Erba Luna is hidden away in the old stables of Fortebraccio Castle, overlooking an authentic Umbrian landscape, in the medieval village of Montone. As soon as you arrive there's a decision to make: do you dine outside with the soothing view of hills, the ancient castle walls, the soft overhead lighting? Or is the seating inside preferable, with the thick leather furniture, the historical brickwork, the neverending wine cellar?
Luckily, being January, it was an easy decision - entriamo.
The restaurant has several dining rooms, all with the same simple decor and ambient lighting. There is space for plenty more tables, but instead of cramming in an extra couple of diners, Erba Luna has opted for elegant, squashy armchairs, like those found in a nobleman's billiard room. This makes for a relaxed and refined dining area - ideal for unwinding in with a glass of wine after dessert.
Now, the food. Simply put: this is the best meal we've had in Italy in a long time. The restaurant offers a set menu, which we were happy to try, and we suggest you do, too. We started with a traditional sharing platter, with the usual array of meats and cheeses. Only, there was nothing usual about this array. Fresh slices of duck, porcini mushrooms, locally-sourced truffles - all presented with an artistic arrangement that the Italy & Events team quickly lay waste to.
Next came a tris di pasta: three succulent portions, delicately seasoned and perfectly sized. Ours was cold by the time we finished, but only because we took so long savouring each mouthful. The real star of the show followed: beef steak sliced and spiced on a bed of rucola, and paired with a red wine of the chef's choosing. On our table, conversation stopped until every plate was clean.
There was a gasp of feigned despair at the announcement of dessert: homemade crepes filled with ice-cream alongside crushed-almond and marzipan pyramids. My mouth is watering just at the memory ...
If you want a simple yet sophisticated meal in a traditional Italian setting with prices and service to match, go to Erba Luna. Perhaps it's too dignified to be your weekly go-to restaurant, but if you're holidaying in Umbria, or your parents are in town, or you're looking for somewhere special to eat, this restaurant should be your first choice.