Who needs wine when you can drink in these heart-stopping views of the valley below? We are perched on the terrace of the Ristorante Umbria in Todi, a family-owned restaurant that has been wowing diners for three generations. In 1954, Nonno Todini opened the restaurant and was himself chef extraordinaire, followed by his son who is still in the kitchen, and now by his grandson, Alessio, an energetic man who does his family proud.
Their menu is extensive, featuring the bounty of Umbria in all their dishes whether pasta, soups, meat or game and, of course, what comes in fresh from the surrounding fields and orchards. Even when pared down to the offerings on the menu of the day, the selections are many and all tempting – it is a tough decision. We choose the home-made linguine made with the famous durum wheat of Gragnano, and then tossed in a delicate mixture of fresh herbs, asparagus, pancetta and pecorino cheese. Pappardelle are one-inch wide flat noodles made by hand and in the Todini hands, this dish totally satisfies in a heartier way. Pappardelle al sugo di lepre show off what can be done with a tomato sauce flavored with hare. These dishes lead up to our secondi: braised pork ribs with polenta and lamb cacciatore-style.
Just as inviting as the terrace, the interior dining rooms are cozy, one with a large camino for fireside dining during the cooler months. The other retains its frescoed walls, beneath vaulted ceilings, a room that dates back to the 1500’s when it served as a meeting place for the Accademia dei Convivanti, a group of literati of the time.
We lunch slowly on this sun-lit day, fully mindful of the blessing of this outstanding meal delivered to our table where a soft breeze caresses our shoulders and the views renew our spirits. We do drink wine – a local Sangiovese. After all, it feels like a celebration, if for no other reason than to honor the Todini family and their dedication to the traditional cuisine of Umbria. Perhaps we will stop at their newly opened Caffetteria Beganti to enjoy our after-lunch coffee, or we may just want to linger here for awhile…