Mantua typical dishes

Mantova’s cuisine is defined ‘of princes and people’s. In fact, it unifies in its best dishes the high knowledge of the most prominent chefs of the Gonzagas’ court and the popular wisdom of Mantova’s farmers. This is also due to the contributions given by many different cultures, like the Mitteleuropean, the French and the Jewish ones, which created many delicious recipes that delight foreigners as well as locals. 

Tortelli di zuccaMantova Museo Urbano Diffuso

Tortelli and mostarda

The tortelli are the most representative of the local cuisine. They are filled with pumpkin, the dough may vary in thickness. They are usually dressed with melted butter only and a sprinkle of parmigiano cheese. Sweetness is their distinctive touch.

MostardaMantova Museo Urbano Diffuso

The mostarda (preserved fruits or vegetables) it is not Mantova’s only speciality. However, it is here where it reaches the top of refinement and delicatessen. The mustard, more or less spicy, enriches the small portions of fruit with a sharp yet delicate flavour.

RiceMantova Museo Urbano Diffuso


Mantova’s countryside presents several areas where rice is grown, especially in the north-east of the province. Rice is cooked especially in the guise of ‘La Pilota’, that is a specific amount of water to each portion of rice. The result is a very dry and shucked risotto, generally garnished with sausages chopped in tiny pieces. Rice, albeit cooked in different ways, is ideal to be eaten with frogs or tiny deep fried fresh water fish.

Risotto alla pilotaMantova Museo Urbano Diffuso

The “risotto alla Pilota” is the one with a pesto (mixed) of pork sausage, sometimes garnished and plated with pork ribs. This dish unites and emphasises different popular traditions, springing an extremely tasty meal.

Grana PadanoMantova Museo Urbano Diffuso

Grana Padano

This cheese has an intense taste, excellent product of the Po valley.The name comes from its granulated mixture. Its birth dates back to the Middle Age, into Chiaravalle Abbey.The famous Parmigiano Reggiano takes its name from a southern Po area.

Grana PadanoMantova Museo Urbano Diffuso

Pesce di fiumeMantova Museo Urbano Diffuso


Mantua’s nature is based most of all on its relationship with lake and river waters: for this reason fresh water fish it’s so typical about these places. It is possible to eat it fried, sometimes into the “risotto”.

Luccio in salsa con polentaMantova Museo Urbano Diffuso

The luccio can instead be served with the typical northern Italy food polenta and some vegetables.

Luccio in salsa con polentaMantova Museo Urbano Diffuso

Stracotto con la polentaMantova Museo Urbano Diffuso

Stracotto with polenta

It’s a wintry food with a soft consistency. But the strong flavour of the stracotto (especially donkey’s one) combines to polenta in a very unique way.

SalumiMantova Museo Urbano Diffuso

I salumi

It is impossible not to taste the famous cold cuts. Especially the salami of Mantua is renowned in its younger and elder versions.

Sbrisolona (1000)Mantova Museo Urbano Diffuso


Finally we have the sweets. The Sbrisolona derives its name from the capability to crumble while we are eating it. The main ingredient is almond, it is the perfect way to end a lunch or a dinner with friends or alone. 

Anello di MonacoMantova Museo Urbano Diffuso

Anello di Monaco

Many of the traditional sweets of Mantua come from european culinary traditions. This fact proves the intense relationship between the Gonzaga’s Court and the rest of the Europe. In particular, Anello di Monaco comes from Swiss chef, but becomes rapidly a good dish from Mantua. The pasta contains a filling with nuts, chestnuts and fruits. The typical donut shape is covered by a sugar or white chocolate glaze. 

Credits: Story

Ideato e promosso da / Founded and Promoted by:
Mattia Palazzi (Sindaco del Comune di Mantova)
con Lorenza Baroncelli (Assessore alla rigenerazione urbana e del territorio, marketing urbano, progetti e relazioni internazionali del Comune di Mantova )

Coordinamento Scientifico / Scientific Coordinator:
Sebastiano Sali

Curatore testi e immagini / Superintendent texts and images:
Giovanni Pasetti

Foto di / Photo by:
Andrea Compagnoni
Antonio Lodigiani
Paolo Zapparoli

Redazione / Editors:
Erica Beccalossi
Sara Crimella
Carlotta Depalmas
Veronica Zirelli

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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