Anne's Blog

Valtopina: Grandissimo Eating in a Small Town

Date: June 20, 2016 - categories: , - Leave your thoughts

Pino has to head to Valtopina often these days as his team is doing earthquake restoration work on the nearby tiny hamlet, Giove. There’s only one restaurant right in Valtopina’s centroRistorante La Gabella – and it makes every Valtopina jaunt an experience, a culinary one. “La gabella” was a 16th – 17th c. tax on goods and inside the restaurant near the wine racks, you’ll see a small nook, once the place where the onerous gabellieri collected the monies owed. Take a table nearby and if he’s not already in the kitchen, host/chef Domenico will welcome you, telling you enthusiastically about the day’s choices.

Ristorante La Gabella, Valtopina

Ristorante La Gabella, Valtopina

restaurant-door

Domenico tells Ugo and Pino about our lunch choice

Domenico tells Ugo and Pino about our lunch choice

He won me over with a seasonal specialty, homemade tagliatelle with wild asparagus from the surrounding woods. Pino opted for the snails, gathered by Domenico that morning, black truffle generously grated by him right on top. A truffle as big as an apple: luck had been with the local tartufaro (“truffle-hunter”) who’d sold it to him earlier that day. When we saw it – and sniffed it – we knew we’d also have to have scrambled eggs with truffle as an antipasto – and Domenico convinced Pino to try the wild mushrooms (with grated truffle added, logicamente!). Another winning antipasto? That divine liver pate’.

Homemade tagliatelle with wild asparagus from the woods

Homemade tagliatelle with wild asparagus from the woods

Snails for Pino

Snails for Pino

pino-smiles

Wild mushrooms for Pino with black truffle grated on top by Domenico

Wild mushrooms for Pino with black truffle grated on top by Domenico

Scrambled eggs with truffle

Scrambled eggs with truffle

Divine liver pate’

Divine liver pate’

Liver pate’, eggs with truffle: antipasto goodness

Liver pate’, eggs with truffle: antipasto goodness

We had company with us for lunch that day: Ugo, the public works director in Valtopina who supervises Pino’s restoration work. Ugo chose the homemade cappelletti (“little hats,” ,i.e. a local stuffed pasta) filled with porcini mushrooms and topped with shaved black truffle (grated by smiling waitress, Serena….and then Domenico added a few extra truffle swipes!)

Ugo - from Valtopina - joined us for lunch at La Gabella

Ugo – from Valtopina – joined us for lunch at La Gabella

Domenico grated extra truffle right on Ugo’s cappelletti

Domenico grated extra truffle right on Ugo’s cappelletti

Serena and Domenico serve up the goodness

Serena and Domenico serve up the goodness

The description of the tasty desserts was enticing. But we were satiated. (Perhaps for another visit…..?)

I hope we’ll go often before Pino’s team wraps up restoration work in Giove.

me-and-pino

…..and let’s hope we’ll head back soon to Ristorante La Gabella….

Read about the Giove restoration here
Read about – and see! – a feast during Giove restoration
Click here to read about the truffle-hunters
Read about the Valtopina truffle festival here
Read about the white truffles festival
Click here for more on truffles
Read about truffles in a US cooking class
Read about a favorite place to eat snails near Bevagna

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