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Montone: Ristorante La Locanda del Capitano

Via Roma 5/7 , Phone: 075 930 6521

Reviewed by: Gene8499 from VA, review #3649

When: 2010

High class restaurant in the prettiest hill town in Umbria

My wife and I always try to save a really good restaurant for our final night in Italy. This restaurant was the pick for this two week trip to Italy, and it pretty much lived up to its advance billing.

The restaurant is in a small boutiquey-type hotel just off the small main square of the hilly and beautifully preserved town. The owner of the villa we rented highly recommended the place, and he was right - it is good. I would add, though, that it is high-priced for the region and the portions are a bit small, especially if you are trying not to order too many courses. But, all in all, it was a fitting place to end the trip, especially with the chef/owner, Giancarlo, presiding over our dinner.

We went to Umbria in late September, and in fact were at del Capitan on October 1st, the first day before wild boar hunting season began in these parts. Because it was late in the season, we (my wife and I and our traveling companions, another couple) were the ONLY people in the restaurant, and most likely, the hotel, and for that matter, perhaps the only people in the town who did not live there permanently.

The dining room is very elegant, with lots of beautifully set tables, nice art on the walls, fine polished stone floors, and flowers on the tables. It definitely gives off a high-end vibe.

The waiter greeted us promptly, and as soon as we were seated, Giancarlo the chef/owner appeared. He helped us through the menu, which, while not extensive, is written in the lingua franca of modern menus, using lots of descriptions about provenance of the food and somewhat cute names for dishes. All of his evenings choices sounded good, so it was hard to select. However, my wife had a starter that looked like, and was described as, both on the menu and by Giancarlo in person, as a cappuccino of porcini and truffles, which were just coming into season. Essentially, it was a soup with a mushroom broth base and with a foamed froth on top, looking for all the world just like a cappuccino. On top were shaved black truffles. Quite a presentation, and very good taste. The rest of us went with more mundane offerings, like raviolis in a sage/butter sauce, green salads with fennel and an appetizer of penne with vegetables. All top notch.

For the main course, my wife and I each had our own wild boar stews, which were OK, but needed something to take it up a level - wild boar or cinghiale is very dense meat and needs slow cooking, typically in a braise of a wine sauce. This dish was done just that way, but it lacked an element of "this is great" and seemed to settle for "this is fine." Our friends each had lamb chops with root vegetables on the side, which were perfectly cooked, although it was in small portions.

We shared a bottle of an Umbrian red, which perfectly matched the main courses. Each couple split a dessert, and for the life of me, I can't remember either dessert, except to say, they were OK. The price for the four of us was not small, and in fact, it was the most expensive dinner we had in Umbria, but I did not pay for the meal, and so I don't know the final tab.

Giancarlo clearly is proud of his place, and has wonderful stories to tell about the town, the locale and the food of the region. (In fact, he told us that Rick Steves uses his place as a base for one of the Steves Italy tours - I don't know if I would want to be there on the nights a group would be there, but it is an indication that the place is charming and well-thought of by professional travelers.)

Despite my dessert memory-lapse, it was a memorable way to end the trip - made even more memorable by our drive back to our villa about 6km outside of Montone, in the Val de Carpina, a beautiful, thickly wooded park/valley with the Carpina river running down the middle of it. As I mentioned, my wife and I had the wild boar stew, and the next day was the first day of boar hunting season. I think the boar knew both those facts, because as I drove the four of us back in our rental car along the Strada Bianco to our house, what should burst out of the forest immediately in front of my car, not one, not two, but four of the cinghiale themselves. Two were almost as big as the car, and the other two were their not-very-small offspring, and all were motoring as fast as they could. I wasn't sure if they had read that hunting season was about to start in less than 8 hours and they were high-tailing it out of there to a safety zone, or if they knew we had eaten some kin of theirs within the past 2 hours and they intended to pay us back for that faux pas. In any event, the car with the four humans avoided the four boars of all sizes and it was a great way to end the trip.

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

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