Elegance and intimacy: a sense of balanceat the Locanda del Teatro in Montefalco (gallery)
A stop in Montefalco, where food is prepared in authentic Umbrian fashion and served with a refined sense of creativity
by Filippo Benedetti Valentini
An evening in Montefalco, the beating heart of Umbria where people come to dine and drink. In the Piazza del Comune, a renaissance gem, there is a restaurant called the Locanda del Teatro housed in the elegant Palazzo Bontadosi.
Opened in the summer of 2014, it’s a pleasurable place to spend an evening. It’s run with passion by Paolo and Pasqualino. They’re complete opposites: Paolo is a refined waiter of the type you no longer see, eager to help, theatrical and welcoming with an enthusiasm that is contagious. Pasqualino is reserved and less refined, but in the kitchen unveils a vast knowledge of Umbrian traditions and a great imagination.
Opposites in perfect harmony both on and off the menu. The Locanda del Teatro is an elegant yet informal restaurant. It has 35 available seats (in the summer, with the outdoor tables, there are about ten more and in the back there is a panoramic garden overlooking the Spoleto Valley) and the decor is modern. On their cast-lead and opaque resin tables there are no tablecloths.
The menu is a true delight. It varies in accordance with seasonal ingredients, which are always fresh and local. Each dish is a new take on traditional Umbrian cooking. Take the appetizers: toasted bread with chicken liver paté accompanied by fig and black pepper marmalade; pumpkin casserole with sausage and onion in amaretto (almond cookie) sauce. And this: “Egg with Parmigiano and black truffle zabaione”, a delicious savory pie with eggs, Parmigiano cheese aged 36 months, and seasonal truffles generously grated on top.
Then the starters. Filled pasta with sheep’s milk cheese, pears, onion and nutmeg; cream of red potatoes with marjoram mousse; handmade pasta with butter and white truffles. Main dishes include pork filet with mustard and fig sauce, stewed faraona (guinea hen) on toasted bread and rabbit fricassee. Or how about the pièce de résistance, “meatloaf with creamy maiyonnaise and garden salad,” a variation on one of the most typical local dishes made with lean white meat, Parmigiano, egg and marjoram.
One bite, and then another. Traditional Italian Sunday lunches spring to mind, with the whole family gathered around the table. This is the Locanda del Teatro: refinement, taste and grand simplicity.
But leave room for dessert. In particular for the semifreddo with Sagrantino wine and almonds, or the exquisite “caramelized figs with sheep’s milk ricotta and mint”, a perfect balance of creaminess and sweetness. The wine list reads like a repertoire of the best wines of Montefalco, as well as some of Italy’s finest. The average meal will cost around €25-30 per person.