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Fumane: Enoteca della Valpolicella

Via Osan 45 , Phone: 045.6839146

Closing day: Domenica Sera e Lunedi (Sunday evening and Monday)

Reviewed by: dean from MD (moderator), review #603

When: 2003

This was one of my favorite restaurant experiences of the trip. Unusual food of impeccable quality. Passionate, fun, cheap for the quality. Great! A must!!

Directions: Well signed from road into Fumane. The front door of the restaurant itself is a little obscure.

www.valpolicella.it

This is a highly recommended restaurant both on Slow Food and, I believe, in Faith Heller Willinger’s book. At first we could not find the entrance and actually thought it closed. But finally we made our way in. The restaurant is upstairs and is quite beautiful. You are in a little town in the middlle of the hilly and quite beautiful mountainous and grape filled countryside. The first room is large and spacious with lots of wood and stone. There are several large dining rooms and a huge wall of windows looking out over their garden.

The waitress, Monica, came over and we found out she has very little English. The menu is recited to you. We managed to get through the menu in a combination of languages and ordered. The menu is so good I want to come back with around 8 people and just say one of each. It's rare for everything to sound so wonderful!

First off she set us up with several wines to taste by the glass. She deposited 3 bottles on the table and then we each got three different glasses for the Valpolicella, Valpolicella Superiore and Valpolicella Riserva. (Superiore denotes a wine made from riper grapes and that has a higer alcohol content and longer aging requirement. Riserva is aged still longer before release and is made from riper grapes.) Le Ragose was the Valpolicella (light, fresh, good considering it is a 2002), Corte Sant’Alda 200 the superiore (bigger and richer, quite good) and I am sure that the third bottle had a name as well.

After the little tasting I decided that we needed an Amarone so we picked one that Roberto Mazzi (of Mazzi winery who had recommended the place to us) had recommended- Vivianni 1997. The Vivianni was superb with lots of soft textures, big and round and loaded with cherry. It is in the elegant and restrained style of Amarone, modern and well mannered but still incredibly inviting. It was delicious to an extreme. Some wines just shout out “Drink me!” and this is one of them. I have never heard of the winery and so far have not been able to find it stateside.

The menu is mostly traditional dishes done with a special flair and impeccible ingredients. The cooking is simple in the extreme. No decoration unless it is edible. The beauty of the plates is the food itself, just simply placed on a simple plate or wooden board. Not one extraneous note creeps its way onto your plate. If 3 ingredients deliver the perfect balance of flavor and character, that's what you get. Nothing extra. This is seriously good food.

Antipasti were: Carpaccio di Manzo- salt and sugar cured beef, brined for 2 to 4 weeks and sliced thin like carpaccio. It was pink and tender in the middle with a grey/brown edge. The flavor was the essence of beef with a tiny musky edge, not salty at all.

Kay had a wonderful, rich, fatty house made salame with a lot of spice. A little over the top but delicious. It was fresh and soft, and spicy with black peppercorns.

Jane had fresh ricotta with a little sauce. The ricotta was barely cheese, it was just little bits of curd made fresh that morning. It looked like cottage cheese as much as ricotta. The flavor was so fresh as to be a completely unique taste experience. It is sheep's milk caught just in the act of transforming into cheese.

Jane and Kay split an order of Risotto all Reccioto served only for 2. This was a perfectly soft and yet toothy risotto in a vibrant magenta – purple color and redolent of sweet recciotto. The rice is sauteed in olive oil and butter and flavored with a splash of reciotto. At the end a little more reciotto is added to add a fresh vibrant flavor and color to the dish. Each grain of rice is soft and creamy, perfectly distinct but the whole is a creamy mass of rice. It was hard to resist eating half of Jane’s plate!

I had a mushroom pasta dish. Fresh home made pasta with sliced local mushrooms in olive oil. Simple and incredible.

The meal, with all the wine tasting and a 50 euro + bottle of Amarone was 125 Euro, a true bargain.

This is the style of restaurant I believe in. It's worth a drive from anywhere close to experience so much passion at such a reasonable price. This was a slice of perfection!

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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