Vicariously travel to this Italian restaurant in a 13th-century manor house that sits atop one of many rolling hills with scenic views of the sprawling vineyards. Buon Appetito!
A trip to Cantina Todini cannot stop at the wine tasting in the winery because a few hundred meters from it is one of the most beautifully located restaurants in Todi. In the hills of Collevalenza in a 13th-century manor house lies Relais Todini, a five-star hotel and inside it is L’Altro Relais Ristorante, a restaurant overlooking a magnificent view of the vineyards of Todini and the hotel’s swimming pool. The restaurant is being run by Chef John Paterson, a Scottish chef who transferred to Umbria many years ago and planted his roots there.
I have to admit that I have this notion that anything with a tall important-looking gate and a driveway lined with a long stretch of manicured cypress trees where you cannot see the end always leads to a spectacular villa in Italy. And I am always right! Upon entering the gate of Relais Todini, the vineyards of Grechetto and Sangiovese greet you on both sides of the long road peeking in between the cypress trees. Being elevated, your point of view is even more impressive. Welcome to Umbria!
The 13th-century building where the hotel and restaurant are housed stands proudly on top of the hill. It is a historical building with an air of elegance. L’Altro Relais Ristorante is right in front with large glass windows on one side that gives a view of the swimming pool and more vineyards. The place is full of light, colors from its decors and wooden beams and flooring dominating the whole restaurant.
The kitchen is completely visible from the restaurant because of the open layout of the division of both areas. So yes, choose the view that you want while dining there. Pool and vineyard or Chef John Paterson and his crew at work. Turn 360 degrees and you will always have something beautiful to look at.
Photo from L’Altro Relais Ristorante
Chef John Paterson, of Scottish origin, decided to settle down in Todi after falling in love with the Umbrian cuisine. He opened Antica Hostaria de la Valle, a restaurant in the center of the town which became a popular place for both locals and visitors. In small towns in Italy, it can be a challenge to get the trust of the locals in the kitchen but he won them with his outstanding cooking of traditional dishes using top quality local ingredients. After some time, he closed it and he decided to move to a beautiful new location. In December of 2014, L’Altro Relais Ristorante was born where Chef John Paterson continues to amaze his diners with his versions of rich Umbrian dishes.
Dining in L’Altro Relais was a wonderful experience. While I watched Chef John Paterson and his crew prepare the dishes from my table, I also got a clear mesmerizing view of the Todini vineyards through the blue waters of the pool. There is a tranquil, relaxing ambiance with an unbelievable setting of Umbrian countryside around it. The dishes and the wine represent Umbria very well and with the expertise of the chef, they taste incredibly good.
Degustazione di salumi pregiati di Norcia, pecorini e bruschette tipiche (An appetizer of hams, cheeses and different kinds of bruschette)
His most popular dishes are his version of Cacio e Pepe with Black Truffles (the amount of truffles he shaves on top is very generous) and the delicate Olimpia Cheesecake with White Chocolate and Orange Blossom for dessert. Of course, you also have to try the Appetizer Plate of Norcia Hams, Cheeses and Bruschette to get to know Umbria more and the Beef Fillet with Norcia’s Black Truffles was simply incredible. It was so good that it’s hard not to do the Scarpetta with the remaining sauce on the plate.
Cacio e pepe al tartufo fatta a casa (Handmade cacio e pape with truffles)
Filetto di manzo al tartufo nero di Norcia (Beef fillet with Norcia’s black truffles)
Cheesecake Olimpia al cioccolato bianco con fiori d’arancio (Olimpia cheesecake with white chocolate and orange blossom)
Torta perugina con e gelato alla vaniglia (Perugia’s cake with vanilla gelato)
“Dove siamo ma sopratutto…quante volte ci andiamo? (Where we are but over everything…how many times we go there?)”
-Chef John Paterson
06059 Todi (PG), Italy
Tel: +39 075 887521 / +39 340 8184775
Open: Tuesdays to Sundays for lunch and dinner except Mondays
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Rowena Dumlao - Giardina is the author and photographer of Apron and Sneakers and The Chosen Table. Besides her blog, she's also a recipe developer and a travel writer for other food and travel sites.