By Karen Snider Leiva
If you call famed Italian gourmand Giorgio Barchiesi a ‘chef’, he is likely to answer “mmmm… chef? I’m not a chef. I’m an innkeeper!” It’s a role that Giorgione, as he is affectionately known for his grand size, passionately embraces in his restaurant, La Via di Mezzo.
The restaurant located in the central Italian region of Umbria, is simple and rustic but full of charm, perfectly mirroring his cuisine. Stepping inside, you’ll feel as though you are home among friends – and nothing beats a home-cooked meal by Giorgione. You can see right away that Giorgione takes his role of innkeeper seriously.
According to Giorgione, a chef is someone who invents new recipes, new cooking methods and even new plating styles. But, an innkeeper sticks to traditional meals with local ingredients that his customers may already know.
Regardless of what he calls himself, there’s no debating that he is indeed a master of traditional Italian food. With his larger-than-life presence, there’s no surprise he has his own cooking program on TV, ‘Orto e Cucina’ (Vegetable Garden and Kitchen). He has also penned a cookbook that seems to sell out just as quickly as it is stocked.
Much like Chef Salvatore Denaro, the foundation for Giorgione’s cooking is a commitment to long-standing Italian family traditions. His savory dishes will transport you to days gone by with ‘nonna’ in the kitchen.
The menu at La Via di Mezzo varies day-to-day, but always includes a selection of meats, homemade pastas and desserts. His menus incorporate local Umbrian specialties, such as truffles, cheeses or locally produced wines into his food.
But, the true inspiration for his menu is often his own garden – as he will incorporate whatever is growing at the time. That means if he sees an eggplant or a nice zucchini in the garden, that’s what will be on the menu of the day!
Taste the menu at La Via di Mezzo
A Taste of Umbria is being offered to those aboard the upcoming Oceania Cruise with Chef Christine Cushing. Guests will enjoy a specially prepared menu at La Via di Mezzo.