The Irma restaurant is one of those Veneto restaurants popular with the locals and is the place for big family functions. Many have their weddings here and over the weekend families from the surrounding towns flock to the Irma to eat.
The restaurant, run for as long as I can remember by the Martini family, does local cuisine from this part of the Veneto superbly. Okay, I admit it is very old-fashioned, and every time I step inside, I feel as if I have stepped back in time. But I like that, and I hope they never change, but I fear they might. Paolo, the owner, is elderly now, and most of his family has moved to the cities. I am not sure how long he will be able to continue, and the talk is that he may one day sell.
I dread that day. It will mean we've lost another slice of traditional life. Probably to be replaced by some generic gourmet type place where the portions are miniscule and the prices sky high.
Paolo has never really tried to venture beyond local dishes, apart from a few Italian classics, but in my opinion, they would be much better off without them. After all, when in Rome, do as the Romans do and when in Arsiero eat like a local.
A couple of things here are really worth traveling miles for:
Gnocchi is a real local specialty, and the Irma does it perfectly. The gnocchi menu consists of around 15 different gnocchi dishes; the variety is incredible. You get to choose five of the fifteen. My favorite is the one made with the absolutely delicious local Asiago cheese. Be warned, though, that the gnocchi is very filling and the Irma's portions are very generous.
One other thing: all the gnocchi is made from locally grown potatoes, adding to its authenticity.
They do the pig on a spit for special occasions, and it is wonderful. They also do the quails the same way, and that too is excellent.
For the rest, the desserts are always fresh and homemade. The salami is the local Sorpressa, which is really addictive and quite different from other Italian salami. Last, but certainly not least, is their excellent trout caught fresh from the nearby river.
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