What to Eat

What To Eat

Local products, genuine flavours, mountain and lake cuisine


Bigoli with Garda sardines

This traditional dish from Garda Veneto combines a variety of fish typical for the lake with bigoli, pasta from Veneto made traditionally with eggs. This simple recipe, handed down through generations, recommends sautéing fresh sardines in a pan with Garda DOP extra virgin olive oil, garlic, chilli pepper and parsley, then use it as a condiment to toss the pasta with.

A small curiosity: you can taste this dish at various culinary events such as the Palio de la Sardela, held every year in Lazise.

The Pike in Gardesana sauce

The pike, a tender and lean lake fish, is the main item in this recipe that originates from the municipality of Torri del Benaco. Freshly caught, it is served with local ingredients such as lemons, capers, anchovies and Garda olive oil. The dish with a fresh and delicate taste goes perfectly with a side of polenta.

Risotto with the tench

What could be better than a plate of good risotto while admiring the view of the lake? It is one of the most loved dishes in the Lake Garda culinary tradition, just sit down in one of the many restaurants overlooking the lake and surrender to the surprising and intense flavour of the tench.

Once boiled, the fish meat is sautéed in a mixture of Garda DOP extra virgin olive oil, carrot, celery, onion, garlic, rosemary, parsley, pepper and herbs.

Then the rice is added and stirred in the tench stock, Monte Baldo butter and Parmesan cheese.

Garda sardines in saor, grilled or fried

Sardines in saor, caught strictly in the Garda area, are fried and served with onions cooked in vinegar and then caramelised with pine nuts and raisins. This way of preparation was used as a preservation technique by the Venetian fishermen in order to keep fried fish in excellent condition during their long sea trips. Another idea to enjoy sardines? Fry them, tossing first in breadcrumbs and then in Garda DOP extra virgin olive oil, or grill them, dressing with a drizzle of oil to bring up their full flavour.

Grilled whitefish

The whitefish stands out for its distinctive flavour, best appreciated grilled and seasoned with a sprinkle of Garda DOP olive oil, accompanied by local wines such as Lugana, Custoza or Chiaretto.

The lake fry

It is one of the tastiest dishes in the Garda tradition, based on the aole, lake trout fillets, perch, whitefish and freshwater crayfish, served with fried white polenta and washed down with an excellent, fresh Lugana Doc.

Risotto with asparagus

This spring dish is very popular in the hinterland of the region Garda Veneto, particularly in Rivoli Veronese. In fact, the asparagus loves the sandy soil of this morainic amphitheatre and is one of the specialities of Rivoli, which celebrates it with a dedicated festival between the end of April and the beginning of May. The rice is toasted in Garda DOP extra virgin olive oil with onion, mixed with the asparagus, and moisten with white wine. Once cooked, it is stirred with butter and grated Parmesan cheese.

The veal cheeks fom Sona

(Veal cheeks braised in Bianco di Custoza wine)

Ingredients for 4 persons: 4 veal cheeks (approx. 600 g); 200 ml Custoza white wine; chopped rosemary, sage and garlic; salt, pepper, extra-virgin olive oil; 2 carrots, 1 onion, 2 leeks.

Preparation: Chop the vegetables finely and spread them out on a baking tray. Lay the cheeks on the vegetables (all raw), add garlic, chopped rosemary and sage and finally the olive oil.

Place it in the oven at 150 degrees for 40 minutes, halfway through cooking, turn the cheeks, drizzling with the white Custoza wine.

After 40 minutes of cooking, check if they are cooked by puncturing the cheeks, if water comes out, let them cook until there is no more water. Cut into medallions and serve.

Polenta Carbonèra

This typical local dish can be found in several municipalities of the Garda Veneto region, particularly in Malcesine during village festivals. The old and simple recipe is based on ingredients that are always at hand such as Garda DOP extra virgin olive oil, polenta and Monte Baldo cheese. The result? A variety of the dish known as “consa” in the local dialect, that is, “acconciata”, because melted cheese, traditionally from the mountain pastures of Monte Baldo, is added to the cornmeal.

A small curiosity: it used to be a daily meal of charcoal burners (hence its name) who would carry it with them every day, wrapped in a cloth.

Veal cheeks and tripe

The hinterland of Lake Garda cultivates old recipes handed down through generations, one such example is rabbit with polenta, which can be tried in villages like Bussolengo or Sona.

It is the latter town from where the tradition of stewed veal cheeks comes, sourced strictly from local farms, while in the area of Bussolengo one can appreciate tripe, a poor man’s dish linked to the peasant tradition, to be tried either in broth or cooked alla parmigiana.

The Venetian garronese

There is another delicacy coming from the hinterland of Garda Veneto- garronese. It is a high quality tender and juicy meat from animals of the Garonnese breed raised in Veneto for more than eight months and fed with cereals grown mostly locally, following a production specification.

Delicate and tender, it can be appreciated particularly when eaten raw, but its flavour is also enhanced when served rare or by slow cooking, as in the case of braised and stewed meats.

Maridà rice

Cooking a traditional risotto: toast the rice in butter/oil and gradually add beef stock. Halfway through cooking, add a spoonful of white flour and cook. Prepare the meat sauce with a little tomato on the side. The meat sauce can be cooked in the traditional way with pork and veal, onion and rosemary. The original recipe used chicken or hen meat and its giblets (liver, heart, intestines and ‘ovarole’). Spread very thin alternating layers of rice, cooked ham and cheese on a buttered baking dish.

Complete the dish with grated parmesan cheese and pieces of butter. Place in the oven for a few minutes to mix well and serve very hot.

