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Restaurants in Tuscany/Umbria

l
letahaa Aug 27, 2008 10:58 AM

I have been researching restaurants for a while now for our upcoming trip to Umbria and Tuscany. We will be spending 4 nights in Northern Umbria, and 10 nights in Southern Tuscany. We are interested in going to local places that specialize in traditional food and that hopefully have really great wines. This is my list so far:

Umbria/Cortona

Taveran Del Lupo in Gubbio
Osteria Teatro in Cortona
Taverna Del Pescatore south of Trevi
Il Tartufo in Spoleto
Il Molino in Spello
il Coccorone in Montefalco
I Capricci di Merion restaurant in Tuoro sul Trasimeno (staying here)

Southern Tuscany

Gambe di Gatto in Montepulciano
La Porta in Monticchiello
Le Logge del Vignola in Montepulciano
Il Grappolo Blu in Montalcino
La Grotta in Montepulciano
Cittino in Montepulciano
Palazzo Brandano in Petroio (staying here)
Latte di Luna in Pienza
Trattoria Da Fiorella in Pienza
Trattoria Al Vecchio Forno in San Quirico d'Orcia
Ristorante Il Fornacino in Sinalunga
Da Toto in Lucignano
Osteria del Leone in Bagno Vignoni
Conte Matto in Trequanda
Ristorante di Poggio Antico outside Montalcino (also wine tasting here)
Fattoria dei Barbi restaurant outside Montalcino (also wine tasting here)
Antica Fattoria Del Grottaione in Montenero d'Orcia
Ristorante Osteria Vechia in Cetona

There are more restaurants here than we can go to, so I need some help narrowing it down. Plus I'd love to know which ones are musts, and if I am missing anything fabulous in the area.

Thanks so much for your help!

  1. jen kalb Aug 27, 2008 03:14 PM

    Its been many years since we have stayed in Tuscany but you need to think about how you are going to spend your days - on our visits, we found ourselves visiting major touristic destinations (Siena, Arezzo, Montepulciano, Cortona, etc. etc. most days - and eating a restaurant meal at those locations or somewhere close by that fitted with our itinerary. We usually ate dinner near "home" , at the castle restaurant or cooked in our house. Finding good linkages between sights and good restaurants is important in planning, especially in an area like tuscany where many of the attractive restaurants are in hill towns or other rural locations without a lot of other distinctive attractions, and which you will approach, driving rather slowly, on dusty country roads without very good signage. At any rate the areas around Trequanda and Sinalunga are like that. They are not all areas I would want to be navigating around in late at night.I just looked up your place on the map, and it looks absolutely lovely, but remote. Have you gotten comfortable with how easy it will be for you at night to get out for dinner?

    7 Replies
    1. re: jen kalb
      jen kalb Aug 27, 2008 05:57 PM

      ps. we liked Taverna del Lupo (and Gubbio generally) very much "in the day". It seems to me that your base down on Lake Trasimeno is fairly far from your Umbrian targets however - Gubbio is quite a ways east, almost in Le Marche

      1. re: jen kalb
        r
        rrems Aug 27, 2008 08:28 PM

        Taverna del Lupo, and Gubbio itself, are absolute musts. I would go during the day and have lunch there. The rabbit (the house specialty) and lasagne with cream sauce and white truffles are exceptional. We also enjoyed Taverna del Pescatore, which is very easily accessible, right off the main road and not in a hill town.

        1. re: rrems
          t
          Theresa Aug 28, 2008 04:07 AM

          Another recommendation for Taverna del Lupo in Gubbio from me. The town is worth a day trip, and we drove there from Trasimeno. It feels very Romeo and Juliet, and the restaurant is very traditional - men eating at the front bit of the room watching television, with a dining bit at the back. Loved the food.

          Latte di Luna in Pienza is also great - I had the best bolognese sauce I've ever had there, and they specialise in roast meats. But there are lots of recommendations for it on this board.

      2. re: jen kalb
        t
        Tuscanlover Sep 3, 2008 04:51 AM

        Not so much a restaurant recommendation - more a lifestyle lesson.

        Dear Jen Kalb. I suspect that Tuscany may have changed a fair bit since your last visit.

        1. re: Tuscanlover
          jen kalb Sep 3, 2008 08:49 AM

          no doubt, I wouldnt venture to make restaurant recommendations at this time, but geography tends to be intractible and italian country roads dont improve that much. Im enjoying all the posts on this area.

        2. re: jen kalb
          mnosyne Sep 3, 2008 10:56 AM

          No bull! We nearly drove off the road in the dark near Sinalunga! Were you staying at Castello Gargonza? I love that place!

