Well aware of the excellent reputation of chef Eros Patrizi and his exquisite little restaurant in Spoleto – Il Tempio del Gusto – I made a point of calling ahead to reserve our group lunch on Saturday. In Italy, reservations are always recommended and highly appreciated. Even in Todi, where I am on a first name basis with many of the restaurant proprietors, I make a point of reserving a table at least 4 or 5 hours in advance. When my attempts to call Tempio del Gusto’s regular line failed (I kept getting the fax), I went ahead and called the cell phone number listed on their business card. Chef Eros himself answered the phone, and when I told him I wanted to reserve for my large group of 15 he seemed to think that would be no problem at all on a Saturday in June during the Spoleto Festival. He was so friendly and casual that I wasn’t even sure he had taken down my name or any other details. I couldn’t have been more wrong. When we worked our way up the tranquil, shop-lined and traffic-free streets and alleys of Spoleto and finally made it to Tempio del Gusto’s outdoor patio (10 or so tables in a gorgeous and quiet little piazza), the chef came out within seconds to greet us and let us know that he had a special table ready for us inside the diminutive, elegant and artistically-decorated restaurant.
We were escorted to a beautiful white room, table elegantly set. As members of our groups straggled in, chairs and place settings were quickly and seamlessly added. Within minutes, welcome platters of crostini and lardo di colonnata and pecorino drizzled with the chef’s own balsamic vinegar cream appeared before our eyes. Bottles of local white and red were opened and we eventually decided on our orders from the tempting selections. A few of us opted for the fixed price menus (a steal at 35 euros, including wine, dessert and caffe’!) : “menu mare” – thinly sliced octopus salad, fettuccine with prawn, seared tuna and a citrus sorbet or the “menu del territorio”, which starred several black truffle dishes so the chef, naturally, came out a few times to grate the tubers directly onto our dishes.
As a storm passed over they city, we tasted and talked for three hours – in true “pranzo italiano” style. By the time we emerged from this “Temple of Taste” the sky had cleared and so we strolled and window-shopped for a few more hours before departing for Todi, just as a rainbow appeared over Spoleto. Un’altra giornata perfetta!