An Easter menu for true beer lovers!

Here are ten traditional recipes for you, from appetizer to dessert, each paired with its own beer, for a complete menu and an unforgettable Easter that’s sure to impress!

Simone Massenza
Simone Massenza

Holidays are the perfect occasion to rediscover our traditional and Victorian sides and to revive those regional traditions that Italy is so rich in. (“A people without memory is a people without future.” – Luis Sepulveda)

Our vast culinary history (we’ve been cooking here on the boot for 40,000 years, since long before non-stick Teflon!) has evolved from humble origins to haute cuisine, and, over the centuries, generated such an extensive collection of recipes that it would take multiple lifetimes to try them all.

Contrary to popular belief, the pinnacle of the holiday culinary experience isn’t Christmas (gotcha!), but rather Easter, spring’s joyful Yang to winter’s merry Yin.

Easter cuisine, along with its ingredients and the influence of our Christian heritage, is highly symbolic and evocative.

Colombe, now leavened and forcibly sealed in cardboard boxes, are a symbol of peace and love, eggs, are a symbol of resurrection or rebirth, and a flock of lambs, kids, and bunny rabbits (biblical Jewish heritage) represent innocence and sacrifice.

But before you put on your apron, pre-heat the oven, and start sharpening knives, wouldn’t you like to add something new to your menu in 2023?

And if veering from tradition is impossible (what would poor Aunt Lucia say), then how about we get creative in the glass, or rather, the mug?

Here are ten traditional recipes for you, from appetizer to dessert, each paired with its own beer, for a complete menu and an unforgettable Easter that’s sure to impress!

1. Crescia di Pasqua

Crescia di Pasqua, or Easter Pizza, is a traditional leavened product from Umbria and the Marche.

A medieval dish, invented by the nuns of Santa Maria Maddalena in Serra de’ Conti, Ancona.

The term “crescia”, used in the Marche region, refers to the increase in volume due to proofing, while “pizza” refers not to the typical food that we all know and love, but rather to medieval Latin focaccia.

This simple bread, with chunks of cow’s and sheep’s milk cheeses, became popular throughout the rest of Central Italy, Lazio, Abruzzo, and Molise.

Traditionally it was eaten for breakfast on Easter morning, but today it’s served as an appetizer, accompanied by the customary hard-boiled eggs and ciauscolo (a salami typical of the Marche).

Pair with: Tripel.

Blonde, spiced (pepper and cloves), bitter, yet smooth.

It’s well-structured body, significant carbonation, and alcohol content balance and soften the sharpness of the pecorino cheese.


2. Easter Salad 

As essential as alcohol on any self-respecting Venetian table, don’t let this light and simple dish fool you.

An elegant and delicious mixed salad that can be served as either an appetizer or side dish.

It’s all about the local products: lettuce, radicchio, blanched asparagus, olives, hard-boiled quail eggs, and shrimp tails.

Pair with: Weizen.

Sweet and creamy, this beer is able to balance out the more bitter flavors of certain ingredients, while its slightly acidic notes, combined with an exuberant carbonation, will leave your mouth feeling clean.

PS: If you want to go one step further, dress the salad with an emulsion of egg yolk, oil, vinegar, beer, minced parsley and marjoram, salt, and pepper.

3. Pinza Triestina 

This typical and delicately sweet bread is often paired with savory dishes from the provinces of Trieste, Gorizia, and Istria.

A tender roll, softened with butter and sugar, and a characteristic Y cut.

So deeply rooted in the local culture that the most common Easter greeting here is “Bona Pasqua, bona pinza!” [Happy Easter, happy pinza!]

The shape represents the sponge soaked in vinegar given to Christ on the Cross.

It’s served as an appetizer, accompanied by horseradish, cheeses, and traditional Friulian cured meats, in particular Prague ham and prosciutto from Karst and Istria.

Pair with: Rauch.

Elegant, reddish-amber, malty, and smoky, this beer is quite rich without being overly bitter.

The aromas of beechwood, charcoal, and bacon, with a hint of smoke, are ideal when paired with these cured meats.

Despite its low alcohol content, never above 6% ABV, thanks to its high level of carbonization, it can be paired with even the fattiest cured meats.

4. Torta Pasqualina 

A typical quiche from Liguria, or rather, from the province of Genoa, and also found in the province of Parma.

An ancient dish dating back to the 16th century, when it was made with the seasonal ingredients found in every vegetable garden of the Riviera di Levante.

This savory pie represents the highlight of the Easter celebration, made with an ultra-thin crust filled with (in order of appearance): vegetables (wild greens, spring onion, beaten egg, and cheese), prescinsêua (curd, the same as in the famous pansotti or focaccia di Recco), and hard-boiled eggs, all seasoned abundantly with marjoram.

This multi-tiered delicacy soars without restraint to a dizzying height of 27 layers of pastry, though legend has it that there should be 33, like Christ’s age when he died according to Neapolitan numerology.

Pair with: Pils.

Light, easy to drink, and straightforward, but full of character. Its bitter taste blends with the wild greens, adding a complementary aromatic component as well.

5. Roman-Style Lamb

Typical, not only in Rome, but all of Lazio, this is the centerpiece of the Easter dinner table.

A simple, roasted, milk-fed lamb, with tender and delicate meat, dressed in a creamy sauce from with anchovies, garlic, rosemary, and vinegar, which is brushed on during the final minutes of cooking.

