On a recent trip to Verona, we ate at Osteria del Bugiardo. A cozy spot near Porta Borsari, it was perfect for a small afternoon meal during the period when lots of restaurants close.
It can be difficult to find a place to eat sometimes in Italy during the post-lunch, pre-aperitivo lull, and even more so when you’re not familiar with the city you’re visiting. A friend had recommended some places to eat, but none of us were hungry enough to have a big meal. Osteria del Bugiardo turned out to be exactly what we needed.
I did some Googling as we walked around seeing the sights, and came across an article in a British newspaper that recommended Osteria del Bugiardo. I searched for it, and discovered that they don’t close between lunch and dinner. Normally, I’d shy away from newspaper-recommended places (which sometimes get ruined or change a lot because of the publicity), but you can’t be too picky during closing time. It looked like a decent option, and it was down the street from where we were. I figured we’d pop in and see what was what. If it was a tourist trap, we’d go somewhere else.
The heavy front door gave way to a small, dark interior, which was illuminated by low lights and filled with the sound of silverware tinkling on plates and the joyful chatter of people who get to drink wine on a weekday afternoon. A friendly waiter swept past the door to a couple of other tourists who asked for pasta. “Kitchen’s closed, sorry!” he said. They frowned at each other and left.
I stopped him and asked if there was anything to eat. Polpette, cicheti, affettati, formaggi, torte… Perfect! I went outside to get my waiting parents and sweetheart.
Aside from the two seats that the aforementioned people had vacated, there was only one table for four that remained, which is exactly what we needed. People lined the room at the bar seats, and there were some other small tables dotted around the dining area. One large family-style table occupied the front window. It was bustling, even at that hour of the afternoon (about 3 o’clock).
In the newspaper article, I had read that some of the wine on offer comes from the owner’s vineyards and that glasses of delicious, local Valpolicella start at just 2.50. We ordered three glasses of a different wine that the waiter recommended, and a tagliere di affettati e formaggi con marmellate, or a mixed meat and cheese platter with jam.
One thing I love about Italy is that servers aren’t constantly trying to upsell you, because they get paid a wage rather than relying on tips. If you ask for a glass of wine, they’ll bring you the house wine. They’re not going to try to sell you a super expensive bottle, or force appetizers and desserts on you. So yes, the Olive Garden is actually the opposite of Italy.
The wine that the waiter had suggested us was one of the local ones. It was delicious – dry, tart, and rich – and it was 3 euro a glass. My mom liked it so much that she bought a bottle to take home.
The affettati and cheese arrived. There were five thick slices of cheese, complemented perfectly by a spoonful of caramelized onion jam, and another one of fig jam. The cheeses ranged from aged to young, hard to soft, and dry to creamy. There was a smooth, delicately-flavored herbed one that was my favorite, but they were all delish.
The affettati were magnificent. The prosciutto was sliced so thinly that you could see through it. The salami melted in your mouth. The smoky speck was the surprise for me. Somewhere along the line I thought I had speck and didn’t like it, so I’ve kind of dismissed it for all these years. How wrong I was! I almost fought my dad for the last piece.
I’ve seen a lot of Americans complain in Facebook groups and on online forums that they “can’t find a good meal in Italy” because everything is like sooooo carbbbyyyyyyy. It takes all I can do to not smash my computer when I read comments like these, because seriously, what the hell is wrong with you? Anyway, if you’re sick of the pasta/pizza routine on your Italy trip get a tagliere of mixed meat and cheese. It’s a great way to protein your ketones, or whatever.
I had to chase the waiter down a bit in order to get our bill and pay, but I didn’t mind. That’s another great thing about dining in Italy – no one rushes you out the door because they’re trying to turn a table. You have to ask for the check, and it might take a while for them to get it to you. It can be annoying if you’re in a hurry, but if you’re on vacation, just savor it and people watch.
Osteria del Bugiardo capped off an already great day in Verona. They have a full menu at mealtimes, and are open from 11am to midnight. Judging from our visit, it seems to be a very popular place for aperitivo, so it might get busy around that time.
If you’re in Verona and looking for an in-between type of meal and want a delicious glass of wine to wash it all down, don’t miss Osteria del Bugiardo!
Osteria del Bugiardo – Corso Porta Borsari 17/A, Verona – Open daily from 11am to 12am
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