Tag Archives: Umbrian Cuisine

Simplify, slow down, savor… Lunch at Ristorante Nicolao

Park Hotel Ai Cappuccini - GubbioRistorante Nicolao
Park Hotel ai Cappuccini
Via Tifernate
06024 Gubbio (PG)

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

A Simple Feast at Il Granaro del Monte

Il Granaro

Il Granaro del Monte
Hotel Grotta Azzurra
Via Alfieri 7
06046 Norcia (PG)

We feasted at our hotel’s restaurant, Il Granaro del Monte, considered a national culinary monument.  I was in agreement from the very first savory bite.  What makes their cooking so extraordinary?  Ordinary, wholesome ingredients prepared with a love and respect for the land that produces them – Norcia!  The Black Truffle is king and is an essential part of the cuisine of Umbria.  Truffles are best consumed shortly after being extracted from the ground, as their particularly strong scent and taste fade quickly.   At the Granaro, the chef does not allow this to happen and he prepares the truffles in countless ways.  For me, they are absolutely divine simply perched on a mound of handmade tagliatelle.   But a meal would not be complete without sampling Norcia’s lamb and cured pork specialties, the lentils of Castelluccio (presented here in a velvety soup), the spelt, the cheeses…

Picture the sheep as they graze in the flower-filled meadow of Castelluccio, the cheeses made from the sheep’s milk, the honey of a thousand wildflowers.  These are the elements that are used to recreate traditional dishes following ageless recipes, held dear by the Bianconi family and presented daily to their guests.


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)
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 di Piazza Onofri
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.

Chef at Enoteca

Chef Nicola Santificetur

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

Dinner in a building that dates back to the 13th century

Caffè Accademia Exterior WEB


Caffè Accademia
Via del Modello 1
06012 Città di Castello (PG)


Chef: Elisa Palombi

Caffè Accademia pasta 2 WEB In a small piazza by the bell tower of the Città di Castello Cathedral, or Duomo, Caffè Accademia started out several years ago as a caffè and in 2006, it became a restaurant. A cozy, elegant dining room, set in a building that dates back in parts to the 13th century, provides a memorable venue for some fantastic dining. It is an all-woman staff that sees to it that diner guests leave Caffè Accademia totally satisfied. Maruska is knowledgeable and courteous as she presents our meal and in the kitchen, Chef Elisa’s culinary talents are truly extraordinary. We decide to go with their Caffè Accademia pasta 1 WEBrecommendations and it is a wise decision indeed.

We sample two white wines, a local organic Greccheto and a Bianco del Borgo from the Cortona area of Tuscany. These go well with the two pastas: tagliatelle verdi caccio e pepe, and saccottini (little knapsacks) stuffed with the very seasonal barba di frate, or Monk’s Beard. Also known as agretti in Umbria, these greens are similar in Caffè Accademia lamb WEBlooks to fresh chives. Delicately seasoned, the agretti were then used to stuff the handmade pasta, which was first boiled, then baked in a béchamel sauce. Simply divine!

A sampling of two red wines is offered to go with our second course: one a  blend  of  four  grapes  rightfully  called  Quattro Uva  and  the second, the famous Sagrantino. The lamb, twice cooked, is so tender, one could cut it with a fork and the contorno of potatoes and thinly sliced slaw with a Hollandaise-like sauce was a Caffè Accademia wine WEBperfect side.

Desserts were innovative and delicious: one a mouse creation of strawberry and lavender, and the second dessert was a whipped Greek yogurt with caramelized blueberries. I should clarify that there were two of us to explain, or confess to, how I got to taste two of everything. Ladies, you have done yourselves proud!

Caffè Accademia interior

All content on artfulroomswithaview.wordpress.com/, both images and writing, is copyrighted material © Ginda Simpson unless otherwise indicated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this content without express and written permission from Ginda Simpson is prohibited.



