Diners at the Trattoria al Prato are rewarded by owner Marco Marmini’s persistence to get the necessary permits to extend the already existing restaurant to open directly onto the Prato della Valle, the largest piazza in Italy. Not only are they treated to excellent cuisine, but they also get to gaze out onto this most impressive square, designed in 1775, with a central fountain, encircled by a canal and a double ring of statues of the most illustrious men associated with Padua’s history. The white marble of the statues creates a pleasing contrast to the leafy green of the trees and grassy areas even more so in the evening, when the Prato is illuminated. It is understandably a favorite place for the locals to meet and take their evening stroll.
Thanks also to Marco’s passion for freshness, the menu at the Prato changes according to the season as does the wine list that accompanies the seasonal offerings. It was difficult to choose from the very extensive menu, so we selected a trio of antipasti, which featured a crudité of tuna, a very delicate mousse di baccalà (dried cod), and a sesame-coated shrimp fritter with tomato cream. A bis di pasta, two smaller portions, enabled us to try at least two of their pasta temptations – bigoli al ragù di cernia e porro and tagliolini ai calamaretti. We did not think we could go on, so we proceeded directly to dessert. Who could resist Tony, the waiter, when he proffered the dolce with the words, “At least one of you must have the “basket!” It is a heavenly pastry basket filled with whipped cream and wild berries. It was almost a shame to eat a dessert that was so pretty. But we left not a trace!