One of the first ristorantes our awesome Italian landlords/British Aunt and Uncle, Marianne and Andrew, told us about when we moved in was a place called Calagrana. It’s nestled up a tiny way in the hills just past a town called Spedelicchio, which is one of the towns we drive by almost daily when going into the city of Umbertide or the city of Trestina. Andrew and Marianna raved about Calagrana, giving us a little backstory and a lot of mouth-watering food talk. It turns out the owners, a super-friendly British woman named Ely and a super-talented Italian chef whose name I missed somehow, had owned a successful restaurant in London but wanted to raise their kids in Italy and so moved here not too long ago and opened Calagrana. We’d driven by the sign for it many times since Marianne and Andrew told us about Calagrana, but had been waiting for the right time to make a res and stop in for dinner. Last Saturday was the right time--and, in hindsight, it wasn’t nearly soon enough.
First off, it was an artsily cozy spot, with a family atmosphere but a small footprint and with interesting paintings on the wall but a very welcoming and friendly feel. It is a little low in lighting (which is nice and romantic and which I’m only mentioning as an excuse for my poor photos, which don’t do the food justice in the least). We started by sharing an ensalta agrodolce (agrodolce being the sweet-sour combination found most often in Southern Italy and tracing back to the Saracens, or so I’m told). This was a combination of lettuce, an assortment of veggies just thinner that julienned (I thought), and big juicy artichokes, tossed in an agrodolce dressing as mentioned. It had an ideal sense of balance, starting with the dressing, and moving through the variously cut veggies—amazing:
Calagrana again, and if you’re ever in the Niccone Valley (or anywhere in Tuscany or Umbria) I suggest you do the same. Next time I promise to take better photos, too. And to take a few pics of the cuddly dogs bounding about outside the doors.
*See more Italian restaurants: Capponi, Nestor's,Nonna Gelsa,Le Capannine di Sommavilla
*See all Italian restaurants