“Botte piccola fa buon vino,” or “big things come in small packages,” is precisely the colloquialism one could use to describe Bella Verona, a quaint but highly regarded treasure in the vivacious, historic, downtown Salem. Slightly dwarfed by the large Hawthorne Hotel located across the street, Bella Verona certainly stands out, however, to patrons that bid for a seat in this intimate, cozy spot.
Bella Verona simply oozes Italian character and charm. Walls are filled with nostalgic photos, prints, and relics that practically transport guests on a journey to bella Italia. And with equally authentic, savory fare, Bella Verona should, without question, be your next stop.
Bella Verona’s proprietor, Giorgio Manzana, was born and raised in Malcesine, a quintessentially picturesque Italian village, located on the eastern fringes of Lake Garda in the province of Verona. With cobblestone alleyways, mountains as its backdrop, and the blue splashing waters of Lake Garda, it was only natural that Giorgio would acquire such genuine Italian flair. Along with years of experience in restaurants and the hospitality industry, Giorgio was truly fit to be a restaurateur. As a young adult, Giorgio attended college and mastered the business of hospitality. At 22 he had already opened his first restaurant in Germany. From there he went on to successfully run another locale in Puglia, this time featuring an American menu. All the while, however, Giorgio returned to his hometown help run his family-owned Hotel Molino in beautiful Malcesine. After years of travels, Manzana settled in Salem, Massachusetts, and has been able to showcase his expert skill with his most recent venture, Bella Verona, memorably named after his home province.
Giorgio has received immense notoriety on the Northshore from experienced diners, as he continually brings new life to old recipes. His restaurant boasts a generous menu of typical antipasti italiani, traditional pastas, and a variety of meat and fish dishes. Guests may choose to sample Carciofini in Carrozza, which includes delicately plated marinated artichoke hearts, served with finely sliced Parma Prosciutto, and fresh mozzarella for a light but flavorful appetizer. Giorgio’s Spaghetti alla Bolognese, which is strikingly similar to my own mother’s version, is an undeniably good choice for any guest looking to feast on pasta in a hearty sauce. The sauce is prepared in a slow simmer with perfectly tender beef, giving it a robustly rustic Italian flavor. And for those that opt for a meat-based dish, the Scaloppine di Vitello alla Provençale is a refreshing choice. With thinly pounded scalloped veal as the forefront ingredient, it is sautéed to perfection, and is steeped in a light tomato and garlic sauce with freshly picked mushrooms. But Giorgio’s menu is ever-changing, as he returns to Italy each year to bring back variations of traditional meals, while also taking with him new recipes that are often featured as specials on Bella Verona’s menu.
But a fine Italian meal simply would not be complete without the proper wine. In fact, Manzana’s passion for wine is quite evident with a simple glance at his extensive wine list. Barolo, Sangiovese, Valpolicella, and Amarone are a few of Manzana’s personal favorites. And for those with little experience with wine, Manzana and his pleasant staff are always eager to help guests make the perfect selections to accompany their meals.
Ultimately, Manzana’s unparalleled expertise in the kitchen leads patrons to return and beckons new customers to his warm and inviting restaurant. New and old recipes alike always leave Bella Verona’s guests satisfied. The next time your palette desires Italian food, Bella Verona should be your top choice!