Antica Trattoria Ballotta (PD)
One of the oldest restaurants in Veneto, Trattoria Ballotta was originally born as an agricultural courtyard used as a warehouse by the nearby Augustinian friars of Monteortone. It then became an inn in 1605, then an osteria, with a large garage equipped for the carriages pulled by animals typical of the rural economies of the area, thanks to its convenient position for stopping by along the route from the Euganean Hills towards Padua.
The name of the place derives from Antonio Carta, its historic owner nicknamed “ballotta” (big ball) because of his size, who started the great modern gastronomic fame of the restaurant in the mid-1800s.
Its incredible and lasting centrality, both geographically and in the panorama of the social life of the Region for over 4 centuries, is evident from the famous people who not only attended it, but who even wrote about it in their memoirs: from Galileo Galilei in 1609 to Giacomo Casanova in 1779, from Ugo Foscolo in 1797 to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in 1786, from Gabriele Dannunzio in 1918 to Orio Vergani, one of the founders of the Italian Academy of Cuisine in 1953, very close to Antonio Carta.
Since 2000 it has been the realm of the Legnaro family, a life spent in the restaurant business, who have created their personal temple of taste here, continuing a century-old tradition made of warm hospitality and delicious traditional dishes.
The kitchen, huge and amazingly well-managed, is the realm of Cristina Legnaro with her skilled brigade enriched by the experience in the haute cuisine of chef Alessandro de Ruvo, while her daughter Alessia together with her cousin Andrea will advise you on all the delicacies that this enchanted place offers.
In summer, it is wonderful to eat al fresco under the magnificent tree-lined courtyard, surrounded by a wall made of the original sixteenth-century stones, artfully wrapped in a mulberry and a majestic wisteria, both centenary; while in winter you can be pampered in the large veranda room with fireplace which, as you can guess by its conformation which has remained faithful over time, is the place where the ancient coach house was located.
A tradition that can still be enjoyed today, thanks to the Legnaro family’s passion for vintage cars, which never fails to beautify the restaurant garden with the display of refined antique cars.
The dishes are typical of the Paduan area, based on court meats and fine ingredients from local suppliers, where everything is homemade, from pasta to sauces, from bread to desserts. Among the recipes most loved by its loyal customers, we can mention bigoli with duck ragout, baked Torresano with soft polenta and fried sage or Vicentina cod with grilled polenta and steamed vegetable garden, as well as the delicious grilled meat grilled like cockerel, boneless guinea fowl, or the “5 flavors” beef steak as well as dishes that interpret tradition with a touch of creativity such as the Pellestrina Mussels fried with Grana Padano cream and florets of broccoli.
The wine list is excellent, kept in the spectacular giant barrel located inside the restaurant, which offers the best labels of the area such as the Cabernet and Merlot reds, and the Serprino DOC or Moscato Fior D’Arancio DOCG whites, both from the Euganean Hills.
The Trattoria, Historical Local of Italy, is part of the Francesco Petrarca and the Euganean Hills Literary Park: its wonderful centenary mulberry has, in fact, inspired the famous writer Antonio Fogazzaro (1842-1911) some passages from his masterpiece Piccolo Mondo Moderno.