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Oct 20, 2011 09:26 AM

Quick trip report: Tuscany (Colle di Val d'Elsa, Radda), Bologna, Verona, Lombardy (Bergamo, Como area, Milan)

Spent some time in the areas below, as well as a week in the Piemonte region. I added my Piemonte (Vercelli, Asti, Torino, Bra, Alba) list to my original post here:

Ok, still a bit jetlagged, but here are some of the spots that we hit up in Toscana, Bologna, Verona, and Lombardia this autumn:

[ Toscana, Chianti


* Cucina Popolare - Colle di Val d'Elsa
Wanted something close to our hotel, and didn't feel like Arnolfo. This place was listed in the Osterie guide, so we gave it a whirl. I wasn't expecting much, and sure enough, wasn't surprised. Food was edible but not memorable. Pretty much the entire room were fellow tourists.

* MacDario (Dario+) in Panzano
After reading Heat and hearing all about him in other publications, we didn't want to miss up a chance to try one of Dario's joints. Unfortunately we could not make the dinners, so opted for lunch here instead. Dario doesn't speak any English, but immediately makes you feel welcome when you enter his macelleria. Wine flows left right and centre, and you are presented with tasty crostini to go with the wine. As for the meal itself, we enjoyed the "burger" platter. The other platter (I can only remember the carne cruda, meatloaf and some porchetta) had some interesting items, but really wasn't anything to write home about (all items on platter arrive cold/pre cooked). The entire room was filled with tourists. It's worth a trip if it's your first time, but otherwise I don't think we'd return.

* La Bottega di Volpaia (10 mins from Radda)
Again, didn't want anything too far from our hotel, so drove a short while up the hill to Volpaia. As expected, very touristy.. food nothing remarkable. All in all a pleasant (if not somewhat forgettable) experience.

* Greve in Chianti: Cantine
We spent a good fun hour in here re charging our cards and sampling (too many? nah, never!) a plethora of different wines.

* Macelleria Forlani (in Greve) - I could have spent hours in here inspecting all the different types of meat and roaming the cheese cave downstairs..

[ Bologna ]

* Gigina - We enjoyed this so much last year that we just had to return this year. Perfect tortellini in brodo + tag ragu again, and also added an unctuous lasagne verde this time. Ended with the fried custard and tried the panacotta with balsamic - heavenly! We love this place, and will always make a point to return.

* Tamburini (wine bar next door, Baci & Salumi!) - We had a nice salumi plate here last year, so again had to repeat. Sadly, as Barberinibee had warned, the salumi was dried out. Bread basket always looks like it's been recycled too..

* il Gelatauro / Castiglione - As good as always. Ordered the caramelized fig gelato from Castiglione again, and it was still as delicious as the first time.

[ Verona ]

* Perbellini (Bovolone - just a short drive from Verona) - really really REALLY amazing millefeuille w/ cream here. Light fluffy pastry layers with some slightly sweet cream (drool). We bought a small slab to enjoy.. also saw locals buying huge slabs to take out. Definitely worth a stop. They also make an amazing 4kg (!!) panettone that we would have loved to bring back, but sadly didn't have room in luggage for (!)

* Al Bersagliere - really nice risotto amarone here, and ended with a fantastic diplomatico (sp). Service was prompt. Didn't hear a word of English in the room..

* Bottega del Vino - I expected this place to have average food, and we justed wanted to experience the room and peruse the vini list. Food was edible (we both had a simple pasta dish), and the room was lovely. Nothing more to add.

* Al Pompiere - buzzy, lively ambiance here. A mix of Italian and English heard in the room. Risotto amarone wasn't that great - the wine smell was too strong, and the dish was very tart. Salumi plate was very good though. As for dolce, the tiramisu was very lovely (my 3rd favourite after Roscioli and Felice in Rome)

[ Bergamo + environs ]

* Osteria della Villetta (Palazzolo Sull'oglio) - this was an amazing meal. The owner chose the dishes for us, and it was an incredible experience. Traditional dishes done with extreme care, and ingredients were proudly Slow Food presidio. We started with a lake fish done 2 ways - delicate morsels of fish, one fried, the other lightly seared. Secondi we had a nice cabbage parcel (? chef/owner didn't speak English), and a braised meat dish. Ended with some _amazing_ dessert: gelato was so smooth, I have only had nitro ice cream that rivaled the creaminess. Had a fig crostate and a wonderful bitterweet chocolate pudding as well (yes, 3 dolci, it was that good).

