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Verona, Italy: best places to eat and drink

Wines from nearby Valpolicella, Soave and Custoza, in Verona’s busy bars, are perfect accompaniments for rich north Italian risottos, fluffy polenta and gelato made with wild fennel and figs

1 Deli eats Flavio Gironda and his son Emanuele run the Gironda deli near the Ponte Pietra Roman bridge. Ideal for foodie souvenirs, it’s even better for a lunchtime picnic. Choose some (Slow Food-promoted) local monte veronese cheese, chunky chutney, olives or sun-dried tomatoes. Add bread and wine and eat on the riverside terrace.  formaggiesalumigironda.it

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2 Old school flavours For an authentic Veronese osteria experience, grab a table under the arches outside Osteria Sottoriva with a glass of custoza and a fried meatball and enjoy the atmosphere with the locals. Then order pastissada de caval (spicy horse-meat stew with polenta), Verona’s favourite dish. Via Sottoriva 9A, 00 39 45 801 4323

3 Chill out At Zeno Gelato e Cioccolato, in delightful Piazza San Zeno, master gelataio Roberto Bonato’s selection of ices includes seasonal, locally-sourced flavours like fig and watermelon. Go after 8pm for gelato gastronomico, a dish of three gourmet ice creams – wild fennel, craft beer and grappa, for instance. zenoverona.it

4 Salute Leonardo Rizzini has maintained the genuine feel of an old-style wine bar since taking over La Mandorla in 2008. While the accent is on natural wines, and beers brewed by Leonardo, many regulars continue to drink the mandorlino (sweet, almond-flavoured marsala) the bar is named after. facebook.com/OsteriaLaMandorla

5 High style Chefs Moreno and Dario have imprinted their dynamic but informal style on Locanda 4 Cuochi, which is part-owned by Michelin-starred Giancarlo Perbellini. Quality is everything here, and presentation is beautiful. Dishes include special versions of traditional favourites including risi e bisi, an exquisite risotto topped with a pea mousse, and super-tender, crunchy-skinned suckling pig. locanda4cuochi.it


6 Comfort food Escape the tourist trail and eat at Trattoria all’Isolo, a charming, light-filled trattoria in a quiet piazza. Ever since the Beghini family opened it 19 years ago, locals have been enjoying the friendly, professional service and local dishes. Don’t miss the homemade bigoli (thick spaghetti) with sardines or duck ragout. Piazza Isolo 5, 00 39 045 594291

7 A good catch For good seafood at decent prices, Trattoria ai Piloti is a firm favourite among the Veronese. Opt for specialities such as paccheri ai piloti (pasta with prawns, tomato and aubergine), or choose a selection of small plates like scallop gratin or soft-shell crab from the more informal osteria menu. Regulars swarm for aperitivi at midday on Sundays, when seafood risotto is brought round. aipiloti.it

8 Wine tour Wineries abound in the medieval walled town of Soave, just east of Verona. It’s well worth the drive to visit the cellars of Coffele, the first to obtain organic certification, and taste the three varieties of soave. These include the seductive Alzari, which takes on hints of smoke following a year in oak. coffele.it

9 Slow Food At Al Bersagliere the friendly atmosphere is amplified by the greetings of locals to jovial proprietor Leo Ramponi. In the kitchen, his wife Marina conjures up traditional dishes such as the house speciality baccalà del Bersagliere – creamy cod with polenta. As befits Verona’s only Slow Food-endorsed restaurant, real care is taken over ingredients: there are 20+ olive oils to choose from. trattoriaalbersagliere.it

10 Something fruity Still run by a direct descendent of the poet Dante, whose son bought the estate in 1353, Serego Alighieri is at the heart of the prestigious Valpolicella area of villas and vineyards northwest of the city. Tours take in the grape-drying loft and the aromatic cherry wood barrels where amarone and the other reds are, unusually, aged for four months, adding a rich fruity finish. seregoalighieri.it


HOW TO DO IT
Return flights from Birmingham and Stansted to Verona start from £50 (ryanair.com). Double rooms at the Delser hotel, surrounded by vines and olives, cost from €180, b&b. More info: tourism.verona.it

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Food, wine and travel writer Sarah Lane has lived in northern Italy for more than 20 years and is the author of numerous travel guides about the Verona area.


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