Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Finally, some good Italian food in Perugia




Today was a relatively mellow day. We went to the museum at the Palazzo dei Priori, which is fairly sprawling, covering an entire floor of the Palazzo. 90% of it consisted of medieval and early Renaissance religious paintings, and the other 10% was a group refreshingly secular works from the 17-1800s. The medieval stuff is interesting initially, but after a while you get totally Mary and bamino’d out. And the Jesus babies in these paintings almost always look like creepy, pudgy, little Italian men with strangely receding hairlines. You’d think they’d have wanted to depict him like some uber cute Gerber baby or whatever, but no.

We had Slovakian sausages again for lunch, and they were every bit as delicious as yesterday. After getting angry (yet again) at Wells Fargo for blocking both my ATM cards (I’ve really, really had it with them. The second I’m back in America - whenever that is - I swear I'm changing banks), we went to a funky-smelling internet place to connect with the real world for a bit.

Later, we walked down to the massive San Domenico church, which lies down the hill and just southeast of the Rocca Paolina. It was closed. Then, on the way back to the center, we stopped by the church that looks like a strange, octagonal shaped tower with a big clock on it. It was closed. So, we went back up to the center, hung out on the steps of the piazza to people-watch and to think about which restaurant we wanted to try for our last night in Perugia.




And that restaurant turned out to be Osteria del Gambero (aka Ubu Re). After four nights of maddening inconsistency and criminally bad pasta, we finally had an all around good experience here. We walked in at 7:45, and the place was empty. We were greeted by a guy with thick, bushy hair, John Lennon glasses, and a black chef’s coat. We’re assuming he was the chef because of his chef’s coat, but he was also our waiter. We could hear the voice of only one other person in kitchen. Visually, the place was immediately appealing, with its dim lights, muted yellow paint, and Paul Klee prints on the walls, and – most importantly – the guy had the first Style Council album (Cafe Bleu) playing in the background. Only 1-2 friends of mine will understand the significance of that last detail, but believe me, it’s crucial in understanding why that made the whole experience so much cooler. I mean, the Style Council, of all bands!

At any rate, the food: I ordered Umbricelli with a rich braised duck sauce, which was absolute perfection. Terezia ordered these lightly crispy, delicious cannelloni filled with ricotta, and covered in fresh porcini mushrooms and a light sauce. Both dishes were made lovingly with fresh ingredients, and were very refined. For secondo, we split the pork ribs, which were heavenly: extremely tender, juicy, and flavorful, and they came with a side of white beans with rosemary. We also split a mixed green salad, which had to have been one of the freshest and most organic-tasting salads we’ve had the whole trip. Strangely, there were only three other people eating there that night, which is absolutely criminal, given the stellar quality of the meal and vastly superior ambience of the place. To think of some of the crappy restaurants we endured here, which have always been full, and this place, with such awesome food (and totally reasonable prices) was empty! There’s just so much injustice in this world!!!

I think the time we spent here in Perugia was a good amount of time. We’ve had three full days, plus one day for the trip to Gubbio. If we’d stayed another day, I would have wanted to do another day trip. Perugia is a beautiful city, and we’ll definitely miss it, despite the inconsistent food. The stony, winding, kind of grimy medieval streets really are fun, and the views from this hill town are stunning. We’re really glad we finally got to experience Umbria. 



Sala dei Notari in the Palazzo dei Priori

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