Verona has absolutely mega massive Bill Shakespeare vibes. The bard quilled not one, but two bloody plays based in this Italian city. You’ve got ‘The Two Gentlemen of Verona’ and the lesser known ‘Romeo and Juliet’.
It’s perhaps this link to Verona which made it appeal to me, you see I’m actually from Solihull — and Solihull’s greatest cultural contribution to the planet is its proximity to Stratford where old Willy Shakes used to knock about.
Before we move on from this filler to move on to the fodder, I’d like to shock you — I didn’t used to be a fan of Italian food. Yeah, shook much? The reason for this being the fact mentioned in the previous paragraph about being from Solihull. I associated Italian food with bland, boring shite. Fortunately that changed when I went to Italy for the first time a few years ago. I’m now probably pretty much an expert on Italian food, you can tell this by reading my review of Gino D’Acampo’s restaurant.
Some people thought we shouldn’t go on holiday because of some ‘pandemic’ but then I looked at the infection rate in Italy and the infection rate in the UK and thought “whatever,” I also remembered that we went to Florence last year and had a bloody excellent time, I also remembered that we were supposed to go to Thailand in April. I also spoke to a friend who lives in Italy who confirmed they’re not acting like massive, stupid twats.
First night we got in late, but time means nothing to food bloggers. Time stops for no fat man. I chucked the suitcases down and demanded we leave immediately. We stepped onto the street, I got my phone out and consulted Uncle Google, and there it was — a wine bar and restaurant less than a minute walk away from the hotel, almost as if I planned it.
Having opted out of a RyanAir chicken curry for dinner we were quite hungry by the time we got here, so looked at the menu for about four seconds before reeling off a load of it at the waiter.
The highlight was the Amarone risotto. For those of you who know nothing, Amarone is a full-bodied wine from the Valpolicella region up the road from Verona. The depth of flavour in this risotto would be enough to get lesser men pissed, it was delightful. Especially if you’re drinking a bottle of Amarone at the same time, as I was — quite literally eating and drinking wine at the same time. Quite, quite dedicated.
There was also:
- Anchovies with burrata
- Parma ham
- Tortellini with truffle and crunchy parmesan
The other thing I liked about this place / Italy in general is telling someone what sort of wine you want and them bringing you a bottle for £35 that’s got 4.3 on Vivino and sells for £28 in shops. LOVELY.
On the second day we had a wander around the Verona arena where lads used to have fights with tigers and shit, got bored of history and went and nailed some Spritz. Remember to choose Campari over Aperol when trying to show off how macho you are.
Then it was time for lunch, I chose Benda because it’s got a funny name and the photos on their Instagram looked intriguing.
Starter of slow cooked egg in a pecorino sauce with truffle was divine.
For main I ordered deer with a sweet and sour sauce (there was no English on the menu and basically winged it). I was a bit nervous, but it was goooooood.
A ‘Bendamisu…’ followed, our first Tiramisu of the trip and it was t’riffic.
The next day I wanted to celebrate the fact I like wine, so arranged for us to go on a wine tasting adventure. Tenuta Santa Maria Valverde was the perfect antidote to a mild 6/10 hangover. We were shown the vines and given an actually interesting talk about how they cultivate their grapes, the subtle breeze floating over the hills from Lake Garda swept the boozy cobwebs from my brain.
Then, the really good bit. We sat down to try three of their wines, a Valpolicella Superior, a Ripasso and an Amarone. They were all excellent, they also brought out local cheeses and salami to go with them. The view wasn’t bad either.
I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking, “fuck you, with your blog boasting about your holiday eating and drinking nice things,” well, hold your horses. A couple of things, 1) I only do this for you, the valued reader because I want you to go and eat nice food and drink nice booze too. 2) The next place was shit.
It was one of the few meals we didn’t have planned, we’d been sat in Piazza delle Erbe and then wandered towards what looked like some tables and people eating. Ristorante Maffei, looked decent, menu looked decent, it was full of Italians eating things — they know about eating decent things don’t they?
To start, octopus with nduja mayonnaise. The octopus had that slightly too fishy aroma to it where you worry you’ll be shitting yourself for days, and the mayonnaise didn’t taste of nduja at all. A Tagliatelle with ragu main wasn’t much better.
Let’s not dwell though, please let’s not dwell.
Rather than keep going and tell you about everything else I ate I’m just going to tell you some highlights because we’ve all got better things to do with our lives.
Trattoria San Basilio – Black rice, with prawns and chanterelles.
Il Desco – Risotto with peat, onion, tomato and basil
Café Carducci – gnocchi with truffle, and a truffled Brie sauce.
I said I wasn’t going into detail but I will for this place as I bloody loved it. Cute bistro, family run, one man doing all the cooking in a tiny corner behind the bar and knocking out superb food. My wife had steak with an amarone sauce so shiny and delicious I wanted to stare at myself in it and eat me. Do go there if you find yourself in Verona.
There you go, we got there in the end didn’t we. Bless you for getting this far.