Ristorante Arquade, outside Verona

October 24, 2007

37020 Pedemonte, Via Quar 12 ;
39  04 56 80 06 81;

(October 2, 2007) This is a two star restaurant in the traditional Michelin mode. There are two small dining rooms, elaborately decorated, massive floral arrangements, and elegant linens and place settings. The price of the big tasting menu is 120€, with wine pairing add another 70€, while the smaller tasting menu is 90€ and another 60€ for wine pairing. We could not eat enough to justify either tasting menu so ordered a pasta and a main course.

Before they were served, however, we were treated to the amuse-bouche assortment. On the plate were four small dishes and a martini glass, which we learned was filled with a non-alcoholic elderberry wine to drink after the other dishes had been eaten. It worked out to be a great palate clearer, necessary after the sea truffle (a sort of clam) in its shell, an oyster, a fresh anchovy crostini, an aged, salted beef with pecorino cheese and best of all a bean soup with some fresh cow cheese on top. It was not really a soup, but more beans with an au jus sauce topped by the cheese.

Gary’s pasta, a pumpkin-stuffed ravioli with nutmeg and tarragon, was superb and just melted in his mouth. It was very light and so tasty that it needed no sauce. Both of us then had quail that had been roasted in a parchment packet and served in it, too, with sautéed porcini mushroom dressed with a little balsamic vinegar and arepi, a ¼ inch thick slice of fried bread. The tastes were wonderfully complementary to each other and yet distinctive.

Our pre-dessert plate was an orange granita and a pineapple soup, again generously served to us even though we were only eating a course or two.Varian’s cheese plate had nine pieces of cheese and was accompanied by a plate of various honeys, sweet brioche and marmalade.We’ll list the cheeses but won’t comment on all. Scimudin from Valtellina; Formi di Frant from Friuli; Grana Sardo from Sardegna; Caciocavallio Podolico from Campania; Tomas Ossolana from Piemonte; Stracituno, a blue from Lombardia; Erborinato di Capra, aged in berries from Piemonte; Robioloa di Roccaverano, also from Piemonte; and a gray, gnarly looking Morianengo from Piemonte.The plate was lovely and each taste was wonderful, but it was too much to finish. Gary’s fig gratin was a fresh fig, opened up with ice cream, pralinated almonds and caramel sauce melting into it.

For a local wine, we drank the recommended Valpolicella Quintarelli 1999, which we like very much and at 80€ was less than the Amarones we were considering. We later learned that this producer is trying to approximate the big Amarone taste we love so much. The chef , Bruno Barbieri, is one of 100 chefs featured in Riso Gallo’s annual “The Best 100 Risotti in the World,” a well-deserved honor. The book is an interesting one, with a full page devoted to each of the restaurants and on the facing page a picture of the risotto. In the back are the recipes for them.

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