* Pasticceria Nessi - tried quite a few polenta e osei, but the best was from Nessi. Moist cake, some light cream, and I think there was some marmellata in there as well. Other places served up tasteless, dried up versions. Wish I had a box to accompany my coffee right now!

* La Colombina - Sat on the lovely terrace overlooking the city lights. Another very busy place, but mostly tourists. Started off with seared polenta that was served with some beschamel-like sauce. The polenta was a bit dried out. Mains we had polenta taragna with funghi. It was very hearty, not bad. Desserts we didn't stay for, as the couple next to us (tables were only an inch apart) sounded like they both had bronchitis.. then they started to smoke (!)

[ Como ]

* Silvio in Loppia (10 mins from Bellagio) - Again, we didn't expect remarkable food in the heavily touristed Como area, so were not surprised with the level of cooking here. Sampled the fish antipasti, as well as 2 fish pastas. All fish items were extremely fishy. As it was a Fri night, we didn't think it was an issue of fish that had sat there for days.. but who knows.

Not wanting to walk out to Loppia again (we had planned on visiting Alle Darsene), we just opted to enjoy some salumi, bread + butter (Beppino, always loved this ubiquitous brand), and stracchino in our room instead.

[ Milano ]

* Pasticerria Marchesi
A return trip for the perfect capp, and this time we bought a few panettones to bring home. Haven't tried them yet.. can't wait!!

* Bastianello
The coffee is exceptional here (and served in fancy cups to boot). Lovely surroundings. Staff will snap at you if you pull out a camera, so be warned! Bought a panettone from here.. have yet to try!

And that was the Toscana to Lombardia portion of the trek. Delicious Piemonte followed!

Via dei Giubbonari 21/23, Rome, Lazio 00186, IT

La Colombina
Via Borgo Canale, 12, Bergamo, Lombardy 24129, IT

Via Henri Beyle Stendhal, 1, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna 40128, IT

Via XX Settembre, 50, Colle di Val d’Elsa, Tuscany 53034, IT

La Bottega
loc. Volpaia,piazza della Torre,1, Radda in Chianti, Tuscany , IT

Bottega del Vino
Vicolo Scudo di Francia, 3, Verona, Veneto 37121, IT

Via XX Luglio,11, Greve in Chianti, Tuscany 50022, IT

Al Bersagliere
Via Dietro Pallone,1, Verona, Veneto , IT

Vicolo Regina d

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  1. Sorry to hear my warning about Tamburini proved true. I think they have just given up since bus loads of tourists and tour groups are now marched through, one right after the other.

    I'm glad to hear that Al Bersagliere in Verona is still a solid choice. My own recollections of lunch there were all positive, and that was some years ago.

    By contrast, I would only return to Bottega del Vino for nibbles and wine. Only half the dining space is lovely, and for people who want a sit down meal, they should request a table in the historic dining room.

    I always think panettone tastes best lightly toasted.

    Bottega del Vino
    Vicolo Scudo di Francia, 3, Verona, Veneto 37121, IT

    Al Bersagliere
    Via Dietro Pallone,1, Verona, Veneto , IT

    5 Replies
    1. re: barberinibee

      have to agree on Bottega del Vino being best for nibbles and wine. In the many years that I've frequented and dined here, the recent ownership and resulting menu change are not for the better. BdV was never an excellent restaurant, but I took clients there for the experience and the bottomless cellar of Amarone. Their tortellini della casa (with brown butter and porcini powder) was superb. Possibly the finest plate of pasta in Verona! Sadly, it's no longer offered.

      Bottega del Vino
      Vicolo Scudo di Francia, 3, Verona, Veneto 37121, IT

      1. re: Foody4life

        Re Bottega del Vino - I will have to disclose that the plate of pasta was our "nibble" (!), along with a glass of Amarone. It was a stone's throw from our dinner reservation, so we did the BTV experience before heading to Al Pompiere..

      2. re: barberinibee

        @ barberinibee:

        Re Tamburini - yes, it's too bad. The place is so warm and cosy with the hanging hams overhead..

        Re Panettone - yes, totally agree! I think the only panettone we really enjoyed straight out of the box was from Muzzi (Foligno).

        Bought several bottles of Moscato from our Piemonte adventure, so will have to pop one open to accompany our slices of panettone..

        1. re: DistendedBelly

          For the best Natale treat, be sure to go to Pasticcere Iginio Massari, Brescia, Veneto. It is truly the ultimate in Christmas Panettone. We have not had better, anywhere, in years!!!

          1. re: ospreycove

            I'm confused. Is Brescia, Veneto different from the well known Brescia in Lombardia or were you just confused about which province it's in :)