A family-owned and run B & B at the base of Castle Soave, overlooking the wine country
Two days after the hospital experience, we were up at Soave Castle, finishing up as the rainstorm passed us by. On the way down, we decided to purposefully get lost among the vineyards, driving up and down the roads just to see what’s around the next corner. We were only a few miles into this journey when we spotted a grand building to our right, overlooking three vineyards. The cars lining both sides of the streets was a good sign and we stopped so Rog could jump out and look at the menu. He returned, crestfallen.
Locanda ai Capitelli is located just to the lower left of this photo–but hadn’t found it when we took the drone shot:(
“They have steak tartar, but we aren’t dressed for it.” I looked past him to the elegant stairway and sure enough, the men were in slacks and button-down shirts. It was a stark contrast to his shorts and golf shirt, and our female attire of shorts and light shirts made for sweating, not dining.
“Just go in and ask,” encouraged Porsche, our thirteen-year-old. “It’s Italy.” I had to agree with her, but Rog wasn’t going to bother. He put it in gear and off we went, for about a mile.
“I just have to do it,” he said with resolve, turning around.
Back we went, and sure enough, he came out smiling. “She said ‘of course!’”
Casual elegance without pretension
It turns out the establishment of Locanda ai Capitelli is a bed and breakfast, not just an elegant restaurant. Once inside, we realized the only other diners were in a private room, the main area, about thirty by fifteen in length, was empty.
Perfectly situated on the corner of Castle and wine country is
Locanda ai Capitelli
“It’s early,” I said under my breath. At seven-thirty, it shouldn’t have been a surprise. Dining in Italy starts about eight-thirty, when the heat has waned, showers have been taken and the second part of day begins.
Because of this, we had the undivided attention of the waiter and hostess, Julia, who is the daughter of family/owners of the B & B. A slip of a young woman, sophisticated casual in a black t-shirt and pencil shirt with high-top Converse shoes, Julia is about as millennial as one could be. Perfect command of the language, helpful and happy, yet able to handle even the pickiest of diners who started to come in as we were half-way through our appetizers.
The best meal in Italy—so far
Even though I couldn’t eat much, I tried a bit of every dish. The octopus in cream sauce sounded completely odd, but I ordered it anyway, along with the carpaccio. We also decided upon the black truffle linguini with clams, another of the same without the clams, a chicken dish, Roger’s steak tartar and I asked for the gnocchi with peas and trout. Weird, I know, but it was calling my name.
Octopus in cream sauce. One bite was all it took for us to agree it was the best we’d ever had, and that’s saying something.
“Just a bite,” I promised Rog.
As each plate arrived, Julia described the cows on the family farm from whence her mother and grandmother made the ricotta and parmesan cheeses, the desserts and cream sauces. The pigs down the road supplied the prosciutto, and the farm in back were to thank for the herbs and spices. When she’d gone, Rog quipped the very porcelain plates and silverware were probably forged in the basement. I’m not a food critic, and worry my descriptions won’t do the cuisine justice. Suffice it to say we loved every dish, wishing we had the stomachs to order more. I will note my freshly-made gnocchi was the best I’ve ever eaten, the trout was perfectly cooked in little bits, set off with the light, white cream and sweet peas. I wanted to lick the plate, but had to suffice with my spoon due to the recent stomach issues.
Gnocchi with trout and peas (UL) chicken fettuccini (UR) and steak tartar. Exquisite.
By the time we reached dessert, being hungry wasn’t the consideration. The family just couldn’t stop. We had a dessert sampler plate, along with the tiramisu. Now, I don’t get violent often, but when someone attempts to snack on my dessert, I’ve been known to stab with my knife, not enough to blood, but to warn the offending party off.
This time around, my inability to do more than taste undoubtedly prevented blood from being spilled, but it surely would have under different circumstances. The tiramisu was creamy, sweet but not overly so. I could wax philosophic but won’t.
Clean elegance in the wine country. Not pictured is a private dining room to the left of the entrance (where the man is standing).
Our meal was so decadent, the atmosphere elegant but not stuffy, Rog just had to inquired about the rates. 90 Euro a night for a room with accommodations for two. Imagine that: a room with a view overlooking the wine fields of Verona in front and to either side, the Castle Soave in the upper left, and a five-star restaurant below (the Gerdes rating system).
That’s a whole lotta love and cream poured into this tiramisu. Divine.
A family affair
When we paid the bill, the dining room was full and Julia joked about opening a restaurant in the States. “Sure,” Rog readily agreed. “As long as we can bring you, your mother and grandmother over to run it.” That led to me to ask if I could take a picture with my new friend. At the foyer, she met us with her mother.
“Grandmother is already in bed,” Julia explained apologetically. Kisses and hugs were forthcoming, the warmth of a family who put their life and love into their food and accommodations enveloping us.
The females of the gang, moms and daughters alike (Julia to my right)
If you’re already going to Verona, you must add Locanda ai Capitelli to the list. While I can’t speak to the accommodations, I will tell you it’s on our list for the next trip. When you arrive, give a special hug of love to Julia and her mother for us, and order the gnocchi and tiramisu. Well, order it all, because if you don’t, you will wish you had.