Thursday, June 23, 2011

La Griglia ~ The Perfect Italian Dining Experience!

Before I get back to my fiber arts, I have to share one more special place from my trip to Italy.

My oldest son Jens loves pasta and so we were determined to experience some great Italian food. Our initial strategy was to visit a different restaurant for each meal in the hopes of finding some truly wonderful dishes.

Verona, like any city, has all sorts of eateries. There's the strip of caf├ęs lining the Piazza Bra. They seem to exist just to cater to the tourists. We tried one of these places and it was good, but sort of like the "Outback Steakhouse" of Italian cuisine.

Then we hit the side streets and found pizza that can only be described as scrumptious. The tomato sauce was so fresh and the crust so light and crispy. To me the crust was the real difference in the Italian pizza versus the pizza in the states. It has an airiness to it that seems to bring out the flavors of the toppings.

Finally, we went out for dinner one night intent on finding some serious pasta. We walked to the right of the Arena, passing the set construction for the opening night of the opera. We hung a left on Leoncino and there we found La Griglia. The menu looked wonderful. It had pasta dishes for me and Jens and steaks for my husband and my other son who are the carnivores of the family. Perfect!

We felt a little self conscious because the restaurant was empty. It was only 7:15 which is early by Italian standards. We knew this, but after walking all over the city, we were hungry, so in we went.

The Tuscan decor was warm and inviting. They lit the fire in the fireplace for us and put a candle on our table. They brought us grilled bread and we ordered a bottle of wine. We were off to a great start.

Jens ordered the tortelloni and I had gnocchi with truffles. One bite of my gnocchi and I was in heaven. The grated truffle was earthy and rich. I looked over at Jens and his face registered his own bliss. My husband ordered a filet of beef that came with a little cup full of coarse salt and a side salad. That too was wonderful. Wes, my youngest, who had been afraid to order anything, happily savored as much of his dad's steak as he could get. The service was impeccable. The chef and owner came to our table and chatted with us. We left that night full and content.

We were so happy with La Griglia that we broke with our plan and went back for one more visit on our last night in Verona. The chef recognized us right away and treated us like visiting family. Jens and I couldn't resist ordering the exact same dishes. They were just that good. Wes got his own steak this time and cleaned his plate. We paced ourselves and saved room for desert and espresso. After we had already paid the bill and were saying our goodbyes, the chef insisted we try some of his homemade limoncello. It was amazing and my cheeks became warm and tingly from the intensity of it.

La Griglia is exactly the sort of restaurant we had hoped to find. The food was exceptional and the atmosphere warm and intimate. It was the ultimate Italian dining experience. If you are ever in Verona and in search of a truly sublime meal, I wholeheartedly recommend La Griglia.


Steve Skabrat said...

Nice review! Finding those little out of the way places far from the tourist trail is the way to go. We're leaving for Italy on Sunday, I don't think we'll get to Verona, but your post has me hungry already.

Hope Williams said...

Once you experienced great food in Italy, you’ll definitely come back to experience it all over again. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a regret that you tried eating in that same restaurant. It must have been one of the unforgettable experiences you had in Italy. So, when do you plan to visit there again?

Jenn said...

Not soon enough! I have since taught myself to make a pretty mean risotto. I've also added gnocchi to my repertoire. My most recent homage to Italy is making limoncello from the lemons I grow in my backyard. I just bottled my second batch tonight! :D