Nocera’s “Gourmet Corner”

March 2, 2015 / Food & Wine
Nocera Umbra, Umbria

Just peek into the kitchen and you’ll know you’re in a family-run restaurant: high school student Andrea is studying near the stove where his mother Angela is seasoning rabbit stew, his father Peppe is picking up the orders of strangozzi al tartufo for diners and – not far away – grandmother Fidalma is forming her magical tortelli. She’s been making tortellini (filled with local veal and pork), tortelli (bigger ones, filled with porcini or pecorino cheese and truffle), strangozzi (Umbrian thick spaghetti), tagliatelle (“fettuccine”) and taglioni (slimmer “ribbons”) for fifty years – or for as long as she has been married to Franco.

Andrea
Isabella
Peppe serves strangozzi
Fidalma's rapid hands at work
Fidalma and Franco -50 yrs together

Franco’s parents started with a sala da ballo (dance hall, where the local farmers gathered on weekends for ballroom dancing and snacks), adjacent to the Nocera Umbra train station. Soon came a simple “osteria” (small inn), rooms for rent above. After their marriage, Franco and Fidalma progressed to a trattoria for travelers and local workers.

Fidalma was cleaning fish on Friday, Sept 26, 1997 at 11:42 a.m. when the earthquake struck (Nocera Umbra was the epicenter). Everyone in the restaurant made it out “but we never went back in”, her son, Peppe, told us. “It was destroyed.” They re-opened April 4, 1998 in the wooden pre-fab outside of Nocera Umbra where they are now, though their destroyed trattoria has been structurally restored (with funds from the State): “but we don’t have the money to finish up the interior – so we may always be here,” Giuseppe told me with his wide smile.

Exterior
Diners
Diners enjoy

After lunch, we headed to the “resurrected” town of Nocera Umbra for a stroll. It’s a ghost town now. The inhabitants of this medieval mountain gem lived in pre-fabs and containers for years during restoration. Most now live in the outskirts of the town in new “villette”, preferring one-level homes with garage to the inconvenience of living in a medieval building on the third floor with no elevator (and no nearby access to parking).

A local told us that the homes inside the medieval walls are mostly owned by Romans who opted for Umbrian hilltown charm and quiet for a second home. The homes are structurally restored but most must still be refinished inside.

We saw only one cat during our stroll. No people.

Empty town
Only a cat

But if L’Angolo del Buongustaio moved back to Nocera Umbra, I would guess their customers would follow: where else can you eat tagliatelle with duck meat sauce, fat tortelli mounded with shaved truffle, grilled goat or skewered lamb tidbits like those of Fidalma and daughter-in-law Angela?

And not many restaurant-owners still head to the fields to pick wild chicory for their diners. Wherever the location, we’ll soon be back to L’Angolo del Buongustaio (The Corner of the Gourmet).

Tortelli stuffed with porcini - a specialty
Tortelli with shaved black truffle
Tagliolini
Tagliolini for Pino
Tagliatelle for me
Rabbit a favorite
Grilled goat
Foods
Antipastos with truffles all
La sbriciolata
Countryside

Nocera Umbra all restored

Anne Robichaud

by Anne Robichaud

An authorized Umbrian tour guide, Anne and her husband Pino worked the land for many years in the 1970’s so rural life, rural people, rural cuisine are una passione for her. See Umbria from “the inside”: join her May 2017 ten-day tour centered on discovering Umbria, Anne’s Umbria.

See www.annesitaly.com for more on her Umbria tours. Do see www.stayassisi.com for news on the Assisi apartment – and Assisi countryside guest house – she and Pino now rent out.

Anne writes frequently on Umbria and other areas of Italy. Read about her annual U.S. Feb/Mar cooking classes and lectures, as well as her numerous Italy insights on her blog.

22 Responses to “Nocera’s “Gourmet Corner””

  1. Giuseppe Spano
    Giuseppe Spano

    Thank you Anna, Although my true days of cooking and teaching have past ,I would love to spend a year or two there learning the technique that they have developed. Very strange from the Pugliese foods that I grew with,If we live long enough we can learn wonders…

    Reply
  2. Dominick

    Wow! I am hungry now! Can’t wait to visit with Anne and be directed to all her gems!

