Il Desco is meant to be one of the best places to eat in the whole of Italy. I have to disagree 100% with that analysis. It has had 2 Michelin stars since 1997 and I just can’t see why.
Food: Different menus of either traditional or creative Veronese, specialising in tripe.
Now, I’ve always been a bit wary of tripe – kidneys can so often taste of pee, and I used to hate finding tubes in liver as a child. Couple that with the bubbling cauldrons of the stuff that you see dotted around Asia in food markets, and you do have to be in a brave mood to try it.
I am aware though that many people think it is a great delicacy, so I thought the best place to give it a go would be a 2* Michelin restaurant in Verona.
And it was very tasty. I had sauteed calf’s brain, bull’s testicle soup, tripe sauces and goose liver on my 6 course Tradtional Veneto tasting menu.
The problem was that the portion sizes were enormous. I was presented with about 1/2 pound of brain, and over 1/2 pint of soup and I can tell you that whilst tripe is tasty, it is sooo rich that by the time I was half way through those two dishes I was feeling pretty nauseous. The testicle soup especially was a struggle because it had the texture of rhubarb compote – slightly glutenous and fibrous, and facing a huge bowlful of it was tough.
I think this is where I found Il Desco disappointing. Certain elements of the dishes were very tasty and beautifully cooked, but to me it was unbalanced and inconsistent. There wasn’t enough palette cleansing, balancing elements to all this super rich tripe, and the portions were just overwhelming. By the time I got to the meat course I was stuffed.
Wine list: Good, but very expensive wine list.
Ambience: It’s an odd place.
You walk in the front door into a large ante-room which seems just to be a storeroom, and is dominated by a staircase going down to the cellar which is just a gaping black void.
You are ushered off to a room on the left which is the dining room, and it’s almost smaller than the lobby/storeroom you have just been in.
The dining room is sweet enough, lovely old oak ceiling and yellow ochre coloured walls, but then the rest of fixtures and fittings give the whole place a bit of a harlequin feel – too many patterns and too many colours.
Service: We had a bit of funny service experience. The waiters were fair enough, but the sommelier was a bit pushy.
Price: The tasting menu I had was €95 and the tasting menu my other half had was €130, so couple that with wine, water, service and tip, and it was a pretty punchy bill at the end of the evening.
Location: Via Dietro San Sebastiano 7, Verona, Italy. Tel: +39 045 595 358.
All in all, I was pleased that I’d had the opportunity to try some really good tripe but didn’t think it was worth the price. I was left feeling a bit perturbed and completely bloated by the experience and wouldn’t go back.
The other night that we spent around Verona we ate at our hotel - Villa Amista – and had the most exquisite meal. Left Il Desco in the dust on all fronts, and inexplicably doesn’t have even one Michelin star.