Vicenza’s Biasio Central not only pleasant, it’s open as long as the law allows
Dinner is impossible, lunch is hard to find and takeout is supreme at Italy’s restaurants, all a result of the second coronavirus wave’s effect on dining culture.
Restaurants must close at 6 p.m., but Italians typically don’t eat dinner until 8 p.m. Many eateries are either closing after lunch, at about 3 p.m., or not opening at all.
So it was nice to see that Biasio Centro, a longtime restaurant and bar in a prime spot in downtown Vicenza, was in mid-November still offering a diverse menu and multicourse lunch, while serving through the early evening.
Add in the outdoor seating, and the experience was just about worry-free.
Biasio Centro features traditional northern Italian dishes: various pastas, with clams or duck or veal ragu; carpaccios of meat and fish; lasagna; and of course, Baccala alla Vicentina, the dried cod dish named for the city.
The menu is grouped somewhat arbitrarily into starters, firsts and seconds. There’s also a size option with a price difference of two or three euros. I ordered the small sizes and they were for the most part more than enough. I brought most of my first and second courses home.
I started with the stewed cuttlefish on a bed of polenta. The marine molluscs were salty like the sea and nicely chewy. The polenta was a creamy porridge. This is Italian comfort food.
I chose gnocchi with veal ragu and black truffles for a first course. It was also quite comforting and delicious — although the truffles, unfortunately, were a minor note.
Grilled octopus — or as my very nice, masked waiter called it, “octopussy” — was one of the day’s fish offerings. For 20 euros I did not at all expect it to arrive in tiny pieces atop circles of whipped potatoes. It wasn’t a good value but it tasted great.
Sitting in the sunshine for more than an hour, with other diners seated a few feet away, I also enjoyed a glass of Lugana, a crisp white regional wine. It seemed in keeping with a long, traditional Italian lunch.
Address: Piazza delle Biade 6, 36100 Vicenza, Italy
Phone: +39 0444 321061
English menu: Yes
Price: Moderate to expensive
Hours: Pandemic hours 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Closed Monday.
Information: Online: biasiocentro.it/it