Il Brindisi has been in the Gambero Rosso Guide for many years. It's old. Real old. Plenty of dusty stuff all over the walls. Even has a squat for a toilet. Yea, that old.
Il Brindisi seems touristy, from the moment you walk up to the door, with every global guidebook sticker you can think of, some certification on table, and some other certificate on a eisle. But, it’s Sunday in Ferrara, so choices are extremely limited.
Walk in and there are plenty of visual clues telling you about the history of the place (besides the dusty stuff), from pictures to ancient bottles of wine to somehow make you love the place just because it's old. I can almost see my Mom watching Rick Steves on PBS telling me about Il Brindisi in the heart of Ferrara, (dub in Rick’s voice) "legend has it this is the oldest continually operated restaurant in town"...blah blah blah.
I started off with pasta in brodo or broth, a classic and hard to screw up. The dish was warm, filling, and salty. Belly filling. But there isn't that much to it. I've made this dish and had it in other places, it's a classic regional dish served here with irreverence and disrespect. In most cases, the simplest dishes can be the hardest to get right.
Moving on to the second course, cotechino with mashed potato was exactly as billed, no frills and cooked like it has been for the last 500 years.
My friend ordered the pot roast with mashed potato. This dish could have been cooked by my mother. One doesn’t come 6000 miles to eat a pot roast that can be duplicated by your mother.
The wine? It tasted like the stuff they served at the Fresno Basque Hotel in 1989. The wine was 3eu a glass. If it wasn’t served chilled, it might not have been palatable.
Was it bad food? No. Was it knock your socks off? No. It was home cooked comfort food, nothing more...but it was open on a Sunday and saved me from having to get a sandwich or bad pizza.
Ferrara has three reasons to go back to: 1 Rizzati Gelato. 2. A walk around its ancient wall. 3. Find a better restaurant to eat in (don’t go on a Sunday).