We tend to stay away from restaurants that are located directly on the water or near the city center because such restaurants can rely on great views or convenience alone to drive their business. However, we made an exception for Osteria del 4 since we heard good things about the food. We spent seven nights in Torri del Benaco and we visited Osteria del 4 on three occasions. Our first visit was for dessert and drinks. The desserts were so tasty that we returned for dinner, and we enjoyed our first dinner so much that we returned for a second dinner.
The food wasn't fine dining, but it was very, very tasty. And perhaps another reason why we visited three times was because everything was so reasonably priced given the high quality food. On the two occasions when we visited for dinner, the two of us each had 2-3 glasses of wine, an antipasto, a primo, and a dolce. The totals for our two meals were 68 and 61 euros. Not to mention, since Osteria del 4 is situated on the water, the view from the patio was beautiful.
The restaurant is operated by a husband and wife. The wife is the chef whereas the husband works the front of the restaurant. The husband was very friendly, kind, and knowledgeable of the local cuisine. Perhaps the one piece of criticism is that at times it took a while to gain the attention of the waitstaff when we wanted to order another glass of wine or receive the check. But when we did have their attention, we received genial service and thorough descriptions of the dishes. At the same time, however, we were never rushed, and even when we were the last diners (on all three nights!), they made us feel welcomed. So their hospitality was above average.
Here are a few specifics about the food: The dishes containing lakefish were great. For example, the degustazione di antipasti di lago were so fresh and tasty. The same could be said about the carpaccio di trota. And like most restaurants in the Garda region, the local olive oil used to dress the fish was delicate, fruity, and delicious. Two pasta dishes that we really enjoyed were the tagliatelle al trota ragu and the spaghetti con aglio, olio, e peperoncino. Both pasta dishes were very satisfying. It's always a good sign when a restaurant runs out of dishes, and on both dinning occasions, they had run out of at least one dish.
Finally, we loved their desserts. In particular, their homemade marscapone, which was probably the best marscapone we ate on our three-week vacation in northern Italy. We tried their "on the spot" tiramisu on the first night and we'd order it again if not for several other very tasty desserts. For example, panna cotta with a kumquat sauce and our new favorite dessert... We can't recall the name but it contained the homemade marscapone, a sweet and nicely-textured meringue, a fresh raspberry sauce (with whole raspberries), and a dollop of whipped cream. It sounds very simple--and it was--but we couldn't get enough (we ordered three over two nights). Not to be missed is the homemade limoncello. Whereas one of us loves all limoncello, the other one of us can find it too syrupy and cloyingly sweet, but this version was lighter than most and the sweetness was very well-balanced.
It's hard to not give this restaurant a 5-dot "Excellent" review, and maybe we should, but perhaps the best compliments one can give to a restaurant is whether you'd recommend it to others and whether you'd return yourself. Without hesitation, we'd do both.
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