The 5 local specialties not to be missed
Today we will guide you to discover the real Veronese cuisine, taking you away from the tourist traps and immersing yourself in the true flavours of tradition. In fact, a city like Verona, with its magical atmosphere, it couldn’t be complete without excellent food too, so let’s start immediately!
The Veronese culinary tradition has very ancient roots: since the time of Ancient Rome, the taste of the dishes that the Veronese nobles used to offer during their sumptuous banquets was famous throughout the Roman Empire. During the Middle Ages, the culinary taste became a real distinctive element for Verona, as well as an authentic art, thanks to the noble family of the Scaligeri. Since December 2011, the De.co. (historical protection) Register has been established, a brand that guarantees quality, unique characteristics and standards of preparation of typical Veronese products.
The strong aspect of Veronese cuisine is the ability to make the most of the extensive resources that this area and its agricultural tradition can offer. The range of typical products, both fresh and processed, are vast and, over the last few years, they are gaining more visibility and recognition thanks to the PDO, PGI, COD, CGOD and TGI certifications assigned by the European Union and protected by Producers Associations. For example, the Vialone Nano Veronese PGI rice of Isola della Scala (province of Verona), perfect base for cooking excellent risotto, thanks to the consistency and strong taste it attributes to these dishes.
Verona is undoubtedly the land of risotto. First among the many, the famous “Risotto all’Amarone“, the chef speciality of many restaurants in the city, prepared with Amarone of Valpolocella DOCG (Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin) wine, an excellence of European viticulture.
Then, there is the typical rice with “Tastasàl”, from the Veronese dialect “taste the salt”, made with a mixture of minced pork and flavoured with salt and black pepper (the same mixture that is used for cured pork meats), and the Risotto with Red Radicchio TGI and Monte Veronese PDO, a cow’s milk cheese with different levels of aging.
2. Fresh pasta
In Verona you can also taste excellent homemade pasta. Gnocchi, a delicious mixture of potatoes, white flour and eggs. Served both sweet (with sugar and cinnamon) and salted (with various condiments including tomato sauce), gnocchi have been by now a typical dish of the Veronese Carnival since the mid-sixteenth century.
Not to mention, the traditional “Bigoli” with sardines, a characteristic dish of the Christmas period. It is a long pasta which is very similar to spaghetti but with greater thickness and hence the name “bigoli“, from the Veronese dialect “bigat”, which means “caterpillar”.
3. Boiled Meat with “Pearà”
Among the main courses, the boiled meat with pearà (“peppered” in dialect) is perhaps the most characteristic dish of Veronese cuisine. Perfect in the winter season, it is boiled beef or mixed meat, accompanied by a thick sauce made of broth, beef marrow, bread crumbs, oil, salt and plenty of black pepper. This dish is not as poor as they want you to believe: in fact, pepper was a very expensive spice and not everyone could afford it; the leftovers of bread, were certainly not abundant among the people and the little that maybe could remain was not “wasted”. It was rather softened in water or milk and cooked in this same liquid, to then be given to children and the elderly who could not chew more substantial dishes.
It has always been the dish of parties and great occasions and the history of “pearà” prove this. It is said that Queen Rosmunda, who was forced to become the wife of King Alboino of the Lombard people in 567 A.D., and she had decided to let herself be starved after being forced to drink from the skull of her father Cunimondo, King of the Gepidi, killed in battle by her husband. It was thanks to the royal cook, who invented and prepared the famous “pearà” for Rosmunda, that she not only got stronger but also managed, with the help of her lover Elmichi, to finally avenge her father murdering the evil King Alboino.
4. “Pastissada de Caval” and “Polenta”
Another typical delicacy in Verona is the “Pastissada de Caval“, a braised horse meat with very ancient origins. In September 489 AD, after a bloody battle between Theodoric, the king of the Ostrogoths, and Odoacre, the king of the Germanic people of Italy (the episode is carved on the façade of the Basilica of San Zeno). The people of Verona were suffering because of the famine, decided to use the meat of the thousands of dead horses; putting them to macerate in Valpolicella red wine with vegetables and spices, to prolong their preservation, and then cook it over a very slow fire. This is the story of how a dramatic episode has given life to one of the most characteristic dishes of the Veronese culinary tradition.
From the sixteenth century, the “Pastissada de Caval” is always accompanied with polenta, a poor food typical of the Po Valley, made with corn flour cooked in salted water. The Veronese version of polenta is the so-called “Polenta Infasolà”, enriched with well-cooked beans and often combined with mushrooms and cheese.
5. “Torta Russa”, “Fritole” and “Pandoro”
Finally, there are certainly some delicious desserts too. To be eaten on any day of the year, we recommend the “Torta Russa“, one of the most characteristic cakes of the city, which recalls a little the form of the winter Russian hat. Typically, the cake contains almonds, amaretto biscuits and rum aroma.
Another delicious dessert is the Veronese “Fritole“, characteristic of the Carnival period. These sweet fritters are a little different from the other Venetian “Fritole” because of the use of apples and grappa instead of the classic rum.
The King of Veronese sweets, the “Pandoro” is made with a base of flour, eggs, sugar and butter. Invented in October 1894 by Domenico Melegatti as an evolution of the already traditional “Nadalin“, this soft and fragrant “Pan de Oro”, shaped like a slender eight-pointed star and covered with vanilla sugar, it can never be missed on Christmas tables of the Veronese. In fact, together with “Panettone” of Milan, “Pandoro” has always been the best-selling Christmas cake in Italy.
Did we make your mouth water? So, book immediately your stay in one of the structures of the International Europe Hotel group and try for yourself the specialties of Verona’s traditional cuisine.