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Citta di Castello: Il Buongustaio

Via Marconi 10 , Phone: 07558558127

Reviewed by: Debra from CA, review #1462

When: 2005

Menu features 2 sides: "Typical" and "Fish". Food was very good from both sides of the menu. Downside was the annoying and distracting T.V.

The food here was well prepared and presented. I had no fish, my meal centering on filet of beef, while my husband had the deep fried fish selection with antipasto and primi of fish selections. Including wine, water and caffe it was under 50.

The annoying television was not only a distraction to us, at the farthest point in the room away from it, but another couple was having a major problem with it -- as the woman was in hysterics watching Italian funniest videos and the man, who had his back to the T.V., was holding his head most of the time.

The restaurant itself was practically empty, while an "all you can eat for 5" buffet down the street was packing them in. Too bad, because if you like fish, this would be a good choice.

Reviewed by: Decobabe from Italy, review #1317

When: 2005

A year later and now terrific.

Directions: 1 block off Corso V. Emmanuele

This is an amendment to the previous review made shortly after the restaurant opened. They have dumped the gloomy waitress and the owner now smiles all the time. The food has gone from strength to strength (but there is still a TV.) This restaurant now has a sandwich board outside describing daily special meals at 13-14. It is a real bargain and includes primo, secondo, contorno, water and wine. There's usually a fairly long list of available specials. There are so many good things on the regular menu that I often do not eat from the specials, but when I have they have been imaginative and very good. Buongustaio has become a regular choice for my friends here.

Reviewed by: Decobabe from Italy, review #960

When: 2004

A smile could move this restaurant up to a Friday night regular spot.

Directions: 1 block off Corso V. Emmanuele

This is only our second local restaurant featuring fish, and the fish is more varied and better cooked than the other one, by miles.

The outside of this restaurant is misleading. It looks like a cheap hole in the wall place, with nothing more than an enameled sign to show it is there. Inside, someone went to a lot of trouble to make a pretty and elegant interior. They should have paid a professional for an hour's consult. They paid a lot more than most local places to choose colored upholstery, high quality linens and tinted walls, but they missed on all the colors by a shade. It might not bother many people, but it jarred me.

Then, there is the TV. A TV is extremely common in the mom and pop trattoria here, but it didn't belong in this almost Provencal restaurant. When finally a customer changed stations to the news and they began reporting on a beheading, I complained about that accompaniment to my meal. They extinguished the offending electronics, but it was a big mistake to even have it. This restaurant has pretensions to elegance.

The kitchen actually fulfills their dream. The recipes are good, clever, not exaggerated and include ingredients like fresh scallops that are just unheard of here.

Umbrians love fish. Il Buongustaio provides good fish, sensitively cooked, not overdone and with sauces and condiments that use Umbrian products without overwhelming the creature.

I ordered the scallops (cappesante)to begin, which consists of the whole creature here. It had a truffle cream sauce over the baked scallops, and a couple of decorative swirls on the plate of a green sauce, nicely chosen for the dish. The presentation was quite nouvelle cuisine, the plate large and white and everything arranged like a painting. Nice.

I followed with a secondo of roast quail, which I ordered with my heart in my mouth. Quail is almost universally so over cooked that the legs are inedible and the breast just chewable, but not at Buongustaio. This quail was gently wrapped in salty speck to be removed and not eaten, and sat upon two pieces of grilled polenta that were the best I ever had. Although really cooked, the quail was tender and juicy throughout. It is a very nice dish. A green salad was as crisp and fresh as at the nicest home. My entire meal including service, water and wine cost 22.

The wine list isn't printed yet so I ordered a quarter liter of the house wine, and it was fine.

I didn't see any vegetarian choices. I did see a family of 4 adults and one child order and eat six antipasti, six primi, four secondi and six contorni. A particular contorno was prepared for and served to the child before the rest of the party. Two of them followed with a sorbet. I was impressed with the number of shells that flew around the table, and it was clear that their meal was everything they wished.

And so was mine, as far as the food goes. The fly in this soup is the service. There is a waitress and the owner. The owner has a weak and tiny smile he grudgingly delivers if commanded to. The waitress is so gloomy one wants to get her on medication or kill her and put her out of her misery. This is not just a small thing that I am making a big deal about. This restaurant is deeply flawed by an overwhelming atmosphere, from the door to the dessert, which gives you the feeling that they'd prefer you hadn't come and wish you would go away. There may be groups with such a dose of bonhomie that they can overwhelm the drear, but otherwise, it is an awful experience. In spite of the scallops.

Food is great. Prices fair. I won't go back.

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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