When I heard that Traverse was holding a conference in Italy I snatched up a ticket immediately. Billing itself as an “anti-conference” many of my blogging friends have either attended the conference or worked on campaigns with them and they all raved about their experiences. Plus, it was an excuse to visit Italy and check out the best Trento restaurants. Italy is one of my favorite destinations in the world and literal heaven for foodies.
I knew the conference was being held in the city of Trento in Trentino, a region of northern Italy that I had never visited. No matter, I love all of Italy and I was excited to go. But, if I thought the food was going to be the same as I had experienced in Rome, Florence, or Cinque Terre, I was in for a surprise.
Part of what makes food in Trento so delicious is that they share more influences than just Italian. This region is nestled near the base of the Alps, so they have been influenced heavily by Swiss cuisine. Also, being part of the Austrian empire for so long, the regional traditions didn’t go away just because the border changed hands. They still retained a lot of Austrian flavors – both culturally and gastronomically.
As per usual, I arrived with plenty of time before the conference was set to begin so I could start eating my way through the city. I also began researching the top Trento restaurants- I arrived with a plan.
This post will cover Trentino cuisine and point you to the best places to eat in Trento. You will learn about how being part of the Austrian empire influenced the local cuisine, and how much the Alps inspire it as well, then be introduced to the best restaurants in Trento to eat these local dishes.
Trentino Cuisine in Trento
The canederli is one of the most popular appetizers appearing on the menu at every one of the top restaurants in Trento. This appetizer is bread balls that have been dipped in milk and mixed with eggs and speck (a type of cured ham similar to pancetta or bacon). These are then cooked in broth and served. These can be cooked with spinach and cheese or with pancetta. Another similar dish is the leberknodelsuppe, another dumpling-like food served in broth, made with calf liver and herbs.
One of the famous types of food is the strangolapreti, or which is their version of gnocchi. These are mixed with spinach and cheese and served with melted onion butter. They’re handmade, which makes them delicious. This is a potato and flour gnocchi that translates to “priest stranglers.” They also serve Spatzli, a handmade noodle that is extremely fluffy and often served with their meat dishes, heavily influenced by German and Austrian Spatzle.
Speck on its own is another popular appetizer. This is a cured ham product similar to bacon or pancetta. It’s crispy pork with some delicious fat.
This is frequently served with bread, crackers, and cheeses. Other popular charcuterie meats include hauswurst and bratwurst sausages, served with horseradish, pickles, and sauerkraut. Blood sausage gets served with walnuts and pine nuts as biroldi con crauti.
One of the most popular local main courses is their famous goulash. Their goulash has some Hungarian influences. They serve this goulash with a heaping of polenta. Their goulash is a hearty beef stew made with beef, paprika, and cumin. A popular variety is called rindsgulasch, which is the hearty beef stew. Their sauerbraten is beef that has been stewed with wine, vinegar, and onions.
Soups are also quite popular among the best places to eat in Trento. They make some extremely hearty soups, including the minestra di trippa, a tomato-based soup with vegetables and tripe. Another tripe soup, called saursuppe, is flavored using nutmeg, white wine, onions, and herbs. Gerstensuppe, or orzetto, is a barley-based soup made with onions, garlic, vegetables, and the local speck.
They also have several beef dishes prepared in juniper berry brine to brighten the flavor. These meats are called Carne Salata, and are often sautéed in butter then served with beans or polenta.
The juniper deer is a popular local flavor, as is a lamb loin in a potato crust.
The smacafam is a savory dinner cake that is extremely popular with the locals. The cake is made from flour and Saracen, and Lucanica sausage and smoked bacon lend the meal its flavor.
In the Trentino region, the top Trento restaurants are packed with delicious desserts. The region is well known for their crisp and delicious apples, which they fold into lots of their desserts.
Apfelkuchel is a delicious cake filled with pieces of apple. They make really delicious strudel, which takes years of practice to perfect because of its very specific technique.
Krapfen is a really delicious pastry filled with jam or marmalade. It can be fried or baked, then topped with powdered sugar. This is similar to Bombolone, but it is a lighter dessert.
