A voyage of discovery among traditional tastes and smells
Bardolino is particularly known for the high quality of its land and fruits, especially olive trees and vines offering products of excellence such as the olive oil Olio Garda DOP and the Bardolino DOC and DOCG wines; they both perfectly match with traditional dishes.
However, it is important not to forget that Bardolino is a lake town and it is traditionally bound up with fishing; especially in the past, it was a fundamental wealth source for all inhabitants.
It was an important industry to such an extent that it affected the configuration of the residential area: during the Middle Ages Bardolino was given a “comb-shaped” structure, also known as “fishbone”.
The houses were built one behind the other thus engendering perpendicular streets and allowing to pull the boats in front of the fishermen’s houses.
Over the years the economy of the village has gradually changed and today tourism is the main industry; there are a few professionals in the field but lake fish still forms part of the best traditional dishes.
Lake Garda offers a huge range of fish species. First of all the refined carp (carpione) that was already known during the Middle Ages, although today it is threatened with extinction.
Together with the carp, the main species living and caught in the lake are: trout, lavaret, char, lake sardine, alburnus alborella (also known as àola), eel, tench, chub and pike.
A typical boat of Lake Garda is the Bissa, once used in fishing and today known for the popular competition called “Regata delle bisse”.
The culinary tradition of Bardolino and the eastern shore of the lake is affected by the whole surrounding region, including Verona and often Trento and Lombardy. The outcome is a huge range of rich recipes, including both meat and fish dishes.
There are also products of excellence coming from the hinterland and enhancing the local dishes: the asparago bianco from Rivoli Veronese and the radicchio IGP (Protected Geographical Indication) from Verona; the mountain region offers the tartufo nero of Monte Baldo but also local cheese such as the delicious Monte Veronese.
Finally the famous marrone DOP (Protected Designation of Origin) that is the local chestnut coming from San Zeno di Montagna; it perfectly matches with a glass of “Bardolino Novello”.
“Eating means incorporating a territory”
The lake restaurateurs offer both traditional and revised menus using the most refined local ingredients.
Restaurants and trattorie offer delicious main dishes such as risotto con la tinca (with tench) and bigoli con le aole; the latter is a dish made of fresh pasta similar to spaghetti with brined alborelle (aole).
The alborella is emulsified with the local olive oil to season the luccio in salsa (pike with sauce), served with fresh or roasted polenta.
Another fish dish is the lavarello ai ferri (grilled lavaret), a white and tick fish with a few bones belonging to the Salmonidae family. As an alternative, you can try the grilled lake trout or sardines.
The trout can be also cooked “en saor”, with a light sweet and sour sauce.
Finally, you can’t miss the mixed fried fish!
Meat main dishes include risotto al tastasal – made with minced pork meat seasoned with salt and pepper – and tripe (in soup or alla parmigiana).They are followed by second courses such as the lesso con la pearà, the traditional holidays recipe. It consists of boiled meat seasoned with a rich sauce made of breadcrumbs, soup and pepper.
Another speciality is the anàra col pien, an old recipe coming from the countryside and consisting of stuffed duck.
The Verona tradition includes the delicious gnocchi di patate, the small dumpling made of potato offered all year round and particularly during the Carnival period: a quite simple but really tasty recipe, usually flavoured with tomato sauce.
To end in style with a touch of sweetness there is a wide selection of home-made products, such as the fogassa: a sweet focaccia cooked through the traditional “gradela”, that is a small grill laid over the embers of a fireplace.
Sanvigilini biscuits are also a typical sweet of the region; they are made of butter, sugar, eggs and raisin.
Finally, the sbrisolona: this short crust with almonds comes from Mantua but it is also made here; its name refers to its crumbliness and it is a perfect way of ending your meal, together with a drop of grappa.
Some sweets are especially made for festivities:, such as the brasadèla pasquale, the Christmas nadalìn and the sòssole during the carnival period.
Where to eat
Bardolino holds numerous places where you can taste all of these dishes, including both lake dishes and the ones coming from the other areas of the region.
You will find a lot of restaurants and trattorie with traditional menus but also bakeries and pastry shops!
Are you looking for an appetizing choice? You can taste everything you want during the festivals of Bardolino (including Cisano and Calmasino) with their food and beverage stands. Discover the events calendar with a click!
If you want to buy local products, don’t miss the stalls along the lakefront and the weekly markets.