Ristorante Armentum – food as celebration

Relais Tenuta Le Silve
Armenzano (Assisi)

The restaurant at the Tenuta le Silve was named after the nearby hamlet of Armenzano whose inhabitants herded their sheep from the lower plains to the high grounds of Monte Subasio, outside of Assisi, where this restaurant is located. On this crisp autumn evening, flames dance over fragrant logs in the large stone camino, adding warmth and atmosphere to this lovely dining room, rescued from a structure where sheep once sheltered. The terracotta floors show the patina of the ages; the stone walls and wood-beamed ceiling whisper stories of the past. Skirting the tables are linens with needlework inserts reflecting the grace of by-gone times. The ceramic plates are individually painted by a Deruta artist. Every detail invites guests to sit back and savor the cuisine of Umbria.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAChef Giorgio Valiani doesn’t simply cook. He celebrates – the flavors born of the land that surrounds us. The sheep cheeses and wild boar, the mushrooms and truffles, the fragrant herbs and wild berries… A delicate leek flan on a pool of creamed lentils from Castellucio or pastry filled with pecorino and porcini mushrooms? Which to choose? One of each. Assisi pork and truffles of the season make up the chef’s “white” ragu served over freshly made maltagliati – pasta that has been “poorly cut”. An extensive menu features OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwonderfully rich choices of wild boar, locally raised beef and veal specialties, and flavorful pork, but we resist and move on to dessert.

A wise decision on our part, as October is the month that Umbria celebrates EuroChocolate, a festival designed to please the most ardent chocolate lover. The specialty this evening is a rich concoction of Chantilly cream with crunchy pastry, topped with wild berries and OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAa chocolate sauce. My daughter selects the chef’s soufflé made with dark bittersweet chocolate. Both desserts are sinfully delicious. When we confess this to our waitress, her response is “that in life we must perform acts of charity and indulge occasionally in sin. It is what makes us grow.” I like the way she thinks.

Read more about other lovely hotels and restaurants in Italy,  Rooms with a View and Italian Wanderlust, by clicking on their covers:

Rooms cover      italian wanderlust 2

All content on artfulroomswithaview.wordpress.com/, both images and writing, is copyrighted material © Ginda Simpson unless otherwise indicated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this content without express and written permission from Ginda Simpson is prohibited.


Gnocchi from Heaven – at the Taverna dei Consoli

Via della Fortezza, 1
Piazza del Comune
Owner: Maria Rosa Tiradossi


Taverna dei Consoli is a restaurant in the heart of Assisi that has been satisfying folks since 1936.  When Maria Rosa, the current owner, inherited the family ristorante founded by her maternal grandmother, she inherited more than a business – she took over the willingness to work hard and pursue with unrelenting passion, like her family before her, their  love for Umbria and its cuisine.  Her husband, Moreno, offers equal amounts of hard work and dedication.  He contributes an amicable presence in the dining room, seeing to his guests personally, proudly explaining the Umbrian specialties they serve and his part in creating some of them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe menu offers almost exclusively Umbrian cuisine, pure and simple.  One of the three exceptions is Moreno’s signature gnocchi made with gorgonzola – a non-Umbrian cheese – and local truffles.  We start with this dish.  These potato gnocchi are light and fluffy, the creamy sauce delicate and the added truffles, divine.  My daughter and I agree.  The gnocchi have simply fallen from the heavens onto our plates!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATagliata of tender beef with porcini mushrooms are accompanied by a tangy salad of fennel “slaw” with pecorino cheese and a bright radicchio salad with walnuts, pecorino and balsamic.  A perfect marriage, as they would say here in Italy. 

We shamefully indulge in a shared dessert of puff pastry with Chantilly cream and dark chocolate. The sunshine warms our shoulders on the outdoor terrace on this late October afternoon inviting us to linger.   As if good food were not enough OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAreason to choose this popular Assisi restaurant, its location is ideal.  Overlooking the Piazza del Comune, in the heart of the city, one gets a view of rooftops and balconies, potted geraniums and colorful flags.  No background music is necessary.  The murmur of voices and the trickling waters of the central fountain below are the only concert one needs to feel content.


Maria Rosa & Moreno

Read more about other lovely hotels and restaurants in Italy,  Rooms with a View and Italian Wanderlust, by clicking on their covers:

Rooms cover      italian wanderlust 2

All content on artfulroomswithaview.wordpress.com/, both images and writing, is copyrighted material © Ginda Simpson unless otherwise indicated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this content without express and written permission from Ginda Simpson is prohibited.