Gualdo Cattaneo is a very elegant little hill top town in Umbria. It has a fortified tower and many impressive medieval buildings. It also has a smart bar/restaurant called Dadotratto in the main piazza – I wrote about Dadotratto here a year or so ago, shortly after it opened. At a time of recession when restaurants are closing in many small towns, a brave young couple saw a gap in the market and set about filling it. More than a year on, it seems to be thriving.
Dadotratto is perched up at the top of the piazza, a piazza that is on quite a slope, and looks out across the town. Anyone who has visited Siena will know what I mean about a sloping piazza. On Valentine's Day it was decorated in black, white and red hearts, but usually there are no red hearts. Saint Valentine was an Umbrian, so the locals throw themselves into this excuse for a festa (party).
We joined a merry group of expats and locals for a fish dinner. Even though it was Valentine's Day, two of the men came without their wives; I assume they don't like fish. Prosecco flowed without interruption the whole night and was part of the €35 per person price.
The set menu began with a small platter of sushi to share. Having lived in Japan, I am often wary of sushi especially in an Italian restaurant, but it was delicious. Then we moved on to oysters - two per plate. Some comment from the Italians at our table led to the production of extra oysters. I wish I had heard what it was, so then I could try it myself in the future.
From there we had mussels and clams, then langoustines. I did not attempt the mussels. Why? Oh right, I have forgotten to mention the fish was all raw! And no, I had not been told that when I agreed to go. But apart from the mussels, it worked. The tall guy found the langoustines too much of a fiddle and I so wanted to eat them all myself, but I didn't. It was Valentine's Day after all, so I peeled them for him - a true example of devotion.
A dish of gnocchi, cooked of course, was very welcome. Without it, we may have been left a little hungry as raw fish is not exactly filling in the winter. All the seafood had been driven up fresh from Puglia that morning very early and it really did taste fresh.
The meal ended with a pink heart-shaped dessert (that's it in the header pic) and a round of applause for the chef.
If you are in Umbria, take a look at Gualdo. With phone or car-based sat-nav systems, all of these slightly more out of the way, but so much more authentic locations are all far more accessible than they were 15 years ago. There is a perfect neatness about the historic center of Gualdo Cattaneo that is very pleasing and while you’re there, have an aperitivo or a meal at Dadotratto. It is a true, modern Italian initiative run by enthusiastic young people.
City: Gualdo Cattaneo
Address: Piazza Umberto 1, 14
Zip/Post Code: 06035
Location Tips: N/A
Phone: +39 339 100 9215
Website:Google "Dadotratto" for F...
N/A = home cooked meal,etc
$ = street food, fast food,etc
$$ = bistro, cafe, pub, bar,etc
$$$ = fine dining,etc