Italy on the road
Where and what to eat in Verona: discover traditional dishes in the best trattorias
Wandering through traditional wines and first courses to enjoy the best of Verona’s gastronomic offer
In the Veneto region, as well as being enchanted by the incredible quality and variety of wines (from sparkling wines to important reds), one can eat decidedly well, including traditional dishes and high quality raw materials. Verona is the most populous city in the Veneto region and also one of the most interesting, not only from a food and wine perspective.
So here is a journey across the tastiest trattorias in Verona, where you can discover traditional dishes to enjoy with a vintage prosecco or a glass of Amarone della Valpolicella wine, which will stay in the memory of your palate forever. And not just for the tannins.
First, we need to make an important overview of food and wine.
What do people eat in Verona and the Veneto region?
Among the most classic first courses there are two risotto recipes, of course. Amarone risotto has a purplish colour that pleases the eye as well as the palate, and is cooked using strictly local products, including Valone Nano rice, Amarone wine from Valpolicella and grated Monte Veronese cheese. The one called al Tastasal (in local dialect this means ‘taste the salt’) was historically made to check that the meat used for sausages and salami was properly salted.
A good full-bodied wine is also an essential ingredient for delicious meat dishes, also to make at home by following our recipe for fillet steak with red wine sauce.
But if you would like to taste the most iconic dish of the Verona area, you should go for a lesso (the traditional stew) with pearà, a sauce made of breadcrumbs, broth, and ox marrow, with its delicate flavour made spicy by the addition of plenty of pepper.
Wondering which wines to choose to accompany a meal in the city of Romeo and Juliet? You’ll be spoilt for choice.
The region of Veneto is one of the most sparkling (and not just in terms of white wine bubbles!) Italian regions in terms of wine production: it comprises 28 D.O.C. (controlled designation of origin) areas and another 15 D.O.C.G. (controlled and warranted designation of origin) areas, with boundaries that often overlap.
Five wine districts can be identified by making a macro-distinction. Knowing these, one can already start out well prepared for the region that has been hosting Vinitaly, the impressive wine fair since 1967.
The districts are: Valpolicella, Lugana, Soave, Colli Berici (where the ‘deep red’ Carmenere is produced), and of course Conegliano-Valdobbiadene. A small world in a region.
Three interesting facts about Verona
Everyone comes to Verona to see Romeo and Juliet’s balcony and touch her statue, looking for luck in love. This magnificent city of art, a UNESCO heritage site, has an ancient history and world-famous monuments, so here are a few curiosities to learn about its darker sides too:
The city was divided in two in 1801: the Austrians settled on the left bank of the Adige, the river that runs through it, and the French on the right bank. The former French side is now the elegant old town, while the side to the left of the river is known as Veronetta and is the university area of the city, dotted with nightlife venues.
One of the city’s many legends has it that the Arena, Verona’s famous landmark amphitheatre, was built by demons in one night, at the plea of a prisoner sentenced to death who allegedly sold his soul in exchange for a majestic work to boast about to the city to save his life. It was then left unfinished due to the intervention of angels, sent by the Virgin Mary at the invocation of the repentant convict himself.
Verona is home to the oldest library in the world, which is still in operation: the Biblioteca Capitolare di Verona preserves more than 1,200 ancient manuscripts, 268 incunabula and no less than 11,000 parchments. A place to include on the list of must-do stops in the city.
Where to eat in Verona: our mini guide
After crossing the Porta del Leoni, visited the splendid Arena and strolled around Piazza delle Erbe, where could you go for a bite to eat and discover the city through its cuisine?
Here are five highly recommended places to taste classic dishes and innovative alternatives.
Trattoria Arco dei Gavi
Corso Cavour, 43
A splendid view over the river, just a stone’s throw from the Arena and Castelvecchio bridge: this family-run trattoria offers a classic cuisine belonging to the Veronese tradition and beyond. Bigoli al ragù d’anatra (bigoli pasta with duck ragout), risotto all ‘Amarone (Amarone wine risotto), and a selection of stews (with various sauces) truly worthy of note. Not a meat fan? Turn to baccalà mantecato con polenta (creamed cod with polenta), the regional pride.
Trattoria al Pompiere
Vicolo Regina D’Ungheria, 5
Established in the first half of the last century as a simple osteria, thanks to the idea of a fireman with a passion for cooking. Since it has never had an official name, it has always been called ‘dal Pompiere’ by its regular customers.
Simple and cosy, it offers an incredible selection of cold meats (35 different ones) and cheeses (a hundred or so, all Italian), as well as more classic dishes but with a touch of creativity. Among the main courses, the grisa chicken egg frittata with broccolo fiolaro and ricotta di malga is something truly unique in its simplicity.
Via Dietro Pallone, 1
Listed in the Michelin guide, this historic trattoria in the Borgo Filippi district is brimming with vintage objects and has a cellar dating back to 1200, with many interesting labels for both wines and spirits. Here you can taste donkey stew, a dish that would otherwise be difficult to find, as well as pastissada de caval (a horse stew). Decidedly not a place for vegetarians.
Locanda 4 cuochi
Via Alberto Mario, 12
Two pupils of the two-star chef Perbellini have taken over this contemporary trattoria with its seasonal menu that keeps an eye on tradition: offering inn-like prices, here you find high quality, which pleases the eye and fills the belly. Poor ingredients are enhanced: for sophisticated dining, but without too many flights of fancy.
Via Carlo Cattaneo, 11
An extravagant mix of styles, from the dishes to the menu, in a decidedly unusual setting with paintings on the walls and Christmas lights. Surely you would expect dishes that mix the exotic with the creative, but instead here we find the more traditional stew selection with pearà and the famous black truffle pappardelle with a Monte Veronese fondue.