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.
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.
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.
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).