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Sunday, October 26, 2008

La Taverna del Mago

I ate an ostrich last night! This was at La Taverna del Mago, in Verbania, a truly local Italian restaurant. What I mean is, its purpose isn't to feed multitudes of tourists. Owned by a man known to all only as il Mago, the restaurant is known for its fresh ingredients, traditional regional cooking, and its superb wine list. First il Mago brought us a little plate of polpette and another of verdure in pastella. Meatballs, and vegetable tempura. Then there were bowls of fettuccine al nero di seppia con gamberi, black pasta with shrimp. Finally, the house specialty I've been wanting for so long to try, Filetto Special di Struzzo Sulla Pietra Ollare, servito crudo e cucinato da te al tavolo. Filet of ostrich on a Ollare stone, served raw and cooked by you at the table. We lay the pieces of ostrich filet on the oven-hot Ollare stone and listened to them sizzle. A couple of minutes for each side was all they needed. This was so worth waiting for. Everything was excellent, from the food to the wine to the service.  Some popular dishes remain on the menu throughout a season, but il Mago will also come to your table to tell you the three special dishes he's prepared each day. If you're lucky, maybe you'll catch one of the special event evenings, such as his all-ostrich meal, or the snail dinner, or when there is a local band playing.

La Taverna del Mago, Viale Azari, 94, Verbania Pallanza. Closed Monday night.
Web site: latavernadelmago




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