Mantuan cuisine has its roots in the Gonzaga royal tradition combined with popular dishes. Local cuisine is considered fine dining in its creations yet simple and practical in making use of all the natural resources that Mantuan earth and waters have to offer.
One of the most fun activities to do while in Mantua is enjoying a meal in one of the many typical trattorie or restaurants in the city. Among the most traditional meals of Mantua there are the pumpkin tortelli, usually eaten on Christmas Eve, the agnelli in brodo, fresh pasta with meat filling in broth, and the risotto alla pilota, named after the pilarini del riso, served with local sausage pesto and puntèl, stewed pork chops.
Pork is the absolute leader of the Mantuan cuisine . Among the many traditional meals made of pork we should highlight the salame mantovano, the gras pistà with garlic and parsley served on steaming polenta, and cotechino, served with mashed potatoes or lentils.
Other delicious meals are the stracotto d’asino and the luccio in salsa, both served with polenta, and Stefani’s capon, served on a bed of fresh salad, raisins and pine nuts from the old recipe belonging to the Gonzaga royal chef.
Mantua is the only area in Italy where Grana Padano and Parmigiano Reggiano cheeses are produced, both of which are usually served with Mostarda di Mantova, made from small, sour green apples called mele campanine. Mantua’s traditional dessert is Torta Sbrisolona, made with yellow corn flour, almonds and lard. One of the most popular dessert in the city is the Elvezia cake, created in Mantua in the eighteenth century by Swiss confectioners. On Christmas locals also eat the Anello di Monaco, a typical cake that you can find exclusively in Mantua although its roots are German. Mantua is also renowned for its collection of fine red and white wines from the hillside of Colli Morenici, which are enjoying an increasing recognition all over the world, and the Mantuan Lambrusco DOC.