          1. re: mnosyne
            jen kalb Sep 3, 2008 12:23 PM

            yes, thats where we stayed. I will never forget the perfect site, the night views over the Valdichiana, the scent of the trees and the very pleasant restaurant( wild boar, oil and veg from the estate) and hospitality from the Giuccardini family. Ive been fantasizing about going back ever since, but there's a lot to Italy other than tuscany to see, and of course an explosion of similar developments,. esp is So tuscany in the last 25 years - tho few priced so reasonably.

        3. f
          FriedClamFanatic Aug 27, 2008 06:36 PM

          I can tell you when we stayed there for 2 weeks (a long, long time ago), we almost never worried about a bad meal. We usually asked someone local (a ticket seller, a policia if we found one, or a store clerk if we were there) and never once was steered wrong. Could we have had better, perhaps, but we had a lot of GREAT, especially lunch - allow about 2 hours for a lunch.

          We stayed at a winery outside of Sienna that is now half hotel/Restaurant, half winery. Alas, i forget the name, but they used to be part of Relaix et Chateau. Superb!

          I loved coming out in the evening. The houses nearest to the manor house (restaurant) had been turned over to guests, but the back houses still had vineyard employees and their families. Phenomenal! We'd have kids, old folks, and families milling around and in fractured Italian/English we'd try and communicate. Never, ever had an experience like it

          1. d
            DaleJ Aug 28, 2008 07:50 AM

            Please allow me to comment on your list and perhaps, to expand it.

            Taverna del Pescatore is a great place for lunch on a pleasant day because of the big tent, the little stream (with swans) and the good food, wine and service. Just off the road a little south of Trevi. Watch for the single tiny sign.

            I'd add La Bastiglia in Spello. Its a nice hotel at the top of town (with a big parking lot). The kitchen is IMO quite adventurous. Good wine list.

            You have nothing in Foligno. While its not typically a town visitors frequent, there is one place that stands out. Il Becco Felice is a modest trattoria a block or so from the train station. Salvadore is an institution and the interior does not have a square inch without grafitti. Lots of his offerings come from his farm. I never visit this part of Umbria without stopping in. Salvo's place was featured in a Wine and Food mag a year or so age.

            Nearby is Bevagna and in the center of town is Enoteca Piazza Onofri, a rustic place with good food and a nice wine list. (Free parking nearby.)

            Another place never to miss is I Sette Consoli in Orvieto Alto. Chef had a Michelin star but somehow, she lost it. I make the one hour trip up from Rome just to have lunch here. My favorite restaurant in all of Italy.

            In Pienza I would not miss Il Rossellino, a mom and pop place seating, perhaps, fifteen. IMO, superior to Latte di Luna.

            Hope this helps.

            1. g
              grantham Aug 28, 2008 08:03 AM

              Please don't miss the small walled city of Norcia in Umbria! Our favorite restaurant there is Granaro Del Monte in hotel Grotta Azzurra. The restaurant features a wood fired grill. The city is famous for its wild boar and truffles.

              Wish we were going!

              1 Reply
              1. re: grantham
                p
                pamvoice Nov 9, 2008 10:09 PM

                Granaro del Monte is a beautiful restaurant and well worth it if you stay half board for one night of your stay. The restaurant is stunning beautiful with its flag stone floors and huge wood burning grill but we were disappointed with our secondi. The primi of sphagetti with shaved truffles was sublime but the grilled wild boar sausage was so salty it was almost inedible, and my husband ordered a mixed grill and got a pork chop, as the waiter put in the wrong order. Often happens, but disappointing when it's your only night there and the

              2. r
                rrems Aug 28, 2008 08:21 AM

                Another place not on your list is Umbria in the old town of Todi. We had a great lunch there, and the view is magnificent. There is an outdoor terrace which is great in nice weather. I had wonderful tripe alla romana, and as I recall it was very inexpensive. Todi is a charming town that is well worth visiting.

                2 Replies
                1. re: rrems
                  mnosyne Aug 28, 2008 09:35 AM

                  I;ve had their fried rabbit several times and loved it! The view is spectacular!

                  1. re: rrems
                    t
                    tuscanprincess Oct 29, 2010 12:43 PM

                    I am in agreement, rrems. A number of years ago we visited the charming little town of Todi and ate in that very same terrace restaurant with a view. I enjoyed the Panzanella. In that same square is a delightful art museum.

                  2. t
                    Tuscanlover Aug 30, 2008 04:33 AM

                    The "musts" on your southern Tuscany list, based on your desire for local places with traditional food, are:

                    Gambe di Gatto for a late lunch. (They do not open until 1.00 pm) Lovely people, good food. You can taste the range of wines before choosing.

