10 Things to eat in Mantua and where

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Joel Fulleda

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Mantua, a beautiful city in northern Italy, is also the ideal place for lovers of good food.
Here dishes are handed down from generation to generation based on local products.
The culinary tradition is the result of history, in which the Gonzaga court reigned for a long time and the food is the perfect mix between peasant authenticity and aristocratic creativity.
Here's what to taste in Mantua!


  1. Pumpkin tortelli
  2. Agnoli in broth
  3. Rice to the pilot
  4. Donkey stew
  5. Pike in sauce
  6. crumble Cake
  7. Noodles cake
  8. I understood
  9. Risotto with saltarelli
  10. Bigoli with sardines
  11. Where to eat in Mantua: best restaurants, typical bars and street food
  12. User questions and comments

1 - Pumpkin tortelli

It is a typical dish of the Christmas holidays but which is found every day on the Mantuan tables.
These tortelli, rigorously handmade with fresh egg pasta have a pumpkin-based filling mixed with amaretti, Mantuan mustard, nutmeg, parmesan and spices.
They are seasoned mainly with melted butter and parmesan, but there are those who prefer tomato sauce.

  • Recommended to: Lunch Dinner
  • Average cost: € 8,00
  • Main ingredients: fresh egg pasta, pumpkin, amaretto, mustard, parmesan, spices

2 - Agnoli in broth

Similar to Bolognese tortellini, they differ slightly in their non-circular shape and filling.
Egg pasta is stuffed with beef stew in white wine, pork salami, bacon, eggs and spices.

In the Mantuan tradition the agnoli were served on Christmas Eve in meat broth, today they can always be eaten, both soupy and dry seasoned with butter and sage.

  • Recommended to: Lunch Dinner
  • Average cost: € 8,00
  • Main ingredients: egg pasta, beef stew, sausage, bacon, eggs, meat broth

3 - Pilot rice

A must dish of traditional Mantuan cuisine is this risotto, which was also served in the times of the Gonzagas in court families.
The "pilots" were the workers in charge of the pile, a mortar used for peeling and cleaning the rice.
This rice it is made with pork pistume (salamelle) and creamed with parmesan but the secret to having it perfect is the right amount of water and rice because the final result must not be creamy but dry and grainy.

  • Recommended to: Lunch Dinner
  • Average cost: € 8,00
  • Main ingredients: semi-fine vialone nano rice, salami, parmesan

4 - Donkey stew

A tasty and tasty dish that is prepared by making marinate the donkey meat for 12/24 hours in Lambrusco wine and then "overcooked" for 3-4 hours over low heat until it frays.
The dish comes served with polenta soft or grilled that goes perfectly with the sauce.
Since donkey meat is difficult to find in recent times, it can be replaced with beef.

  • Recommended to: Lunch Dinner
  • Average cost: € 14,00
  • Main ingredients: donkey meat, lambrusco, spices, celery and carrot

5 - Pike in sauce

An ancient dish that has always been widespread in Mantuan kitchens that highlights the flavor of pike: typical fish of the Mantuan freshwater streams, with a strong flavor and intense flavor.

The pike it is boiled and flavored with a sauce based on wine, capers and vegetables e served warm accompanied by toasted polenta.
Unfortunately, it is a specialty that is disappearing as pike is not a fish that can be kept and its growth in running waters is very slow.

  • Recommended to: Lunch Dinner
  • Average cost: € 13,00
  • Main ingredients: pike, white wine, capers, vegetables, corn polenta

6 - Sbrisolona

It is a typical Mantuan dessert, whose name derives from "brisà" which means crumb; in fact the cake is roughly kneaded in order to give a grainy and particularly crumbly consistency!

Made with corn flour, butter and almonds it is excellent to be enjoyed as a dessert dipped in a good sweet wine such as Malvasia or Moscato.

  • Recommended to: breakfast, snack, dessert
  • Average cost: € 7,50 a medium cake
  • Main ingredients: corn flour, butter, almonds

7 - Tagliatelle cake

This traditional dessert was once prepared on the night of Saint Lucia, December 13 to be consumed at Christmas.

The preparation is twofold: first it is done a pastry made with eggs and flour (like the one for tagliatelle) cut into thin strips which will enrich the cake pan in layers, then the dough will be placed inside based on butter, almonds and sugar.
The result is three layers of tagliatelle interspersed with almond cream and is baked for 40 minutes.

