms-withaview.comhttp://www.gindasimpson.com