Small plates, known in Italy as cicchetti, are the favorites of locals and tourists alike at Velia Drinks Food & Music.
“Our guests will soon be eating the legs off the chairs!” exclaimed the owner and popular chef, Velia, as she frenetically prepared and served cicchetti from her tiny restaurant kitchen.
This small bistro in the heart of Orvieto serves meals inside and at outside tables, offers live entertainment, and the patrons even dance in the street!
Location: Velia Drinks Food & Music is located at Via Garibaldi, 10/12 – Orvieto, Umbria, Italy.
Menu: The menu, available in both Italian and English versions, offers small plates and traditional three-course meals with Starters of cold cuts and cheeses, paté, beef rolls, prawns, and swordfish.
The First course includes rigatoni and spaghetti dishes along with a lentil soup.
The Main course boasts uncommon hearty entrees such as duck breast, roast rabbit, beef stew, and mustard-crusted veal.
There are three salads and a couple of sides, as well as three spectacular desserts – tiramisu, a cannolo, or a concoction made from cream, chocolate, and black truffles.
Thoughts: For anyone who is European or has traveled in Europe, you know that many people shop daily to prepare their home-cooked meals. Their refrigerators are small, and the locals prize the fresh ingredients at mealtimes.
It’s the same at Velia’s Bistro. Every small plate, cicchetto, is a work of art prepared fresh with local artisan loaves of bread and other garden-fresh elements and, of course, the local ubiquitous olive oil. For example, thinly sliced limes are crimped to match the razor-thin slices of prosciutto (pro-shoot-o), dried ham, or “crudo” on a simple bread cutout with fresh micro greens.
Be sure to save room for the entreés in the Main Course, as they are rich and filling. You can get carried away with a Starter and First Course – with paired wine, of course. Everything is so tasty that I have made the mistake of over-indulging early on. Restrain yourself…it is worth it.
Orvieto, located in the region of Umbria, can be found on top of a tufa mound and is accessible by train and funicular, as well as by car. Umbria is also the land of black truffles, and local chefs incorporate truffles in first and main course dishes as well as desserts.
Speaking of desserts, Velia has created her own interpretation of the traditional tiramisu. Blending fresh egg yolks and sugar over a simmering pot of water, beating the whites into stiff peaks, then folding in the mascarpone cheese makes the creamy filling of this classic sweet. Soaking the ladyfingers in fresh espresso and amaretto, layering them between tiers of pudding-like sauce and finishing with a sprinkling of cocoa powder make an irresistible, melt-in-your-mouth dessert.
Acclaimed chef, teacher, and television personality, Velia De Angelis, makes every presentation an event. Whether you are dining in the bistro or taking one of her cooking classes, she creates memorable things with food and brings you along for the ride. I have experienced her program as an attendee in Italy, as an arranger in the U.S., as well as a viewer online. She is consistent, sincere, and attentive to all participants, no matter the circumstances.
If you are in Central Italy, you must pay a visit to Velia Drinks Food & Music. Velia is the quintessential Italian producing food to please your palate. She will treat you like family!
Price Range: The moderately priced individual dishes will add up quickly. Starters cost between $10 and $13; First Course ranges from $9 to $18; the Main Course entrees are $16; Salads and sides range from $7 to $18, with desserts at $9. All are added to your bill. You may gasp at the total on your bill, but you won’t care after the incredible experience, especially after the paired wine with your meal.
Disclosure: Velia has treated me to more than one meal in Orvieto and surrounding countryside. I have assisted her in producing cooking classes in Italy and America, where she makes every single one genuinely unforgettable.