Every city has its institutions, those places that have always been there, full of character and popular among the locals. In Padova one of this places is La Folperia. The name Folperia derives from folpo, meaning octopus.
It is not a restaurant, but a simple kiosk selling local fish specialities in plastic dishes. Nevertheless is on top position in Tripadvisor and always quite crowded. You can easily recognized because it is located right under the Palazzo della Ragione, at the so called Canton delle Busie (corner of lies), picturesque name recalling the ancient negotiation among merchants, which took place right there.
If you travel in my region by car you’ll probably spot other kiosks like this along the main roads, especially on Friday. But this one is in the historical centre, at a stone’s throw from the Town Hall and the Pedrocchi Café, in Piazza della Frutta. You will immediately recognize it: a little stand with a bright red awning and a white writing: La Folperia. Non potete sbagliare! (You can’t miss it). Just remember: it is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 5 to 8 pm. So no lunch-time.
The two people you will see serving this “historical street food” are Barbara and her brother Max – such a character! 🙂 They are now continuing their family tradition. Before them, the kiosk was run by their parents (they started 40 years ago). They also received the Gambero Rosso (a prestigious Italian food publishing house – it means Red Shrimp) Street Food Award in 2013.
You have to go there, choose among the day specialities and then you can sit at the adjacent (on the right) Bar degli Osei ordering something to drink. But remember: first come, first served.
For example, the last time we arrived at 7.30 and they had the last folpo (octopus). We were 7. So, in order to satiate ourselves, we chose a few different things: the last folpo, really tasty and tender, a delicious (it was my favourite) sformatino di tonno (tuna pie), fish salad, sarde in saor (sardines in sauce – buonissime!) and the typical bovoeti, i.e. boiled snails… I know, they don’t sound so inviting, and they are not a fish. It’s the only exception. I admit I just had a couple of them. But some of my friends love them. I remember that the baby girl of my former neighbours adored them… and she was like 3 years old. So, to each his own. Or, as we say in Italian: I gusti sono gusti! (tastes are tastes).
I warn you, it is not cheap, but the fish is very fresh and high quality. If you’re doubtful you can try just a dish with a glass of Prosecco as aperitivo, and then have dinner in a traditional restaurant nearby. But I think you’ll easily end up dining at La Folperia 😉 as we did. Warning number two: garlic haters do not come near here!
Sadly that day they had already finished the tuna tagliata too. It seemed so good! I know because I spied on that of a guy standing next to me. He asked me politely if I wanted to sample. But I refused, obviously, cause he was a total stranger. Thanks, anyway! Next time I must go earlier and catch it!
Piazza della Frutta, 1 – Padova