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Todi: La Cantina Del Mercataccio

Via del Mercato Vecchio, 1 , Phone: 338-2462587 (cell)

Reviewed by: Tessmar from CA, review #3967

When: 2012

"Only" ranked eighth on Travel Advisor but much better than that

We were first going to try Ristorante Umbria both because of the Michelin stickers on the door and its recommendation in various guide books, but the 55 or so reviews on Travel Advisor were more mixed than I would have liked to have seen. A British couple at our B&B recommended La Cantina, and when we checked the 70+ TA reviews the vast majority rated it as a four or five so we went there instead. The restaurant is quite intimate, with perhaps ten tables at most, set with linen table cloths. The room is a barrel vaulted brick lined room that truly was obviously a true cantina at some point in its history.

The service was quite attentive without the feeling of someone "hovering" over you, and the staff was very friendly and helpful.

In our visit only one other table remained vacant so we were glad we made reservations, even though in mid-October Todi is quiet and we would not initially have thought that would be required. A word of advice is to use their cell numbers and not the "land line" number. At least if you are calling from your own cellphone that number seems to think you are a fax machine.

We did not order antipasti although the selections were varied. My wife had a primo of strangozzi with broccoli and a mildly spicy sauce, while I had tagliatelle with a lepre (hare) based sauce. Both were excellent with distinctive flavors and pasta that was of perfect texture.

Our secondi were medagline di maiale al melograno e "Calvados" for her and lombetto di agnello in crosta di erbe, su riduzione di "Rubio" red wine. While I liked the sample of pork my wife gave me the lamb was simply amazing. The herb crust was crisp and sharp and the wine reduction was a fine glaze with a hint of sweetness.

From our times in Tuscany vin santo has become a favorite after dinner drink, so we had to try the dessert with small "biscotti-like" pieces and a generous glass of this wonderful wine. On the recommendation of our English friends we also had mantacare castagne...a chestnut mousse served in two layers with an in-between divider of kiwi fruit and orange that somehow all fit together well.

We also were served an initial helping of some finely baked but salty pastries with warm onion topping as well as a selection of breads and bread sticks...and with my "caffe Italiano" they provided a selection of small "cookies" that had just the right balance of sweetness.

I had asked our waiter to select a wine for us as other than Sagratino I was unfamiliar with their offerings and he chose a local merlot that was very pleasant. IN addition to the wine we had a bottle of aqua minerale con gas.

One word of caution. One party we shared the room with was ten Italians and of course that meant that, with the acoustics of the brick ceiling, the noise level was more characteristic of an American rather than an Italian restaurant. But I would think this would not be the case with a more normal distribution of dining party size.

I think the bill was quite reasonable, totaling 80 including service. The wine selections were all under 20 euros per bottle, and the desserts were 6 euros each... pretty amazing since decent vin santo sells for around 30 euros for 375ml and the pour for the dessert was quite generous.

I definitely recommend this place and would choose it again on a visit to Todi.

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

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