When you visit Montefalco, a medieval stunner, smack in the middle of landlocked Umbria, it wont take you long to see which is the star restaurant. About 5 minutes in fact after you enter the main gate. 30 minutes if you get distracted by more truffle sauces and hanging grandpa’s balls (Palle di Nonno). Its the one in the main square with all the happy people occupying every inch of the space. Some of the happiest ones are munching on pigeon done five different ways. And while the star restaurant does not always deliver the results you’d expect, this one shines.
At the helm is Patrizia Moretti, the alchemist, the magician, and local legend, who runs a tight ship along with daughter and daughter’s partner. L’Alchimista doesnt have the look and feel of a small mom/pop Trattoria but of a sprawling, busy, well run establishment with a traditional yet refined menu. Delicate flavors so on point, you hear angels sing with every morsel (We did eventually asked them to lower the volume when it got annoying). Facing one of the most atmospheric squares in Umbria doesnt hurt.
The only thing better than a restaurant with a signature dish is one with two. Onion Parmigiana may not sound too enticing but here you get sweet protected onion from nearby Cannara that sings with that cheese. Burrata with 24 month Norcia Prosciutto we couldnt get enough in Umbria was spot on, and so was the delectable ravioli with goat cheese. Tenderloin, marinated with the local Sagrantino red, so tender you can cut with car keys. The remote square ones, not the one you ignite with.
But the undisputed shining star, and a dish of the trip nominee is the pigeon. Just like Onion Parmigiana, pigeon just never jumps out at you when you read a menu as such. But then we recall the tasty pigeons of nearby Tuscany, especially the one made by another female magician 100 km away. This bird comes in a variety of ways – pigeon breast, pigeon sausage, pigeon liver, and pigeon stuffed with more pigeon. Its outstanding. The only thing left to do is finish with a proper Tiramisu, and its indeed fantastic here.
Although I’ve had Enoteca L’Alchimista on my radar, I was not expecting this level of cooking, and an impeccable attention to detail. Neither should you. It helps when you go anywhere with low expectations. Or lower than the enthusiasm you get from such blogs. Different tastes, off nights, and just picking the wrong items to match your palate means way too many variables involved to guarantee anything. But for us, on this particular night, it was flawless.