Straddling the provinces of Cremona and Mantua—the heart of Italy’s white belt, with supreme taleggio cheese, butter, rice, Grana Padano, and geese—dwell Isola Dovarese a tiny walled town bordered by the Oglio river that provides molds and materia prima for some of Caffe La Crepa’s most praised tidbits. Run by the Malinverno family—Franco and wife Laura in the kitchen, Federico and uncle Fausto in the dining room—La Crepa’s trattoria, gelateria, and enoteca have been the haunt of many locals. For three generations, since 1969, long before earning Nicholas Lander’s celebrative note of credit “…to make as long as stop as you can possibly afford at La Crepa“.
The Malinverno brothers, Fausto and Franco. Photo courtesy of La Crepa.
Cornering one of the most beautiful and lesser-known Renaissance piazzas in Italy, La Crepa is housed in a 16th-century palazzo—and its vaults used for their early design, hanging salami and storing wines. The menu at the trattoria focuses on the regional fare with great emphasis on local products like homegrown vegetables and freshwater fish—eel, lake sardine, bleak, pike—snails and frogs all coming from the nearby river or from Garda and Iseo Lakes.
Franco Malinverno and his fresh water fish bounty. Photo courtesy of La Crepa.
Opening with the trademark Frittata alle erbette and some outstanding charcuterie, salame Cremonese, paired with homemade pickles, La Crepa’s menu also features some classics like Giardiniera di verdure, Bollito Misto con salsa verde e mostarda, and the quintessential Marubini ai tre Brodi—the local ravioli shape cooked in a broth of stuffed capon, beef, and fresh sausage—finished and served with some Grana Padano or, in colder months, with a drop of red wine.
La Crepa’s longstanding commitment to sustainability—evolved over the years through local artisan supply, beehives adoption, zero kitchen waste—has been awarded the Green Star by the Michelin Guide edition 2021. An accomplishment that places the Malinverno next to a few distinguished names like Niederkofler, Bottura, and Fam. Iaccarino.
Mamma Laura and sister-in-law Andreina making Marubini. Photo courtesy of La Crepa.
Tortelli di Zucca
– Pumpkin Tortelli –
The winter months in the provinces of Cremona and Mantua are marked by this delicate dish, whose ripieno, stuffing, is composed of two ingredients, mostarda and Delica pumpkin, that are the true identifier of these lands.
Delica is a small and round pumpkin with dark green skin and grooves. The pulp is firm and compact and has a very sweet taste, excellent for most culinary purposes.
1 kg of Delica pumpkin, 300gr Amaretti, 2 spoons of mostarda Cremonese alle mele, Grana Padano, 1 egg, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
RIPIENO: Cut the pumpkin clean from the seeds and bake it in the oven at 180° C to dry. Separate the pulp from the outer skin of the pumpkin, add two spoons of apple mostarda and pass it through the mincer, then add the chopped amaretti, a pinch of salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add one egg, the grated cheese, and eventually some breadcrumbs to get a dry filling.
SFOGLIA: Begin with the fountain and mix eggs and flour until an elastic dough is obtained. Let rest for half an hour and start working the sfoglia—better with a rolling pin and wooden board. Cut the dough into squares of about 1,5 in and place a teaspoon of the filling in the middle. Close the Tortelli to obtain small rectangles.
Cook in salted water for 5 minutes and season with melted butter and sage. Finish with grated Grana Padano cheese.
Tortelli di Zucca. Photo courtesy of La Crepa.
This classic Tortelli dish—Vedat Milor’s all-time favorite—knows a variation in some families of Cremona on Christmas Eve. Placing them in a pan, in layers, sweetened with a spoonful of the filling, then dressed with some tomato sauce, grated cheese, and butter flakes. In Federico Malinverno’s words “There is simply no Christmas without Tortelli di Zucca”.
Federico Malinverno, 3rd generation @La Crepa and President of Premiate Trattorie Italiane
Piazza Matteotti, 13, 26031 – Isola Dovarese (CR) – T. +39-0375-396161
Closed Monday and Tuesday.