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Re Tartù Montefalco

The Umbrian town of Montefalco sits on the south side of the Valle Umbra. Umbria, known as the green heart of Italy, is a landlocked region in the centre of the country and is most famous as the birthplace of Saint Francis in nearby Assisi. Happy in its anonymity and content to be in the shadow of its famous neighbour, Montefalco has been quietly going about its business for thousands of years. Part of its business is wine and in the surrounding countryside the fiercely tannic Sagrantino grape is cultivated producing two wines, Rosso di Montefalco  and the more famous Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG . Another part of its business may surprise you, for here you will find truffles. Traditionally, black truffles are associated with southern France and the intensely perfumed white variety with Alba in Piedmont in northern Italy. However, these tubers grow here in Umbria as well and the wine and the truffle come together in the restaurant Re Tartù Montefalco or King Truffle run by owners Andrea and Ilaria.

On the sign above the unprepossessing entrance are the words enoteca ristorante. The second requires no further explanation but the first is the Italian word for wine merchant and the oenophile will not be disappointed by the selection on offer. But for Italians wine requires pairing with food – the two just go together. And in Re Tartù Montefalco there is a mouthwatering menu based on local dishes and seasonal produce but featuring the truffle as the star performer. The restaurant itself is a little like Dr. Who’s Tardis for below the ground floor entrance are two further floors leading down to a delightful terrace garden.

Now a further guide to the Italian language – if you want to make a noun signify a larger version of itself it can be done by adding ‘one’ to the ending. Hence umbrello means, unsurprisingly, umbrella and umbrellone means a large umbrella and it was in the shade of one of these, in the garden, that we enjoyed our lunchtime repast. Matters commenced with a delightful amuse bouche followed by homemade breads and olive oil. From the antipasti we had delicious deep fried courgette flowers stuffed with anchovies and served with parmesan cream and a plate of local salami.

From the primi we tried gnocchetti di patate al Sagrantino di Montefalco and ravioli with pistachio, ricotta, tomato, and truffle. Gnocchi can be a little leaden but these were beautifully light with a wonderful purple colour from the local wine added to the sauce. The ravioli were full of deep, rich flavours with a surprising crunch provided by the pistachio. To accompany the food we had a Grechetto by Còlpetrone, a local winemaker, that had a delightful and unusual rhubarb flavour.

For dessert we tried a panna cotta that was perfectly prepared and also tozzetti alle mandorle – think of Tuscan cantucci and you are about there – with a rich dessert passito  wine that was both fruity and spicy at the same time and had a long finish.

All in all, a deeply satisfying meal from a restaurant I can highly recommend, particularly after a Sagrantino tasting at Cantina Villa Mongalli or Azienda Agricola Bocale.

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