Even though Romeo and Juliette were fictional Shakespearean creations, Verona’s romance is absolutely undeniable. Wine and dine wise, there is no better place to experience romance, a tummy full of love and a gastronomical miracle than at the Michelin awarded Osteria La Fontanina.
The Tapparini family owned and run Osteria (since 1984) is nestled on a quaint street near the Veronese Roman Arena and Ponte Pietra. Walking on the cobblestone path towards the restaurant, the first thing I noticed was the enchanting and very lush green hanging balcony vines, enough to make me gush and bring blood to my cheeks.
Entering the Osteria I was completely seduced by its cozy but quirky candlelit setting. Interior decor is an assortment of the owners nostalgic and tasteful memories. For a split second I closed my eyes and pictured how he fell in love with his wife before we were seated.
Osteria La Fontanina simply oozes romance and intimacy. Small details such as the full length golden vintage mirror which is hung by your table so you can exchange silent glances with your date throughout the night was very well thought out.
As soon as you are seated expect a generous glass of champagne to kickstart your hunger. Perfecto!
Settling for a bottle of smooth but crisp white Soave, Mr.B and I pondered over the very extensive menu. Exchanging very few words since we were both infatuated with the choices, we concluded that it would be a crime to not order and share the ‘Tasting Menu’ (€90) because it had a selection of 5 very delicious choices from the menu. We also ordered an extra starter, venison carpaccio over salad with nuts and raspberry vinegar and foie gras creme brule (€18) and an extra main, white ravioli stuffed with suckling-pig over pears sauce, Castelmagno cheese and mutard (€20).
As the candle wick flickered and burned, the first courses; a platter of raw fish tartare and the venison carpaccio arrived.
The raw fish tartare came on a transparent plate which was perfect for the way it was decorated. There were streaks of colorful sauces and condiments, the tartare was glazed with a beautiful olive and tomato marinade. The raw fish itself was very well salted and the mini, thin and crispy modern bruschetta piece on the side was decked with olive puree, an anchovy and cream.
Venison carpaccio at this Osteria blew me away. Even tastier than any beef or tuna carpaccio I’ve ever had. Funnily enough, it was served on a bed of fruit salad. You’d think at first glance that the combination is very strange but be prepared for some serious amazement! The fruity flavors just went so well with the venison, garnished with apple, blackberry, strawberries, blueberries, strawberry puree, balsamic infused raspberry vinegar.
The venison meat itself was very special, tasted nothing like beef, very rich and ‘game-like’. Slices were softer than baby skin but not falling apart, consistency was strong. Foie gras was another interesting addition to this dish, it was so sweet we almost mistook it for smooth chocolate pieces.
The most compelling part of this dish was the creme brulee on the side. Who would have thought to put carpaccio with brulee? This brulee was different though! It looked exactly like one and the initial crunch of the burnt surface was similar but the taste of it was almost like a luxurious baba ghanoush (Arabic or Levantine eggplant dish mashed and mixed with olive oil). It acted as a dip and not as a dessert. It was salty and luscious, as if it were blended with the foie gras, almost like locking lips with a cloud.
Captivated by what we just ate and a glass of Soave later, the crispy “Nuvola” (baked/shirred egg) with Monte Veronese cheese, black truffle from Lessinia and onion cream arrived.
After taking the first spoonful I could not believe what I was eating. I literally let out a really loud “Mmmmmmmmm” because I was at loss for words. This had to be my favorite dish of the night and possibly ever. The egg was runny and came wrapped in a wonderful pastry parcel and was infused with just the right amount of black truffle. The onion cream was exquisite and putting all of these wonderful tastes onto my tongue at once was like a gastronomical dream come true. Sparks flew and my stomach fell in love.
Falling in love didn’t end there. The next plate arrived and not only did it look characteristic but also exclusive. Who would ever create a white ravioli stuffed with suckling pig? Every bite offers an explosion of soft pig with pear cream and adorned with hard-like jelly fruit pieces. My description or my pictures don’t do this dish any justice. Each ravioli piece was salty but sweet and infused with mild white truffles. It even had a smoked apple flavor of some sort as the ravioli pastry melted in my mouth. Just the way it glided down my throat, like the most elegant ice skater, delivering honey like textures. The cheese of which was used to top it off was very intense and gave the dish its initial identity which is then followed by the sweet smoothness which kicks in as soon as you sink your teeth into the core.
A plate of home made black spaghetti with calamari, zucchini streamers and sea urchins with an olive oil and garlic sauce was served at the same time. This was one of the less interesting dishes of the night. Not that it wasn’t delicious, the astringency and intensity of the sea urchin just might be a bit much for those who don’t enjoy seafood. I loved the freshness of the pasta which was obviously made with squid ink. This dish was quite creative as well seeing that the chef used both black and normal colored pasta.
Next up was the famous Italian ‘Baccala’ (salted fish) done up in a Venetian style on broth with warm assorted seafood and polenta.
Polenta was exceptional, it seemed to have been cooked in a special and aromatic mollusk broth to compliment the baccala. Fish pieces were infused in the polenta as well, exactly what I would call a good culinary marriage. While chewing the baccala it maintained its structure before collapsing at the back of your mouth. A small piece of fishy heaven.
At this point I was expecting something to crumble or lose its perfection. It didn’t- a beautiful braised beef cooked with Amarone sauce, potato puree and caramelized spring onions was put before us. We both arduously forked up a piece of beef and in the most amusing manner looked up at each other in total shock and let out a medley mix of “oooohs” and “aaahs”. Unquestionably not the sounds of a disaster.
The thick sauce of the braised beef was a flavorful fusion of tangy red wine with an almost bitter orange zest. The sauce was so pungent and of thick consistency that it resembled a chocolate dessert. The caramelized spring onion was the braised beef’s best friend for sure.
A bottle of Soave later and the Italian music growing softer and even more amorous, our waitress returned with our dessert. A pineapple sorbet, mango and coconut pieces with a passion fruit soup. How tropical! Not something you would expect at this point. A very refreshing way to finish off the meal and digest.
This night and dining experience often replays in my mind, similar to remembering the time your first love smiled at you from across the room, or that whimsical first time they asked you to dance and then swept you off your feet time and time again. Something you would surely spend a lifetime remembering.
May have found a perfect plate here 🙂 Be sure to check it out if Verona is on your travel list!
Osteria La Fontanina
Portichetti Fontanelle 3
(closed on Sunday and on Monday morning)
+39 045 913305