Writing about Italy has always seemed of great ease to me. The home of such a rich and visible history; the producer of maestros such Pirlo and Totti; the catalyst for the Renaissance of art and culture across Europe. It is truly a country able to offer something to just about any interest. Add to this growing list a place synonymous with food.
Having already established itself as one of the finest eateries in the city across various web forums, ‘Osteria Sottoriva’, located just near the Casa di Romeo, certainly did not disappoint. Having used the hit online hospitality service ‘airbnb’, my girlfriend and I struck the motherload when our hosts also provided for us a list of their own restaurant recommendations. Wanting to use the advice from our local source, we stuck to their sugesstion and on the third night came across this little eatery.
We’d been told explicitly to ‘get there early – it’s sure to fill up!’ and fill up it did. Opening at 6pm, we figured that turning up at 6:10pm would mean we’d have the pick of a few tables. Oh how wrong we were. With only one candlelit room of about five tables, all packed tightly together, we were luckily offered the final two spaces on a table with another, Italian couple.
Given that neither of us are fluent in Italian, a rustic little place like this, run and frequented by locals, could have posed a few problems. This did not prove to be the case. Not only were the staff well adept at English, but they also provided a menu with a section titled ‘Little Help’ that explained not only the food on offer, but also the Osteria policy of ‘No Bookings’. Customers may be asked to move tables together to make room.
This provided an atmosphere I have little experienced in England. There was a perfect balancing of intermingling and separation, allowing your dining experience to be both public and a private.
After making the difficult decision of what to order – my girlfriend going for the lasagne whilst I went for ‘Le Crespelle’ (similar to crepes) – the wine and parmesan were brought out. It’s so typical of Italy that one can order half a litre of red wine for next to nothing. To place beside that one of my favourite cheeses created a sight as beautiful as any Da Vinci painting.
That old saying, ‘you eat with your eyes first’, was certainly true; however, my mouth was far from disappointed. The prongs of my fork could only just contain the multitude of flavours that oozed from the egg pasta pancakes. A combination of vegetables and rich ricotta cheese sounds simplistic and yet was nailed to perfection.
Not having much of a sweet tooth, I’m never one for ordering dessert, which in this case was just as well because our waitress brought out complimentary coffee shaped puddings which, to be fair, weren’t all that bad. These, alongside the complimentary bread and just the general friendliness of the staff, made us feel treated, like we were being really looked after as customers. Add to that the more than reasonable price and you’ve got yourself a winning combination. I know for sure that when I return to Verona, Osteria Sottoriva will be one of the very first places I visit.