Built on a huge promontory of volcanic tufa stone, Orvieto’s history goes all the way back to the Bronze Age. Romans destroyed the Etruscan city here in the 3rd century BC, and five Popes maintained residences in Orvieto during the 13th century.

Orvieto’s greatest export is its wine. Orvieto Classico is a crisp, white wine that’s appreciated the world over. You can take a tour and taste the wine at Tenuta Le Velette if you make reservations in advance.

Although not as noted for its cooking as Tuscany or Piemonte, Umbria has delicious food, created with a light touch. Top-quality olive oil, fresh herbs, and seasonal ingredients predominate. Black truffles from Norcia, and pork sausages, are enjoyed all over the region. And spit-roasted meats and home-made pastas are found on most menus.

Umbricelli, the local pasta, is like spaghetti, but thicker. It’s often served with a hearty tomato sauce.
Most of the best Orvieto restaurants offer beautiful surroundings, as well as hearty cooking.

One of the oldest places in Orvieto, Le Grotte del Funaro occupies a cave that was carved from the tufa in the 12th century. To sample a little of the best regional dishes, order the mixed (misti) plates. An assortment of bruschette or crostini makes a great starter. And the grilled meats, especially the suckling pig, are moist and delicious. The wine list is exceptional. And if you come for lunch, you’ll enjoy a nice view of the surrounding hills through the windows or from the piazza. Pizza from a wood-fired oven is also available.

Located in the old town on a side street off the Piazza del Popolo, Asino d’Oro offers traditional Umbrian cooking and less conventional dishes like fried guanciale with sage and vinegar, gnudi with chard and goat cheese, or baccala with raisins. Chianina beef and rabbit are available for main courses, and desserts are worth saving room for.

Tipica Trattoria is beneath a 15th-century palazzo, and dining under the 500-year-old arches is part of the appeal here. The chef’s appetizer assortment is a nice way to ease into your meal. Their umbrichelli is sauced with a spicy tomato sauce or during the season, a sauce made with white truffles. Gnocchi is another satisfying first course. Rabbit, lamb, and wild boar are the best main courses. After dinner, don’t be surprised if you’re offered a vin santo or grappa on the house.

In business in one place or another since 1945, La Grotta is still going strong. The owner is a charmer, and serious about his food. He’s been known to take diners into the kitchen for a better look at the provisions. He’s popular with the locals, who come for home-made pasta with duck or chicken giblet sauce, potted guinea hen, or cured boar. Also on the menu are local chick peas, pigeon, lamb, and grilled meats. Zuppa Inglese is a good dessert choice.

Next to the 13th-century Palazzo Comunale, La Palomba is a family-owned trattoria that serves simple, but delicious meals made with local ingredients. Your best bet is to order whatever the house recommends. Start with crostini or bruschetta — when truffles are in season, they’ll grate some over the top. The pastas are excellent, and hearty dishes like pigeon or lamb are perfect on a chilly night. The owner, his wife, and their daughter make their guests feel really welcome. There’s a nice selection of local wine, with several available by the half bottle.

One of the oldest restaurants in Orvieto, Trattoria dell’Orso has long been a favorite in the area. The chef here hails from Abruzzo and his partner is Neapolitan, so you’ll find more tomatoes on the menu. Pasta with scamorza cheese, broccoli, and tomatoes, chicken with olives, and splet soup start things off nicely. Rabbit, lamb, guinea fowl, and chicken alla cacciatore round out the meal. Gabriele and Ciro are delightful hosts.

Read about things to do in Orvieto. Or find Orvieto hotels.

Legend:
1) La Grotte del Funaro
2) Asino d’Oro
3) Tipica Trattoria
4) La Grotta
5) La Palomba
6) Trattoria dell’Orso

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