Italy, Part II: I ristoranti di Verona

Prosciutto at CiopetaGnocchi at Ciopeta

Without further ado, here are my favorite restaurants in Verona. However, please keep the following conditions in mind while reading:

  1. I am only one woman. There is only so much I can eat by myself.

  2. I love pasta. When I visit Italy, I eat a lot of it. Even for the sake of this blog, I cannot and will not change this aspect of my eating habits. Rest assured, all of these restaurants offer a lot of meat as well as pasta.

  3. I do not drive in Italy (for reasons better left unsaid). Therefore, these restaurants are all located near the historical center of Verona, where I was staying.

  4. My reviews do not include any mention of dessert, because I concluded each evening with a gelato at a separate stand near my hotel. Nocciola (hazelnut) or pistachio, take your pick. It’s a tough life.

Ristorante Ciopeta: I can’t decide which I enjoy more at this homey spot located near Piazza Bra: the food or the service. With outdoor seating in a secluded alleyway, Ciopeta serves solid and comforting northern Italian fare. Upon my arrival in Verona I ran straight there and ordered prosciutto al melone (9€) and gnocchi in a simple tomato sauce (8€). The salty prosciutto, arranged in delicate, tissue-like folds around the fresh cantaloupe, joyously welcomed me back to Italy. After a brief pause between courses I slowly savored the pillowy homemade potato gnocchi in their slightly sweet sauce. Throughout my meal I watched the comings and goings of the cheerful staff, a vast group of youthful and aging family members. Even though I hadn’t been to Ciopeta in two years, I thought I saw a glimmer of recognition in the owner’s eyes. And if it’s not true, somehow I still felt at home. Vicolo Teatro Filarmonico, 1  T: 045 8006843

Trattoria Alla Colonna: Immensely popular with both locals and tourists, Alla Colonna has become my favorite place Alla Colonnafor lunch. Its cheerful blue and yellow tablecloths, floor-to-ceiling windows, and frescoed walls provide a sunny, relaxing atmosphere. At night the tables are much more difficult to come by, so be prepared to wait without a reservation. During my most recent visits, I enjoyed the generous polenta di casa (7€), a hefty serving of creamy polenta paired with gently-cooked mushrooms, chunks of gorgonzola cheese, thick shavings of parmesan, and smooth salumi. Somehow I then moved on to the penne all’arrabiata (7€), a simple, slow-burning sauce to which I am scarily addicted. On another visit, I tried the cotoletta of chicken served with arugula and tomatoes (10.50€). I had ordered a small portion. What I received was massive, tender, but also a little dry. I had asked to have chicken instead of the traditional veal; maybe that’s the consequence of deviating from the menu. Largo Pescheria Vecchia, 4  T:045 596718

Osteria Casa Vino: Located on cozy Vicolo Morette, Osteria Casa Vino presents distinctive twists on classic Italian Fiocco di manzo at Osteria Casa Vinodishes, all beautifully arranged and freshly prepared. On my first visit, I ordered the fiocco di manzo (6.50€), an elegant composition of sliced beef accompanied by small bits of apples, pears, and sauces of lemon and fresh berries. The mild flavor of the meat, combined with the fresh fruit and tart sauces, created a seductive contrast of tastes. Homemade fusilli with tiny tomatoes and ricotta affumicata (7.50€) hit the spot on a hot summer night. When I arrived later in the week for my second visit, Geraldina, the petite, dark-haired owner, recognized me and granted me a personal angoletto in the small, rustic dining room. This time I ordered a simple salad of tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella di bufala (8.50€) which awakened my palate after a long day of work. I especially enjoyed the milky creaminess of the mozzarella. Tagliatelle with tiny, woodsy mushrooms and rich black truffles (8.50€) continued the tour of exciting flavors. I already miss my little angoletto. Vicolo Morette, 8/A  T: 045 8004337

Honorable mentions: Trattoria il Pompiere and Taverna di Via Stella are both wonderful restaurants in the heart of Verona. However, I think they are best enjoyed with larger groups of diners. For example, Il Pompiere offers a long list of meat and cheeses for tasting that I didn’t feel comfortable ordering on my own. However, I couldn’t hide my jealousy as various waiters and chefs carried hunks of ham and salumi, along with a meat slicer, back to happy families and friends. I also felt a little left out at Taverna di Via Stella, where the servings of polenta and sliced meats were simply too large to be ordered by one person. Next time I’ll drag a stranger off the street with me if I have to, so that I can enjoy all they have to offer. Trattoria Il Pompiere, Vicolo Regina d’Ungheria, 5  T: 045 8030537; La Taverna di Via Stella, Via Stella 5  T: 045 8008008

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