Just returned from a wonderful visit to Verona and Venice. Will post Verona now and follow with Venice later this week. Special thanks to James G. for coming through yet again in both cities!!!
First night after arriving in Verona from New York (a Sunday) we headed to Taverna di Via Stella, a Slow
Food spot (snail sticker on door) near Piazza Erbe. Although the place was almost empty when we arrived at 7:30pm, we were glad we had booked a table since the place was full by 8pm. This is my idea of what an Italian trattoria should be...very cozy inside, lots of bustling around, brown paper on the tables, golden light, etc etc. We were very warmly welcomed and service was friendly and efficient throughout. After starter glasses of Prosecco, we each began with a pasta: My bigoli (type of whole wheat spaghetti) with duck was rich and terrific and my partner's tortellini with butter and sage was equally scrumptious..Both were daily specials.
While partner stopped there, I went on to the carpaccio with baby arugula and shaved Parmesan, followed by grilled radicchio and funghi combo. The bill came to about $56 Euro with the house Valpolicella. While we were eating, lots of local folks stopped by at the bar for snacks (cichetti) and wine....a terrific idea for lunch. Patrons appeared to be local people except for one table of Americans who were seated next to us, took one look at the menu, remarked that there was no chicken to be had, and got up and left!!! Address is Via Stella, 5/c. Closed Monday.
Next day, Monday, lunch was cichetti (hearts of articoke and prociutto crostini) with small sampling of the many wines sold by the glass at Bottega de Vino. Valpolicella Riserva was excellent and I could have stayed and snacked all day. This place is atmospheric times ten......amazing selection of old wines, Armagnacs, etc.......the menu for full meals looked good, un-fancy local dishes, but we had no time to try it because we were booked that night at Il Pompiere.
At 8pm when we arrived at Il Pompiere, also near Piazza Erbe and also a Slow Food member, sign on the door indicated that there was no space left for the evening. Very glad we had reserved in advance...through our hotel (Hotel Aurora)
Although we were the first people to arrive, the place filled up quickly and, save for one other table, the diners appeared to be Italian. The walls are covered with black and white photos and one large corner of the main room is devoted to shelves of salumi.....in endless permutations. Large slicing machine stands next to them and manning it is a man who appears to be the house maestro of salumi.......after drink orders are taken, he came to the table to discuss which of the tens of types we would choose to start the meal. We ordered the variety platter: prociutto from Norcia, porcetta with rosemary, house made Mortadella, guanciale.......while $22 had seemed to be a bit pricey for salumi, we were very glad we had chosen this option..I have never eaten cured meats of this quality ! The peachy pink Mortadella, especially, was a revelation. Meal continued with a pasta for each of us: tagliatelli with artichoke (good) and beef ravioli (sublime)...clearly meats are the specialty at Il Pompiere, as they are in many Veronese eateries. Next I tasted, courtesy of friendly diner at neighboring table, stinco de maile (spelling?)...braised pork shin, which had a gorgeous lacquer finish. Surprisingly, the meat did not fall off the bone as I had envisioned but the flavor was divine and portion was huge. Dessert was a lovely hazlenut/chocolate cake. Total bill with house wine was about $62 euro. Il Pompiere, Vicolo Regina d'Ungheria, 5. Closed Sunday and Monday lunch.