Typical Recipes

Lake Garda is spread across the three regions Trentino, Veneto and Lombardy which have created a mixed and varied cuisine based on their respective gastronomic traditions.
The peculiar features of this blend of mild, elegant and genuine flavours are the result of the work of fishermen and farmers who have been able to develop high-quality production chains.


Lesso and Pearà

The bedrocks of the eastern shore cuisine and the entire Verona territory. A dish that is a must during holidays and special occasions. Pearà is a flavourful/aromatic sauce whose taste is strongly/deeply influenced by pepper.

Pearà is a sauce made to use leftover bread that is mixed with ox bone marrow and meat broth. It is eaten with boiled meat, especially during festivities and holidays. According to legend, the cook at Queen Rosmunda’s court invented this sauce to comfort her when the Langobard King Alboin forced her to drink from a special chalice made from Cunimondo’s skull, Rosmunda’s father.


  • 500 g stale bread
  • 100 g ox bone marrow
  • 100 g extra virgin oil
  • 100 cl hot broth
  • salt
  • pepper

(1g = 0.035 ounces)

First boil the meat (beef, chicken) in abundant hot water and add salt, carrot, onion and celery. Let it boil for about 2 hours or until the meat is perfectly cooked (if you use a pressure cooker, cooking time halve). Once the meat is ready, boil the bones which contain ox marrow and afterwards, remove the marrow from the bones with the help of a knife or small spoon. Roast it in a clay pot with olive oil or butter. Add then the bread crumbs and let them toast for a couple of minutes. In the meantime, heat up the broth obtained from the boiled meat. Slowly pour the hot broth (circa two ladles per person) on the roasted bread and mix until you get the texture of a sauce, which has to be liquid but not too soupy. Let everything simmer for about 2 hours. When it’s almost fully cooked, add salt and a lot of pepper, as the traditional recipe wants. Serve the Pearà hot, together with boiled meat and vegetables.


Risotto Tastasal

The name of this risotto derives from the so-called "Tastasal", the procedure that is used to verify the quantity of salt when producing sausages. Tastasal is the quantity of minced meat that is sampled to verify the taste before inserting this mixture into casings and produce sausage. This quantity is used to prepare a very tasty risotto and one of the main primi (first courses) of the Veronese tradition.

Tastasal is minced pork meat mixed with salt, pepper and garlic, the basic sausage ingredients.


  • 400 g Vialone nano rice
  • 350 g Tastasàl (minced meat)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 100 g of butter
  • onion
  • parmesan cheese
  • nutmeg
  • meat broth

(1g = 0.035 ounces)

Put the rice in a pot with boiling broth. Stir slowly and when the rice has absorbed all the liquid, gradually add more broth. In the meantime, heath the Tastasal mixture in a pan with butter, a chopped onion and 1 clove of garlic. When three quarters of the cooking time of the rice is over, the meat mixture is added and stirred well. Serve with grated? Parmesan and nutmeg.


Bigoli Pasta with Sardines

This traditional dish from Lake Garda, prepared with sardines from the lake, is a food eaten during Lent. Bigoli is a particular type of long pasta, prepared using a pasta press in order to roughen the surface, which makes it easier to absorb the sauce.

Bigoli con le sarde used to be prepared especially on Christmas Eve and on Good Friday, days when people were supposed to renounce meat.


  • for 4 people
  • 300 g lake sardines
  • 400 g bigoli
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 3-4 cherry tomatoes
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil
  • parsley

(1g = 0.035 ounces)

First, the sardines are cleaned up removing the scales and the fishbone then cut into small pieces. The sauce is prepared in a large pan with some oil, the sardines and the tomatoes, cooked on a low heat until the sardines are melted. The procedure is quite easy, but one has to be careful that the sardines do not fry in the oil. Now, the heat is turned off and the garlic, parsley, salt and pepper are added to the sauce. Meanwhile cook the bigoli in a pot, drain it and add it to the sardine sauce in the pan. Stir, merge and serve.


Pike and Polenta

Pike is one of the most fished species in Lake Garda. It is traditionally prepared in "salsa gardesana" and served with creamy polenta.

The recipe is not difficult, but you do need to be methodical in preparing it.


  • 1 pike, at least 2 kg*
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 6 herring (Alosa agone) or anchovies filets in olive oil
  • a handful of capers
  • bay leaves
  • chopped parsley
  • 1 cup of vinegar
  • 1 cup of olive oil

(1g = 0.035 ounces)

First cut of the pike’s head and tail, then cut it into three equal parts. Place the head and the tail into a pot with cold water and add the carrot, the onion, the celery stalk, two garlic clove halves, 1 bay leaf, a splash of vinegar and a pinch of salt. Bring all to boil and let it simmer for at least 20 minutes, until there is a flavoursome and tasty fish stock. Sieve the soup and bring it to boil once more. Now add the three pike parts and leave it to cook for roughly 20 minutes. In the meantime, prepare the sauce by frying the garlic in the saucepan with oil until golden brown. Then add the minced fillets of fish, the bay leaves, the capers and the vinegar and leave it to cook for a few minutes. Pour the sauce over the minced pike, wrap the dish in cling foil and store it in the fridge for a few days, until it fully unfolds its flavour.


