Best 16 Traditional Food in Verona to Try or to Know About
Travelling to Verona and wondering what the food is like and what to eat? Well, let me just say, … we were in Verona for four days, and all through, we never ate a bad meal. Having visited Northern Italy on previous travels, we found that food in Verona were some of the best in Italy. Therefore, this post is a list of the 16 traditional food in Verona which you may want to know about, and perhaps try them when you visit.
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A visit to Verona or anywhere in Italy and I am sure you would agree that their food is incredible. You may also have noted that Italian cuisine is highly regionalised, expressing geographical influences from their neighbours and locally sourced ingredients. Dishes use high quality ingredients, simple cooking methods and are always seasonal, hence exuding a distinct regional flavour even for their well-known staple food, the ubiquitous Italian pasta.
An Overview on Cuisines in the Northern Italian Region
The cuisines in the Northern Italian region is quite different. Neighbouring the Alps, spanning across the mountainous, wooded terrain and fresh water, affords the region with a wide range of locally sourced high protein food. Beef, pork, rabbit, horse-meat, donkey-meat, quail, fish and shellfish feature highly in their seasonal cuisine. The cuisines here use richer dairy fats such as cream and butter. Olive oil is used as well but not as much as it is in the South.
The food in the northern region, though simple, uses fresh herbs such as rosemary and sage and distinct cooking methods. Primarily slow-cooking and recipes handed down through generations, the food in Verona sets them apart from the rest of Italy. Aside from these, a notable difference is that the Northern Italian region uses rice and corn as staples in the form of risotto and polenta.
The Veneto region in Northern Italy occupies the northern area along the Adriatic Sea. Thus, fish and seafood such as eel, shrimps, and lobsters feature highly in the cuisines from this region. As well, vegetable dishes such as rice and peas, grilled red radicchio of Treviso seasoned with salt and olive oil, along with boiled white asparagus.
Cuisines in Verona
Verona is one of the largest cities in the Veneto region. A romantic city with a rich art and cultural heritage, along with its suggestive alleys, Verona is a popular European tourist hub. The city is also known for its cuisines, local specialities, traditional dishes and for its examplary wines.
Simple, yet rich, comforting and scrumptious dishes of rice, polenta, beans and unique meats paired with the region’s full-bodied special wines are typical features of Verona’s cuisine.
With an overview of the northern region of Italy, Veneto and Verona above, I am sure you are beginning to appreciate what variety of food in Verona to expect.
Let’s take a closer look at what to expect on food in Verona when you visit.
1 | Antipasti
Antipasti in Italian, refers to ‘before the meal’ and takes the plural form of the word ‘antipasto.’ A common variety of antipasto includes cured meats, such as salami and prosciutto along with a selection of cheeses, olives and red peppers. A delicious antipasto to try is the bruschetta.
Timeless Travel Steps Best Tip:
Sample: Local cheese, salami and freshly baked bread;
Discover: The secrets of tortellini pasta;
Taste: Some of the best wines from the Valpolicella area;
Explore: Hidden streets and see the historic sights;
2 | First Course Cuisines
For the first course, visitors to Verona can expect a hearty filling of pasta, rice or gnocchi dishes.
2.1 | Pasta
Unique to Verona, and native to the Veneto region is Bigoli, a spaghetti-shaped pasta. Known to have originated in the 1600s, bigoli is much thicker than ordinary pasta and has a rough surface. The rough surface allows for the sauce to be absorbed more generously. Bigoli has a nutty flavour and conventionally paired with a duck ragu sauce, salted sardines or seafood Traditionally made with buckwheat and duck eggs but these days, bigoli is made with wholewheat flour, butter and water.
Just to note, the meat sauces for the pasta dishes in Verona are sometimes made with untraditional meats such as duck, horse or donkey.
The bigoli dishes are rich, substantial and light. Traditionally, a popular dish consumed on fasting days such as Ash Wednesday or Good Friday.
