Go to Padua, Italy
and expect to gorge on pizza in scruffy student haunts, taste traditional Venetian dishes
in ancient trattorias, and sip powerful coffee in street cafes. Here are the 10 best places to eat while you’re visiting.
Pizzeria Trattoria Piave
This family-run trattoria is perched on the far side of the River Bacchiglione and owes its rustic atmosphere to the copper pots and old paintings on the walls. The padrona, or boss, is a lively old Italian woman who usually takes charge of the orders and has a lot to say. There is a wide choice of food from pizzas to pasta and steaks, but the delicious set menu is recommended. It never varies much, which is tiresome if you’re a regular customer but ideal on a one-off visit as the great taste is testament to the cook’s practiced hand. The menu usually consists of wine, a pasta dish such as tortellacci (squares stuffed with ricotta and spinach) or gramigna (short tubes of pasta with a sausage sauce) and a pudding of tiramisu. All the pasta is homemade and the perfect level of al dente.
Pizzeria Trattoria Piave, 24 Riviera Paleocopa, Padua, Italy, +39 498 719769
Most Paduans will tell you that this is where to find the best pizza in town, which is high praise considering the level of competition. It is simply decorated with white tiled walls and an arched roof. The pizza ranges from a simple margarita to one covered in spinach, beef carpaccio, mushrooms and mozzarella. It’s always busy and the atmosphere isn’t too cozy – staff might not have time to stand around for a chat but they will guarantee you a good pizza.
Al Duomo, 18 Via San Gregorio Barbarigo, Padua, Italy + 39 498 760434
Ernest Hemingway, Lord Byron and Stendhal are all said to have found inspiration within the walls of this 18th-century cafe. Founded by Francesco Pedrocchi of Bergamo in 1722 in response to the increasing coffee consumption of the European bourgeoisie, it has been a pillar of Paduan society for centuries. Famous for its neoclassical architecture and powerful coffees, it offers a drink known as caffé pedrocchi. This looks like a cappuccino but actually consists of cold mint froth on top of a strong espresso base; the combination of hot bitter coffee and cool mint will leave your taste buds tingling.
Caffe Pedrocchi, Via VIII Febbraio 15, 35122 Padua, Italy, +39 498 781231
Pizzaria, Restaurant, Italian
A favorite among the university students, this scruffy little restaurant offers a quirky atmosphere and excellent burgers and pizza. It is nestled in the cobbled side street of Via Marsala and often has throngs of people standing outside it at night due to its late closing time of 2 a.m. The walls inside are covered in pictures drawn by the customers, and the ceiling is barely visible underneath a tapestry of circular beer mats. The pizzas come in a wide variety; the biggest of them all is called the pani pizza and has a fried egg and burger perched atop its crusty base. Come here to sip the most popular drink in the region; lo spritz – a combination of Prosecco and pink Aperol or Campari.
Pani, Via Marsala 9, Padua, Italy, +39 498 765535
Restaurant, Chinese, Italian, $$$
If you’re overwhelmed by all the pizza and pasta that Padua has on offer then there is no shame in dipping into this busy Chinese restaurant. Easy to spot due to the large pink lanterns outside, Shanghai is generally considered the best Chinese in town. It has a wide and varied menu offering everything from fried shrimp to chicken with orange and almonds. The staff is polite and obliging, and the atmosphere is exotic thanks to the yellow lighting and pink walls. The owners are called ‘Paul’ and ‘Rainbow’ and were born in Eastern China; they moved to Padua in 1987 and bought with them a taste of their country.
Shanghai, Via Marsala 6, Padua, Italy, +39 49 652910
Gelateria Artigianale da Bruno
If you’re still peckish after dinner and fancy a stroll and an ice cream, then look no further than this excellent gelateria. It has a huge collection of flavors, all visible under the glass counter. The vanilla – made with Madagascan vanilla sticks – is one of the best. The owner proudly displays a certificate from the “Gelato World Tour” stating that his gelateria was a finalist in a competition for the world’s best ice cream.
Gelateria Artiginale da Bruno, Via Monta 83, Padua, Italy, +39 49 890 0800
Bar, Wine Bar, Wine, Beer, Cocktails, Fast Food
Nestled underneath an ancient portico this local favorite offers top-quality cuisine and sultry jazz music. The owners are particularly proud of their new culinary takes on the old Venetian classics, from seafood on a bed of artichokes to venison with lentils and sauteed apples. The restaurant opened in 2002 as a wine bar, which explains the excellent selection of wines on offer.
La Godenda, Via Squarcione 4/6, Padua, Italy, +39 498 774192
This place features in the Two Fork Michelin Guide and earns a notable reputation thanks to its history, attentive service and menu. Started in 1860, Zaramella has been serving Paduans for more than a century. It offers a range of traditional dishes based on meat and fish, such as pasta with swordfish and broccoli, pumpkin and prawn risotto, and veal.
Zaramella, Largo Europa 9, Padua, Italy, +39 498 760868
Bar, Italian, Wine, Beer, Cocktails
If you cannot stomach any more Venetian dishes and are looking for a change, then this simple Japanese place will not disappoint. In the centre of town on busy Via Roma, Bar Fuji offers a relaxed and intimate environment in which to gobble tasty sushi.
Via Roma 53, Padua, Italy, +39 498 759485