How beautiful is the view of Verona’s ancient Roman bridge, built in 100 BC! We have been enjoying a walk along the banks of the Adige River and now Ponte Pietra beckons us to cross it and explore the centro storico of the city. We turn right and within minutes we find ourselves in Piazza Broilo and facing a restaurant named Antica Torretta with a canopied “garden” for outdoor dining. They are open early for lunch, which is unusual for Italy. We have worked up an appetite by now, so this is where we decide to satisfy it. We have not dressed for such an elegant restaurant, but the warm welcome we receive puts us at ease, and our decision to lunch here, we discover, is no accident. Our pranzo turns into a celebration with the first bite. Our wedding anniversary was just last week – we decide that this is the meal that will mark the occasion in grand style.
We ask our waiter, Dragos, to select the wines to accompany this multi-course feast and we sit back and enjoy. The wines are all from Valpolicella, the vine-growing region of Verona province and are typically made from three grape varieties, Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara. A Valpolicella Classico 2012 accompanies our antipasti and two pasta samplings: gnocchi with black truffles in butter and tagliatelle with Finferli mushrooms, in a Parmesan cream sauce topped with crispy Speck. The festa is capped with our secondo, a Chateaubriand with truffles and roasted potatoes. At the beginning of our meal, Dragos tells us of one customer who said the flavor of the gnocchi danced in his mouth. I would have to agree. The flavors and the atmosphere glide and twirl together like a perfect waltz, the memories of which will linger beyond this moment.
Before long, a black bird lands on our table and lingers, like a wine connoisseur to inspect our wine selections. Our feathered friend seems to approve. A Valpolicella Ripasso is a superior dessert wine made with partially dried grape skins that have been left over from the fermentation of Amarone. It now is poured into a new glass to our Tiramisù, a sweet made by an angel and presented like a painting.
Manuel, the young owner, in just three years has created a truly superior restaurant among many in Verona. He knows what he is doing. His chef, Olimpio and Dragos, our waiter, make the entire dining experience extraordinary. For those wishing to savor their exceptional cuisine in the summer months before the opera, Ristorante Antica Torretta opens early.