Verona by Night: Where to eat
Vinitaly is approaching and, by next week, many wine lovers will arrive in Verona from all over Italy. But… apart from the wine (which will flow steady every day in the city), what can you taste in Verona?
The province of Verona is characterized by a very varied morphology. The presence of the Lessini Mountains, Lake Garda and the Valpolicella hills, together with the different cultural influences transmitted by the dominations of the past and by the neighbouring provinces, contributed to the creation of a gastronomic panorama rather varied and peculiar.
The typical dishes of Vicenza, such as baccalà (salt cod) alla vicentina and soppressa all’aglio (garlic sausage) or Padua (pastissada de caval and other horsemeat dishes) are also present in the veronese culinary tradition. Some typical dishes of Mantua and Ferrara can be tasted in areas on the border of the province of Verona in their local variations, such as risotto al tastasal (salami paste that in the Veronese tradition was tasted before stuffing to check its salting), which is a variant of Mantuan risotto, pumpkin ravioli or mustard).
Gastronomic traditions linked to the Lessini Mountains are based on cow dairy products. From here come the Monte Veronese cheese and the raw milk butter produced in the malga (mountain pasture), which together with the smoked ricotta represent the ingredients of various recipes such as the gnocchi (dumplings) di malga or ghochetti sbatui, not to be missed if you come to these mountains.
In the Lake Garda area the climate is more temperate: there vineyards and olive groves, which were linked to the cult of San Zeno, have been cultivated since the Middle Ages. In addition to wines, it is essential to taste Garda extra-virgin olive oil, different from the one produced in other areas of Verona. The gastronomic tradition of the lake also employs native freshwater fish, including trout, pike, waterfish and tench, which is delicious both grilled and in the risotto.
The river Po plain area, which runs from Zevio to the east area to continue south to Rovigo and west to Mantua, is completely suited to agriculture and livestock farming. This area is the home of two renowned products such as the Vialone Nano Veronese rice and the Verona red radicchio.
Here there are numerous recipes based on rice and it is very interesting to see how the dishes vary from one town to another.
Every year since 1967 in Isola della Scala is held the largest rice fair in Europe, where it is possible to taste new recipes together with traditional ones, all based on Vialone Nano.
The traditional rice dishes are risotto with pork in all its variants (risotto al tastasal, alla pilota, col pontel and all’isolana), risotto with radicchio, amarone (sometimes combined with radicchio or cherries, or with Valpolicella Ripasso), with frogs, with pessin (small fried fish) and risi e bisi (risotto with peas and bacon).
In this area there are also two special salamis: Stortina Veronese, a small salami preserved in lard, and the aforementioned Tastasal.
A typical Veronese dish worthy of mention is the lesso (boiled meat), which is eaten accompanied by a sauce called pearà. The cuts of meat that cannot be missed are beef or veal, hen, calf’s head, cotechino and pork tongue (regular or corned). To accompany them, various sauces are served (green sauce, horseradish sauce or other variants) among which the delicious pearà can never miss. This sauce, whose name refers to the abundant presence of pepper (it could be translated with “peppered”), is prepared with bread, broth, beef marrow (now almost always replaced by butter) and pepper.
In the Valeggio sul Mincio area on the border with Mantua, following the legend of the “Love knot” by Giangaleazzo Visconti, the pasta is rolled very thin to prepare delicate tortellini (a kind of dumplings), very different from those typical of Emilia region whose dough is thicker.
Another typical pasta, which has its roots in Vicenza, are the bigoli, often served with “musso” (donkey sauce), duck sauce or sardines.
The gnocchi are typical of the Carnival. This dish is very popular and is celebrated along with the mask of the “Papà del gnoco” star of the “Bacanal del Gnoco”.
Finally, the Veronese desserts have very simple flavours and recall ancient traditions. At Christmas, apart from the Pandoro (invented in Verona), you can also taste his forerunner, the Nadalin, a star-shaped cake, or the renowned Ofella. For Easter people from Verona usually eat the Brasadella, a leavened doughnut prepared with grappa, and the Fugassa (meaning “focaccia” in the dialect of Verona), a sweet bread covered with granulated sugar.
Among the most famous desserts there are the Torta Russa (“Russian Pie”, made of puff pastry and filled with rum, amaretti and almonds, the Torta Sbrisolona (always from Mantua) to be eaten soaked in grappa, the Sfogliatine di Villafranca which are a real delicacy, and finally the Mandorlato from Cologna Veneta.
Here are our tips on where to eat in the centre of Verona. Remember that During Vinitaly it’s a must to reserve a table a few days in advance.
Via C. Cattaneo 11/b
C.so Castelvecchio, 21/a
Antica Bottega del Vino
Via Scudo di Francia, 3