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Perugia: Osteria del Gambero (Ubu Re)

Via Baldeschi 8/a , Phone: 075 5735461
Closing day: Monday night

Reviewed by: Jeff Whiteaker from Slovakia, review #3842

When: 2011

Finally, an all around excellent and wonderfully consistent meal in Perugia (after four nights of maddening inconsistency and mediocrity). Highly Recommended!

It was our fifth and final night in Perugia, and after four nights of frustratingly inconsistent and sometimes even terrible food, our expectations for finding a decent dinner were low. One travel guide listed this place as the current best restaurant in Perugia. A bold claim, but based on our experience in Perugia, it just might be true!

Nowhere on the front of the building could we find the restaurant's official name (Osteria del Gambero), and you had to hunt around the front windows and menus to find its other name, Ubu Re. It's located on a relatively quiet street a couple blocks behind the duomo, a little ways up the street from the start of the stairway that leads you to the acquadotto. I could envision some people walking up and down the street a few times before they notice it.

Starving, we went in a bit early-ish, around 7:30, and the place was empty. The guy that greeted us had thick, bushy hair, John Lennon glasses, and a black chef's coat, which led us to assume that he must be the chef. He also turned out to be our waiter. We could hear the voice of only one other person in the 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, a longtime favorite of mine. Few Slow Travelers will probably care or even know what I'm talking about, but for me, this was a clear sign that this guy definitely has good taste.

At any rate, the food: I ordered umbricelli with a rich, braised duck sauce. This was absolute perfection, and the first good pasta I'd had in Perugia. My wife 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 the 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. This might just be the best pork dish I've ever had in Italy. We also split a mixed green salad, which had to have been one of the freshest and most organic-tasting salads we’d had on the entire trip. The "house" wine was actually a bottle of locally produced red sangiovese, which was quite good.

Strangely, there were only four other people eating there that night, which is absolutely criminal, given the vastly superior quality of the meal and the cozy and tasteful ambience of the place. To think of some of the horrible restaurants we had endured in this town, which always seemed to be full, and yet this place, with such awesome and wonderfully refined food (and totally reasonable prices to boot) was nearly empty! There’s just so much injustice in this world!!! I just wish we'd tried this wonderful Osteria earlier during our stay, because we definitely would have come back a second night. At least we could leave Perugia on a culinary high note. So, to those of you who take your food seriously, please put Osteria del Gambero (Ubu Re) at the top of your list!

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

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