Our Favorite Umbrian Restaurants
It’s time for an update: Umbrian restaurants that we know and love. This is by no means a complete list and we welcome suggestions. (Don’t forget to look on a previous post for some of our favorite outdoor eating spots). NOTE: We’ve included the closing day when we know it. We’ve also included a phone number. As for website links, the problem is that some places don’t have webpages and those that do often don’t translate into English. We hope we’ve given you enough info so that you can google.
We have a new arrival on the piazza in ST, Buongustaio, which means “gourmet” in Italian. There are about twelve tables. The food is traditional and good. The location is convenient and easy to find for visitors to the area. Tel. 347-366-1689 Nash and Cash still have their pizzeria, which is on the road between San Terenziano and Grutti. Since the bright lights inside are rather blinding, you might prefer to order take out or sit outside if weather permits. There are menus for pizzas with tomato sauce (rosso) and pizzas without (bianco). Pizzas here are expected to be shared with the whole table, so groups of four often order at least three. There are several sizes. Closed Monday. Tel. 0742-932191
Le Noci is always a local favorite and has been ours for fifteen years. Their pastas are wonderful, their local wines excellent, and their meats are well cooked. Avoid Sunday lunch or you will learn the real meaning of Slowww Food. Try to arrive for dinner a few minutes before eight to place your order before the locals wander in. Closed Friday. Tel. 0742-98371
Casale dei Frontini is a typical agriturismo located on the road between San Terenziano and Todi at the village of Frontinano. You will see a big olive pressing stone at the entrance. The menu is what’s cooking today, always good and always local. Call to book. Tel 075-8852174.
The Dinosauro pizzeria has enjoyed a resurgence since the Oste lost their lease in ST and moved to Bastardo. Dino has good thin crust and lots of choices of toppings. Vegetarians will find lots to eat, as well as lovers of salumeria (cured meats) and salciccia (sausage). Closed Monday. [You would think the local pizza parlors would realize that if they both close on the same day somebody is missing out on selling pizza to the starving masses who now have to drive to Bastardo (6 km)]. Tel. 0742-98771.
La Vecchia Cucina has been a favorite of ours since we arrived in 1997. Giovanni, the owner, and his son fly private aircraft and ride horses, in addition to serving the best Chianina bisteca fiorentina this side of Florence (see our earlier post about that succulent dish). They also serve good pasta (eggplant with sausage is terrific) and local wines. They used to close on Wednesdays, but now they close on Monday. Tel. 0742-97237 Locanda del Prete in Saragano is the restored section of the medieval town. The views are beautiful and the setting is lovely. It’s a nice restaurant, so dress smart casual. Call in advance. Tel. 0742-98636
This is a town to savor, from the wines to the oils to the restaurants. We enjoy two sister restaurants, the informal Federico II (Tel. 0742-378902) on the square and the charming Coccorone hidden away (follow the signs or ask at Federico II). Federico II offers both light fare and full traditional meals inside and out. Since they also sell wine, they have a wide selection of the best wines along the Sagrantino Wine Route, as well as throughout Umbria. Coccorone has a small terrace, as well as a lovely dining room. Dress is smart casual. Coccorone (Tel. 0742-379535) is closed Wednesdays.
For a wonderful holiday dinner, we love Villa Pambuffetti. Housed in an Italianate villa, the hotel and restaurant offer old style elegance. The food is excellent, overseen by Alessandra Pambuffetti, and the sommelier is Mauro, her husband. Alessandra’s cousins produce the well-respected Scacciadiavoli wines. Her cooking classes are wonderful interactive experiences followed by lunch with wine in the dining room. Closed Monday. Tel. 0742-379417 Olevm (Oleum–the Romans did not have a “u”) is a tiny place with big flavor. There are only a few tables inside and even fewer outside. In the back is a little deli. There is a wide variety of oils to taste and the soups are very good. Find it on Corso Mameli about halfway down. Call first if you want an outside table or have a large group at 0742-379057. Also on the piazza is the more sophisticated Aurum in the boutique hotel/spa, Buonadosi. In summer, there is a terrace in the back with beautiful views as well as tables in the piazza. The inside space is sleek and more upmarket. Closed Wednesday. Tel. 0742-379357 A lot of people really like Alchimista across the main piazza from Federico II and in summer when the tables are outside, it is very pleasant. In the colder months, the dining room is in the cellar. There is a shop for wines and oils on the ground floor. Closed Tuesday. 0742-378558 We tried Spiritodivino and it must have been a bad day. The food and service did not live up to the décor and location, not to mention the hype. We had to beg for attention, though the inside of the restaurant was empty. The terrace was almost full and there was only the manager and one bus person working. The manager stood off to the side and chatted with a friend while we waited almost half an hour for our wine. Perhaps you will have better luck. Closed all day Monday, Tuesday lunch. Tel. 0742-379048 There are some attractive ristoranti on the street leading down to the big arch, Corso Mameli. We haven’t tried them all, so please let us know what you discover.
