The day: 21st May, Dinner.
The place:Via Nazionale 2, Lon di Vezzano (TN), Italy (tel +39 0461 864029)
The venue: Osteria Fior di Roccia
Closest airports: Brescia (Ryanair), Verona (British Airways)
The food: Traditional regional cuisine with a modern take
The drinks: only local and short, but with evident care (all wines are described)
As you may recall, Osteria Fior di Roccia has been open now for just over a year. We have been here many more times since we first told you, and it is about time we gave you an update.
Inside, the same warm and informal atmosphere
The menu is very enticing: starters go from the €6.50 of carne salada tartare with wholemeal croutons and apple vinegar baby lettuce, to the €750 of golden lavarello (local fresh water fish) fillets with crunchy herbs on a bed of polenta. Primi go form the €7 of Donkey (donkey? Yes, donkey) ragout maccheroni on mature goat cheese fondue to €7.50 of the fresh pasta lasagnette with vegetable Julienne and Boscatella (local cheese) melt; while mains go from the €8 of the Trentino cheese platter (served with figs mostarda and walnut bread), to the €12 of the steamed salmerino (local trout) fillets with steamed vegetables and rocket pesto.
On top of all this, on this visit the special Asparagus menu was also available, and though one could have the whole three course menu at €26, each dish is also available on its own. Besides this seasonal menu, there is also a four course “Fior di Roccia” set menu at €24.50 (or €32.50 if taking the wine pairing).
While perusing the list, here comes a nice greeting from the kitchen: a lentils puree with crunchy speck. The white speck you see is yoghurt, lending its nice acidity to this in principle earthy yet light dish.
And to scoop it all up, a bread basket worth this name: we can confirm this is home made, and it changes every night.
To begin, we decided to go for a starter and a pasta:
–Flaking mille feuille of rainbow trout and home made crackers with sprouts in yogurt (€7);
–Egg caserecce with basil, walnut and tomato sauce (€7);
The pasta was a delightful pasta dish in what was basically a local take on pesto, with the walnuts replacing the pine nuts, and tomatoes thrown in for good measure. Although the pasta itself was just a tad over, this dish was as simple as appetizing, with the scrumptious walnuts, coming both as chunky halves and coarsely ground bits, aptly buttressed by the freshness of the basil.
But what we both really fell for was the trout: the lightest of crackers, but with personality, separating a very flavoursome trout mousse, with the trout coming out very intensely (perhaps someone else near by might want to take notice). The dollop of yogurt with sprouts complemented the rich mousse very fittingly. A great, classy dish well above the trattoria level that these prices would suggest.
Next, it’s pork night:
–Roasted pork shank (half) with sautéed potatoes (€11)
–Pork fillet in fine herbs and vegetable ‘mediterranea’ (€11.50)
The shank is the concrete example that pure comfort food need not be uncouth, even in a trattoria: the potatoes, crisp on the outside and tender inside; the meat, falling off the bone beautifully, moist, rich, tender, lean, juicy, and it was really hard to keep us off the bone! It had been cooked just right, concentrating all flavours beautifully. This is one for the glutton, who can have his fill and not feel guilty.
With the pork fillet, we move to another level: we hope you can see the pink yet perfectly cooked slices of this succulent pork, vacuum cooked at 62 degrees until the meat in the core reaches 58 degrees, then sizzled in herbs. Incredibly tender. And the accompanying tower of mediterranean vegetables provided a counterpoint of flavours: layers of aubergines filled with courgettes and capped by a slice of tomato showered in Trentigrana. Luscious and comforting, with some zing lent by fresh oregano. We cannot imagine better cooked pork fillet, and the accompanying vegetable tower (literally) elevates the dish and multiplies the themes.
Remember, this is an ‘osteria’, in order to check the internal temperature vacuum is lost in one fillet (that must hurt the wallet at least a bit), and, sure you are in the middle of the mountains, but you can have it for less than £8!
Of course we could not let desserts go:
–warm carrot and almonds cake with Mount Bondone honey parfait (€5);
–iced cappuccino with whisky cream and coconut foam (€5).
The cake : moist, soft, light yet ‘bodily’. The honey parfait an explosion of honey. Although the cake itself was light, soft and moist enough to hold its own, it was married very aptly with the parfait and the custard. Very impressive.
And what about the cappuccino? Beginning with whipped cream topped with grated coconut and hazelnut, sitting on the coffee parfait, with a progression of flavours as you dig deeper and deeper. Whisky and coffee melting beautifully, the two biscuits a congenial contrast in consistency, for a thoroughly classy dessert.
With a one litre bottle of water at €2 and a bottle of Berzamina 2005 Trevisan at €14 (don’t tell us you don’t know the Berzamina grape…OK maybe we’ll tell you more at some point in a special post), our total bill came to…€62.50.
For this food and cuisine, the price strikes the food lover as borderline crazy. Here you can experience very high quality food, with a lot of care in the kitchen and in the dining room, at rock bottom prices. Cristina Menestrina runs the dining room with care, attention to detail and warmth, while Chef Michel Menestrina labours his passion in the kitchen. He is obviously restraining himself, catering mainly for the local market. You sense that he could cook equally well even ‘haute cuisine’ dishes, he has all the technique and the presentation skill needed. But abilities are evident already on a menu that reinterprets tradition, and makes a higher level of cuisine available at prices that are affordable to the locals, and that the locals obviously like, judging from the footfall. It is a joy to eat here also for the atmosphere. But it is just a short drive from Trento, and we guess it won’t be too long before the trendy city people and the food guide fanatics head this way. Run over there, so that by the time the guides discover them, you will be able to say you were here before!