Piatti tipici Lago Di Garda

Typical dishes Lake Garda

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Suspended like an imaginative and splendid centrepiece in the middle of three northern Italian regions, Lake Garda is the setting for tasty and traditional culinary experiences.

Let’s take a look at some of the main dishes of Lake Garda, skirting its shores: those of the Veneto region, Trentino-Alto Adige and, finally, Lombardy.

Typical Lake Garda cuisine, region by region

Lake Garda as a whole is renowned for its lake fish dishes.

In tourist-style restaurants, usually concentrated in the busiest areas, you can find a vast and varied menu, designed to satisfy the most varied tastes of the many tourists.

However, it is in the more traditional establishments that one can savour authentic regional cuisine. Here, characteristic dishes handed down through the ages tell stories of local flavours and traditions, turning a simple meal into a culinary journey full of authenticity.

And one cannot talk about the local gastronomy without mentioning its extraordinary wines. Bardolino, Gewürztraminer, Custoza, Lugana and others from the surrounding hills perfectly complement the delicious dishes, providing an intoxicating taste experience.

cucina tipica del lago di garda

Typical dishes Lake Garda – Veneto shore

Bigoli with sardines

One of the oldest traditional dishes of Lake Garda, ‘Bigoi con le sardele’ (as it is called in the local dialect), is an extremely tasty first course whose main ingredient is one of the characteristic fish of Lake Garda, sardines.

Bigoi’ are a variety of fresh pasta, similar to spaghetti but thicker, which are prepared with durum wheat flour and water. The ‘sardele’, on the other hand, are the sardines of Lake Garda, a fish much appreciated for its delicate flavour and soft texture.

The preparation of ‘Bigoi con le sardele’ involves the use of a tasty and aromatic sauce made of olive oil, pine nuts, sultanas and onion, which perfectly binds the pasta to the fish.

Pike with polenta

Another typical dish of Lake Garda is pike with polenta. This delicious lake fish is much appreciated because of its tender and tasty meat.

The pike, in full respect of Garda tradition, is served as an appetiser and is always accompanied by a nice portion of polenta.

It is a simple traditional recipe and perfect for those in search of intense and enticing flavours.

cucina lago di garda
cucina lago di garda

Boiled meat and pearà

One of the main courses that dominate the tables in the Veronese area is undoubtedly lesso con la pearà, a dish consisting of boiled meat accompanied by ‘pearà’, a sort of sauce prepared with bread, meat stock and pepper.

This dish is eaten especially on feast days and is undoubtedly one of the typical dishes that you absolutely must try if you visit Lake Garda and its surroundings.

San Vigilini

These exquisite butter cookies, enriched with the addition of sultanas, are an indispensable treat to accompany a good cup of tea.

Originating in the village of Garda, they have a history, or perhaps better said legend, that has its roots in the 1940s, when the innkeeper Leonard Walsh created them as a tribute for an illustrious guest: Sir Winston Churchill!

After the introduction of San Vigilini, their recipe became Walsh’s jealously guarded secret.

Fortunately for us, as the years went by, their preparation emerged from that halo of mystery: today Sanvigilini are available in local shops and restaurants, allowing everyone to enjoy a piece of culinary history.

Fogassa su la gradela

The ‘fogassa’ is a simple and rustic cake typical of the Veneto peasant tradition, particularly of the Veronese shore of Lake Garda.

This kind of focaccia is cooked over embers with a grill (the gradela) and, not being excessively sweet, can be eaten at any time of day: at breakfast, at the end of a meal, or even dipped in wine.

This tasty recipe has many variations, some of which involve the use of milk, while others prefer white wine. However, one of the essential ingredients that cannot be missing is definitely olive oil, even better if Garda Extra Virgin Olive Oil is used.

piatto tipico lago di garda
photo: scattidigusto.it

Typical dishes Lake Garda: Trentino shore

Canederli

If we think of the gentle mountains of Trentino and its robust and tasty cuisine, the famous canederli will most likely immediately come to mind.

These hearty dumplings made from stale bread, enriched with chives, eggs, speck and onion, are a typical dish of the region. They are usually cooked in meat broth for a succulent result, but can also be browned in butter for an even tastier variation. Dumplings are an authentic delicacy that embodies the culinary soul of the Trentino mountains and is also reflected in the lake area. In towns such as Riva del GardaArco and Nago-Torbole, in fact, you can certainly find this dish on the menus of the most typical restaurants.

Spätzle

Spätzle are small, irregularly shaped spinach dumplings made of flour, eggs and water with a unique and irresistible taste.

Once cooked, Spatzle lend themselves to a wide range of seasonings that enhance their flavour and texture. Among the most popular toppings are melted butter, grated cheese and fresh chives. These flavour combinations offer an extraordinary taste experience and make Spatzle a popular dish in traditional cuisine throughout the region. Mouth-watering!

gastronomia lago di garda
gastronomia lago di garda

Strangolapreti

In the heart of the Trentino mountains lies a dish rich in history and tradition: strangolapreti. These gnocchetti, with their curious name and simple preparation, are a masterpiece of local cuisine.

Strangolapreti originated as a poor man’s dish, created to use up leftover stale bread by enriching it with chard, eggs, flour, milk and cheese and seasoned simply with melted butter and crispy sage leaves.

