An August 2002 trip
to Verona by gosusan
Quote: Verona is a gourmand’s delight. Near wineries and farms, Verona’s bounty overflows. The cuisine of the Veneto and the city itself should be savored. At the junction of mountains and plains, Verona is a meeting place for different regions' foods. And you’ll never lack for a caffe or trattoria nearby!
Here's a hypothetical journal of a culinary day in the life of a Veronese...
Start off with a cappuccino and cornetto at your favorite caffe in Piazza dell’Erbe. For tramezzo (between meals) get a pannini at a Bar-Caffe. In the mid-day sun either enjoy a leisurely alfresco lunch at a pizzeria on Piazza Bra, or consume some pizza al taglio on a bench by the Arco-dei-Gavi. For midday snacking enjoy two scoops from a gelateria, and pick up some traditional Veronese cookies from a pastacceria. Later, duck into a bar along the passagiata to order a campari and meet up with friends. Now that your group is assembled, walk to your favorite trattoria. After a spirited 3-hour meal, you are still debating which local producer bottled the best Amorone in 1998. So you all traipse down to the enoteca to order a few glasses!
If you are still confused why you can get ice cream and sandwiches at a Bar-American, I've included an entry for the difference between ristoranti and osterie and other Italian eateries.
Verona is not the tourist magnet of Venice/Rome/Florence. While prices are higher immediately around the main piazze, you will probably get more bang for your Euro here than anywhere along the Grande Canale or Piazza Navona. And for the same quality you will certainly eat cheaper in Italy than in the States.
The hotel is in a renovated 17th century building, with the baroque details preserved, yet has been upgraded to modernity. (i.e. all rooms have air conditioning and a private bath).
Hotel Restaurants in Italy aim higher than their counterparts in the States, and the one in this hotel is no exception. For a splurge, the Ristorante Accademia offers gourmet cuisine, a mix of city, regional (Veneto) and classic Italian dishes. Veronese and other Italians often come here for a special dinner. Try the Pappardelle con finferli e fiori di
zucchini fritti, a pasta dish with fried zucchini flowers!
While ordering a la carte can run up the tab, if you stick with their set menu (presso fisso) you can eat and drink quite well for 36 euro. You get a couple choices for Antipasto, primi piatti, secondi, legumi, dolce and even 1/2 l. vino, 1/2 l aqua minerale, and caffe!) Try getting a decent multi-course meal with wine in the States for around $30!
As I lived in an apartment during my visit, I personally have not stayed at the hotel (though I did ramble about the lovely lobby). However my flatmate has and he often runs tours of Italy. He lodges his guests (used to luxurious lodgings) at the Accademia when in town, and he organizes at least one meal at the restaurant.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 4, 2002
Hotel and Ristorante Accadamia
Via Scala 12
Italian caffes take some getting used to by Americans. Food and drink cost more at the table (especially al fresco) than at the bar. Service may not be as efficient as in the States. But come and discover the joy of sitting out and watching the world go by long after you've consumed your one drink, without having the staff try to hustle you out to maximize table turnover!
Although the Piazza dell'Erbe is frequented by tour groups and has many attractions nearby, the Veronese still gather here. Come here in the afternoon for campari or a caffe correcto (espresso with alcohol, such as grappa) as well.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 4, 2002
Caffe Mazzanti on the Piazza dell'Erbe
The restaurant specializes in typical offerings of the Veneto. Bigoli, a local pasta favorite, akin to large hollow spaghetti, is paired with anatra (duck), for a wonderfully rich primo piatto. Their coniglio arrosto (roasted rabbit) was delicious, if hard to eat neatly. Other offerings include the melodious sounding Risi e Bisi (peas in risotto)and several fish dishes.
As the name might suggest, the restaurant is just a stone's throw from the Arena. This makes it a perfect place to enjoy a pre-show dinner. If you let the staff know that you are attempting to make a performance on time, their service can be quite timely, a novelty in Italy.
