Tag Archives: New Year

Via Umbria’s Top 7 Resolutions

We make New Years resolutions for many reasons (and break them for many more). This year, make a resolution you are excited to keep, and aim to change your lifestyle in small ways that will feed you emotionally and physically.
With the New Year looming, resolve to bring new experiences into your life, and have fun while doing it.

Via Umbria’s Top Seven Resolutions for a Fuller Life

Rissa Miller Ravioli

Resolution #1: Learn to Cook.

Solution: Stop squinting at recipes on your computer screen and join one of our fun, relaxed, interactive classes. Sip a glass of our Italian wine while you laugh with new friends and learn simple techniques from our favorite Umbrian Chef, Simone!

Italian cooking is simple at its heart, and there’s no better place to learn the basic steps you can take to improve your kitchen game than in our brand new laboratorio.

Make 2016 the year you answer the question “what’s for dinner?” with enthusiasm and ease. Take the first step towards that goal by signing up for one of Chef Simone’s Umbrian cooking classes, here for a limited time in January.

Bill Menard at Ernestos Perbacco Canara

Resolution #2: Indulge in the finer things in life.

Solution: Italians know that nothing makes a day special quite like surrounding yourself with the finest things life has to offer, and for us, that means making every meal a celebration.

Every time we return to Italy we are reminded that Italians know how to work the finer things in life into their daily routines, and in 2016 we are dedicated to following their example.

Did you forget to celebrate the New Year in style with caviar and bubbles? Via Umbria now has sparkling wine, caviar, and blini – stop in and stock up and turn any day into a momentous foodie moment in the New Year. Or stop by our store to peruse our ceramics collection – eating off a work of art is a luxury that will make every meal feel special.


Resolution #3: Travel more

Solution: What are your favorite memories from 2015? Do some of them involve traveling with loved ones? Here at Via Umbria some of our most cherished moments from the past year are our times in Italy.

In the upcoming year, book the remarkable getaway you’ve always dreamed of. Spend a week at the Fattoria del Gelso with those you love – with spacious accommodations that can house up to 16 of your closest friends and family, there is no excuse for leaving anyone behind.

For those of you eager for a family-free (and stress-free) excursion, Bill and Suzy’s tours are a perfect opportunity to relax and let someone else guide you through the wonders of Umbria. Engage with a new part of the world as Bill and Suzy show you their Umbria and help you experience the ‘Green Heart of Italy’ as locals, not as tourists. They will take you to their favorite restaurants, run by families who have become close friends and whose love for the land and its bounty is apparent in every dish. They’ll share with you the history and art that is found in the area’s museums, galleries and excavations, as well as in the streets of the many significant towns of the region. You’ll spend time in the company of locals who embody the hospitality and grace of Umbria.  Sign up now before it’s too late! Vinopalooza (April 17-23), Cucinapalooza (April 11-17), and our Food and Wine Tours (October 15-21 and 22-28) are three fantastic options.


Resolution #4: Savor Richer Flavors 

Solution: Eat amazing cheese! Come in and talk with our friendly cheesemonger (the Cheese Whiz) and find your new favorite snack, or let them help you create the perfect cheese plate for your next party, hassle free.

Just as Italians make a weekly stop at the local latteria, getting the most flavorful cheese at our counter is guaranteed to improve your quality of life. You deserve some good, quality cheese in the New Year.


Resolution #5: Discover a new favorite wine

Solution: Be a little adventurous. Come browse our selection of unique, small production wines, large enough to comprehensively cover Italy but manageable enough not to be overwhelmed. Our nonjudgmental, Italian-only approach to wines will make you feel stimulated and satisfied. Come to one of our complementary tastings every day to learn about our curated selection – our Wine Director would love to talk to you!

For a unique experience, sign up to wine and dine with Chef and Wine Director Vickie Reh as she hosts a series of curated wine dinners in our Enoteca throughout January. Be surrounded by the wines you drink with your food in this immersive experience!  For reservations, book here.