Tortellini di Valeggio

Famous even beyond the region, the tortellini from Valeggio are actually called "nodo d’amore" (love knot) because of their form. Their particularly thin egg pastry makes them light and distinct from all other types of filled pasta. The recipe is a closely guarded secret, but visitors can taste them during the Love Knot Festival (Festa dell nodo d’amore) held every year in Borghetto (Valeggio sul Mincio).


Amarone Risotto

This dish, in which two excellent local products come together in perfect harmony, is one of the most famous from the region! "Vialone Nano Veronese" rice IGP from Isola della Scala, together with Valpolicella Amarone, create a tasty and unique dish which is among the most popular in Northern Italy.


  • 320 g "Vialone Nano Veronese" rice IGP (protected geographic designation of origin)
  • 1/2 bottle of Valpolicella Amarone wine DOC (controlled designation of origin)
  • 160 g “Grana Padano” Parmesan cheese DOP (protected designation of origin)
  • 100 g onion
  • 40 g butter
  • 30 g beef marrow
  • 1 l meat stock

(1g = 0.035 ounces)

Chop the onion finely and put it in a saucepan with 20 g butter. Add the minced beef marrow and simmer for five minutes. Add the "Vialone Nano" rice and roast at medium heat, then pour half of the warm Amarone wine into the saucepan. Simmer the risotto and gradually add hot stock with a soup ladle so that the rice does not dry up. Bring the rice to the boil, while constantly stirring with a wooden spoon. Once the risotto is cooked, add the remaining Amarone wine and the stock, if necessary. Mix with the remaining butter and sprinkle with 60 g grated Parmesan cheese. It is of course best paired with an Amarone of the Valpolicella region!


Potatoe Gnocchi

"Venerdì Gnocolar" is the last Friday of Carnival and the day when everybody in Verona eat potatoe gnocchi. This recipe is a must during carnival but it is eaten the entire year, with a tomato sauce and a generous quantity of grated parmesan. Real gnocchi are unquestionably made by hand.

Preparing gnocchi at home is an ancient tradition in Verona and on Lake Garda. The recipe is easy, fast and affordable for everybody.

Ingredients: (for 4 people):

  • 450 g floury potatoes
  • 150 g soft flour 00 (fine, ultra white Italian)  
  • salt

Potatoes are peeled and cut in small regular pieces to have a uniform cooking and then cooked in a large pot of salted water until tender. Take them out of the water and let them cool a bit, then use a potato masher and add a pinch of salt and the flour. Knead the dough until it is soft and homogeneous. If the dough is too sticky, then add a little quantity of flour to make sure the gnocchi will be soft. At this point, form long "snakes" that have to be cut into pieces of 2 cm. Then use the fingers, a fork or special gnocchi tools to give them their famous form. This is an important passage because the uneven surface of gnocchi retains the sauce much easier. Finally, gnocchi are cooked in a pot of salted boiling water for a few minutes and eaten with every kind of sauce.


Horse stew (Pastissada de caval)

Horse stew is served as a second course especially on important occasions, as its preparation takes some time. This dish can be traced back to ancient times, to the reign of the first Lombard king Alboin.

From 569 AD to 572 AD, the city of Verona was being under the siege of enemies several times. During one of these battles many horses were killed outside the city walls. The starving people of Verona found a way to use the horse meat, conserving it under wine and herbs.

Ingredients: (for 4 people)

  • 1 kg. horsemeat
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 kg. white onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 l Valpolicella wine
  • Bay leaves
  • cinnamon
  • nutmeg
  • 1 glass of oil
  • salt

The secret of a good pastissada de caval is time, as the preparation of this dish should start at least two days before and it should boil several times. At first, brown the minced onions and the chopped meat in oil, then add the diced carrots and the spices (cloves, bay leaves, cinnamon nutmeg). Finally, cover the meat with red wine and bring to a boil, leave then simmering for about 2 hours. On the second day, simmer again for 2 hours or more, until the meat falls apart and creates a homogeneous mixture with the vegetable. On the third day, heat up the pastissada and serve it with polenta or gnocchi.


Marinated Sardines (Sarde in Saor)

Pickling is a traditional preservation method that consists of soaking food in vinegar. Sailors invented the method to keep fish fresh on ships. It is a typical dish from Lake Garda and the parts of the Veneto close to the sea.

The sardines taste better, if you let them rest for at least 24 hours.

Ingredients: (for 4 people)

  • 600 g sardines
  • 2 eggs
  • breadcrumbs
  • white wine vinegar
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 30 g dried raisins
  • 30 g pine nuts
  • 1 tbs sugar

(1g =0.035 ounces)

Clean, wash and dry the sardines. Coat them with whisked eggs and breadcrumbs. Fry the sardines in oil for about two minutes, then drain and dray them. Pour half a cup of oil in the saucepan,and add two glasses of heated vinegar, the raisins, the pine nuts and the sugar. Boil up the mixture for a few minutes. Arrange the sardines on the serving tray, sprinkle each layer with marinade, especially the last one. Let it rest 24 hours, then serve.