The cuisine of Trentino-Alto Adige is a tasty blend of Mediterranean flavors, mountain cooking and German influences.
The quality of food is generally high; you don’t necessarily have to go to a fancy restaurant to taste the excellent cuisine of Trentino-Alto Adige; just stop at a local malga (mountain hut) during your hike!
Here’s what you’re likely to find on the menu:
First courses: Canederli, Spatzle, Schlutzkrapfen
–Canederli: flour and bread dumplings, which can be eaten in broth or with butter and a sprinkle of Trentingrana, and flavored with speck, or cheese, or spinach in the classic versions.
–Spatzle: small gnocchi made with eggs, flour, and water, which can be eaten with a simple butter and chives condiment. They can also be made with spinach.
–Schlutzkrapfen, or mezzelune: semi-circular stuffed pasta, similar to ravioli, usually filled with ricotta and spinach.
Fresh lake and river fish, such as trout and salmerino, game, rabbit and venison goulash are popular as second courses.
Cured meats: speck, luganega, mortandela, carne salada
A traditional meal will often involve some type of cured meat, the most famous in Trentino-Alto Adige being speck, a dry-cured, lightly smoked ham, eaten sliced by itself or used in recipes (think the classic canederli). Panino con lo speck (speck sandwich) is a popular option with hikers when out on a trek for the day.
Lucanica is the traditional cold cut every farmer’s family makes: it has a delicate spicy taste, with a scent of pepper and garlic.
When staying at Pineta, a classic of the Val di Non you have to try is the mortandela, a smoked pork salami shaped like a meatball. It can be eaten raw by itself, or cooked, combined with polenta, potatoes, sauerkraut or boiled vegetables.
Carne salada is another typical cured meat of Trentino-Alto Adige, generally made with the beef’s thigh (sometimes with horse or calf).
Cheese: Trentingrana, Casolet, Vezzena, Puzzone di Moena
The cuisine of Trentino-Alto Adige is rich in cheeses, which comes as no surprise, given the amount of pastures cows can graze on. The climate, the healthy environment, the excellent mountain fodder, the avoidance of silage and genetically modified feed, the presence of small and medium-sized family farms all contribute to the production of excellent quality milk, which is reflected in the wonderful taste of the local cheeses, chief among them Trentingrana, widely used in recipes, and delicious by itself too.
There are too many cheeses in Trentino-Alto Adige to list them all; some of the most popular include the Puzzone di Moena, a Slow Food presidium in its summer version, produced with raw milk from mountain pastures; the Casolet from the Val di Sole, a delicate, sweet cheese eaten fresh, perfect for quiches and frittata; the Vezzena, a cheese produced since ancient times on the Folgaria, Lavarone and Luserna plateaus, which, until the First World War, was the only cheese in Trentino to be used in soups and canederli. Apparently, it was also Emperor Franz Joseph’s favorite cheese!
Desserts: Strudel, Sacher Torte, Kaiserschmarren
Desserts are often made with apples, pears or plums, as these fruits are widely cultivated in the region (Val di Non for example is known as the valley of apples). One of the most famous cakes in Trentino-Alto Adige’s cuisine is strudel, layered pastry filled with apples, raisins, pine nuts and cinnamon. Other popular treats include the sachertorte, a chocolate cake, and kaiserschmarren, a shredded pancake with blueberry jam, another favorite of the Austrian emperor Franz Joseph.
White, red and rosé wines: Teroldego, Lagrein, Muller Thurgau
Trentino-Alto Adige has been making wine for a long time, since the Romans inhabited these lands. Today, the region produces a wide variety of white, red and rosé wines, in dry and sparkling versions. Famous ones include the white Gewürztraminer and Muller Thurgau, and reds like Teroldego and Lagrein. Accompany dessert with Vino Santo, a dessert wine made from local Nosiola grapes. Finally, end your meal with one of the local grappas, truly a must!
Incidentally, beer lovers also won’t be disappointed as Trentino-Alto Adige produces excellent artisanal beers.
Food-themed roads: The Road of Trentino’s Wine and Flavors
Besides the aforementioned malghe, a great way to explore the cuisine of Trentino-Alto Adige is by driving one of its food-themed roads, where tasting opportunities abound: Strada del Vino e dei Sapori del Trentino (The Road of Trentino’s Wine and Flavors), Strada dei Formaggi delle Dolomiti (The Road of the Dolomites’ Cheeses), and the Strada della Mela e dei Sapori delle Valli di Non e Sole (The Road of Apple and Flavors from Val di Non and Sole). There are several producers along these itineraries where to taste and buy the local delicacies (for a list, click here).
During the autumn season, take part in the traditional Torggelen, the tasting of the new wine, accompanied with chestnuts, either before or after a hike. Autumn is also a time of food festivals all around the region, celebrating the local bounty, from chestnuts to apples, from cheeses to wine.
And if you like ‘stellar’ restaurants, Trentino-Alto Adige has plenty of them too. There are six Michelin-starred restaurants in Trentino. Locanda Margon (Ravina) was recently assigned two stars, the only dining establishment in Trentino. The other five claim the no less coveted one star, they are: El Molin (Cavalese), Ristorante Dolomieu (Madonna di Campiglio), Gallo Cedrone (Hotel Bertelli, Madonna di Campiglio), Malga Panna (Moena), Ristorante ‘L Chimpl (Vigo di Fassa).
Taste Trentino, the website dedicated to the typical cuisine of Trentino-Alto Adige, has recommendations on places to eat here.
And don’t forget, Pineta Hotels has a typical Osteria Trentina too, where you can taste Chef Mattia’s delicious recipes, strictly made with local and seasonal ingredients, while Andreas will advise you on the best wines and beers.
Find more Trentino-Alto Adige’s travel tips here.
– Silvia Donati