Just off Via della Viola, Via Carmine descends steeply – a regular occurrence in hilly Perugia – beneath a picturesque archway. Perched midway, the terraces of Il Moderno tier in line with the steps, each theatre-like platform encircled by fairy lit and plant strewn railings, aptly sat across from art-house cinema Postmodernissimo. With such aesthetic perfection, one can’t help but wonder whether the food will equalise.
The menu is primarily vegetarian, prioritising local, organic and Fairtrade ingredients. It is easy to tire of tourist-trade Italian menus, each course often being as predictable as the next, but this is mercifully different. Fresh goat’s cheese the texture of mozzarella sat strewn across a plate of seasoned salad leaves and toasted pumpkin seeds; a homemade baba ganoush was light and somehow refreshing despite the strong garlic (and crucially not at all oily); while a typical vegetarian lasagne was lifted to more gastronomic heights with velvety pasta sheets, golden saffron béchamel and simple ribbons of courgette topped with the oven-crisped flowers. It was a sharp example of creative, conscious simplicity.
Wine is local with an impressively-priced selection of organic wines, including a pleasant carafe of house Montefalco rosso bright enough to pair with our vegetarian choices (four euros for a carafe at time of writing). A small, slightly sweet glass is brought out before the meal with a pretty saucer of appetisers (seasoned roasted potato skins on my last visit) to awaken the palate. As a restaurant tipping into the student price bracket (roughly 10€ a main), the experience is one of more fine dining credentials.
The service is what wins Il Moderno a place atop Perugia’s restaurant list. Unassuming, knowledgeable and accommodating. We arrived as they were closing (having run from a previous restaurant option where the waiter physically steered us to a table) and felt instantly enveloped by a calm and homely welcome. We ordered one dish from each course and, despite our insisting that we were happy for all to arrive at once so as they could leave earlier, they proceeded to bring each course one at a time, each divided between two plates.
A haven amidst an increasingly predictable and pushy restaurant scene, Il Moderno is a humble jewel in Perugia’s culinary crown.
Via del Carmine, 1
+39 075 947 1930
Photos by Pippa Cole