Along with bigoli, the Province of Verona is home to another popular variant of pasta, tortellini. This local tortellini is unique to the village of Valeggio sul Mincio, located about 40 kilometres from Verona. The recipe for this tortellini is said to have originated in the 14th century. This wholesome pasta variant is made with flour and eggs, filled with a mixture of ground beef, pork, chicken, onions, carrots, celery, rosemary, Bardolino wine as well as breadcrumbs.
2.2 | Rice
Rice is a common dish in Verona. Native to the province of Verona is the top quality grain, Vialone Nano Veronese which makes a perfect base for risotto. Risotto is a staple dish in Northern Italy, so much so that a yearly festival is held every September and October. The annual festival is held in the nearby village of Isola della Scala, just 20 kilometres from Verona, where top chefs feature their risotto creations for the season.
2.3 | Gnocchi
Gnocchi is a traditional variety of pasta believed to have originated in the 16th century. They were originally made with wheat and semolina. The mountain villagers made them with rye, barley or chestnut flour.
Since the introduction of potatoes in Europe, gnocchi has been made with potato, wheat flour and eggs. The potato based dough, is then shaped into bite-size ‘dumplings’. Pumpkin and spinach can be added to the mixture as well. These are either boiled in salt water or deep fried. Gnocchi varieties abound in Italy. Each region has its own varieties and names.
Gnocchi is commonly enjoyed as first course dishes in the Veneto region. These dumplings are served with numerous possibilities. They can be complemented with tomato sauce and grated cheese, butter and sage, creamy cheese-based sauces, ragu, cured meat or as complementary to meat stews.
Timeless Travel Steps Best Tip:
Eat your way through Verona and enjoy the Best Food Verona has to offer.
Visit: 5 traditional restaurants;
Explore: Secret alleys, historic streets and listen to the history of the city;
Avoid: Tourist traps;
3 | Second Course Cuisines
Meat features highly in Verona’s second course cuisines. Fish and seafood are also present in food to eat in Verona as these are freshly sourced from nearby Lake Garda.
Meats such as veal, pork, wild game, horse, beef, donkey, duck, and fowl are unique to Verona’s cuisine and distinguishes the city from its neighbours. There is a range of roasts, stews, and sauces with meat being central to the dish.
3.2 | Polenta
Many of the second course dishes are typically accompanied with polenta.
Polenta originated amongst the peasant farmers of Po Valley. In ancient times, polenta was made from rye, spelt and buckwheat, taking a darker form. However, post 16th century and with the introduction of corn in Europe, polenta was made by grinding corn into flour. It has a richer colour, yellow yolk-like and slightly sweet. This dish is readily available in most places to eat in Verona.
2.3 | Fish and Seafood
Bass and Catfish are readily available as these are sourced from the local Verona lakes. Fish is often grilled, sautéed or braised and the use of wine in seafood is common. Served with a side dish such as polenta, or local vegetables that are sautéed.
4 | Desserts
Traditional desserts in Verona include a variety of cakes, cookies and other delights.
4.1 | Pandoro
‘Golden bread’ or more popularly known as Pandoro, is served topped with powdered sugar. Pandoro is readily available during the festive season.
4.2 | Nadalin
An invention believed to have originated in the 13th century. This classic Italian dessert is said to have been made in honour of the powerful Della Scala family who ruled Verona for a over a century.
Nadalin is the preferred dessert option than Pandoro, as it is less buttery, and has a denser texture. Made from dough flavoured with vanilla and lemon zest, it has a crunchy top crusted with granulated sugar, marsala wine, almonds and pine nuts.
4.3 | Other dessert options
Pinza Veneta, a traditional Italian cake which is popular in the Veneto region. Made with a combination of polenta flour, plain flour, raisins, figs and apple along with butter, sugar, yeast and fennel seeds.
Fregolotta, is another traditional Italian cake, that originated in the Veneto region. It is a crumb cake, more like a large cookie. Made with flour, butter, sugar, lemon zest and chopped almonds.
Try also sfogliatine di Villafranca, a doughnut shaped puff pastry and/or torta russa di Verona, a cake made with puff pastry, almonds, amaretti, eggs, lemon and topped with powdered sugar.
