Between Verona’s romantic cornerstones – Juliet’s balcony, Romeo’s house, the opera festival at the Roman amphitheatre – is some of Italy’s finest, richest cuisine, which takes advantage of the fertile landscape of the surrounding Veneto region.
Most visitors to Verona have one thing on their mind: Shakespeare’s tale of ill-fated love, set in the naturally romantic city of Renaissance streets that wrap around the astonishingly well-preserved, first-century Roman amphitheatre. But the romance doesn’t stop at Juliet’s balcony. Be wooed by the northern Italian city’s seductive food scene, which takes the abundant produce from the Veneto region’s hinterland and crafts it into inventive and classic plates, for all budgets and in every intimate nook around the city. Here are the top restaurants in Verona, Italy.
Osteria al Duca
Exposed beams and simple decor create a rustic ambience in this popular osteria (budget-friendly local restaurant). It occupies the house where the fictional Romeo is said to have lived, though you’ll be seated in what would have been the Montague family stables. The food is hearty local fare, so expect to see bigoli, fat strings of pasta piled with donkey ragù, and pastissada, a rich horse meat stew served with polenta, on the menu.
Ristorante Il Desco
Team Capulet should call in at Il Desco, a contemporary restaurant housed in a centuries-old palazzo a couple of doors down from Juliet’s house. The food is exceptional: artfully plated salmon mi-cuit with capers and coffee powder, roasted scallops with parsley beurre blanc, and peach sorbet, apricot foam and hop bitter pear. Each deceptively simple dish uses no more than three ingredients, requiring a talented chef like Matteo Rizzo to pull off perfection. Michelin gave it a star in 1985 when his father was head of the kitchen and you’ll soon see why they’ve never taken it away.
Locanda 4 Cuochi
Four is the magic number at trendy Locanda 4 Cuochi, located close to the amphitheatre. Four partners equally passionate about cooking and four pencils on the table invite you to draw or write a message about your dining experience. The food’s inventive, tasty and fun, cooked in front of you in an open kitchen. The menu changes every two months, so there’s always something new.
Housed inside a historic palace in the old town, Il Cenacolo has been a fixture on the Verona dining scene since 1980. It specialises in authentic regional cuisine good enough for Pavarotti – the late opera singer has eaten here, as has fellow tenor Jose Carreras. Try signature dishes like tortellini di Valeggio (stuffed egg pasta) and risotto cooked in Amarone wine, accompanied by a glass of vino from the well-stocked cellar.
Osteria La Fontanina
Osteria La Fontanina holds a Michelin star and prides itself on cooking traditional food to perfection – think suckling pig and slow-roasted guinea fowl. Steps from the river and from Santo Stefano church, there’s been an inn here for over 200 years. The current owners, the Tapparini family, have been at the helm since 1984. Sumptuous drapes, antique paintings and gilt-framed paintings give an opulent vibe.
Osteria al Carro Armato
This osteria’s name – meaning “the tank” – is as solid as its reputation. Airs and graces have no place here. Instead, this traditional restaurant prides itself on old-school hospitality and conviviality. Within 700-year-old walls, the food is cooked to traditional recipes that allow the regional produce to shine. Soups, stews and plates piled high with pasta are as filling as they are flavoursome.
This two Michelin-starred gem is tucked away in the old town’s Piazza San Zeno. Intimate and exclusive, the open kitchen will make you feel as if chef Giancarlo Perbellini invited you home so he could cook you dinner. But high-end ingredients combine with exceptional talent to elevate this tasting menu to the extraordinary. Dishes such as sea bass tartare and glazed quail ensure that this is the place to come for a special occasion splurge.
Flora, Stradone Scipione Maffei
Flora offers a refreshing change from other Veronese restaurants. Health and wellbeing drive this restaurant to offer fresh, ethical ingredients cooked well. The menu is entirely gluten-free, lactose-free and vegan, but doesn’t sacrifice taste on the altar of ethics. The food is served buffet-style, so you can be as adventurous as you wish. Whatever you choose, be that hummus, tofu gratin or seasonal vegetables, you pay for it by weight.
Tre Marchetti serves up the sort of food that nonna used to make: traditional, hearty and delicious. Home-cooked specialities like tagliolini in squid sauce, braised veal cheeks and rich tiramisu are an indulgence to your taste buds and a feast for the eyes. You’ll find this delightful trattoria a stone’s throw from Verona’s famous arena.
Find the perfect place for your trip to Verona by booking one of the city’s best hotels now through Culture Trip. Explore more whilst you’re there and take a look at the top things to see and do in the city of Shakespeare’s greatest romance. After a delicious dinner, move on to one of Verona’s best bars. Extend your Italian adventure by visiting not-so-far-away Venice. Book a beautiful boutique hotel and explore the best of what the floating city has to offer.
This article is by Julia Hammond, with contribution from Mary Jane Dempsey.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.