Tag Archives: Umbria

Simplify, slow down, savor… Lunch at Ristorante Nicolao

Park Hotel Ai Cappuccini - GubbioRistorante Nicolao
Park Hotel ai Cappuccini
Via Tifernate
06024 Gubbio (PG)
39-075-9234
http://www.parkhotelaicappuccini.it
info@parkhotelaicappuccini.it

Our inner wisdom (and life coaches too) remind us of our need to simplify, slow down, savor… Sunday is the perfect day to put this into practice and lunch at Ristorante Nicolao in Gubbio offers the perfect venue for doing just that. The interior of this restaurant belonging to Park Hotel ai Cappuccini is simple in its décor, nothing to distract from the experience of dining. We allow our waiter to suggest our luncheon menu, never a regrettable decision when in Italy. We linger after our antipasto of scrambled eggs with summer truffles. We are in no hurry as we await our first course. Freshly made lasagne and a plate of handmade tagliatelle al ragù arrive filling the air with the scents of an Italian kitchen, a bouquet of tomatoes, basil, garlic and aged pecorino. Simple ingredients transformed into something sacred…

 

My granddaughter and I slow down even more and spend our time in quiet conversation. Our waiter brings us the main course which he has chosen for us – tagliata of beef, rosemary-infused medium rare slices fan out on our plate, paired with perfectly grilled zucchini and potato slices. The restaurant has filled up with couples and families savoring moments together as well as the flavorful offerings of an extensive menu.

 

It is time to choose a sweet ending from a very tempting dessert menu and our waiter leaves the difficult decision to us. A sour cherry topped cheese cake for my granddaughter and a trio of made-to-order fresh fruit sorbets for me. We have chosen wisely by having lunch here, we have slowed down and savored the chef’s cuisine. Thank you, Ristorante Nicolao, for providing all the ingredients for a perfect Sunday afternoon.

copyright Ginda Simpson – http://www.rooms-withaview.comhttp://www.menus-and-memories.com

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Park Hotel ai Cappuccini – immersed in tranquility

2018c Park Hotel ai CappucciniPark Hotel ai Cappuccini
Via Tifernate
06024 Gubbio (PG)
39-075-9234
http://www.parkhotelaicappuccini.it
info@parkhotelaicappuccini.it

Perched on the side of Mount Foce in a wooded park-like setting, the building of this monastery was begun in 1631 to accommodate the Capuchin monks who had settled in this region for its splendid views and the isolation it provided for a contemplative life. It remained an active monastery until 1866, was then secularized and eventually left to deteriorate. A century later it was converted into a hotel and in 1990 was meticulously restored to become the Park Hotel ai Cappuccini. Great care was taken to preserve its original architecture and its frescoes.

First and foremost, what remain are the splendid views, the tranquility of its setting, and a chance to retreat into a world of quiet contemplation. What enhances the experience is the addition of every modern amenity, an indoor pool that opens to a sun-drenched terrace, a spa, a fitness center, an award-winning restaurant, and a caring, attentive staff. The rooms are quiet and comfortable, the furnishings throughout the hotel are sophisticated and outstanding artwork is present everywhere. The public spaces offer an eclectic mix of ancient paintings, religious art, traditional pottery and contemporary ceramics and sculptures, representing the best of the region’s artistic achievements, both past and present. If a guest were to never leave the grounds, a stay here satisfies in every way.

But within a short distance, there is much to enjoy in Gubbio, a medieval town with roots that stretch back to ancient Rome and beyond. Begin your visit with a stroll around the ancient Roman Theater, take a cable car to the Church of Sant’Ubaldo, sample the local flat bread called crescia with a wedge of pecorino, admire artisan wares in the many shops, then return home to your hotel and enjoy a fabulous meal at Ristorante Nicolao.

copyright ginda simpson – http://www.rooms-withaview.comhttp://www.gindasimpson.com


Osteria dei Re – Farm to Table dining in Gubbio

Osteria dei Re - signOsteria dei Re
Via Cavour, 15/B
06024 Gubbio (PG)
39-075-922-2504
http://www.osteriadeire.com
info@osteriadeire.com
Owner: Moreno Brunelli

Osteria dei Re is on the only true osteria in Gubbio, so it is important to owner Moreno Brunelli, that it maintain its authenticity. What is an osteria? In the past, it was a simple tavern where the townsfolk would come mostly to drink wine together, enjoying whatever simple fare was offered on the side. It was never a restaurant, and therefore, the offerings were few – simple, local, and freshly prepared. Moreno adheres to this, offering a limited menu that celebrates a tradition his grandmother enjoyed in this very same osteria nearly eighty years ago.  It is like a step back in time to be having lunch in this rustic tavern.  There is also outdoor dining in the piazza.

This is truly a farm to table experience, with ALL the products carefully selected from local farmers who do not engage in raising factory-fed animals, but rather on a small scale, practice sustainable, organic farming. From the olive oil to the wine, from the pork to the poultry, Moreno personally knows the source or he would not be serving it. He even barters wine and bread with a local peasant who brings him fresh rosemary, sage, and other herbs from the mountainside. No elaborate recipes are needed to show off this cuisine.

Osteria dei Re - Piattone del Re

So what better way to experience what this osteria has perfected than to indulge in the Piattone del Re – otherwise known as the King’s Platter? Serving two persons, but enough for four, the platter is about 18 inches in diameter and is a feast of flavors. Starting with the warm crescia, the traditional flat bread of Gubbio, we first sample the two small bowls of cottiche e fagioli, an immensely flavorful bowl of borlotti beans in a tomato sauce with pork rind. Going clockwise around the platter, there is bruschetta with crispy thin slices of quanciale, polenta with lard, puréed zucchini, roasted potatoes, fried sage, prosciutto and caciotta cheese with truffles. How we had room to share a decadent chocolate dessert is a mystery.

Osteria dei Re - birthday board

The Osteria dei Re recently celebrated 18 years in business. Moreno does it right and his grandmother would be proud!  Congratulations!

copyright Ginda Simpson – http://www.rooms-withaview.comhttp://www.menus-and-memories.com

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

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