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Resolution #6: Discover the perfect “happy hour”

Solution: Italians know how to relax. Bring some of this spirit to your new year and wind down in our cafe during Spritz O’Clock!

Every day in the cafe from 5-7 PM, enjoy a new take on the traditional ‘bar snacks’ with our rotating menu of small plates for one or to share, and pair it with our favorite Italian cocktails or a glass of wine.

Meet new people as you snack on the bites found in bars and cafes across Italy. It’s an Italian piazza here in Georgetown.


Resolution #7: Share new experiences

Solution: Would you like to expand your network of amici in 2016? To make meaningful connections with your neighbors? Make new friends (and bring the old) when you dine at one of our communal tables.

Whether you are enjoying a lively feast in our Laboratorio (kitchen), or a more intimate celebration in our Enoteca (Wine Room), there is no better place to come together for an exceptional, one-of-a-kind evening. With our ever-changing menus, we have an approach to dining that will redefine the idea of “eat local” with “eat convivially.” Combine that with our open kitchen design, which gives you the ability to watch your food being made, and interact with your Chef throughout the meal, and you will find that this is one resolution that you’ll be sticking to long after the New Year.


At Via Umbria we strive to create Italian experiences right here in Washington, DC. So our ultimate resolution for 2016 is to enrich our lives with the things that really feed our soul – starting with the above list. In the words of our owner, Bill Menard:

“After our first night back in Umbria, following a day of discovery, of enjoyment, of relaxing and of peace and contentment, perhaps we are inching closer to understanding the secret that is Italy. Perhaps it is not one thing that makes Italy Italy, perhaps it is the sweep, the bounty of this place. But those things – the food, the wine, the landscape, the history, the art, the lyrical language, crazy drivers in tiny cars and museum-like cities – they are not the answer themselves. They are the things that satisfy the cravings that Suzy has. That I have. That our tour guests have. That Ernesto and Simone have. Each craving personal, each craving as deep as the soul and each craving desperately in search of satisfaction. Put simply, Italy feeds what you hunger for.”


Happy New Year from Via Umbria!


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Happy Slow Year


As we crack open a bottle of champagne for the New Year (or for a more Umbrian twist, how about some Scacciadiavoli Brut Rose instead?), we can’t help but think about the New Years resolutions we should and could be making…and then breaking.

An old Italian tradition, practiced more in the South than the North, is to throw your old unwanted dishes and any other small items out of the window on New Years.  Out with the old!  Better to break a dish than a resolution.  (Yes, we realize we may be a bit self interested in perpetuating this tradition given that we sell ceramics, but hey, tradition is tradition.)

But kidding aside, it can be helpful to give some thought about what we want to metaphorically toss out the window, to shed in the new year. It’s a whole lot easier to get rid of something than to resolve to add something new to our already too busy lives. Instead of focusing on what we want to improve upon in the New Year (go on a diet, go to the gym, get up earlier, drink less!), perhaps it would be more helpful to recognize what is weighing us down, holding us back or cluttering up our life.   And resolve this year to slow down a little.

Perhaps by sweeping away just a little of the bad, the old or the unnecessary we make room for just a little bit more of the good in our lives.  As this New Year arrives, we are busily setting out plans for the ambitious 2015 that lies ahead of us.  It promises to be every bit as busy, complex and financially risky as this year was – even more so. But part of our ambition is to make 2015 and the next phase of Via Umbria enjoyable – for all of us as well as our customers.

So while we can’t promise to exactly live the slow life in 2015, you should expect us to stay focused on the truly big things, the things that really matter and not to “sweat the small stuff.”  And while you won’t find us throwing Geribi dishes out the window on New Year’s eve, we will be resolving how we can slow down and smell the espresso more in 2015 than we did in 2014.

We hope you’ll join us.

Buon anno!

Bill and Suzy

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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



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