Antipasti, Pasta and Wine in Umbria

Ristorante Casagrande, Via Madonna del Moro 30/B, Umbertide, Italy

The dining room comes probably straight from the 70s. It evokes memories of genuine and abundant family meals.

As we seat at the table and I order two glasses of red wine, the waiter courteously replies: “We don’t produce wine in glasses, sir. Our wine comes in bottles: I will bring you one, you will drink as much as you like, and you will pay accordingly”.

The meal starts with a glass of red wine (poured from the bottle, obviously) and with an appetizer of cheese and cold cuts. As for the wine, also the delicious cold cuts are produced by Casagrande. They come with different types of locally made pecorino cheese.

The appetizer is great, however the true highlight of the meal is the pasta dish, spaghetti or tagliatelle with a ragout of fine meat and mushrooms. This pasta is truly addictive: no matter how much you have of it, you will still crave for more.

Casagrande Restaurant is another great place where the rich food culture of Umbria is nurtured and glorified.

Wild Boar Spaghetti

Cheese and Cold Cuts

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Tagliatelle with red bean sauce @ Da Maria “Il Pergolato” (a.k.a. “La Pataccona”)

Piazzale Cadorna 5, 61122 Novilara, Italy

Tagliatelle con fagioli @ Pataccona

Maria “Il Pergolato” (“The Porch”), known among locals as “La Pataccona”, is not the place for an upscale dinner or for a sophisticated date. The restaurant is like a country farm-house, divided in different large rooms, with tables of different capacity that can accommodate parties of various sizes and noise levels.

This is the restaurant for a traditional Italian meal: its tables saw memorable dinners where friendships grew, family bonds tightened and long lasting memories shaped.

The signature dish are the tagliatelle with red bean sauce: don’t ask me about other pasta dishes because in the last three decades I never tried anything else.

The tagliatelle have the peculiar thickness and tenderness that only hand-made-with-passion pasta has. The sauce is dense and reach: the beans cooked slowly for an endless time are ready to melt in your mouth.

The meal is not complete without a piadina (a traditional flatbread) with sauteed wild greens, sausage, cold cuts and pecorino cheese.

All the food can and should be shared among tablemates.

Piadina @ Pataccona

Torta al Testo @ Panaro

Il Panaro, Biscina, Gubbio (PG), Italy 

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Umbria is a region with gracious hills, friendly people, genuine  food and amazing wine. At “Il Panaro” you can experience all of this, in one place and in one delicious meal. The signature dish is the “torta al testo“, a unique pie that deserves a detour in case you are travelling in a 50-mile radius from its location.

The torta al testo is a soft and thick flatbread baked daily in a wood-burning oven. A pie slice is cut horizontally and filled with many different ingredients – cold cuts, cheese and greens. Before  being served, the pie is warmed so that a light crust forms outside and the cheese – there must be cheese inside – melts.

Among the different options, the “sardinara“, which has nothing to do with sardines, is a must. It is a sort of outside in margherita pizza: the pie is filled with a rich tomato sauce and slices of local pecorino cheese. The pie is filled with sauteed local greens and, obviously, pecorino cheese. It is good complement to the sardinara and the two of them will trigger your addiction to this simple and wonderful dish.

Disclaimer: the torta al testo is best consume with a glass of red wine, on a long table with good friends.