                    Latte di Luna. The Maialino is also a must!

                    Da Fiorella. The rabbit is good. Book or go early for both of these in Pienza.

                    Da Toto. Best to go here for dinner and have one of the set menus. (Not the carte.) All inclusive and great value - best produce of the day. Family tradition of Tuscan country cooking with fresh seasonal ingredients, many from their own garden.

                    We also like Dal Falco at Pienza. Good if you want a steak or other meat. Good wine list.

                    By the way, Il Rossellino is definitely NOT superior to Latte di Luna for the style of cucina that you are seeking.

                    Re wine: I think all the above have the "names". (Sasicaia and the like.) But ask for advice to get beyond the names and prices. If you want great local wine stick to 1999 sangiovese, if you see any. (ie. Chianti, Brunello and Nobile di Montepulciano.) 1997 was also a great year but is nearly all gone now. More recent best years are 2003 and 2004. The local wine, given that it is the big three above, will never let you down.

                    1. l
                      letahaa Sep 3, 2008 10:34 AM

                      Thanks so much for the advice everyone!

                      1. i
                        intrepid Sep 7, 2008 09:56 AM

                        a must is Il Buco Hosteria in Chiancano, great bisteca, pici...fabulous,

                        also in Pienza is Fiorella, also great

                        1. a
                          afds Sep 8, 2008 10:16 AM

                          I would also recommend "I sette consoli" in Orvieto. We had lunch there last week, some parts of which were outstanding, others disappointing (avoid the crema catalana which tastes strongly of egg), on the whole rather good. Perugia is not on your list, but I'd like to suggest a restaurant we recently discovered, "Al mangiar bene" on Via della Luna, just off Corso Vannucci. It is that rare place where the owner is passionate about quality, and the emphasis is on producing traditional Umbrian food with the best possible ingredients, for example home-baked bread, "bio-produced" meat, cheese etc. Amazingly for a restaurant in the historic centre it's not expensive either, the price-quality ratio is really good. Highly recommended.

                          1. b
                            buzzsau Sep 13, 2008 10:36 AM

                            My husband and I have stayed and eaten at LaCosta Locanda in Montefollinico, Italy, roughly between Sienna and Montepulciano. Check out their website which is Lacosta.it. Their food is fantastic and the owners are wonderful! I cannot recommend this place enough. Check it out.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: buzzsau
                              j
                              jangita Sep 14, 2008 04:09 AM

                              We had a fantastic meal at Nana on Corso Cavour in Perugia, this June.

                              I started with an angel hair type pasta "a la rustica" with eggplant and small tomatoes and a little dollop of wonderful buffalo ricotta while my husband had gnocchetti with a smoked goose ragu. Then he had faraona (guinea hen) cooked in beer and I had pork filets with oranges and almonds. My dish was the star! We drank a Montefalco Rosso from Caprai and loved it.

                            2. z
                              zinmama Sep 20, 2008 07:13 AM

                              My husband and I just returned from a lovely trip to the same region. One restaurant that I'd add to those recommended in Umbria is L'Antico Forziere Ristorante, in Cassalina, near Deruta. The food drew oohs and aahs from a tough crowd. The dishes are rooted in local traditions, but with additions of interest (that stop way short of nouvelle). Two of my favs were truffled quail surrounded by strips of pumpkin, Conchiglie pasta with wild fennel and guinea fowl. Don't skip the desserts if you go-- each was a work of art and delivered on taste.

                              I'd add another vote for Il Becco Felice in Foligno, too. Simple combinations made for many tasty plates-- including one of divine heirloom tomatoes that Salvadore served simply cut in half with a splash of olive oil and a dash of S+P. They needed nothing else. (The dishes that required cooking were very enjoyable, too.)

                              1. NYJewboy Oct 2, 2008 10:10 AM

                                Spoleto is under-represented here. Try TricTrac and Appolinari. Wild Boar all over!

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: NYJewboy
                                  Love Umbria Oct 3, 2008 12:15 AM

                                  There are so many good places in Spoleto to list not just “Tric Trac” and the “Apollinare” (and “Il Tartufo” listed in the original post) but also places like the “Osteria del Matto”, “Il Tempio del Gusto” and the the “Osteria del Trivio” among others.

                                  1. re: Love Umbria
                                    NYJewboy Oct 3, 2008 05:44 AM

                                    My wife and I really did not like Osteria del Matto. I thought that guy's act supplanted the food. He pawned off tons of cheap appetizers on us and when it was time for the main course it was an extremely average pasta dish. All personality, mediocre food.

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