My good friend and winemaker extraordinaire Nico Danesi and my bromance Giovanni Arcari came down from Brescia to Verona to meet me for lunch on my last day in the city for the Amarone vintage debut event in late January.
It was a Saturday and every one of their favorite haunts within the city’s historic Renaissance-era walls was already fully booked.
And so they grabbed us a table at the Trattoria l’Altra Colonna, not to be confused with its sister restaurant Trattoria alla Colonna (colonna means column in Italian; l’altra colonna means the other column; I’m not sure where the name comes from). It lies just outside the city’s inner loop, as it were, and so it’s more of a workaday destination for locals than a hot spot for tourists.
Neither restaurant has a website (I’ve copied and pasted the addresses and telephone numbers below).
Both restaurants are famous for their signature dish, the oversized cotoletta alla milanese like the one in the photo above.
Technically, a true cotoletta alla milanese or Milanese-style [veal] cutlet is made with a bone-in-chop that is beaten, breaded, and fried.
The cotoletta at the two “Colonna” restaurants is actually more similar to the classic Wiener Schnitzel.
But there’s a twist: at both locations, you can add the toppings of your choice, like the “gigantic-size” cutlet topped with sautéed mushrooms and Fontina, above.
Nico’s son got the alla diavola, i.e., devil’s style, topped with spicy salamino, what we in America would call pepperoni, although in Italy it’s generally a lot spicier.
His wife got a cutlet topped with arugula and cherry tomatoes (alla Californiana?).
While most Italian wine trade observers know or know of Nico, few in America do. But many Americans know wines that he has a hand in making, like Ciro Picariello, Pasini, Otella, and many others, not to mention the many Franciacorta wineries he consults with.
And of course, he and Giovanni make their own line of Franciacorta wines, Arcari + Danesi, which are now part of their SoloUva or “made using only grape sugar” line of classic-method wines.
But whenever we get together, he only ever wants to talk to me about movies, music, art, and literature. A voracious reader devoted to myriad genres and an insatiable consumer of pop culture, Nico possesses an intellectual metabolism that often leaves my head spinning (in a good way).
He can quote Wittgenstein and Dylan in the same breath ex tempore (that’s Latin for on a dime) and his knowledge of film is encyclopedic.
He also knows how to get a good reservation on a busy Saturday in Verona. The classic ravioli burro e salvia (ricotta stuffed, tossed in butter and pan-fried sage) were solid as well (below). Useful information, when you need a decent place to eat during Vinitaly.
Trattoria alla Colonna
Largo Pescheria Vecchia 4
37121 Verona VR Italy
+39 045 596718
Trattoria l’Altra Colonna
Via Tezone 1
37122 Verona, Italy
+39 045 591455