Some of Umbria’s most precious gems are wrapped simply and hidden in the most unexpected places. Trattoria Volpelli is one of them. In the tiny town of Calzolaro, on the outskirts of Umbertide, this family-owned trattoria is unpretentious, its owner modest, its food genuine. Owner Marco is a tartufaio, which means he knows a thing or two about truffles, taking time to explain to us the varieties and their seasons. And he is deeply passionate about preparing dishes that celebrate this prized tuber. He is also knowledgeable about the meats, especially pork, and wild game of the Umbrian/Tuscan countryside and he knows just how to grill them. Simply.
An antipasto platter of hot and cold crostini and salumi is as colorful as a painter’s palette, brought to our table as an introduction to Irina’s culinary talents. The best part of the meal, without a doubt, are our primi, a half serving each of hand-made tagliatelle al tartufo – featuring the Scorzone, or black summer truffle – and delicate gnocchetti with fresh porcini. “Add nothing but un filo, a ‘thread’, of olive oil,” Marco advises and we know not to add any Parmesan, even though he has placed some on our table.
A bottle of a Sangiovese under their own label serves us well. We share a portion of Marco’s mixed grill of pork as he shares the secret to grilling meats to perfection, using lard flavored with sage for chicken, with rosemary for lamb, and with wild fennel for duck. I think we are going to have to return! Irina, his foreign-born wife, has learned well from her time in the kitchen with Marco’s mother. Thank you Irina, for your skills, Marco for your truffle passion, and the dog who helps you find them.