L'Oste Scuro

Vicolo San Silvestro, 10

37122 Verona

Tel+39 045 592650

  

BY IAN D’AGATA | FEBRUARY 9, 2017

The food:

Small mixed fish fry with chutney sauce (Piccolo fritto misto con moleche e salsa chutney)

Black cuttlefish with Cabrette potato foam, fried capers and sea urchins (Seppie nere in umido con spuma di patate cabrette, ricci di mare e capperi fritti)

Red prawns with pumpkin cream, ginger, black olive and horn of plenty mushrooms (Carabineros con passatina di zucca, zenzero, olive nere e trombette)

Daily risotto (Risotto secondo il mercato)

The wines:

2009 Larmandier-Bernier Terre de Vertus Premier Cru

93

2014 Miani Friulano Friuli Colli Orientali

91+

2002 Bertani Soave Sereole

91

 

The characterisctic Oste Scuro menu

Opened in 1998, Verona’s L'Oste Scuro is arguably the city’s best fish restaurant today. Owner Simone Lugoboni and his partners source outstanding fish and crustaceans. The raw seafood (carpaccio, oysters, red prawns, tartares) is exceptional and will take you back to Parisian brasseries, a virtual association that Lugoboni wanted to create (in fact, Osce Scuro even offers a “Plateau Royal”, much like you’d find in the Ville Lumière), even though the Oste Scuro’s interior decor made up of exposed wooden beams, pale cream walls and linen tablecloths is more in tune with that of a warm, homey country restaurant.


Small mixed fish fry with chutney sauce

L'Oste Scuro is housed in a building that boasts at least a century of culinary history. In fact, back in 1913, the noble family that owned the building where the restaurant is now located used to sell bulk wine out of a simple osteria on the ground floor run by their driver’s wife. Later, in the 1980s, a new owner enlarged the premises placing a cast iron, black sign depicting a chef just outside the door. Hence the restaurant became known by its present day name (oste scuro, literally dark chef).


Red prawns with pumpkin cream, ginger, black olive and horn of plenty mushrooms

I always eat more or less the same things when I dine at Oste Scuro, and I am rarely disappointed. The small mixed fish fry with chutney sauce is a staple, while the various small fish, crustaceans and squids are delicately fried to perfection (the chutney is especially tasty). Red prawns with pumpkin cream, ginger, black olive and horn of plenty mushrooms is a much more complex dish, but one that is perfectly balanced, at once rich and light, a neat trick. 


Black cuttlefish with Cabrette potato foam, fried capers and sea urchins

Another classic that is always a winner is the black cuttlefish with Cabrette potato foam, fried capers and sea urchin. The sweetness of the potatoes provides a nice counterpoint to the savory, flavorful black cuttlefish. This time around, the daily risotto is made with lobster (risotto all’astice) and is decadently creamy and luscious.


Daily risotto that on the day of my meal was lobster risotto 

Fine Champagne always does the trick to start dinner. The 2009 Larmandier-Bernier Terre de Vertus Premier Cru provides a tactile, savory drinking experience offering dried apricot, green tea, and aromas and flavors. Made from grapes grown in the Les Barillers and Les Faucherets lieux-dits, it is bone dry (nature, or no dosage) and makes for a very rich aperitif; in fact, its large bubbles and big size would allow this to stand up to white meat dishes too. Tasty and structured, it’s maybe not the last word in finesse, but boasts lots of flavor and complexity, and it has me going back to the glass time and again. The 2014 Miani Friulano is a tour de force in such a rainy, cool vintage, and though the nose (especially) is still noticeably dominated by a sweet vanilla note, the wine has wonderful focus and precise Friulano notes of almonds, sage and ripe citrus fruit. My last wine of the evening, the 2002 Bertani Soave Sereole, showcases the staying power and age-worthiness that the Garganega grape can bring to the table, and just how well Soave can develop, when well made. At fourteen years and counting, it’s still youthful and fresh, with bright floral and orchard fruit aromas and flavors lingering nicely.