Enjoy Italian Cuisine at Umbria in Glen Ellen
Sonoma County is well known for its Italian food, and for good reason: many Italians settled here starting in the 1800s, bringing their cherished cuisine and winemaking skills with them.
For the new Umbria in Glen Ellen, its Italian roots run deep, too. Debuted in August in the former Wolf House next to the Jack London Saloon on Arnold Drive, it’s actually the reincarnation of the original Ristorante Umbria of San Francisco for 21 years that owner Giulio Tempesta ran before relocating to Sonoma County.
Like the SF Umbria, the charming eatery has quickly become a popular place with locals, who visit as much for the fine food as for the welcoming presence of Tempesta himself. He is a classic showman, greeting everyone effusively, visiting tables throughout the meals, and offering the warmth and whimsy that made his first restaurant a favorite of celebrities like Spike Lee and Sharon Stone.
First, grab a seat. Everyone wants to sit on the deck, overlooking the babbling creek. But inside is lovely, too, with wood floors, wood tables, cream painted walls trimmed in wood, and the cozy buzz of the Jack London Saloon off the foyer. It’s a sophisticated space, but feels warm and lived in.
Second, take on the challenge of ordering from the lengthy, tempting menu – it will be hard to choose, but everything is good.
This is hearty comfort food, like the combo plate of eggplant Parmigiana and lasagna al forno draped with tomato-meat sauce, béchamel, mozzarella and Grana Padano, or spaghetti with chunky oxtail ragu and beef-pork meatballs.
Some of the fancier dishes include smoked salmon carpaccio brightened with lemon and capers, and spinach gnocchi smothered in Gorgonzola cream sauce.
Still, don’t miss the cotoletta di pollo, a delicious, breaded, sautéed chicken breast paired with crisp-edged grilled polenta and sautéed spinach.
And every happy table should include a pizza, the thin crust topped in goodies like mozzarella, Fontina, prosciutto, arugula, shaved parmesan and a dash of white truffle oil.
Umbria, 13740 Arnold Drive, Glen Ellen, 707-996-4401. umbriaglenellen.com.