Osteria Rosso di Sera
V. Fratelli Papini, 79
San Feliciano (Magione)
serves dinner and lunch on Sunday
The score: It’s so womantic. But while you’re gazing into each other’s eyes, try not to forget to enjoy your food.
I’m a sucker for a meal with a view. I’m especially a sucker for a meal with a view of the sunset. I’m particularly a sucker for a meal with a view of the sunset over water. I’m decidedly a sucker for a meal with a view of the sunset over water sans mosquitos. So much of a sucker that I have even been known to close a blind eye to a mediocre meal just because it was consumed in view of the sunset over water and I came home with no welts on my ankles.
The good news is that if you’re a sucker like me, there is a meal with a sunset-over-water-view waiting for you (which is kind of a tall order for Umbria, one of the few completely landlocked Italian regions). And the even better news is that your dinner will be anything but mediocre.
Rosso di Sera (the name is a riff on a popular Italian aphorism: Rosso di sera, bel tempo si spera–or “a red sunset promises fair weather”) is set right on the shore of Lake Trasimeno which, like most mud-bottomed lakes, is more lovely to gaze at from afar than to swim in. Located in the small town of San Feliciano, the restaurant is perfectly placed to soak up every minute of the crimson sun setting over the lake and surrounding rolling Umbrian/Tuscan countryside and they know it. A few years ago they fitted out a charming wooden verandah (with screened windows!) so now pretty much every table has a view.
The menu is not extensive—no more than five or six offerings for every course—but reflects a balanced mix of traditional local food (the osteria is part of the Slow Food movement, so pays homage to the local olive oil, lake fish, and heirloom legumes) and edgy contemporary interpretations that seems to be their style. Despite the restrained menu, there were vegetarian, fish, and meat options for each course.
We began with two sformati—ricotta herb and tuna potato—which were both honest and well turned out, if a little too generous in the portion size. Our pasta—whole wheat egg pasta (tagliatelle) tossed in a creamed squash sauce with diced summer vegetables—was a perfect foil of side-sticking rough pasta and delicate veggies. I did get a look when I asked for more cheese, which is kind of a pet peeve of mine. I can’t abide parmeggiano moralists. Sheesh, it’s not like my pasta was with seafood.
At this point we were forced to skip our second course, what with the honking big sformati and mound of pasta—but it turned out to be fortuitous, given the dessert menu. (I’m a big dessert person…see my review of Perbacco in Cannara to understand this thing I have about the sacred station of the dessert menu). Let me just say that I had a dark chocolate torte with pear-anise sauce. Probably the only moment I was distracted from the view.
They have a solid wine list…we went with the suggestion of the proprietor, which initially hit me like a triple sucker punch. White! Chardonnay! Sicily! Two things I don’t particularly enjoy in wine, and a third which was the punch line to the game of “One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn’t belong.” But, I’ll be damned, it was good. It fit the food and the place and the moment. Just like a wine should.
The service was a little spotty when we were there, but I got the feeling it was a problem of staffing and not attitude. Besides, what with that romantic sunset, who wants a waiter breathing down your neck?
Our bill came to about 50 Euros (with our bottle of Sicilian Chardonnay).
Full Disclosure: The proprietor once had a restaurant just down the road from me (which I didn’t particularly like), but we didn’t figure out it was the same guy until after we’d paid the bill.