We’ve written about Taverna del Sette before – it’s a hidden treasure in the historic center of Trevi. It’s on the tiny Del Sette street off the Piazza Mazzini. Tel. 0742-780741.
We discovered Zenzero one Sunday after shopping the monthly outdoor market at Pissignano. Located right on the lazy Clitunno River near Fonti del Clitunno, the outside tables offer a shady respite from hot summer days. The food is good, too. Tel. 0742-780241. The address is actually Via Chiesa Tonda 50, Fonte Pigge.
If you’re going there to buy ceramics, you just might get hungry. On the E45 just before Deruta, there is Antico Forziere (075-9724314), an upmarket restaurant in a rustic setting. In the historic center of Deruta there is Taverna del Gusto (075-9724120), which is a good restaurant with a few outdoor tables. It’s right around the corner from the excellent ceramics museum. Hungry for lunch, but not time to spare from sightseeing or shopping? TryFiaschetto, which offers a flat price antipasto buffet on weekdays. Other times, enjoy their lengthy menu of Umbrian specialities, pizzas and more. Get off the E45 at Ripabianca, go to the crossroads at the Due Torre shopping center, go under the highway, follow the road south and the restaurant will be on your right. Closed Wednesdays. The restaurant is officially in Collepepe. Tel. 075-8789347.
Hungry for lunch, but not time to spare from sightseeing or shopping? TryFiaschetto, which offers a flat price antipasto buffet on weekdays. Other times, enjoy their lengthy menu of Umbrian specialities, pizzas and more. Get off the E45 at Ripabianca, go to the crossroads at the Due Torre shopping center, go under the highway, follow the road south and the restaurant will be on your right. Closed Wednesdays. The restaurant is officially in Collepepe. Tel. 075-8789347. Alberata is a little place with a different menu every week. Closed on Wednesday. Call to book at 075-8789345.
Al Leone (075-8788020) offers a good menu of tasty local dishes, as well as pizza. There is outside dining in summer. Park in the lot behind the church – the restaurant is just across the street.
For a long time, there weren’t many good places to eat in Todi. That has changed. Here are a few of better ones. The town isn’t big, so you’ll find these pretty easily. Osteria delle Valle is a very small place with a big reputation, well deserved. John, a Scotsman, is the chef and the food is really good. Tel. 075-8944848. Oberdan is also very small and started out as an enoteca. The menu is limited, changed daily. There is very nice outside dining in the summer. The waiters can be a bit dogmatic about your wine choice, which can be a bit frustrating. 075-8945409
Mercataccio is one we really like. Really good food in a historic setting. Go down Via Cavour and turn down the staircase at Via Mercato Vecchio. Tel. 075-8944799
La Scalette is down the staircase at Via Scalette not far from S. Fortunato church. Their terrace is nice and shady. We like the meat dishes. Tel. 075-8944422 La Mulinella has very good food in a location outside the town, at Ponte Naia. Turn down the road to the swimming pool. Tel. 075-8944779 Roccofiore is an upmarket place to have lunch in the summer. The terrace is lovely, with a view of Todi. They make their own wines. Go to Localita’ Collina, Chioana di Todi. Tel. 075-8942416. Pane & Vino is casual and relaxed. The antipasto keep on coming. Tel. 075-8945448 Umbria is a traditional trattoria with a view. Tel. 075-8942737
Along and above the lake are restaurants appealing to both those coming from Todi and those from Orvieto. Titignano is one of those places you don’t forget. How marvelous that they are able to serve an endless array of dishes to more than two hundred people and it is all delicious. It is also a great price: 25 Euros for a dozen courses with water, coffee and wine. The setting is spectacular, too: a medieval town on a hill overlooking the Tiber river, with the duomo of Orvieto silhouetted on the distant horizon. You’ll need to book here for Saturday and Sunday lunches. Lunch begins at 12:30 and ends after 4 pm. You can always stay in one of the rooms if you don’t feel like driving home. Titignano is located on the north side of the Tiber, about half an hour from Todi or Orvieto. Tel. 0763-308000
Trippini is one of our newest finds. A tiny restaurant in the hilltop village of Civitello del Lago, it is home to one of Italy’s hottest young chefs. Be sure to book as there are only six tables. The view here equals that of Titignano, though it is on the south side of the lake. We’ll be back with more on this one. Fixed price four course lunch 35 Euros. Sophisticated cuisine, good service. Closed Monday. Tel. 074-4950316 Osteria del Belvedere is on the moderate end of the price scale, but it definitely holds its own on taste. There are both seafood and meat choices. Seafood is brought in fresh from the Mediterranean port of Civitavecchia. Pasta with vongole (clams) or scoglie (mixed seafood) is very as good as on the coast and costs less. Located about halfway between Todi and Orvieto on the south side of the lake. Tel. 0744-950140.