The black truffle of Monte Baldo

Monte Baldo holds a precious culinary treasure: the ‘tuber melanosporum’, also known as the sweet black truffle. Aromatic and delicate, it has become a true symbol of the Monte Baldo tradition, a speciality of Caprino Veronese.

At the end of August, an entire weekend is dedicated to tasting the typical dishes based on black truffles and products from the Baldense area.

A small curiosity: the Monte Baldo truffle has been known since the 16th century, while at the end of the 19th century there is written evidence of “fragrant and exciting truffles destined to be a delicacy for noble tables”.

Monte Veronese

Monte is the typical cheese of Monte Baldo, produced in the “casére”, in mountainous areas rich in naturally nourishing pastures. Fresh or mature, it is made from about two-thirds whole cow’s milk and the remainder of semi-skimmed milk. The cheese matures in a couple of months in cool, damp cellars, where it is turned regularly.

The Chesnuts of San Zeno DOP

Another feather in the cap of Monte Baldo is the Chesnuts of San Zeno, which obtained the DOP mark in 2003. The strict quality standards have made this product an Italian gastronomic excellence, but that’s not all: the Chesnuts of San Zeno are also a cultural heritage of the townspeople, who gather every year to celebrate them between the end of October and the beginning of November.

Casat del Baldo

One of the most popular and renowned cheeses in Malcesine is ‘Casat del Baldo’. The cheese is made from the milk of cows that graze in the mountains around the village and is characterised by a pleasant aroma with spicy tones.

Peaches and kiwis from Bussolengo

Peach growing has old origins in the Bussolengo area. For a century and a half, peach cultivation, which at first concentrated only on the ‘early’ and ‘white flesh’ cultivars, has been a fundamental part of the local economy. The local area where peaches and nectarines are grown is characterised by a particularly suitable environment in terms of soil type, climate, rainfall and location, protected by the Alpine system and mitigated by Lake Garda.3

Kiwi-growing has also spread rapidly inland from Lake Garda and in the upper and middle Veronese plain. In these areas the climate is favourable to this species, thanks above all to the thermoregulating influence of Lake Garda and the presence of the Lessini Mountains, which slow down the cold air currents from the north.

The broccoli of Custoza

The broccoli of Custoza is a small to medium-sized plant that was once a catch crop for the drier soils of the area. It has an unmistakable taste, very delicate and slightly sweet, to be eaten simply blanched in boiling water, seasoned with extra virgin olive oil and accompanied by a hard-boiled egg and fresh salami or sausage.

Tortellini and Tortelli of Valeggio sul Mincio

Tortellini di Valeggio, in dialect ‘agnolin’, are considered a masterpiece of the local culinary tradition. They are made by hand using the local products for the filling: radish and mature Monte Veronese cheese, leeks, guanciale, the celery of Verona, truffle cream, porcini mushrooms, speck and chestnuts.

How to enjoy the dish? Serve it with butter and sage or in broth. Try it in many restaurants in the village, or at home, bought from local artisan pasta makers.

A small curiosity: two important events are linked to this product, the Festa del Nodo d’Amore, an open-air dinner on the Ponte Visconteo bridge in Borghetto, and the itinerant food and wine festival.

La fogassa de Cavaion

The Fogassa de Cavaion is a typical dessert of the Veneto tradition, made with Garda Dop. extra virgin olive oil, originally from Brenzone sul Garda. It is a recipe of the poor that the women of the past prepared with basic ingredients found at home. Considered as an excellent alternative to bread, today the dish represents a confectionary achievement of the culinary tradition of the Garda area. Prepared and cooked on the “gradela” (grill), over the embers in the hearth.

The Kiss of Bussolengo

The “Valentine’s Kiss” is a typical traditional sweet from Bussolengo, honouring the festival of lovers. The town’s confectioners created this original recipe in 2016. It consists of dry pastry made with egg whites, hazelnuts, sugar and a drop of Strega liqueur, all decorated with a whole hazelnut.

The Cake of Roses

The Cake of Roses is a kind of bread enriched with eggs, butter and sugar, typical for Valeggio sul Mincio. The preparation requires that the dough is left to rest for about six hours and rolled out with a rolling pin. Then a special mould is applied to create a bouquet of roses, the shape typical for this cake.

Peach desserts

Peaches in syrup or filled with amaretti and chocolate are also served there, especially in the inland areas of Garda Veneto and particularly around Sona, Bussolengo and Valeggio sul Mincio. In the best restaurants of Bardolino the tasty desserts such as peach and amaretti strudel are the local secret.

The sanvigilini biscuits

Fragrant shortbread biscuits with raisins, excellent with coffee or liqueurs, originally from Punta San Vigilio, they were served for the first time by Leonard Walsh who had them made on the occasion of the visit of the UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill just after the Second World War.

The Dessert of Valeggio

This typical dessert consists of three layers of sponge cake with vanilla buttercream, chocolate buttercream, covered with soft cocoa icing.

The fogassin

Ingredients: 300 g flour; 3 or 4 tablespoons of sugar; 1 pinch of salt, 1 pinch of baking soda; 3 tablespoons of oil; milk to taste.

Preparation: Make a crater in the flour, add salt, baking soda, a little lemon juice, sugar and oil. Mix with a fork, when the dough is smooth, slowly add the milk and knead vigorously until it forms a ball.

Now roll the ball out to a maximum height of 1.5 cm. When you have shaped your fogassin, brush it, top and bottom, with oil. Now place it on the pre-heated cast-iron tray or over a grill on the fireplace. It should be served cold. Also good with jam or honey and a good glass of red wine.


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