|Ambiance:||(4 / 5)|
|Service:||(3.5 / 5)|
|Value for money:||(4 / 5)|
|Pizza:||(4 / 5)|
Today, with it’s beautiful blue skies, took us to Verona, home to Romeo and Juliet. Arriving at lunchtime meant that food was first on our list or priorities. Deciding where was more of a challenge though, Verona seemed flooded with pizzerias, trattorias and restaurants that it made deciding where to go pretty difficult. I’d read a few guides for recommendations but without a map, this approach also proved tricky.
We ended up settling on a trattoria just off the main square, with a great view of the Arena (I like to call it the Colosseum). The deciding points for me was finding a table in the sun and pizza being in the menu, and for Andrew, the scrap book design of the menu. Simple things! All Andrew wanted was a coke, water and ham and I was asked to choose the rest. Pretty great situation to be in I say as I effectively get to pick two of my favourite dishes on the menu. No, I’m not that selfish so I ended up going for the basil and spinach gnocchi with a buffalo mozzarella fondue (as he loves mozzarella almost as much as he loves ham) and pappardelle al l’Agnello (lamb pasta).
For our antipasti, we shared a “heart of ham” with pizza bread – see, it really did know it’s audience when putting that dish together, so we were both very happy when a huge board of ham, rocket and pizza slices appeared in front of us. The pizza really took me by surprise, it was different to everything I’ve tasted in Italy so far. Covered in what looked like cornmeal or semolina, it had a unique doughy, yet crispy texture to it. Andrew didn’t have much more of an opinion other than it was “really nice”. I later found out that they used a wood fired oven, so kudos to them for not following the typical Neapolitan recipe.
Given the yumminess of the first course, I was looking forward to our mains. And, I definitely wasn’t disappointed. Both were presented in lovely white china bowls and looked delicious. My gnocchi, again surprised me in it’s unique taste. It had a strong pesto-like flavour as a result of the basil but the texture was a lot softer and more delectable than all the other gnocchi I’ve tried in Italy. Mixed with the cold, creamy buffalo mozzarella have it an interesting hot-cold effect, which seemed to really impress Andrew who ended up actually happy about swapping plates with me half way through.
The pappardelle, despite being a little on the cold side, was also lovely. The thick layers of perfectly cooked al dente pasta had been home made and you could definitely taste the difference to the shop made pasta. The lamb ragu was generously mixed in, and tasted rich and decadent. Unfortunately both dishes deemed a little too decadent as we were unable to finish our plates.
We turned down dolci in lieu of having to loosen a button or two. So, we left content and well fed.
Recommendation (4 / 5)
If you’re not up for a long search to find somewhere truly authentic and want to be in a central location, then Cantine de l’Arena is ideal. It offers great food, inside and outside dining and a pretty brilliant setting.
Address: Piazzetta Scalette Rubiani, 1, 37121 Verona, Italy
Phone: +39 045 803 2849
NTK: If you go in a big group, make sure one of you goes for the pizza as Cantina de l’Arena has an extensive menu, and having at least one slice is essential.