Discovering South Tyrolean cuisine: dining in Bolzano is an unforgettable experience of taste and tradition.
If you want to spend New Year’s Eve in the mountains or plan to take a trip in search of the flavors of South Tyrol, then leave for a Christmas holiday to breathe in the wintery air and get ready to lick your lips while enjoying the South Tyrolean culinary delights. Organize a weekend with Italo, visit Bolzano for a few days and discover the ten typical dishes merging tradition and modernity. The dishes that you can taste in Bolzano differ greatly from the Italian culinary culture because they mix Austrian and German traditions and blend them with local products. Each dish you taste in Bolzano is not only unique but rich in flavor, full-bodied, hearty, and ideal comfort food to fend off the cold of the surrounding Dolomites.
To discover the culinary history of this region, try the cuisine of South Tyrol in the various typical restaurants of Bolzano, including one with a Michelin star.
What are you waiting for? All you need to do is get to Bolzano for the 2022 Christmas markets for a truly unique experience from the end of November until the Feast of the Epiphany and there you can discover all the traditional dishes South Tyrol has in store.
Here are 10 unforgettable dishes from Bolzano:
- Canederli (bread dumplings) in clear broth
- Spinach ravioli (Schlutzkrapfen)
- Risotto with finferlo (chanterelle) mushrooms
- Rye bread (Vinschger Paarl)
- Sauerkraut and sausage
- Funnel cake (Strauben)
- Applestrudel (Apfelstrudel)
- German Doughnuts (Krapfen)
- Black forest cake (Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte)
1. Canederli (bread dumplings) in clear broth
Canederli (dumplings) in broth is the quintessential dish of this part of South Tyrol, you cannot visit Bolzano without trying them. They come in an array of different flavors and can truly accommodate anyone’s personal taste.
But what are they? Classic canederli recipes use stale or older bread seasoned with milk, chives, speck, egg, salt and pepper and form the mixture into balls. These large dumplings are then cooked in a meat broth and then topped with a sprinkle of freshly chopped chives.
It is a comfort food that you will absolutely savor! To accompany this classic dish, you’ll need an excellent wine, so don’t miss our guide to the 4 best wineries in Bolzano.
2. Spinach ravioli (Schlutzkrapfen)
Another first course you can’t leave South Tyrol without sampling is Schlutzkrapfen or spinach ravioli. It’s a flavorful yet simple dish. Each ravioli is filled with ricotta and spinach and sautéed with butter and crispy speck. It’s a delicious and hearty meal, ideal after a winter’s day spent outdoors in Bolzano between cable cars and snowshoeing.
3. Risotto with finferlo (chanterelle) mushrooms
Another South Tyrolean first course that you absolutely cannot miss in Bolzano is risotto with finferli (chanterelles). These mushrooms are a bright yellow color and have a singular taste and aroma that will stay with you for a long time. Risotto with finferli is an ideal delicate dish for someone who enjoys a lighter meal. The traditional version is usually suitable for vegetarians, as well.
During your holiday in Bolzano, taste the famous Speck South Tyrolean p.g.i. which, with butter and rye bread, is a classic combination in this region of Italy. It’s an integral part of the alpine breakfast to help keep outdoor enthusiasts full and ready to face the cold.
Rye bread and speck is offered at all the hotels in the city and around Bolzano in their morning buffets, but you can also enjoy it in restaurants as an appetizer while sipping an excellent South Tyrolean wine.
5. Rye bread (Vinschger Paarl)
The rye bread that accompanies speck is often called black bread and it is made with more rye and less wheat flour as rye grain is more resistant to the cold climates of mountain villages. The best-known variant of black, or rye, bread is Vinschger Paarl which is kneaded with rye and wheat flour and formed by joining two round, flat circles of dough together, paarl in fact means “in pairs”.
This historic recipe has been preserved for centuries by the Benedictine friars of Monte Maria Abbey, in the municipality of Malles.
6. Sauerkraut and sausage
Sauerkraut coupled with famous würstel sausage is a typical South Tyrolean dish that should not be overlooked. For those who haven’t had sauerkraut before, you might be wondering what it is exactly. It’s made by shredding cabbage that has been soaked and fermented in vinegar for some time, then it is canned or vacuum-packed. Sauerkraut has a very long shelf life and for this reason it is commonly eaten in South Tyrol. Homemade, canned sauerkraut was often stocked up at home to make it through the winters months when the snow could prevent leaving the house for the shopping.
Sauerkraut is especially delicious when sautéed together with meat or sausage. If you order sausages and sauerkraut, you must include sautéed potatoes, or even simple french fries, to complete the meal.
Sauerkraut and sausages are served at most restaurants, but you can also find them at the food stalls located throughout the city, among the best are those in Piazza Walther. Don’t miss our guide to the best breweries in Bolzano: Forst and more.
7. Funnel cake (Strauben)
In Bolzano, you will delight in this dessert during the Christmas period! Funnel cake, or Strauben, is typical of South Tyrol and made of concentric circles of puffy dough, fried and then topped with hot raspberry or berry jam and powdered sugar. This rich, winter dessert is readily found among the Christmas market stalls throughout the city.
8. Applestrudel (Apfelstrudel)
Famous apple strudel is a symbol of South Tyrolean cuisine and renowned throughout Italy. Try it in one of the pastry shops in Bolzano and you will be truly amazed by the taste of South Tyrolean apples, raisins, walnuts, and the flaky dough used for the strudel.
It is one of the Italian desserts that can satisfy everyone’s palate. Don’t forget to enjoy it accompanied with fresh whipped cream!
9. German Doughnuts (Krapfen)
Faschingskrapfen is a fried pastry in the shape of a flattened ball with a variety of fillings. It is a dessert that you can easily find during Carnival, but also throughout the winter. You can call it krapfen, instead of faschingskrapfen (Carnival doughnuts).
But what exactly is it? Krapfen is a round dessert of German origin, more famously called a berliner, made from wheat flour, yeast, milk, sugar, butter, yolk and salt and fried in hot oil or lard.
Once fried, it’s filled with apricot jam, custard, or chocolate cream and finally sprinkled with powdered sugar or topped with a little glaze or icing. Don’t miss the special doughnuts filled with vov (a sort of eggnog) or cream and banana.
Just an aside: in the past, pranks were sometimes played during the Carnival season using this dessert, filling the doughnut with mustard or sawdust to be served to a friend or relative!
10. Black forest cake (Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte)
The famous Black Forest cake is a dessert of German origin that has become an integral part of the confectionery tradition of Bolzano and of all South Tyrol.
Black Forest cake, from the German Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, is a very delicious and very picturesque cake that you absolutely must not miss when visiting Bolzano. It’s prepared by alternating thin layers of chocolate cake with layers of delicious Chantilly cream and embellished with cherries and kirsch, (a cherry brandy), to create a soft, velvety center. The outside is covered with a cascade of dark chocolate curls and tufts of cream topped with cherries. One bite is all it takes to be won over by the mouth-watering richness of this dessert!
Head to Bolzano with Italo
What more do you need to entice you to go and taste the delicacies of South Tyrol? Today you can easily reach Bolzano for a relaxing weekend by high-speed train thanks to Italo. Visit the website for train timetables for Bolzano and buy your low-cost ticket in advance to save money. Before buying your ticket, remember to log in to your account in order to take advantage of the Italo Più offers and rates for members only. If you haven’t already done so, you can register for free for the Italo Più Loyalty Program, and immediately get a 5% discount on your first trip and then you can also accumulate points with your successive trips to earn free reward tickets.