Mirco Speri, head chef, Pastore
Italian-born and with experience in award-winning restaurants in London, Mirco Speri was co-owner and head chef at South Yarra's 38 Chairs becoming head chef at Scott Pickett's Italian-inspired diner, Pastore in Hotel Chadstone, Melbourne. See pastorerestaurant.com.au
Coffee, and pastries are staples of Italian breakfast. Right in the beautiful Piazza delle Erbe, Casa Mazzanti Caffe is the perfect spot to start the day. Plan your next step or just sit, relax and enjoy the morning sun. A highlight is the limoncello custard-filled bombolone (Italian doughnut), best enjoyed alongside a strong espresso. For the savoury lovers, the sopressa and asiago (salami and cheese) toastie is hard to beat.
Antica Bottega del Vino tends to be the meet-up spot for my brothers and friends to enjoy cicchetti (the Venetian word for tapas) and wile away the time while waiting for stragglers. Their wine selection knows no rival, with more than 1000 wine labels from around the globe, served with perfected classics. My favourite dish is the Pastissada di Cavallo - soft polenta with grilled sausage, salsa verde and sourdough crostini. It is a very typical Veronese dish dating back hundreds of years that is still loved by Verona locals. See bottegavini.it
Founded in 1958, Enoteca Dal Zovo Oreste is a historic wine store right near the Well of Love. The owner, Oreste, is an accredited sommelier, who greets everyone with a warm welcome. The setting is extremely elegant yet comfortable, offering the feel of visiting an old friend rather than searching for a bottle to buy. There is an impressive range of Italian and international wines, spirits and digestives, including prestigious vintages. With no menu as such, small goods, such as homemade wild boar prosciutto, and preserves, like pickled friggitello peppers, are always on offer.
The foundations of Ponte Pietra were laid more than 2000 years ago and the closest building to it holds the Osteria Ponte Pietra. It has a stunning view of the bridge and Verona waterfront. Head Chef Micheal Silhavi, a good friend of mine, serves modern takes on traditional dishes. Try the Crocchetta di Baccala e Mayo allo Yuzu; a beautiful combination of crispy seared scallops, soft fresh local mortadella with a creamy pistachio mayonnaise and a tang of black garlic along the plate. See ristorantepontepietra.com
Nothing beats an ice-cream from Gelateria Savoia, the oldest ice cream shop in Verona on a hot day. My uncle would often take me after school, I still dream about it and can't wait to get a mattonella. It's a 1940s' take on an ice-cream sandwich based on the colours of a packet of cigarettes of that time (the Regie Turche), the white, yellow, and brown layers translate into vanilla, amaretto and chocolate ice cream. See gelateriasavoia.it