Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Since we have a home in Umbria, I get a lot of questions from people asking about restaurants in the area. The problem is, we don’t go out much once we settle in. In the winter we have the fire going, and in the summer there’s the pool. Just hard to get up the energy to get in the car and head out.
But last weekend Domenico and I decided to stay for one extra night. We usually head back on Sundays, but last Sunday - what with the big game and all - we decided we just couldn’t face the possible chaos in Rome if Italy won the European cup. (we needn't have worried)
Since we were half in a city mind set already though, we actually felt like heading into the Umbrian version of civilization. That would be Todi, which is about a 10 minute drive from our house.
And rather than go to the handful of restaurants we already know and love (Pizzeria Cavour, Cibocchi, La Mulinella) we were extremely adventurous and decided to try something new.
We’d been wanting to try Enoteca Oberdan ever since it opened about 6 years ago. The problem was, with only a handful of tables, we could never manage to get a reservation with our last minute planning. But on that Sunday, while Spain and Italy were kicking off, we were the only people in the country not glued to their tellies.
As you can see from the photos, the place couldn’t be cuter. Tucked into the ground floor of a building right next to Giardino Oberdan, the place feels just rustic enough. The enoteca part of the equation comes through loud and strong not only in the wine list, but in the stacks of wine boxes filling almost every spare inch.
We headed to the back room, which has a magnificent view out over the Tiber valley, as well as the garden next door. Where, by the way, the tables will migrate to starting this week.
We snacked on a basket of warm torta al testo while we looked at the wine menu. Not huge, but lots of fun things to choose from, especially northern whites which are pretty rare in this part of the world.
Domenico started out with a yummy dish of Mezzi Paccheri al Pesto di Olive. A new twist was the addition of bread crumbs, which added a nice crunch.
I ordered the Tortino di Zucchini con Scamorza Affumicata e Pomodoro. I don’t know what I was expecting, but the mini pink le crueset pot was almost too cute to dig into. It was filled with layers of zucchini and tomatoes, barely held together with the smoked cheese. Enough vegetables to make me feel virtuous, but also enough gooey cheese to satisfy.
Domenico can never resist bacala on the menu, and the fried filets that arrived next were simple and perfect.
But it’s the carpaccio di Manzo Marinato al Barolo that I keep thinking of. No, it's not local and Umbrian. But after 20 years spent in this part of the world, I kind of like something that's a bit more sophisticated than grilled pork. The beef in this case comes straight from Piedmonte, and is actually marinated by the producers. It was beefy, tender and just the right amount of spices. Draped over a bed of fresh salad greens, it was exactly what I was craving on a hot summer night.
An after dinner stroll through town and that was our big night in the city. We really should get out more often.
UPDATE AUGUST 2013: Unfortunately we had a truly horrible experience here the other night. I don't like to disparage places based on just one bad night, but this was so bad that we won't be going back here.
We arrived at 8pm and by 10pm we still had not received out main courses. Since we had ordered only antipasti first (which were all very small) we were starving. Emma and I had each ordered the Carpaccio. When it finally arrived (15 minutes AFTER the others had recieved their second course) we were told that they only had enough for one portion, so they had to split it between us. Did we want to order a frittata instead? Not only did we not want a frittata, but the beef itself was obviously the very end of the marinated beef, since it was dry and basically had been 'cooked' in the marinade. Not only was there no apology from the chef/owner for the problem, there was no discount or other acknowledgement that anything out of the ordinary had happened. In addition, all of the portions were extremely meager for the prices that were charged.
We won't be going back.
Via Augusto Ciuffelli 22
You can park in the parking lot below town and take the funicular up. You exit right in the Giardino Oberdan, and the Enoteca is the first place on your left as you walk into town.