Strauben is another delicious fried dessert. The German word straub means tortoise, which is the shape this dessert takes. The dough is made from flour, butter, milk, and eggs, and served with powdered sugar, jam, and chocolate. It is reminiscent of American funnel cakes.
There is also a sweet variation of the smacafam, which is made with raisins, nuts, and aniseed. If you’re in the area for Christmas, you’ll love the zelten, a Christmas festival cake made with rye bread and nuts, candied fruit, honey, cinnamon, and liqueurs.
Kaiserschmarren, or “the Emperor’s sweet omelets,” are sweet treats. They are shredded pancakes made with blueberry jam, and somewhat similar to crêpes.
Grappa with chamomile is a very strong Italian liquor. It’s served at the end of the meal as a digestif. In Trento, the grappa liquor is often made with chamomile, so it’s a delicate and warm flavor that warms you up in the snowy Alps winters.
Vin Brule, or mulled wine, is a hot drink that is made by boiling wine (usually red) and flavoring it with sugars and spices.
Best Places to Eat in Trento
Now that you know what the best local dishes are, it’s time to look at the best restaurants. These are the top restaurants in Trento. If you want to experience local cuisine at its best, then check out these places!
Via Torre Verde, 29 // +39 0461 231545
You can easily find Torre Verde by translating its name, which means Green Tower. Situated near Sardagna, the Torre Verde is a gorgeous building. Right across from it, is this restaurant. They have amazing Italian dishes, a huge wine selection, and traditional dishes from both the Italian and Austrian flavors.
This place has traditional Italian dishes prepared extremely well. If you want true Italian pizza, this is a great option.
They also make delicious seafood spaghetti, including some spaghetti with clams.
For dessert, check out their Gelateria. You can finish your meal with a delicious, flavorful sweet if you don’t want the heavier pastries.
Ristorante al Vo is a fabulous place that makes handmade gnocchi. This makes it one of the most popular restaurants in all of Trento. They’re also a great place for brunch in Trento. This restaurant is located near the Piazza Duomo. This is a small, family-owned restaurant that is run by 4 people who care about the quality of their dishes.
Their traditional menu includes a lot of Trentino dishes, including a polenta dish, Piatto unico del buonconsiglio. They also have beef carpaccio, tagliere di formaggi trentini, a dish with local cheeses from the area, and a sausage dish, tagliere di salumi Trentini.
Via Paolo Oss-Mazzurana, 38 // +39 0461 235590
This place is also known as Fosterbrau Trento. It is an extremely modern restaurant that still has a rustic, cabin feel to the inside guest. It’s very reminiscent of Austrian and German influences that existed in Trento before the region became Italian, with fantastic beers that pair with delicious local foods.
They offer beer samples and sell a ton of beers in different sizes in case you don’t want a giant stein full. Their beers are local and pair really well with the wien schnitzel. They also have huge portion sizes, so you will definitely leave full. Because they are so popular, they do have a wait sometimes. If you don’t want to wait too long, they take reservations.
Piazzetta Bruno Lunelli, 5 // +39 0461 235850
Osteria Il Cappello is one of the best restaurants in Trento. They have traditional Italian foods with the regional Trentino twists from Austrian cuisine. They are a bit pricier than other restaurants but well worth the cost. They have won a Certificate of Excellence every single year since 2015.
The interior is extremely classy, and this is definitely a fancier dining experience. It makes a fantastic date night. It’s also tucked away from the typical tourist locations. A couple of their delicious local dishes include the canederli and the cow cheeks. They also make a delicious persimmon dessert called the Mont Blanc for those who travel in the fall.
Piazza Lodron, 21 // +39 0461 230484
This place is a very delicious casual bakery. They have tons of fresh breaded dishes, pastries, and delectable. They also serve wine and other dishes. They’re a great casual place. It has a gorgeous and open modern interior, and locals absolutely love this place.
On top of their extensive pastry selection, they also serve a huge variety of local wines and beers. Heir cappuccinos are also delicious. They believe a quality cappuccino starts with a good milk, quality coffee beans, and lots of care. They source their beans and milk from local farms.