Their curious name seems to date back to 1500, during the Council of Trent. It is said that clergymen, such as bishops and priests, were so fond of this dish that they consumed such excessive quantities that they risked choking.

Strudel

We continue on our journey of discovery through the cuisine of Lake Garda, arriving, like any self-respecting meal, at the long-awaited moment of dessert. To delight the palate, we present an exquisite slice of strudel.

A timeless dessert, it is characterised by a wafer-thin pastry shell that encloses a delicious filling: slices of peeled apple, sultanas, sugar, breadcrumbs and spices, with cinnamon dominating the whole.

However, the versatility of the strudel allows for endless variations of the filling, including ricotta, walnuts, poppy seeds, pine nuts, cherries and grapes, each of which adds a special touch to the original recipe.

Zelten

Especially typical of the Christmas period, Zelten is a heart-warming cake.

The recipe varies from valley to valley, even from house to house, reflecting the diversity and richness of local traditions.

Two main variants can be distinguished: the Trentino Zelten, more concentrated on the pastry and less rich in fruit, and the South Tyrolean Zelten, characterised by more fruit.

However, the common base consists of flour, butter, eggs, yeast, sugar, walnuts, dried figs, almonds and pine nuts, which give the cake a unique, enveloping flavour.

cucina tipica lago di garda
photo: scattidigusto.it

Typical dishes of Lake Garda: the Brescia shore

Risotto alla Milanese

Moving on to the Lombardy region, the typical cuisine of Lake Garda takes on new aromas and flavours. What you can find in the traditional restaurants in the lake towns such as  SirmioneLimone sul GardaSalòDesenzano del GardaTremosine sul Garda and others are truly delicious dishes. Let us start with a very famous recipe: risotto alla milanese. This dish, recognisable by its characteristic bright yellow colour and rich flavour, is a celebration of Lombard culinary tradition and creativity.

The history of Risotto alla Milanese has its roots in the distant 1500s, when the daughter of a glassmaker at Milan Cathedral came up with the idea of dyeing rice with saffron, which until then had been used by master glassmakers to obtain the golden colour.

Apparently it all started as a joke, but the success of this new dish was so overwhelming that the recipe quickly spread and became one of the most renowned in the area.

Cassoeula

In the lands of Lombardy, amidst the autumn mists and humid days, you can enjoy one of the comfort-foods par excellence: Cassoeula.

This dish, born of ancient peasant traditions and linked to the feast of Sant’Antonio Abate, has become an icon of Lombardy gastronomy, celebrated with enthusiasm on special occasions and in the traditional festivals that enliven the region.

Cassoeula is a dish that skilfully combines simple ingredients and poor but succulent cuts of pork, such as pork rind, ribs and sausages, with Savoy cabbage, a typical vegetable of the region. The long, slow cooking process gives the dish a unique, enveloping flavour.

Pizzoccheri

In the picturesque lands of Valtellina, lies a culinary treasure that is loved and renowned throughout Italy: Pizzoccheri Valtellinesi.

This gastronomic delicacy, recently awarded the prestigious PGI mark by the European Union, is a true culinary experience.

Pizzoccheri have deep roots dating back to the 14th century, when buckwheat, the main ingredient of the pasta, was spread in these mountainous lands.

Pizzoccheri Valtellinesi are made with buckwheat pasta, cut into noodle shapes, enriched with local cheese, seasonal vegetables such as savoy cabbage and potatoes, and seasoned with melted butter.

Paradise cake

In the confectionery tradition of Lombardy, a light and fluffy cake stands out.

This delicacy originated in the workshop of master pastry chef Enrico Vigoni, who opened his shop in the heart of Pavia in 1878.

The origin of the name of this cake, however, has curious origins: the story goes that a herbalist monk from the nearby Certosa monastery, contravening monastic rules, ventured outside the monastery in search of herbs. During one of his outings, he had an encounter with a young woman who confided to him the secret recipe for the cake.

However, the friar’s disobedience did not go unnoticed by the prior, who condemned him to solitary confinement. Deprived of his freedom, the friar found consolation by passionately devoting himself to the preparation of the cake.

The soft, fragrant dough immediately won over the monks’ palates, who baptised it with the name “Paradise Cake”.

Persicata

Persicata, a true delicacy of the Brescian culinary tradition, has a truly fascinating history that stems from the farmers’ desire to savour the taste of summer fruits even during the cold winters.

It is a jam made from a combination of peaches and sugar, which, thanks to special processing, takes on a dense consistency, allowing it to be cut into small cubes, which are then sugar-coated.

Persicata has even been praised by illustrious figures such as Gabriele d’Annunzio, who apparently particularly appreciated it after his amorous performances!

The persicata has won a place of honour in the local gastronomic tradition, embodying the perfect combination of the taste of the summer seasons and the art of culinary preservation.

photo: qbquantobasta.it

We have come to the end of this exciting gastronomic tour to discover the flavours of Lake Garda. As we write this article, we can’t help but feel our mouths water and we hope that you too, as you read these lines, have felt the same irresistible invitation to taste the delicacies of these regions.

May your next trip to Lake Garda be an unforgettable culinary experience!

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