Because of the primo location and the quality of the food, this place is popular. I would recommend stopping by earlier in the day, or perhaps the evening before, to secure a reservation.
Le Cantine de L'Arena
Piazzetta Scalette Rubiani, 1 (off Piazza Bra)
The restaurant itself is pricey by Veronese standards, but offers such delicacies as Pre’ sale di agnello in crosta aromatica e tartufo (lamb in a spicy crust with truffles) and Terrina d’anatra con fegato grasso d’oca in composta di uva (duck terraine with fois gras topped with a grape compote). It is a tasty splurge, and would cost you double to triple the dollars at a place of similar quality in the States.
The wine cellar or enoteca is found in the basement, and dates to the Roman period. An austounding variety of local and foreign wines are offered by the glass. Where better to sip a glass of rich Amorone?
Piazza dell'Erbe, 38 (near Corso P. Borsari)
Verona, Italy 37121
A typical meal might start out with a mixed plate of polenta con pate,, followed by gnocchi or pasta e fagioli . The most traditional secondi is bollito misto, a mix of boiled meats (including Trigger), served with a piquant pepper sauce- peara. All I can say is that it is a lot tastier than it sounds.
You will of course be drinking one of the local reds, such as a valpollicella or a bardolino. Finish the meal with a fiery grappa of the region- perhaps a grappa d'amerone. It will serve as a much needed digestif.
They are closed on Wednesday evenings and all of Thursday. Reservations are recommended for dinner, but you should be able to walk in for lunch. Expect to fall into a bit of a food coma afterwards. You can linger in the Piazza and enjoy the views of San Zeno.
Piazza San Zeno 10
Restaurant | "Bottega Del Vino "
They offer the standard range of primi piatti and secondi found in trattorie of the region. My favorite is bigoli con anatra , a local pasta of hollow spaghetti served with a rich sauce of roast duck.
As you might expect from the name, they offer an extensive wine list, over 800 choices. If you are not hungry, you can come to the enoteca and swirl a glass or two of wine. The establishment stays open past midnight, and is a popular hang-out for Veronese and tourists alike.
The restaurant is closed on Tuesdays. Also beware that in the spring (week of April 15 in 2002) they host a big wine festival, VinItaly, when the crowds are even thicker than normal.
la Bottega del Vino
Vicolo Scudo di Francia, 3
Verona, Italy 37121
Don't be alarmed by the giant knife and fork sign, or the fact that the interior makes some Mexican party restaurants seem tastefully subdued. You are taking a break from the white tablecloth routine tonight, so enjoy everything offbeat.
There is no set menu with the typical Italian courses. In fact, there's no menu at all. They offer you a choice of a larger or smaller feast. That's it- so vegetarians and people who need to know all the ingredients of what they order beforehand should probably skip this joint.
You are deluged with a selection of small plates and bowls, filled with a variety of meats, veggies and sauces. Rather than the standard Italian bread sliced just so, you receive little bun-like creations that are used to make sandwiches out of the various fillings. The parade of dishes are all very tasty and presented with a whimsical flair (the roasted meats and veggies are on sticks which are set into a display like a porcupine.) Kids should get a kick out of the creative, hands on nature of this meal.
The waiters will keep bringing food out, if you are still hungry. Needless to say, this is not a stop on the tour circuit, so your server may not understand English. Pantomiming works just fine, though. Once you've had your fill, sit back with a caffe correcto and enjoy the adventure.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 10, 2002
Papa e Ceci
Attraction | "Learn to cook like a Veronese!"
For those who suffered through making bread during the kitchen section of Home Economics, fear not that this is a return to 7th grade with Mrs. Walponski's endless lectures on kneading. You will learn to cook, but in grand style- as guests at the Renaissance palazzo of La Foresteria, in the heart of the Valpolicella wine region. Owned by a direct descendent of Dante, the palazzo is equiped with a dream kitchen and caters to foreigners who come to learn to cook and live like an Italian.
