A Taste of Padua: Discovering Authentic Veneto Cuisine

By: Nicole Dickerson / Last updated: November 19, 2023

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

WHAT TO EAT AND DRINK IN PADUA

Aperol
Aperol spritz

Guide to Veneto Gastronomy and Cuisine: Read more

Regional Cuisine:

Belluno, Rovigo, Treviso, Venice, Verona, Vicenza

Aperol

In 1919, one of Italy’s most internationally famous liqueurs was created in Padua. Silvio and Luigi Barbieri created Aperol, a bitter orange liqueur, seven years after inheriting their father’s liquor company. The name of the liqueur was inspired by the French word for an aperitif—apéro. The original recipe still used to make Aperol remains secret to this day, though it’s said to include bitter and sweet oranges and rhubarb. The liqueur grew in popularity internationally with the Aperol spritz, a cocktail served for summertime aperitivo in Italy. It’s made from Aperol, Prosecco, a splash of soda, and garnished with an orange slice.

Baccalà alla Cappuccina

Baccalà alla cappuccina is a flavorful preparation of codfish that is typical of Padua. The double cooking method of first pan-frying and then baking the fish makes it even more delicious:

  • To start the dish, onions are sautéed in butter and oil.
  • The cod is lightly dredged in flour and then added to the pan for cooking. Once the cod has been browned on both sides, raisins, pine nuts, anchovies, bay leaves, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and pepper are added.
  • Everything is covered with vegetable broth or hot water and cooked until the liquid has evaporated.
  • The cod is sprinkled with breadcrumbs for the second round of cooking and then baked until a golden crust has formed.

Gallina Padovana

The Gallina Padovana, or Padovan Chicken, is a unique breed of chicken found in Padua. Its history dates back to the 1300s when Marchese Giovanni Dondi brought an odd-looking chicken back with him following a trip to Poland. The bird started producing unique crossbreeds, which captured the attention of Venetian merchants. Soon enough, the Gallina Padovana, characterized by its red nostrils and pointed feathers emerging from its head, was being exported to other European countries like Belgium, France, and Holland.

Gran Bollito alla Padovana

For meat lovers, the gran bollito alla Padovana is a must-try dish while in the region. It was first prepared when Tuscan scientist Galileo Galilei taught at the University of Padua from 1604 to 1629. Bollito misto was one of his favorite dishes, and Galileo wanted to prepare it for his students. His dated shopping list proves as much, listing ingredients like duck, chicken, beef, tongue, cotechino, and veal head. Fatty cuts of meat are the best for gran bollito because they don’t become stringy while boiling. While carrots, celery, onion, parsley, cloves, and bay leaves are typical ingredients, lard, Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated stale bread, an egg yolk, and a clove of garlic may also be added.

Oca in Onto

In Padua, farmer’s wives would make a goose preserve known as ‘Oca in Onto’ or goose in fat. This confit preserves the geese over the winter months to be enjoyed into the following summer. Today, only a handful of producers are making Oca in Onto for sale.

Sfilacci di Cavallo

Additionally, horsemeat is widely eaten in the province of Padua, where there is a long tradition of horse breeding. Sfilacci di Cavallo is a local delicacy of thin strips of dried horsemeat. Legend has it that a local farmer left pieces of horsemeat on the hearth for too long while drying them out. So as not to waste the overly dry meat, he began to beat and fray the meat to make it edible; if you’re interested in trying sfilacci di cavallo while in Padua, head to Macelleria di Coppiello Giovanni, where this delicacy has been made since the 1980s.

Torta Pazientina

For dessert in Padua, try the regional favorite torta pazientina. This cake is made from layers of almond shortcrust, soft sponge cake, and Cittadella polenta. Zabaglione cream is spread between layers, garnishing the cake with extravagant chocolate flakes. Torta pazientina was created in the 1600s by Franciscan friars at the Basilica of Sant’Antonio monastery. The name may refer to the patience required to make this elaborate dessert.

VOV

Another famous liqueur from Padua, VOV, is an egg liqueur created by Gian Battista Pezziol with the extra eggs left over from his nougat business. Pezziol added sugar and Marsala wine to make a sweet liqueur, which became highly popular in the Austrian court. The beverage was first known as vovi, or eggs, in the Venetian dialect.

WINES OF THE VENETO

The Veneto Region in Italy offers a variety of experiences for wine enthusiasts. From the quaint wine villages of Valpolicella to the vibrant Prosecco wine country, the region is known for producing famous wines like Amarone, Prosecco, and Soave, making it a prime destination for those passionate about wine.

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Nicole Dickerson

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