Their foods mix savory spices with succulent meat and vegetables. Their bread are baked fresh throughout the day using traditional preparation techniques.
Via degli Orti, 19 // +39 0461 984400
This restaurant is not on the beaten track, but it’s really delicious. It’s got a great covered garden area for dining, so it provides shade from the Italian sun. The portion sizes are normal and they have some fantastic local wines.
A lot of locals love this place, so it feels just like a hidden gem. It really is delightful. They have some creative regional dishes in traditional styles, but also some more familiar and traditionally Italian ones for less adventurous taste buds.
One of the great things about this restaurant is that they are consistent. They know their recipes and have perfected them. The recipes are passed down and the cooking techniques have been practiced and taught to each new cook.
Their quality remains high, local ingredients making the dishes, and the service is unparalleled.
Via Giuseppe Verdi, 15 // +39 0461 260094
While local flavors can be amazing, sometimes Austrian food can get very heavy and a little too adventurous. If you want local food, but we’re really looking for the Italian experience, then go grab a meal from Pizzeria da Albert.
Their pizza is absolutely delicious. They are hearty and extremely filling, topped with thick, hearty local ingredients. They’re also very affordable and have won a certificate of excellence every year since 2015.
The pizzeria gets a bit loud because the locals love to come here, so if you want a quieter meal then avoid this place during the typical dinner hours. That being said, the service is quick and quite friendly because they’re used to the crowds.
Via del Suffragio, 20 // +39 0461 096502
This restaurant manages to elevate traditional cooking into very modern cuisine. They serve brunch as well as lunch and dinner. All of their dishes are made from scratch and the tapas menu is extensive and delicious. The staff is incredibly knowledgeable. And the wine selection is very high quality.
This restaurant is located downstairs from a bed and breakfast and the tapas are definitely the highlight of the menu. It’s a great way to try out some of the local flavors without committing to a heavy dish. They have fresh salads, great charcuterie boards, and delicious handmade pasta.
It’s a family-owned restaurant, and the parents have taught the traditions to their daughters. The owner can recommend excellent local wines to pair with each dish.
Via Dietro le Mura A, 35 // +39 0461 190 3162
This place is really cool. They’ve got a very modern, Avant-garde feel to their place. They feature a pizzeria and a café, both with their own vibes. Uva e Menta translates to Grapes and Mint. They use grapes because of their extensive wine collection, and Mint, because it’s their family surname.
Their dishes are absolutely gorgeous and strike a balance between hearty and filling without being over the top. They’re one of the best Trento restaurants. Their staff is friendly, and their craft beers pair perfectly with their specialty pizzas.
Via Rodolfo Belenzani, 50 // +39 327 225 8203
Sometimes, when you’ve finished the delicious meals, you want a dessert. Italian food can be very heavy, though, especially if you’ve gone in for the traditional dishes of the region, which are all heavy and filled with creams and bread thanks to the German and Austrian influences.
If you’re too full to try the local dessert pastries, then the perfect cap for your meal is gelato. This place has the best gelato anywhere in Trento. They have very generous portions and offer tons of different flavors. Not only do they offer gelato, but they also have sorbet and ice cream onsoya. An intriguing local option is gelato caldo, or hot gelato. This is reminiscent of mousse and has very interesting flavors.
Which of these local dishes sound best to you? Which restaurant in Trento do you most want to try? Let me know in the comments section below!
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Travel writer and owner of the blog. My work has been featured on Fodors, Eater.com, International Living, and Great Escape Publishing, among many others. My story? Nearly six years ago, I left my job at an Oklahoma City law firm and embarked on a journey around the world. At the time, I thought I would only be gone for 6 months, but the more I traveled, the longer my bucket list became. Flashpacker describes how I travel. Rather than traveling as the normal world wise backpacker and staying in hostel dorms, I prefer a more comfortable experience, and typically stay in private rooms, take Ubers instead of taxis, and now use a suitcase instead of a backpack. Foodie, on the other hand, describes one of the key reasons why I travel. I love to pick a central “base camp” and then explore the surrounding area, really immersing myself in the culture and interacting with the people, and enjoying and exploring the food of an area is an essential part of this experience.