Tag Archives: Christmas

Simone’s Christmas Tortellini

Simone’s Christmas Tortellini is an explosion of flavor.  Light pasta stuffed with sausage and ricotta served on a potato puree.  A holiday indulgence.

for the dough:
10 eggs
2lb type 00 flour

For the sauce:
1 pound loose sausage cooked
1 cup ricotta
3/4 cup grated parmigiano

For the puree:
1 lb gold potatoes cubed
1 small onion chopped
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper



Add the flour on a flat service and make a hole in the middle.  Add the eggs and mix well until you have a smooth dough.  Let the dough sit for 1 hour.

Saute sausage and mix with ricotta and parmigiano until smooth.

Using a rolling pin, stretch the pasta into a flat, thin sheet.  Cut into 2″ squares. Place a small ball of the stuffing in the square and fold into a triangle and then pinch the two edges together.

Drop in boiling salted water – when they float to the top they are finished.

In a large pot saute the onions in olive oil.  Add potatoes and water and simmer until soft.  Use an immersion blender to make a puree.

Toss the tortellini with butter, sage and parmesan.  Make a thin layer of the potato puree on a serving plate and top with the tortellini.  Add sage for garnish.


Sausage stuffed Tortellini Read more

Simone's Christmas Tortellini is an explosion of flavor.  Light pasta stuffed with sausage and ricotta served on a potato puree.  A holiday ...

Merry Christmas from Our Family to Yours

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To me, Christmas is about family.   Sure, there is a certain religious aspect that we often tend to forget about in our rush to buy the perfect gift, decorate the house and hang the stockings, prepare a great meal.  But when it’s done right those other distractions aren’t expressions of selfishness, but rather a deep seated selflessness.  Rather than being materialistic narcissists who want the most expensive gift for ourselves, as we are often caricatured at Christmas time, our true motivation is that we want one day to be perfect for all of the people we love.  A thoughtful gift that doesn’t say “I just spent a lot of money on you” but rather “I’ve been thinking of you.”  A special touch around the house, like a corner decorated with grandma’s carved Santa collection sends a signal that this is indeed a special time, at the same time subtly connecting us to our past.  The dinner table, overflowing with bounty says that everything I have I share with you.  And even more it says pull up a chair and be prepared to sit with me for a long, long time.

Every iconic Christmas cartoon or movie is a story about family.  Close your eyes and you will see  images of people – families, friends and strangers – holding hands, coming together, enjoying the day and by extension, the gift of life.  The Whos in Whoville holding hands, singing “Fah who foraze.”  Kevin McCallister hugging the homeless pigeon lady in Central Park in Home Alone 2.  Ralphie and the rest of the Parker family bonding over the decapitation of a goose at Christmas dinner in a Chinese restaurant a day after little brother Randy enjoys mashed potatoes in modo di maiale.  


Family. Friends. Food.  Connecting.  Living in and fully appreciating the moment while unconsciously paying thanks for all that came before.  That is what Christmas means to me.

And that is what inspired us to create Via Umbria.  A place where food and friends can get lost in each other.  Where time slows down and enjoyment is more than a momentary flash in the pan.

We set about to create a community at Via Umbria.  An extended family.  And to share the joys of family with that community every day, just like we all do with our own families on Christmas day.  We thank all of you for being part of the Via Umbria family, and we look forward to sharing the joys that life offers up daily with each of you in the new year.

From all of us at Via Umbria, we wish a merry Christmas to all and in the words of the Whos in Whoville

Welcome, Christmas! Fah who rahmus!
Welcome, Christmas! Dah who dahmus
Christmas Day will always be
Just as long as we have we.

Fah who foraze! Dah who doraze!
Welcome Christmas! Bring your cheer.
Fah who foraze! Dah who doraze!
Welcome all who’s far and near.


To me, Christmas is about family.   Sure, there is a certain religious aspect that we often tend to forget about in ...

Happiest Holidays


One of the nicest things about the holidays – other than having an excuse to get together with family – is having an excuse to reflect on what you are thankful for.  And as the holiday rush – with its hordes of customers, non-stop gift wrapping, packing for UPS, restocking the shelves and starting all over again every morning – comes to an end, we have so much to be grateful for.

Here are a few of the things we want to give thanks for:

* For really being able to do it.  The idea of Via Umbria has been in our minds for a year or more.  To be able to purchase a building, move in, receive inventory from storage, from Italy, from who knows where, to unbox it, add it into inventory, get labels on it, arrange it on shelves and be able to sell it with out any (a slight exaggeration) kinks along the way.  Remarkable.

* For getting licensed to open our doors, to allow the public inside, to operate a business.  There is a feeling that DC is not a friendly place in which to do business.  That has not been our experience.  Challenging for sure, but eminently possible if one has a great deal of determination and is transparent and up front with people .

* For the opportunity to host three wonderful Food and Wine Tours in Umbria just a week after opening our doors in Georgetown.  Perhaps not the most prudent use of time, but our month in Italy was a great reminder of why we do what we do and why we’re doing it in Georgetown.  Our slogan – Discover | Savor | Share – is more than just words to us and returning to Italy often reminds us of just what is worth discovering, savoring and sharing.

