Trip Report: Urbino (long)
We kept having doubts about our decision to include Urbino on our itinerary since its inclusion required taking a train from Ravenna to Rimini, a second train from Rimini to Pesaro, and a bus from Pesaro to Urbino for an overnight stay. Having done this, I can enthusiastically recommend visiting Urbino for the fascinating technology in the Ducal palace and delicious regional cuisine.
We followed a Chowhound recommendation – seconded by our hotel – and ate lunch at Trattoria del Leone. In creating its menu, this restaurant has identified a couple of regional ingredients, and these items keep showing up in combinations and permutations throughout the menu. For example, casciotta cheese was available melted atop a grilled sausage (my husband’s lunch choice), atop ravioli stuffed with ricotta and spinach (my lunch choice) and as part of several more dishes. My husband’s choice was more successful than mine. His rustic sausage was insanely delicious and a good foil for the melted cheese.
As for my choice, I thought the casciotta dominated the flavor of the underlying ravioli enough that the lack of interplay in the flavors got boring. I don’t know whether longer exposure to gratinee heat source would have improved the dish. When the dish was brought to the table not all of the cheese was melted, although, eventually, the heat from the ravioli melted everything.
We shared a salad of arugula, porcini mushroom, and shavings of Parmesan cheese which was delicious because of the impeccable quality of the ingredients. The bottle of olive oil that was brought to the table for us to dress our salad was an organic brand. Incidentally, one of the appetizer possibilities was a tasting of Le Marche olive oils.
In addition to the trek to get to Urbino, touring within the town is physically demanding as it stretches over two hills. For every stop you move forward, you’re walking an equal amount up and down. Del Leone is quite easy to reach. It is only thirty feet downhill from the main piazza. Incidentally, we arrived at the restaurant some time between 12:30 and 1:00 p.m. We were the only patrons in the restaurant -- on a Saturday -- and that was the situation when we left.
We had a wonderful dinner at Osteria l’Angolo Divino. My husband began his meal with delicious tagliatelle with lamb. I ate the star pasta dish of the evening: pasta del sacca. Prior to our trip, jbw was kind enough to answer my question about Urbino restaurants by searching past posts, and he/she discovered a post about this restaurant and about this pasta dish. I’ll try to add some detail about the dish. There are spices in the pasta dough in addition to the blend of semolina and cheese already mentioned. The whole ball of dough is steamed, and, then roughly cut into 1" cubes. These cubes are piled on the plate and sauced with an amazingly flavorful sauce that includes porcini mushrooms and black truffles. This is very, very filling but it was so insanely delicious that it was hard to stop. I would mentally say, “Just one more cube.” Ultimately, I did leave some pasta on my plate, but that was largely because I had already ordered lamb chops.
My husband really enjoyed his dish of stuffed duck breast. The stuffing included at least bread, cheese, and vegetables. While placing our order, we had one of those delightful moments that occur when earnest people who really don’t have a command of each other’s language can have. The menu read something like “Petton anatra farcire.” Anatra. No problem. Duck. Farcire. Okay. Sounds like an Italian cognate of the French “farci” – to stuff. (Hmmm. Should I know something about the way it is stuffed since they didn’t use the word “ripieno”?) But petton? I probably would have gone ahead and ordered the dish even with the uncertainty, but my husband wanted to know. In truly lame Italian I asked about the word “petton.” Our waitress didn’t know the English word, but she made a gesture across her body that made it unambiguous the cut was the duck breast. Great laughs all around!
For the record, the lamb chops were delicious, but not wholly consumed.
We drank a delicious bottle of Lacrima di Morro d’Alba. Our request for a wine recommendation began with a proposal of an Italian merlot. When we made it clear that we wanted a regional wine, our waitress recommended the Lacrima.
Incidentally, this restaurant is a considerably greater challenge to get to, and with the full and happy tummy you’ll have after your meal at L’Angolo Divino, just takes things easy. You begin by walking past Trattoria del Leone on via C. Battisti. After del Leone, the slope of the street gets considerably steeper. L’Angolo Divino is on a street that branches off via Battisti, this time sloping steeply uphill.
Next destination: Parma
You brought back memories of this beautiful town - of watching the attractive ladies/proprietress at our little hotel making stuffed pasta as we ate and of that ducal palace - but my favorite memory is of looking out from the fortress ruins on top of one of those hills in late afternoon and seeing a magnificent double rainbow over the green countryside. Hope to get back again one of these days