l Re Beve at Castello Casigliano is great for Sunday lunch, on the terrace in summer or in front of the blazing fire in winter. They have good meats and the location is lovely. Get off the E45 at the Collevalenza exit. Closed Wednesday. Tel. 0744-943428 Spoleto Tric Trac, which is on the piazza near the duomo, is a good place to stop for lunch or an aperitivo when you’re sightseeing in Spoleto. Tel. 0743-44592. Spello Spello is a beautiful little town, which is a good place to go after the crowds in Assisi. We’ve been to La Bastiglia (Tel. 0742-651277), which is upmarket and sophisticated with one Michelin star, as well as the more trattoria-style Il Mulino (Tel. 0742-651305) and Il Pinturicchio (Tel.0742-301784). Assisi We love Assisi, but don’t often stay there for a big meal. We’ve been to the Ristorante San Francesco, which was nice and had a good view of the valley. Tel. 0758-12329.
Vinosus, a small restaurant on the left side of the duomo, is our choice for lunch in Orvieto. There is a lovely small terrace and a good wine list. Closed Sunday evening and Mondays. Tel. 0763-34107. San Francesco, around the corner from the cathedral, is a good place for a quick buffet lunch – it’s open every day.
Vespasia in Palazzo Seneca, Norcia, is a beautifully restored cardinal’s palace with an excellent restaurant. It’s pricey, but the atmosphere is lovely. Tel. 0743-817434. Grotta Azzurra is owned by the same family as Palazzo Seneca. It’s a big trattoria with traditional food near the main piazza in Norcia. Tel. 0743-816513. People travel from all around to Il Castoro in Preci, a town a few miles from Norcia. The food is really good. The location is near the national park and various hiking trails. Tel. 0743-939248. Castelluccio is about 25 km from Norcia up in the mountains. It’s a spectacular location, worth the drive. The town overlooks the vast fields of lentil and other legumes, so it’s great place to buy beans and grains to take home. The farro and lentil soups in any of the small restaurants are always good.
Siro is a little hotel with really good food. It’s worth the trip to Torgiano. For a large group the house antipasto is impressive and delicious. Tel. 075-982010. Book on Sunday for lunch or if you are a large group.
Il Convento is a good restaurant in a beautifully restored convent. The town of Corciano is one of the best preserved medieval towns in Italy. 075-6978946.
4 Piedi & 8.5 Pollici is a tiny ristorante behind the EMI supermarket in Bastardo. Chef Laura will make homemade pasta at your table on request. The menu changes daily. Book at Tel. 333-997-9958. Pizzeria d’ Oste was located in San Terenziano for about ten years. When they lost their lease they moved to Bastardo. Same good pizza. Closed Monday. Tel. 0742-960287.
Standing high on the mountain above the valley that runs from Todi to Perugia and Assisi, Trevi to Spoleto is Il Rifugio, aka Rifugio San Gaspare, a rustic restaurant with a stunning view. Follow the signs from Bastardo to Giano dell’ Umbria to Monti Martani. Giano is a lovely little village which you will drive through until you reach the road that goes up (ever up) the mountain. Il Rifugio is near the antennae that you can see from the bottom. Inside is a large fireplace where the meats are grilled. There is also seating outside. Tel 0742-90189.
Montecastello di Vibio
Home the world’s tinest theatre, Montecastello di Vibio is also home to Il Grottino di Zio Toto‘, a small restaurant with very good food. You can eat outside in summer. Tel. 075-8780652