* For our team of paid and unpaid staff who share our vision, our love of all things Italian.  They are the ones that toiled with the price tags, figured out the balky POS system, who arranged and re-arranged merchandise endlessly, carried boxes from trucks, trudging through the snow.  Who set up display after display only to tear it down, move it and begin again.

* For our neighbors in Georgetown who have not only passed through our doors in an endless stream since we opened them at the end of September, but who have told us just how much they appreciate having us in the neighborhood.  Not just with words but with monetary support and by spreading the word to their friends and neighbors.  Via Umbria is about savoring the connections that common interests can engender and it is clear that we and our neighbors share a lot of common interests.

* For DC ABRA and the ANC and CAG and OGB and CFA all giving us fair hearings and approving our concepts, ideas and validating our existence.  And especially for granting us a license to sell the most incredible, undiscovered and under appreciated wines produced in Italy.  Be sure to stop by to learn a bit about our selection of hand selected and imported Umbrian wines.

* And for Suzy and me, thanks for our wonderful, supportive children who lined up shoulder to shoulder with us to get this store open, to celebrate its rebirth and to keep it on course during the busy holiday season and who bore with us when we came home late at night and left early in the morning.  Merry Christmas to Austin, Lindsey, Davis and Teddy.


There are so many things we are thankful for as Christmas day approaches and we’ll take another stab at completing the Thank You cards before New Year’s.  But as you and we turn our attention to family and sharing the joy of the holiday season together we also want to reflect briefly on our ambitions and vision for Via Umbria.  It is easy to get wrapped up in the logistics of running a small business (sometimes quite literally in a ream of price tag stickers).  But at Christmas, we’d like to look forward and share with you what we really aim for with this store in the coming year.

What we have discovered in Italy and through Italy, the essence that we believe is the crown jewel worth sharing with all of you isn’t a thing at all.  What we truly cherish and find over and over again in Italy is a sense of connectivity.  Connectivity with  place, with people, with time and history.  And that connection is inspired by, catalyzed by and engendered by experiences that often take place around objects and food.  Our ceramic plates are without doubt works of art.  Our olive oils are without equal.  Our kitchen appliances provoke the mind.  But these things are just things, no matter how beautiful they are.  Their iconic status, their spirit comes from knowing who made that bowl, and loving that story.

In Italy, you know the shopkeeper who sells you a kitchen towel, and the man at the bar who serves you your espresso, and the woman who you always check out with at the grocery store. And although we cannot replicate exactly that closeness of an Italian community, we hope that a visit to Via Umbria will mean more than just finding a beautiful object. We want to stop and talk with our customers, explain where we found the objects that we stock and why they are special to us. We hope that Via Umbria will be a place that people come visit because that yearning for connectedness is satisfied here.  We think we’re off to a good start.

Because as beautiful and interesting as our merchandise is here at Via Umbria, perhaps we should all take inspiration from one of this season’s own iconic characters – the Grinch.  For in our opinion he put his long, gnarled finger right on what makes Via Umbria Via Umbria when he came to his epiphany:

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,
stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.

Well said, Grinch.  Well said.  Merry Christmas to all.  And to all a good night.

Ci vediamo!
Bill and Suzy



A year full of thankful memories Read more

One of the nicest things about the holidays - other than having an excuse to get together with family - is having ...

December Delights



We waited in anticipation for our shipment of cakes, candies, and chocolates from Italy to be cleared at customs. Would it arrive on Thanksgiving, making us skip the big meal?  Or Black Friday, causing chaos and clutter?


But our boxes and boxes and boxes of joy would come through during the first snow of the season in Georgetown, and just as Teddy and Davis, my sons, flew in from sunny Los Angeles to help. A flurry of activity, and huge, fat flurries from the sky.



As we tore into the boxes and unpacked, the scents of Italian Christmas wafted out of the containers.  Panettone smells like Christmas. Gianduia smells like mid afternoons in December. And torrone smells like a diet in the New Year.



As we unpacked box after box of panettone, we remembered that this we have a good handful of flavors in stock, including chocolate, candied chestnut, and prosecco. New as well is the ability to order them though our website here. Loison makes their panettone with only real ingredients and no preservatives in the same way they have produced them for centuries, by hand in Venice. Their panettone does not taste like sugary bread, they way some American products do, but instead a rich and soft holiday treat.


But what I always fall for are the torrone. Years ago I toured the Sorelle Nurzia factory (you can find the old blog post hereand became obsessed.

To see exactly how they handcraft the torrone we have stocked in store see this excellent video (it is in Italian but stick through it for the “sensual” ending).

Though the unpacking was wet and cold, the reminders of beautiful Italian holidays past made opening up every cardboard box akin to tearing through gifts on Christmas Day. And what better gift then being able to bring a little bit of and Italian Natale to DC.

Unpacking the boxes of joy Read more

  We waited in anticipation for our shipment of cakes, candies, and chocolates from Italy to be cleared at customs. Would it arrive ...