Dining at Ombre Rosse, a trattoria outside Treviso.
"Ombre Rosse" ("Red Shadows") is the Italian name for the American movie "Stagecoach," directed by John Ford, a favorite among Italian cowboy-cinema fans. (Don't forget that Italy is the land of spaghetti westerns, perfected by director Sergio Leone.) But the name of Claudio Borin's osteria ("tavern"), Ombre Rosse, is dialect in Veneto, where ombre are shots of wine, and wine-obsessed Claudio prefers them rosse ("red"). In Italian, ombra literally means shade, and the dialectal meaning comes from a Venetian tradition of catching some shade at a local wine bar.
Ombre Rosse is one of those establishments nowadays known as enoiteca. Please note: Wine shops in Italy with high-quality offerings are called enoteca. The extra "i" in enoiteca signals that you are entering a wine bar, distinguished by a sort of manic hospitality that absolutely insists you have a good time - "Drink this!" "Eat that!" "Don't even ask, just enjoy!" Enoiteca are also recognizable by the great extent of their wine and extra-virgin olive oil selections. This charming osteria, located south of Treviso, in San Trovaso, was once a postal station. The wine cellar, in the former stables, remains a wonderful place to stop for a little refreshment.
The two rustic dining rooms have beamed ceilings with modern lighting and an assortment of mismatched wooden tables. These are set with ocher butcher-paper place mats and filled with locals, including, on my last visit, members and coaches of the Benetton basketball team. A fire burns on the hearth in winter. Dine outdoors under the pergola when weather is nice.
Claudio hunts down the best wines and regional foods: fish straight from Venice, local radicchio and asparagus, cured meats and cheese from everywhere. He offers only a list of wines by the glass, but his selection of bottles is vast. Check out the shelves for a hint. Claudio knows what he has stocked; he just hasn't had the time to write it all down, but he will help you choose something appropriate. There's a food menu posted outside the front door (as law requires) but Claudio's wife, Tessa Candiani, usually has a few items prepared at the last minute that he's dying to pair with a terrific wine.
Ombre Rosse, via Franchetti 78, San Trovaso, tel. 39-0422-490-037.
Open from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily.
September 6, 2001