Friday, October 6, 2017

Passignano sul Trasimeno & Ristorante Il Molo

A splash of blue on the hilly landscape, Lago Trasimeno is largest lake in Umbria. Compared by Lord Byron to a "sheet of silver", countless poets, painters and travellers have been captivated by the romantic charm of this lake over the centuries. A magical landscape where silver-green olive groves, grape vines, fields of sunflowers and gently rolling hills of oak and cypress frame castle-topped medieval towns, such as Castiglione del Lago and Passignano sul Trasimeno, drape along its shores like a strand of pearls. Hannibal destroyed the Roman army here in 217 BC, and the lake's numerous fortifications attest to its strategic position and turbulent past. Perched on a rocky outcrop and enclosed within its ancient medieval walls, there is little left of the old town of Passignano other than the remains of La Rocca, a fortress dating from the 5th to 6th centuries, due to extensive bombing during the WWII. Many arrive just to catch a ferry to the islands in the lake, such as Isola Maggiore that can be reached by boats that leave the pier every day, every 40 minutes. An ancient fishing village with Etruscan and Roman origins, fishing has always provided one of the main forms of sustenance: eel, carp, whitebait, pike, perch and tench are typical of the area, together with olive oil and Grechetto wine making up the gastronomic picture of this area rich in natural resources. 

Promenade from the ferry pier in Passignano sul Trasimeno

One of the best restaurants to enjoy the fruits of Lago Trasimeno is Ristorante Il Molo, a wonderful fish restaurant across from the pier in Passignano. Owned and run by the Pellegrini family for almost 40 years, Il Molo is renowned for its delicious Umbrian cuisine and outstanding menu specializing in fresh Trasimeno fish, seafood as well as prestigious wine cellar managed by sommelier-owner Andrea Pellegrini. In the kitchen is his father Chef Gianfranco Pellegrini, who makes fresh pasta and bakes his own bread every morning. "Our philosophy is very simple: combining passion, love and creativity to create the best possible combinations between food and wine." Taking the day to drive leisurely all around the lake, we arrived at Il Molo in time for lunch and dive into their fish and seafood menu. We stared with a generous mound of Latterini Fritti, the tiny fried lake fish from Lago Trasimeno. Lightly fried and utterly delicious, we noticed that the table next to us immediately ordered the same thing after watching us devour the little lovelies. Next was the Antipasto di pesce crudo and ordered the Acciughe Porto Santo Spirito crema di bufala e cipollina, and Disco di Gambrel Rosso, a delicious red prawn carpaccio with buffalo cream and dotted with mandarin orange and Campari gelée. As secondi, we chose the Cinghiale alla Cacciatora, a meaty wild boar stew and L’anguilla al Tegamaccio del Trasimeno, a traditional fish stew of Lago Trasimeno, and one of Il Molo's signature dishes. To finish, we tried a 2008 Adanti Montefalco Sagrantino Passito from Bevagna, a sweet dessert wine made using partially dried Sagrantino grapes. Although Umbria is landlocked, one can still enjoy wonderful fresh local fish. To discover the unique flavours and culinary traditions of Trasimeno, look no further than Il Molo. 

Il Molo on the waterfront of Passignano sul Trasimeno

The menu featuring typical regional Umbrian cuisine specializing in fresh lake fish and seafood

The bright modern interior of Il Molo

The heavenly scent of fresh rosemary

Homemade bread by Chef Gianfrano Pellegrini

Latterini Fritti- tiny fried lake fish from Lago Trasimeno

Acciughe Porto Santo Spirito crema di bufala e cipollina: Marinated Anchovies

Disco di Gambero Rosso: Carpaccio of Red Prawn

A cold crisp Lungarotti Grechetto Bianco from Umbria

Cinghiale alla cacciatora: Wild Boar Stew

L’anguilla al Tegamaccio del Trasimeno: Stewed Eel from Lake Trasimeno, one of Il Molo's signature dishes

Tegamaccio is a traditional fish stew Lake Trasimeno, but Il Molo makes it exclusively with rich and flavourful lake eel, which is delicious but a little boney

2008 Adanti Azienda Agricola Montefalco Sagrantino Passito from Bevagna

Passito is a dessert wine made using partially dried Sagrantino grapes which concentrate the flavours and sweetness 


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