Study how to make such dishes as Tortelloni di zucca con burro e salvia (pumpkin ravioli with sage & butter) and Risotto Nero(black squid ink risotto). You'll have a full range of fresh ingredients (many produced on the estate, others purchased on outings to the local market) to work with, and, of course, lots of local wine to sample.
A week long stay usually has excursions to the markets (and sights) of Verona and Venice. You'll enjoy visits to local farms in the Veneto. And every night has a feast to remember.
While not cheap, these vacations are educational as well as fun. And as for souvenirs, the fact that you can now cook come una nonna italiana will serve you longer than a few knicknacks or bottles of wine!
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on May 7, 2002
Cooking like a Veronese!
La Foresteria Serego Alighieri
This was a great place to pick up produce, fish, meats and just about every other consumable good. The prices were better than the local markets, and the quality just as wonderful.
For non edibles shopping, I picked up a nice tablecloth for $5 that retailed for at least 3 times the price at COIN, the local department store. I also fond a made-in-Italy olive oil jar for about $2. Perhaps it was not fine Deruta ceramico, but it was still quite presentable.
Some of the shoes and clothing are of questionable quality, or would likely appeal only to 70-year-old grandmothers. (And it's now clear to me where the plus-sized crowd can find something to wear in Italy!) But it's a great opportunity to look for bargains or just have fun browsing.
The best way to locate one of these local markets is to look in the city paper, L'Arena. They generally tend to be in the morning, pretty much on every day but Sunday. Saturdays offers a huge market in the Stadium (not the Roman Amphitheatre in the center, but the one out past Borgo S. Zeno) that draws the flea market afficianados, too.
Weekly Neighborhood Markets
All over Verona
Ristorante: Formal restaurant, generally the most expensive. Expect to need reservations and to dress nicely.
Trattoria: Usually cheaper and more casual than a ristorante. Often it is a local hang-out, with the menu written in chalk on a board, rather than printed and handed to you.
Osteria: The word means hostel/inn, but usually they just serve food, in the same vein as a trattoria.
Caffe: Many eating places have Caffe in their name, but are more like a trattoria in the wide selection of food available. The one constant is that you can be pretty sure that they will be open for breakfast and happy to serve you a cappuccino and brioche.
Pizzeria: Not surprisingly, a place that specializes in pizzas, though they often provide a selection of pastas and secondi. Unlike American restaurants, you order one pizza per person, and it will be about 10-12 inches wide. Fear not, it will have a very thin crust. You can eat it in one sitting, but don't expect to eat dessert afterwards. Shops sell Pizza al taglio by the slice (actually by weight) to-go, with a thicker crust.
Bar: This one surprises Americans. Bars (sometimes called caffe-bars) serve everything from coffee to food, like ice-cream treats and pannini. No over-21 signs here either, and kids pop in to buy candy. Yes they do serve alcohol, too. Of course, a decent glass of wine may be cheaper than una Coca Cola. Ironically, many of these multi-purpose establishments bill themselves as "un Bar American."
Pub/ Birreria: What Americans think of as a bar: drinks and sparse food. Disco-Pubs are the Italian equivalent to clubs- open later with music and more expensive drinks.
Enoteca: A wine bar where you sample different varietals by the glass. At some food may be offered, but it is secondary to the wine. Others are more like wine shops that may or may not serve by the glass. Don’t ask for beer here.
Tavola Calde: To-go food (literally hot tables). Generally McDonald's and its European cousins fall here, but some of these places, especially the ethnic ones, serve decent fare. Similar quality food is available in cafeteria and un "self-serve", which offer the additional amenity of seating to eat your repast.
This is only a subset of terms, there are also rosticceria (places selling roasted meats, either to-go or with service onsite), alimentari or mercati are grocery shops where you can buy picnic supplies. A panicoteca makes hot or cold sandwiches to order for you. And you can satisfy your cravings for baked goods or ice cream at a pasticceria or a gelateria.
San Francisco, California