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VegDining Restaurant Profile:
Montali Country House
    (Umbria, Italy)

      by Heidi P. Cruz, VegDining.com


In the hilly area of Umbria, right next to the Tuscan region, is Country House Montali, the only gourmet vegetarian restaurant in all of Italy. Also a bed-and-breakfast hotel, Country House Montali boasts of a beautifully strategic location on top of a hill that allows guests to have breakfast while enjoying the sunrise from one side of the hill, and later watch the sunset, over dinner, at the end of the day from the other side.

Country House Montali caters to both vegetarians and non-vegetarians, and both sets of guests equally enjoy the cuisine.

"Fifty percent of our clients are non-veggie," says Alberto Musacchio, who co-owns the restaurant with his wife Malu Simões da Cunha. "Somehow, the non-veggies are the clients we prefer, as they make the challenge [of preparing vegetarian meals that non-veggies would love] more interesting," he adds.

The spouses are "self-taught chefs", according to Alberto, but they have made it their mission to upgrade vegetarian dining to a gourmet level, partly by training chefs from all over the world, as part of their apprenticeship. Malu also teaches guests who are interested in learning how to cook delicious Italian vegetarian meals, right in the hotel's kitchen.

Alberto and Malu's combined experience in the vegetarian restaurant business goes back to when Alberto opened his first restaurant when he was 18 - "a long time ago!", he says - while Malu dipped her hands in the business some years after they met. The restaurant, named Califfo, required them to work until 3 a.m., and after several hectic years of running the café together, the couple decided to move to the countryside, and built Country House Montali "stone by stone".

The result of their efforts is a beautiful, quaint hotel that has been described as "holiday heaven" by a leading UK newspaper. Country House Montali has earned the Best Hotel Award from the Vegetarian Society of England. The hotel has been featured on the BBC channel a couple of years back, and has been consistently on the map of many gourmet magazines, including Michelin Guide. And Montali has been voted one of the ten best vegetarian destinations in the world by VegNews magazine.

Alberto and Malu are understandably proud of their restaurant. They spent more than 20 years of research in developing the menu, and built their unique Italian Mediterranean cooking around a core of the freshest local produce, emphasizing flavor, color, and texture.

The most popular item on the restaurant's menu is the Chocolate Lava Cake (volcano di chocolatto), which is pastry filled with chocolate inside, and served with licorice ice cream and kiwi sauce.

The couple recently finished a wonderful cookbook that will be published internationally very soon. VegDining is privileged to preview one of the recipes in the cookbook, and we are happy to share this recipe with VegDining subscribers.

Asked what everyone can expect of the restaurant in the next five years, Alberto said, in the truly Italian way, "With a little hope, we can manage to keep going!"

VegDining is proud to be part of Country House Montali's efforts to elevate vegetarian dining to the "level of technical excellence that earns Michelin stars". The hotel's restaurant is a VegDining partner, offering a 10% discount on food and non-alcoholic beverages to VegDining card holders. If you'd like to learn more about the hotel, you can visit their Full Listing on our site.

Photos courtesy of Country House Montali.




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