5 | Wine
The region of Veneto is one of the largest quality wine producing areas in Italy and the province of Verona features top wine producing zones. Visitors to Verona can experience a variety of wines, from whites such as Soave, Lugana and Custoza to reds, which includes Bardolino, and Valpolicella.
Recommended read: Guide to Verona Wines from Garda Hills & food-match suggestions
Timeless Travel Steps Best Tips:
Visit the Valpolicella Valley, a beautiful winery, sample wines and food.
Convenient > Transport included.
Informative > Along the way, learn the secrets and techniques of producing the top range wine, Amarone
Relaxing > Stroll around the gardens and vineyards
Food in Verona | What to Eat in Verona
Tradition and creativity sets Verona apart along with flavour and texture. Here are the best 16 traditional food in Verona which you may wish to try.
1 | Bruschetta
Bruschetta or bruschette (plural) is a delicious starter to an Italian meal. Made with toasted ciabatta, drizzled with extra virgin oil, a little salt, topped with fresh pomodoro tomatoes, chopped red onions and the fine Monte Veronese cheese from the Lessini Mountains.
2 | Salmon
Salmon mi-cuit makes an excellent starter course to any meal. The decadent texture of this dish relies on religiously curing the salmon to achieve maximum flavour. Served with caper sauce.
Where: Ristorante Il Desco (Michelin starred), Via Dietro San Sebastiano, 5/7
3 | Gallina Flammata
If you would like to try a poultry starter, try the flamed chicken. Sourced from local farms, the grilled chicken is served with salad and pomegranate.
Where: Ristorante Maffei, Piazza Erbe, 38, 37121 Verona VR, Italy
4 | Risotto all’Amarone
Risotto Amarone is a traditional dish and a much loved one. Made from a selected few ingredients but of very high quality. Risotto Amarone is often a signature dish in many of the restaurants in Verona.
The primary ingredients are just two. Both are of the finest products of the Veneto region — Amarone della Valpolicella and Vialone Nano rice. Added to these ingredients are onions, broth, olive oil, butter, salt and pepper.
Where: Antica Bottega Del Vino, Via Scudo di Francia, 3, 37121 Verona VR, Italy
5 | Risotto al Tastasal
Risotto al Tastasal is a traditional Veronese cuisine. Made with prime vialone nano rice, the rice is boiled with meat broth, sauteed with onions and garlic. The risotto is topped with local salami (made from ground pork belly and shoulder) and seasoned with just the right amount of salt. Garnished with a pinch of nutmeg and Parmigiano Reggiano.
Where: Risotteria Porto Mancino, Via Lazzaretto, 26, Verona, Veneto, Italy
Other rice dishes to try:
Risotto al Radicchio, a traditional Venetian dish made with local radicchio.
Risotto with porcini mushrooms;
Risi e bisi ( rice and peas);
Risi e figdini (rice and chicken liver).
Recommended read: 24 Incredibly Delicious Dutch Culture Food in Amsterdam
6 | Bigoli in Cassopipa
Bigoli in Cassopipa is an Italian dish symbolic of the Veneto region. The sumptuous dish originated from the fishing village of Chioggia. The nutty flavour of the bigoli goes well with seafood such as squid and shellfish (mussels, clams and cockles). There seem a number of variations and each chef/cook seems to have their own recipe on this one. Generally, the squid and shellfish is sauteed in olive oil with onions, garlic, carrots and celery with spices. White wine is added and the mix is allowed to simmer till the sauce is right. The bigoli is dressed with the sauce along with a drizzle of olive oil.
If you are not into seafood, try the bigoli in salsa.
7 | Bigoli in Salsa
Bigoli in salsa is a typical dish of the Veneto region and is made of simple but tasty sauce. The sauce is made with onions and salted sardines or anchovies, creating a unique rich flavour. Sometimes topped with pine nuts.
Where: Pescheria I Masenini, Piazzetta Pescheria, 9, 37121 Verona
8 | Bigoli with Duck Ragu
A traditional dish in the Veneto region, bigoli with duck ragu sauce is widely served in Verona. The bigoli pasta is cooked in duck broth, served with duck ragu sauce (made with mince duck meat) and grated cheese.
