Dining in Umbria
Wonderful spots to eat lie around every corner of this delicious region. Arrive in ancient stone-walled towns, scurry under lichen-covered arches and up the hills to join small groups of locals outside cute trattorias. Point at the menu and smile–you’ll end up with a carafe of robust local wine and a delicious meal of homemade pappardelle pasta covered, of course, with truffles. The pungent, earthy scent of truffles follows you everywhere in Umbria. Simple meals feature fresh, local produce and pasta prepared with herbs and olive oil, accompanied by a jug of local wine. Following are some of our recommendations in this region:
Best Umbria Restaurants by Town
Taverna del Lupo, for the antipasto of bruschetta topped with truffles and olive oil, a primi of penne covered with deep red tomatoes, and a secondi of sliced duck and simple roast pork with rosemary.
Adamo Ristorante, located on a farm that serves the farm's own products, for the grilled artichokes served with olive oil and spices and pasta with truffles, all accompanied with coordinating wines and followed by dolce and espresso.
Umbrian fare is simple and hearty. Meals are based on the freshness of locally-grown ingredients. The prime ingredient is the tartufo (truffle), added to pasta, rice/risotto, and eggs—even used to infuse olive oil. In addition to tartufo are porcini mushrooms and less-familiar fungi such as turrini, ovoli, manine and fratini.
Other products typical of Umbria include olive oil (which is more green than golden here), wines, pecorino (made from sheep's milk), ricotta cheeses, chocolate, and chestnuts when in season. Pasta is made from locally-grown wheat. Poultry and game are very popular, including colombaccio (wood-pigeon), wild boar, and wild hare. Lamb is common as well. Pork is a regional specialty. The famous pork butchers from Norcia, known as norcini, have perfected the manufacture of sausages, salami, prosciutto and other pork products.
Keep an eye out for some of the most delectable (and prevalent) Umbrian dishes: risotto alla norcina (a rice dish topped with grated black truffle); cirole (tagliatelle pasta with a simple sauce of garlic and olive oil); impastoiata (a peasant dish of polenta and beans flavored with a tomato paste); fagiano all’uva (pheasant cooked with grapes); tegamaccio (a freshwater fish stew of pike, carp, tench and eel from Lake Trasimeno, seasoned with garlic and peppers); spaghetti alla norcina (pasta flavored with black truffle, oil, sausages and cream); and porchetta (whole roast piglet stuffed with rosemary).
One of the great Umbrian diversions is visiting vineyards. There are three main wine-tasting areas in the region. Montefalco is close to Assisi. Montefalco Sagrantine is a distinctive red wine, as are the other Montefalco reds. In Torgiano (near Perugia), the Lungarotti vineyards where the legendary Torgiano Rosso Riserva is produced are the main game in town. The Torgiano Wine Museum is definitely worth a stop.
In Orvieto, sample some of the best the area has to offer in an old convent at Enoteca Regionale, and tour the wine cellars at the same time. Barberani, Tenuta Le Velette, Cooperative Vitivinicola, Decugnano di Cobara, Castello della Sala, and Pallazone are some of the local vineyards open to the public. Andar per Vigne lists vineyards and phone numbers, so pick one up if you're interested in booking a reservation.