Buying ceramics is hard, hard work. First you’ve got to drive there. Then there is the whole decision making process. And then lugging them all the way to the car.
Of course, I’m kidding. There’s few things I love better than going ceramic shopping in Deruta. But one thing I do always mess up on is timing. I always underestimate just how long I’m going to be spending making all those hard decisions. I think it’s going to be a half hour or so. And then, before I know it, it’s 1:30.
The other day Domenico actually came along with me to Deruta. I realized that he pretty much has never done this with me when he started asking which exit to get out on from the highway. If I’m driving, our car almost heads there on it’s own.
Domenico was along for the ride since this trip was slightly more manly than others. I wasn’t here to buy girly mugs or plates. We were here to buy architectural elements. And so the architect came along to take charge.
It’s been about 25 years since we restored our farmhouse, and some of the fixtures are starting to show their age. So we were in Deruta to look at new tiles for one of our showers.
After about an hour and a half of this, I looked at my watch and realized it was 1:30. Way to late to head to Assisi where I had thought we were going to have lunch. Instead, we ended up asking Michele, who was giving us tile advice, where he ate.
Although I’ve been heading to Deruta regularly for the last 25 years or so, I’d never been happy at any of the restaurants in town. A few touristy places in the old part of town, and the hotel along the more modern Via Tiberina seemed about it. Michele suggested we head across the street to Asso di Coppe “Good food and a good price.” was all he said about it. Since by this time it was almost 1:45, we were starving and restaurants would start closing soon, we sort of didn’t have any choice.
At first I thought it was kind of odd that I’d never heard of this place. But once we pulled up to park I realized why: it’s a truck stop. Literally. It’s located right on the E45 with entrances there as well as from the Via Tiberina in Deruta.
We had our pick of tables and so chose one with a view. Of the gas pumps and trucks. This, plus the large TV playing the midday news made Domenico very happy and the food hadn’t even arrived yet.
Soon enough the cheery waiter brought over menus, as well as toasty hot torta di testa stuffed with thick slices of hand cut prosciutto. A good start.
We looked at the menus, but then just followed the advice of the waiter, since that’s what everyone else seemed to be doing. And by everyone else I’m referring to the locals who evidently come here regularly: three policeman, two plumbers, a table full of bank employees, and a few other couples.
On the waiter’s advice Domenico got the gnocchi with ragu : a big heaping bowl of dumplings with a very old fashioned meaty sauce. Nothing fancy, but very good. Instead I went a bit more summery, ordering umbricelli ( a kind of Umbrian thick spaghetti) with chopped fresh tomatoes and mozzarella. Again, nothing special but very homey and good.
Since the portions were kind of huge, we shared a second : osso bucco. A bit wintery, but tender and obviously freshly made. Perfectly seasoned, and we were dipping our bread in the juices when we were done. All in all a very nonna tasting meal in the least nonna looking place I’d ever been to.
By the end of the meal we had joined in the general dining room conversation about the news (that horrible mafioso funeral was playing over and over) and felt we had discovered some kind of secret club. A club decorated circa 1968, complete with Padre Pio posters, bowls of fresh fruit and vintage marble floors.
Next time you are in Deruta, and completely wiped out from all that totally exhausting ceramic shopping, rest assured you can settle in for a good meal here. And then, refueled (you and your car), you can go right back to more shopping.
For more information on dining in Umbria and Italy download my app, EAT ITALY. EAT ITALY is a free app, and contains guides to Milan, Rome, Florence , Venice , Umbria (and an ever expanding list of regions and cities) available as in-app purchases for both iPhone and iPad.