Now that I am feeling more settled back home, I am ready to catch up on some posts I didn't get a chance to write while still in Umbria.
Many will be 'food related', I think...This one certainly is.
Johnny and I have a few favorite places in the area around Lago Trasimeno that we enjoy going to for a walk, followed by a glass of wine. We especially enjoy visiting the many near by villages, and always try to find new places to explore.
A couple of years ago, we finally went to see the wonderful Glass Museum in Piegaro, a village not far from where we stay. It was our first time in Piegaro, and we walked all through this small hill town.
After our museum visit, we stopped into the small bar right in the middle of town. We chatted with the handful of locals hanging out, and really had a nice time.
We put it on our list of "let's return to''. And we have, many times. We like the vibe...very local, not much English spoken, everyone friendly.
What a great surprise to find out that the restaurant attached to this bar, which has gone through a few changes over time, was once again re-opening with a new chef, Moreno Moretti, from Siena, and some great energy from Chiara, the lovely woman behind the bar, and Omar, who I believe is partnering with the chef.
Asking Chiara about it, we were told it would open soon...in just a week or two. Then, much to our delight, we were treated to a 'taste testing' of a few different pizzas they were trying out. It was very good timing to be there. We had just stopped in for a glass of wine. What luck!
Of course, we returned for lunch as soon as we found out they were up and running.
|A spanking new outdoor seating area is perfect for warm summer nights, no doubt.|
|They really have it fixed up nicely.|
The name of this new spot?
Vitalogy Food & Friends.
Vitalogy: A listing of human physiology and health, written in the early 1900's
Also, a popular album by the band Pearl Jam. Hey, it works for me.
On entering, you first come into a small bar area, which also has a deli-type case stocked with cheeses as well as large hunks of meat ready to be cut and grilled.
We enjoyed a glass of Proseco while chatting with Moreno and Omar. Nice.
|Johnny in his happy place-|
that would be anywhere with a glass of Proseco!
The dining room is split into three small spaces, each with it's own charm.
There is a room with a nice long farm table for big parties, a room down a few steps that has wonderful stone walls and arched ceilings, and the front dining area which includes an ancient well and a fireplace which is used for cooking.
|The Farm Table room...|
(photo courtesy of the Vitalogy Facebook page)
|The lower dining room, with lots of simple charm....|
|Front dining room with fireplace and well.|
Well, well, well....
(photo courtesy of the Vitalogy Facebook page)
|Perfect on a rainy day.|
After settling in with our Proseco, we looked over the menu. Moreno brought us a house appetizer selection, sans meat. I have a feeling that he does some nice cheese and charcuterie plates here, too.
I was especially happy about the house pickled vegetables. The small onions were crunchy, sweet, vinegary and just a little spicy. Really excellent.
|We could have stopped here, but why?|
That is house made fresh mozzarella with the celery.
Dip the celery in the hot oil....yum.
Now, back to that menu....
As is the case with most menus in the area, there is an abundance of meat and often fish as second course, but we can always find a nice pasta to enjoy, and usually an interesting side dish of some type of vegetable.
|A good selection of starters and pasta dishes....|
|Lots of grilled meats on this menu.|
Contorni are the side dishes.
We ordered a bottle of local Grechetto, our favorite Umbrian white varietal, and got down to decision making.
Here, we couldn't resist trying the Umbrichelli Cacio & Pepe.
This is a rustic hand made pasta with a cheese and black pepper sauce. The pepper is essential, and added with gusto.
Imagine the best mac & cheese ever. With lots of black pepper....you get the idea.
|Our pasta plates came out steaming hot, and the this shards of pecorino cheese melted as we watched...|
For our side dishes, we ordered two different types of local beans.
The ceci, or garbanzo beans, were dressed in the best olive oil, with a nice hint of rosemary and garlic. A classic local favorite. I make this at home sometimes...it's so good.
|Ceci with extra virgin liquid gold, garlic and rosemary.|
The other bean dish was fagioli all'uccelletto. These are local dried shelling beans in a broth of olive oil, tomatoes, garlic and sage. Just a little sweet, they are so much better than any type of baked beans I've had. The sage mellows everything out.
It was a super filling meal, for sure, but on a cold and rainy day, what the hell?
We were ready to fill our tummies.
While we slowly savored our meal, sipping the wine and chatting with Omar and Moreno, we were also taking note that the fire was being stoked and watched over all the time...coals shifted about, more wood added.
Of course! This sweet fire wasn't only for enjoyment! No...it was being prepared for this:
Yes, we are not flesh eaters. But...it was so interesting to watch this process. The coals were just so perfect....It made Johnny and I want to use the fireplace in the apartment to grill veggies, for sure! We just need a grill thingy!
(For that matter, we need one for our fire pit here in California. I can just imagine pizzas, veggies, tempeh....so much better than on the Weber, I'm sure. True wood fired pizza. And foosball. That's a party.)
Anyway, this hunk-o-meat was placed on a plate, set in front of a finely dressed fellow, liberally drizzled with Umbrian olive oil....and devoured. With a salad.
I'm assuming this is done with the various meats on the menu, and also pizzas, or at least flatbreads, because there were tools by the fireplace, including a pizza peel.
As we finished up and went back to the bar in front to pay, we were introduced to a young man, I think his name is Alessio... that was bringing in some dessert wines to try. What luck...again!
We were happy to do a little taste test, along with some sweet treats to end our meal. You bet!
I love these fortified sweet wines after dinner. Just a small taste does it. This was deep, rich caramel flavor with nutty hints. Bellissima!
I will look forward to having some next time we visit Vitalogy.
|Thanks, Alessio...I hope I remembered your name right!|
We LOVED the Fra Santo...Grazie!
All in all, Johnny and I look forward to adding Vitalogy to our list of places we return to. I imagine that they are having a busy summer, and will hopefully be around for many years to come.
It's always nice to support the local spots, and we are just the ones to do it.
Thanks, Omar, Moreno and Chiara!!! Ci vediamo a presto!
We will see you again as soon as we can return..Grazie!
Buona Fortuna, Tutti!
|A very dynamic duo...Omar & Moreno.|
Vitalogy Food & Friends is in Piegaro, (PG) Umbria, Italy.