Even though I love staying home when we are at our house in Umbria, and cooking straight from the garden, there gets to be a point every summer when I say basta. I just need a night off where I don’t have to cook or wash dishes (although I’m very good at inviting guests who don’t mind that end of things) and getting out of my schmata and heading into town.
Town, in our case, means Todi. Arguably one of the prettiest medieval towns in Umbria we tend to take it for granted. That said, every time we make the effort to go out we end up saying “We should do this more often.”
Last week we showered, put on fancy clothes (ok, not fancy. But not my ‘at home’ wear) and headed into the big city to check out a newly opened enoteca, Vineria San Fortunato.
Not much new ever happens in Todi, which is kind of nice. But not only is the Vineria new, it is located in a completely new location. The owners applied for permission not only to open their new place alongside the steps leading to the town’s main church, San Fortunato, but they asked, very humbly, if they could possibly use the terrace half way up the stairs for their outside seating.
I guess they must have lit special candles to Saint Fortunato because the town hall said yes. If you live in Italy, you know this is a kind of miracle that doesn’t happen very often.
The terrace couldn’t be in a more beautiful location. Halfway up the steps, the backdrop to dinner was the ever-changing light against the dramatic facade of San Fortunato. Birds swooping by at dusk as church bells rang, it was almost too perfect.
Rita, the owner, had thought about having a place of her own for a while. With the experience of being a private cook in some of the villas around the countryside, she felt ready to make the move. Rather than start a full-fledged restaurant, with a complete menu, she decided to go the Enoteca route. The focus here is on wines, with good selection of Umbria’s best. Although they offer several pasta and main dishes each day, we were very happy sticking to the cured meats and cheeses.
Before any of that could start though, Rita sent over a platter of mixed focaccia. Crispy crusts were topped with onions and capers; tomatoes and anchovies; and my favorite, slowly roasted potatoes and rosemary.
We all split the large tagliera, or platter, which included excellent cured meats from a local artisinal butcher, David Salumi. What we thought was going to be way too much prosciutto turned out to be just enough. Hand cut prosciutto, as well as sausages, salami and cheeses from Caseificio Montecristo. And just in case we were still hungry, a platter of beautiful pancetta.
As we lingered over our wine, nibbling the last bits of salami and cheese, the sun had set, the lights came on in front of the church and we watched life in Todi go by.
Vineria San Fortunato Todi
Piazza Umberto 5
Beautiful in the summer, with the outside terrace, the inside is also warm and cozy, designed by Michelangeli from Orvieto who also made the carved wooden sign out front.