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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Osteria del Castello

The first time I went to Osteria del Castello was on a beautiful summer night, and we sat outside on one of the picnic-style tables arranged in front of the restaurant. There was a simple pergola of twigs and branches overhead, spun with twinkling lights and greenery, and the location of the osteria, in a quiet and dimly lit stone-paved piazza, lent even more to the ambiance. I never even put a foot inside the actual restaurant that evening. The menu was handwritten on a blackboard on the wall, and even that wasn’t necessary. The cameriere, the waiter, came to the table and told us what local cheeses, risotto, meat, and fish were being prepared. We ordered costata, steak, and it comes the way I love, a big, beautiful bistecca, perfectly cooked, brought to the table on a cutting board to slice and share as we liked. There were also giant knives, which made me think of medieval banquets and kings. I felt like jamming the point of the knife down into the wooden table after each cut. (I didn’t, but from the looks of the table many others had done so.)
In winter Osteria del Castello is just as warm indoors as that summer night was outdoors. The cozy two-floor restaurant, which is one of the oldest in Verbania, open since 1905, has walls lined with wine bottles and barrels. There is no wine list. There are, however, over 400 wines to choose from, and they are exclusively Italian, for the most part local, certain available varietals may be listed on the chalkboards, and the rest are yours to discover either by asking or searching among the shelves. And at approximately 25 euro per person, excluding wine, this is, indeed, a special place for food lovers and wine lovers, and for anyone in love too.

Osteria del Castello
Piazza Castello, 9, Verbania
+39 0323 516579

Web site: www.osteriacastello.com


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