    Reply
  3. Suzanne and Jack

    thank you Anne for another fabulous article that espouses the delights of Umbria. We can’t wait to be back.

    Reply
  4. Nancy Mazza

    I agree with Angela. It was such a touching story…but the photos of the food and the family were amazing. I hope the little town springs back to life soon.

    Reply
  5. Jack Litewka

    It isn’t fair that the photos make me so-o-o-o hungry…but I can’t go to that restaurant for relief. ;-)

    Reply
  6. Anne,
    Thank you for this post – it restores my faith that there is good Italian food – and will have to travel to Italy to get it – definitely worth it. Just had tortellini purchased from local store and were not edible.
    Grazie mille

    Reply
  7. Judi Dalton

    I love this description… The food, the restaurant and the village.

    Reply
  8. Gianna Janet Carr

    Ciao Anne, Grazie tantissimi per queste foto ed i tuoi articoli sempre portami indietro in Italia ancora. Di certo, sono una americani ma tutti gli miei antenati erano nati in Sicilia (a Aidone ed a Enna) ed a Molfetta vicino Barì ed a Sant Eustachio vicino Salerno. Io ho fatto soltanto 30 giorni di classe all’Università Per Stranieri a Siena dove ho abitato per quasi 6 mesi. Per ora è impossibile per me a viaggio perchè il mio papà sta molto malato ma nel futuro, io porterò i miei amici al tuo meraviglioso ristorante. Mi piacerebbe mettere queste articoli sulla mia pagina con le foto e con il tuo storia senza avendo mettere appena un link. A presto Anne, Gianna

    Reply
  9. Thanks, Anne, for another enticing glimpse of Umbrian life. Longing to return for more of your wonderful tours–and meals!

    Reply
  10. Sarah Walters

    The article was enticing enough, but the photos! Mamma Mia! When do I meet you there?

    Reply
  11. Mary Jo Barbato

    Mille gracie, Anne! The food and the people – if nothing else gets you to go visit Italy – go for the food and the people! I miss it so very often and can’t wait for a return trip. Thank you for these articles and keeping our minds on a returning.

    Reply
  12. Catherine F.

    I was transported back to Umbria by reading this great article you wrote, Anne. Food, ambiance, tradition, family: all come through beautifully along with the photos. Mille gracie!

    Reply
  13. Anna Retsker

    What a story! Salivation started! As if I were in Umbria myself! I will definitely come back. Thanks a lot for this interesting story and great pictures.

    Reply
  14. Lynn Cowhig

    Anne has provided us with another “must see” Umbrian site. What a testament to the people, and state, that they so carefully restored this beautiful area that could have just been paved over with new modern facilities. And the food, WOW, could blow the carb diet there, and I sure would like too.

    Reply
  15. Christine Flick

    With the world becoming global I have noticed that many traditions are slipping away. So happy to know that they are still alive in Nocera Umbra. Thanks Annie for sharing this information.

    Reply
  16. Elaine Taylor

    Really enjoyed your article and shared it with several friends. The photos had us all drooling. Which in its own way is very interesting. When one reads about photography of food, one becomes aware of all the effort and trickery that goes into making the subject look delicious. I truly felt both your photos and writing were authentic and conveyed a real sense of Italian culture through the lens of one family’s story.
    Well done, Anne!

    Reply
  17. Annie your post describing the locals and their cuisine has introduced me to a style of food preparation that I am totally unfamiliar with. I have never experienced Umbrian cooking as my grandparents were from Bari and Filignano so it is that southern Italian cusine that I am accustomed to.

    Reply
  18. Anne, I so enjoy your insight into the people about whom you write! Thank you.

    Reply
  19. marianna raccuglia

    Hello Anne, a sad story-no inhabitants. Your photos are so beautiful and touching.
    Thank you for sharing. your ardent fan, Marianna

    Reply
  20. What a beautiful article. What a slice of history, geographical and familial. Amazing family, as is often seen in Italy. I love the closeness of generations. The love of family and of food! The restaurant looks amazing and the food does too! Everything about the article paints a beautiful picture of homemade. You always bring the story to life, whether written in your words or experienced with you during a tour or event! You’re one of a kind!!

    Reply

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