9 | Polenta
Polenta, typical traditional Veronese dish, made from cornmeal and cooked in salty water.
The best polenta to go for is the one made with beans (polenta infasola). You could also try them with meat, mushroom and cheese. Traditionally, polenta was eaten with herring.
Where: La Taverna di Via Stella, Via Stelaa 5/c, 37121 Verona VR, Italy
10 | Pastissada de Caval | Veronese Horse Meat Stew
These days, Pastissada de Caval is a speciality cuisine in Verona served as a second course of a meal. This is an ancient Veronese horse-meat stew, believed to have originated as far back as the Ostrogothic rule (493 AD to 553 AD).
The Ostrogoths, led by Theodoric the Great defeated Odoacer, a Germanic soldier who was the king of the Heruli, in control of northern Italy at that time. After, the battle, there were too many dead horses on the battlefield. As a celebratory gesture, Theodoric allowed his people to use the horse meat for food. The people marinated the horse-meat with plenty of wine, onions, and cooked it with vegetables. The meat was slow-cooked for several days to be enjoyed with more wine … and that was how patissada de caval was born.
The recipe on patissada de caval has been passed down from generations to generations, albeit tweaked along the way. Nowadays, the horse-meat is cooked with onions, carrots, cloves and Valpolicella wine. This special food in Verona is then flavoured with bay leaves, cinnamon and nutmeg. An incredibly cuisine, typically served with creamy polenta.
Georgina: As adventurous as I am with food, I did not try this one. However, I researched on the best places that offer this traditional food in Verona and found the following two. Perhaps, you may want to give the Veronese horse-meat stew a try.
Recommended read: 10 Best Typical Surinamese Cuisine in Amsterdam
11 | Lesso e Pearà
Lesso e Pearà is a traditional Veronese dish served as second course, and more common during the holidays and festive season. A rich cuisine, made with boiled meat and paired with pearà.
Pearà dates back to the 14th century and refers to a slowly cooked sauce made from beef marrow, beef or chicken broth, grated stale bread, butter or olive oil, salt and lots of pepper.
The pearà is traditionally served with poached meat such as beef tongue, or chicken. However, more commonly used are beef cuts, veal, capon, cotechino – all gently simmered for two to three hours in a terracotta pot for an authentic flavour.
Where: Ristorante Greppia, Vicolo Samaritana, 3 – Verona (Italy)
12 | Stinco al Forno
A popular second course, this is roast veal shin bone, cooked low and slow to ensure the meat is tender. Commonly served with polenta or seasoned potatoes.
13 | Sea Bass
If you prefer a fish dish, go for sea bass. These are locally sourced and fresh. Grilled and dressed with rosemary oil, served with potatoes.
Where: Pescheria I Masenini, Piazzetta Pescheria 9, 37121 Verona.
14 | Nadalin
Try this sweet crusted top mini cake, Nadalin (see 4.2 above) after a sumptous meal.
Where: Pasticceria Tomasi, C.so Milano, 16A, 37138 Verona VR, Italy.
Pasticceria Flego, Corso Porta Borsari, 9, 37121 Verona VR, Italy.
15 | Sfogliatine di Villafranca
A traditional dessert in Verona (see 4.3 above), try the melt-in-the-mouth Sfogliatine di Villafranca with pistachio and hazelnut cream.
Where: Ristorante Maffei, Piazza Erbe, 38, 37121 Verona VR, Italy
16 | Tiramisu
An iconic Italian dessert, Tiramisu effectively means, ‘pick me up’ due to the effects of sugar, liquor and coffee.
First introduced in Veneto around 1980, the perfect tiramisu is said, and should deliver the serious caffeine kick from the strong espresso, and the Marsala wine adds a nice sweet buzz. In Verona, it is sometimes made with pandoro.
Where: Ristorante Maffei, Piazza Erbe, 38, 37121 Verona VR, Italy
Sharing just one of our meals
Have a splendid time in Verona, xoxo
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Food in Verona | Best 16 to Know first published at timelesstravelsteps.com