Take note of the dishes that you can’t help but taste when you’re here. Bergamo’s flavours will be a real surprise.
If you say Bergamo, you say polenta: Queen of the table!
Polenta is always the right choice because it is a unique dish that is prepared in a thousand ways and goes well with everything: try it on the grill, seasoned with butter and sage, with milk, cheese, meat, fish, cured meats or on its own.
An ancient dish in Italian cuisine, the most widespread version is yellow polenta, but there are some native species of corn that cannot be found anywhere else, the Originario dell’Isola from Bergamo Island, Red Rostrato corn from Rovetta and Barbed Corn from Gandino.
If you hear about “polenta e pica sö” you have just entered the myth of Bergamo’s cuisine: the expression means “polenta and something to beat it on”, polenta, once a poor dish, was eaten by rubbing it on a smoked anchovy hanging from the centre of the table so that the flavour could be absorbed without consuming too much fish.
The ideal Sunday lunch in Bergamo is hot polenta, rabbit in red wine and its “pucì”, the sauce that goes perfectly with the hot polenta (with a spoon a small groove is made in the slice of polenta and it’s filled with sauce).
Another typical dish to look for are the Capù, bundles of boiled cabbage stuffed with meat or breadcrumbs and cheese. The origins of the name are not very clear: in times of extreme poverty, the capù were the lean consolation for the poor who could not afford capon (chicken). They are rarely found on restaurant menus and every year in Parre, in the Seriana Valley, they hold the Capù Festival, an opportunity to try this delicacy.
Bergamo is the cheese capital.
There is no other province in Europe that can boast such a high number of DOP cheeses, 9 to be exact. A gastronomic record!
The name of the cheese often tells the story of its production. The Formai de Mut, or “mountain cheese”, produced only with mountain pasture milk and famous for having different flavours and aromas every time. The “strachìtunt”, or “round stracchino”, is produced using an ancient technique and is made with milk from cows that were “stràcch” or tired from the transhumance. Quartirolo is the late-September cheese, in homage to the last blades of grass, called quartirola, because they grew after the third hay cut. And let’s not forget the other cheeses: Taleggio, Bitto, Agrì, Branzi and Formagella di Scalve.
If polenta is queen, Casoncello can only be king!
Life of the party, you can find them in every restaurant. “Casonséi” are ravioli that hide a meat filling and are seasoned with melted butter, sage and bacon. In May in the Upper Town there is a festival is dedicated to them: “De Casoncello”.
“Scarpinocc” are the lean version of casoncelli, a typical and ancient recipe from Parre, in the Seriana Valley. In place of meat, they have a filling made with stale bread and cheese.
Winter brings with it the fixed appointment of killing the pig. As the famous saying goes “Of the pig you know you do not throw anything away”, and in fact, there are numerous cured meats produced from it. Bergamo salami is the product par excellence, then the testina, pancetta, lard, cotechino, sausage and black pudding are produced.
A real delicacy are the endives from Bergamo’s hills. A precious variety of endives whose uniqueness lies in the process of whitening the leaves. It is sown at the end of July and towards the end of October each bunch is tied so that the inner leaves do not get any light and remain white.
Bergamo is also a land of delicious desserts.
The “polenta e osei”: a small yellow sponge cake filled with custard, chocolate and liqueur, with a yellow sugar glaze, all garnished with a little chocolate bird. The shape recalls a dish from the past, polenta with birds.
The Donizetti cake, in honour of the great composer, is a soft donut with candied pineapple and apricots, maraschino liqueur and vanilla.
Did you know that the stracciatella ice cream flavour was created in Bergamo? Discover its history and its original flavour at the Pasticceria Marianna in the Upper Town.
Bergamo is also a land of springs: who doesn’t know San Pellegrino water? It is produced in the homonymous village and is famous all over the world.
Do not leave without having tasted the delicious ValCalepio wine, producing excellent DOC red and white wines and for those who don’t know, Bergamo boasts Italy’s smallest DOCG, the Moscato di Scanzo.
The new and greatly successful trend are craft breweries that have popped up in every corner of the province. Try Hammer, Hopskin, Mapsy or Elav beer!