Eight years age, when we first moved into the area, I had a guidebook that said Umbertide was a gourmet mecca. That statement was pretty much of a mystery to us because there were only a few restaurants in the town of Umbertide and they pretty much stuck to the Umbrian Government Issue Menu: tagliatelle with porcini, a stuffed pasta with black truffle sauce, grilled meats, etc. All of this food is good, but simple and basic and except for atmosphere and little nuances, the food was pretty much the same at every restaurant.
In all fairness, we come from New York City where knowing about the latest, greatest restaurant is a blood sport. Here, the people like their food familiar. Their palates are incredibly sensitive to the slightest variation on any particular dish.
About two years ago, Ristorante San Giorgio opened up in the main piazza in Umbertide. It’s a lovely space, with outdoor seating under an arch, and a pleasant, but modest dining room. When we first went, the food was good, a little notch up from others in the area, but not remarkable. Well, I’m happy to say that they have really improved; the food is delicious, with innovative flavor and texture combinations.
On Sunday, with our visiting friend Elaine, we had a joyous lunch at San Giorgio. (I love the idea of a joyous lunch. At the Grande Hotel et di Milano, for many years, there was a poster in the elevator that promised a joyous lunch in their restaurant. That should be a standard criteria for all lunches.) I think we made the waiter a little nervous with our picture taking, between my camera and Elaine’s, but as all of our plates went back to the kitchen licked clean, he took it all in stride and with good humor.
For me, the highlights of the meal were the beef carpaccio with a cool tomato jelly, a simple pea soup with a little roasted calamari and then there are those carbonara ravioli. The ravioli is filled with the carbonara sauce, it comes to the plate looking all naked and innocent and then you cut it open and the liquid, buttery, cheesey, eggy sauce lusciously spills out. Totally decadent. I’ve become a little obsessed, ok, a lot obsessed by the idea of the sauce being contained inside the ravioli, but more on that later. The baccala with porcini is an unusual flavor combo, and if the salt level on the baccala could be controlled a little better, this is a delicious pairing of flavors. The tagliata, sliced steak, is good, but a basic rendition of this classic dish.
The wine list is extensive, covering most of the regions in Italy and is well priced. We started with a fruity and complex Gewurtztraminer and moved on to the cleaner and lighter Salmagina verdicchio.
I confess we didn’t stay for dessert. After all that food and wine, we needed to take a walk. So we took a walk….straight to the gelataria! An excellent and joyous Sunday pranzo!
Ristorante San Giorgio
Via Mancini, 3
075 941 2944
Reservations suggested, particularly if you would like to sit outside.