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"I'm An Alien, I'm a Legal Alien...."

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October 27, 2014 / American / By
Anna

As I was gearing up to write this piece, the words of Sting’s song kept on intruding until it was clear they were meant to be the hook for the whole piece. Not, in this case, an Englishman in New York, but that icon of Americana, a hamburger in Italy. Yes, the golden arches can be found here, but luckily, you really have to make an effort to do so. I think there might be an outlet on one of the motorways between here and Rome’s Fiumicino Airport, and there certainly is one in the Departures area of Terminal 3 at the airport itself.

Now, it’s probably clear from the tone of the above that I’m not a fan of the MacDonald's empire and I haven’t given in to a Mac attack since early July 2004. How so precise? I was in New York at that time and went to the movies. The movie was Morgan Spurlock’s  documentary  “Supersize Me” and for those not familiar, the film maker and star of his own film ate only MacDonalds' products for thirty days, while having a team of physicians monitor the changes to his body that such a diet would produce. I won’t spoil it for those of you who haven’t seen it, but I was so appalled that I swore off MacDonalds (and of course, Burger King, KFC et al) right there and then. And I haven’t had a single Big Mac, Cheeseburger, Quarter Pounder or large/ medium/small fries since. True dat!

It’s not hamburgers, per se, that I have sworn off. I love a good burger, but the standardised, industrialised, chemically Monsanitized and Henry Ford production-lined obesitizers that are so depressingly same-same anywhere in the world are no longer part of my diet.

So what do the Italians make of this American legal alien in their food world? Some get it spectacularly wrong - like the otherwise cute and funky Enoteca degli Osti Nati - in my hometown of Bevagna, Umbria. The craft beers are great, the atmosphere, particularly in summer, wonderful, the Italian snacks, as good as you would expect them to be, but the burgers! Oh dear me no! Resist the urge to try the Angus-beef burgers and don’t succumb to the Italian Chianini-beef burgers. They’re burgers, Jim, but not as we know them!

Fortunately, and not too far away, something way better can be had. La Grotta Rossa (the Red Cave) used to be a homely rural pizzeria, of the kind that I wrote about in my previous article on pizzerias. Owners Pierluigi and Carla emigrated to New Zealand in around 2007 and for a while, the Grotta Rossa kind of sank back into the anonymous OK-ness that stamps itself on about 90% of the pizzerias in Italy. Fast-forward to 2014 and the Grotta Rossa has reinvented itself. Pizzeria no longer, it’s now a pub! And burgers top the pub-grub Italiano list on the menu. And damned fine burgers they are too! Fellow-gourmand Davey and I locked eyes at about 75% through our burgers and we totally agreed - just about the best burgers we’ve had in living memory. Yeah, yeah - the beer, the chips (aka fries, patate fritte), the ambience, Italy….even making allowances for all these pleasurable factors, they were seriously good burgers. How could you not like an Italian menu offering, as its burger-flavors: New York, Grand Canyon, Buffalo, Memphis and Mexico?

The heading photo is a Memphis burger - beef pattie, bacon, egg, lettuce, onion and mayonnaise. Finding La Grotta Rossa might prove an interesting challenge to any Umbrian foodies who’d like to put my claims to the test. It’s a bit too rustica to appear on TripAdvisor, but they do have their own Facebook page, which gives the address, telephone number and directions.

La Grotta Rossa

Country: Italy

Province/State: Umbria

City: Turrita

Address: 13 Via Fonte Nuova

Zip/Post Code: Zip/Post Code06036

Location Tips: near Montefalco

Phone: +39 0742 379373

Website:N/A

Price Guide:$$ (What's this?) N/A = home cooked meal,etc
$ = street food, fast food,etc
$$ = bistro, cafe, pub, bar,etc
$$$ = fine dining,etc

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