Veneto. North of Venice
For a long time, we've been looking for a very good place to have dinner, comfortably north of Venice, but not too far. We finally found it in Osteria Mazzeri in Follina, about 20 minutes from the Vittorio Veneto exit of the autostrada.
Run by two brothers who are passionate about food. They are less passionate about wine, but, as one would expect, there are plenty of very good bottles from the Veneto available on a very reasonably priced list; we had a 2007 Amarone (Speri) which was excellent.
The restaurant is very comfortable, seating perhaps 50 inside and another 35 outside. Last night was very mild, with a full moon, and dinner was served in an enchanting courtyard, filled with local flowers and flora. All Italians, mainly locals, except for us and one table of four Germans.
Service is professional, but casual and friendly. One of the brothers runs the dining room, is clearly interested in seeing that you have an enjoyable evening and has trained his staff in the same manner. Again, really excellent service.
Five or six antipasti, primi and secondi to choose from; menu changes every week or so. The ingredients are of excellent quality (the meal is not expensive, but not dirt cheap... think in terms of 55 Euros per person for four courses, ex wine). Really excellent cooking as well and careful, but not fussy plating. Strong flavors in the dishes.
It was a great night for really good porcini. We started with crostini di porcini con speck affumicato. Then my wife had tortelloni di melanzane con pomodorini and I had ravioli di anatra e porcini. Both pastas showed the chef's skill; melt in your mouth tender with strong flavored fillings. For main courses I had perfectly grilled fegato and my wife had polpette con porcini. We asked for contorni and got four different plates: zucchini, tacoli, stuffed tomatoes and chard. These were not plates of vegetables cooked as an afterthought, but were each cooked perfectly. The brother in the dining room made it a point to ask how the vegetables were (he already knew what we thought of the fegato and polpette... really, really well prepared). For dessert, gelato, banana and pistachio, both bursting with flavor.
Excellent place for food, a happy crowd who knew what to expect. Additionally, as an added treat, about 200 yards from the osteria, there is a delightful five star hotel (and a four star as well, owned by the same people who own the five star). The manager at the hotel asked if we wanted a dinner reservation at their restaurant. When we said we already had a reservation for dinner, he said simply " Mazzeri ?" Yup.
About an hour from the Venice airport and so a great place to stay in order to catch a plane the next day (something we didn't do; back up in the Alta Badia).
Yes, a great informative report, thanks! Just to add a couple of recommendations for the area since there don't seem to be many recent reports or suggestions:
We had a very good (though not mind-blowingly spectacular) dinner at RISTORANTE DA GIGETTO in MIane (down the road from Follina). The best part, however, was arriving a little early and being invited to consume a bottle of prosecco and a few snacks down in their incredible warren of a wine cellar - thousands of rare wines stacked ceiling high alongside shelves, cases and cupboards groaning with prosecco, whiskies and wine.
We'd also recommend TRATTORIA ALLA CIMA in Valdobbiadene (a 15-20 minute scenic drive from Miane/Follina). Lovely panoramic terrace and great grilled meats done over open coals. We had a leisurely lunch there after a nice round of tasting at BISOL WINERY down the road in Santo Stefano, and counted it a wonderful vacation day :)
We'd read good things about - but didn't get to - VIGNE MATTE in Rolle (15-20 minutes' narrow winding uphill drive from Follina), so perhaps other Chowhounds can comment!