Osteria Fontanina

Via Sottoriva, 10, Verona, 37121, Italy

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This little family-run restaurant has just a few tightly packed tables in a room cluttered with wine racks, mirrors, antique silverware and eclectic wall decorations; there is hardly a surface left without ornament. The restaurant has been open for thirty years, its chef Nicola Tapparini cooking and bringing each dish to the table himself, his wife Maria taking care of the service and wine (editor's note: the head chef since 2015 has been Matteo Sivero). The menu featured food from the local region, and is traditional in style: no sea buckthorn is going to pop out unexpectedly on the plate here. Bread included good foccacia and assorted rolls, served warm, and was rustic and enjoyable (15/20).

The wine list covered the regions of Italy and was kindly priced. If you are used to London prices you may well break down and weep when you see the prices. Alois Legeder Sauvignon Blanc 2011 was €24 for a wine you will find in the local high street for around €11, Jermann Dreams 2009 (which we drank) was priced at €60 euros for a wine that retails at €45 or more, Gaja Alteni di Brassica 2008 was €90 for a wine that cost €57 in a shop, while Angelo Gaja Sperss Barolo 1996 was €300 for a wine that will set you back €197.

Baked egg with cheese and onion cream featured an egg yolk with that deep orange, almost red colour that tells you that this did not come from a supermarket, served in a little pastry case; this was a rich and enjoyable dish, but somewhat let down by a Parmesan crisp that wasn't (14/20). Scallops were served with a few mushrooms and a pumpkin purée; the scallops were quite small but had good flavour and were carefully cooked: a simple but pleasant dish (14/20).

Spaghetti with anchovies had excellent pasta but anchovies that were very salty indeed, so much so that they distracted from the pasta (13/20). Ravioli stuffed with piglet was served with mustard fruits, a condiment originally from Cremona that I always enjoy but rarely see on menus these days. The pasta had good texture, and the flavours of the piglet with the preserved fruit and mustard worked well together (perhaps 15/20). Salt cod had robust flavour and was carefully cooked (15/20) but the star dish was my guinea fowl with a buttery potato purée. Guinea fowl can often be a disappointing bird to eat, easily drying out, but here it had superb flavour, was moist and beautifully cooked (17/20 is probably too mean a score for this dish).

For dessert, millefeuille of red fruits had excellent, delicate puff pastry and good quality fruit (16/20), while a chocolate and coffee dessert had deep coffee flavour (16/20). Coffee itself was of high quality, served with a few pleasant petit fours. The bill came to €124 per person for abundant food and more wine than a wise man would drink. I enjoyed the meal here very much: service was charming and the food rustic and well made, with the guinea fowl a real highlight. It is nice to see that such an unassuming place can be awarded a Michelin star, demonstrating that you do not need fancy crockery and fawning waiters to get recognition from Michelin, just authentic cooking.

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