  • Recommended to: snack, dessert, snack
  • Average cost: € 7,00 medium sized cake
  • Main ingredients: egg pasta, soft wheat flour, butter, almonds, sugar

8 - Capunsei

Known as Bread Gnocchi, are a dish of the Mantuan peasant tradition and can be eaten in broth or dry, seasoned with melted butter, parmesan, or meat sauce.
The ancient recipe was imported to the Lombardy area by Tyrolean emigrants and is based on breadcrumbs, Grana Padano, butter, onion, garlic, broth and nutmeg.

These ingredients are mixed with cheese and eggs and once mixed well it is necessary to form elongated gnocchi to be cooked in boiling water or broth.

  • Recommended to: Lunch Dinner
  • Average cost: € 8,00
  • Main ingredients: breadcrumbs, parmesan, onion, broth, eggs

9 - Risotto with saltarelli

Often considered a single dish, risotto with saltarelli is based on river shrimp (saltarelli or jumpi once abounded in the Mantuan waterways) which are fried in hot oil and put on a white risotto made only with nano-grown vialone rice grown in the Scaligeri rice fields, broth and onion.

The dish should be served after having creamed the rice with a knob of butter and parmesan and brought to the table with hot saltarelli.

  • Recommended to: Lunch Dinner
  • Average cost: € 12,00
  • Main ingredients: saltarelli, rice, broth, onion, parmesan, oil for frying

10 - Bigoli with sardines

This is the main dish of the centenary "La Bigolada" festival which is celebrated every year on Ash Wednesday in Casel d'Ario.
Pasta, similar to one thick spaghetti, it is made with soft wheat, water, egg and salt; once mixed, the mixture is put in the press (an ancient instrument) from which the bigoli originate, which must be rough in order to retain the sauces.
Vanno seasoned with onion and sardines washed and clean from the bones that must be slowly dissolved in hot oil.

  • Recommended to: Lunch Dinner
  • Average cost: € 12,00
  • Main ingredients: bigoli, sardines, onion, oil

Where to eat in Mantua: best restaurants, typical bars and street food

Mantua as well as being a beautiful city to be discovered on foot or by bicycle is also the perfect place to enjoy traditional dishes in its beautiful taverns.
You can taste the cuisine, defined as princes and the people because it has always agreed everyone, almost everywhere because here certainly there is no shortage of trattorias, fresh pasta shops, pastry shops and places to sit for an aperitif.
But if you want to taste some typical products, here are the addresses to keep in mind!

1 - Trattoria due cavallini

  • Description: family-run restaurant consisting of 3 soberly furnished rooms with a small garden offering traditional cuisine.
  • specialty: donkey stew, macaroni stew, pumpkin ravioli
  • Average price: from € 18,00 per person
  • Address: via Salnitro, 5, Tel: 0376 322084 - Get directions

2 - The Troubadour

  • Description: warm and welcoming restaurant a stone's throw from Palazzo Ducale serves Mantuan cuisine and traditional dishes
  • specialty: pumpkin and gorgonzola risotto, pumpkin tortelli
  • Average price: from € 16,00 per person
  • Address: piazza Sordello, 49, Tel: 0376 196 0178 - Get directions

3 - Il Cigno dei Martini restaurant

  • Description: elegant restaurant with wooden furniture and design, which offers Mantuan dishes inspired by the Gonzaga recipe books
  • specialty: agnoli, capon, pike in sauce
  • Average price: from € 30,00 per person
  • Address: piazza Carlo D'Arco, 1, Tel: 0376 327101 - Get directions

4 - Osteria dell'Oca

  • Description: wooden tables, copper pots and various trinkets are the background to this rustic tavern that offers exquisite dishes
  • specialty: tagliatelle del baffo, pumpkin tortelli, cold cuts platters
  • Average price: from € 20,00 per person
  • Address: via Trieste, 10, Tel: 0376 327171 - Get directions

5 - Pavesi Pastry Bakery

  • Description: traditional place ideal for buying fresh handmade pasta and typical desserts from Mantua
  • specialty: tagliatelle cake, sbrisolona, ​​agnoli, pumpkin tortelli, capunsei
  • Average price: from € 4,00 per person
  • Address: via Broletto, 19, Tel: 351 588 5191 - Get directions

6 - Osteria la Bottega

  • Description: welcoming and warm place offers a traditional menu with typical products
  • specialty: donkey stew, understood
  • Average price: from € 27,00 per person
  • Address: via Filippo Corridoni, 44, Tel: 0376 223568 - Get directions
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