The result is a delicate, yet succulent and flavorful dish.

Pair with: Maibock.

Also called Heller Bock or Helles Bock (it’s all the same thing…), this beer is golden with a rich, malty flavor.

Its character stands up to the richness of the lamb and has a lingering sweetness.

With a well-structured body that’s comparable to the texture of the dish, its moderately high alcohol content, 6.5-7% ABV, cleanses the fattiness from the palate.

Tip: half way through cooking, baste the lamb with some beer. Don’t worry, there’s no need to thank me.

6. Casatiello Napoletano 

This Neapolitan dish is a must at Easter.

A large ring of bread, invented in the 17th century, stuffed with cheese, cured meats, pork rinds, lard, and egg (cholesterol be damned!).

The eggs are placed on top, raw and whole, and get cooked in the oven, semi-submerged in the surface and held in place by two strips of dough which symbolize the cross.

A more humble and rustic version of the Casatiello, is the Tortano.

The difference between the two is that in the second one there isn’t a trace of cured meats and, instead of decorative eggs on top, the eggs are included, hard-boiled and cut into sections, in the filling.

Pair with: Doppelbock.

Bock’s elder sister, strong, rich, and intense, with malty and toasted notes.

Its sweetness provides a counterbalance to the savoriness of the dish, and its high alcohol content cleanses the palate of every trace of fat, which Casatiello has plenty of.


7. Roasted Kid Goat with potatoes 

This is by far the most widely consumed dish throughout Italy on Easter.

Obviously (since we’re in Italy…), every region, province, town, family, and aunt has their own version (just as obviously, better than all the rest).

A dish as simple as it is rich and flavorful.

A roasted and portioned kid goat cooked with a classic Italian base of carrot, celery, and onion, seasoned with rosemary, bay leaves, and juniper berries, and accompanied by potatoes.

Pair with: Belgian Strong Dark Ale.

Complex, sweet, alcoholic, malty, and spiced, it seems to have been created especially for this pairing.

Strong enough to tame the dish’s wilder and more invasive side, it also amplifies the balanced sweetness of the potatoes.

Want to know a secret? Before cooking the goat, let it marinate for some time in the beer, with carrot, celery, onion, aromatic herbs, and spices.

This makes the meat tender and better able to withstand cooking, becoming even more delicate without diminishing its flavor, but rather enhancing it.

8. Osterzopf 

Literally “Easter sweet braid“, this is a sweet buttery bread from Alto-Adige.

A soft leavened bread, sweetened with milk and sugar, and flavored with rum, lemon zest, and vanilla.

Before placing it in the oven, the dough is brushed with egg yolk, to make the crust golden, and then sprinkled with coarse sugar.

A dish as simple as it is ancient and rustic.

Traditionally eaten for breakfast, it can also be sliced and served for dessert.

Pair with: Dunkel Weizen.

The amber version of the more well-known Weiss.

Notes of banana, caramel, toasted bread, leavened dough, and malt complement the braid perfectly.

Its creaminess and carbonation are just right in terms of palatability.

9. Colomba di Pasqua 

The most classic of the classics, so much so that it has become a mainstream product found in every supermarket.

The queen of Italian Easter sweets.

Some Pavian legends trace its origin back to the Lombards, some say King Alboin, some say Queen Theodelinda, while others stretch as far back as Saint Columbanus (nomen omen).

The truth, as happens often in life, is decidedly more prosaic.

The Colomba was invented in Milan, Lombardy, by Dino Villani, head of advertising for Motta, in 1934, for purely economic and practical reasons.

Using the same machinery and ingredients as panettone, production could continue without interruption and be extended all the way to April.

Founder Angelo Motta liked the idea, and… the rest is history!

If you think about it, aside from the shape, this delicious sweet is nothing more than a panettone without raisins.

Pair with: Dunkel Bock.

Amber-colored, sweet but not cloying (when pairing with sweets, always remember to create harmony between the flavors).

It has the perfect body, neither too much nor too little, to accompany a light and fluffy leavened sweet.

Notes of fruit, toast, and malt, an interplay of candied orange peel and nuts, which complement the Colomba, and an alcohol content that stands up to the butter.

10. Pastiera Napoletana 

One of the undisputed (and “sacred”) symbols of Neapolitan identity, on par with Totò, San Gennaro, and Maradona.

The Pastiera is an institution, a piece of Naples. It’s like a Breil watch (take what you want, but don’t touch my…).

So irresistible that it melted the frigid Maria Teresa of Austria, the Queen Consort of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, aka the Queen who Never Smiled, who, upon her arrival in the city, burst into laughter.

Shortcrust pastry with a filling of ricotta, eggs, and wheat berries boiled in milk and sugar and flavored with cinnamon, orange zest, vanilla, and orange blossom water, topped with intertwined strips of crust in the shape of the Cross of St. Andrew. According to urban legend, there should be seven strips in total, symbolizing the historic center’s three decumani and four cardini.

An ancient sweet, whose rustic proto-version originated in the 16th century and was later perfected by the nuns of the San Gregorio Armeno convent (blessed women!), whose skill consecrated the dessert.

Pair with: Imperial Blanche.

The elder sister of Bière Blanche, the two share aromatic characteristics, but differ in strength.

Full bodied, suitable to the consistency of the cake, sweet, and with notes of wheat and orange.

A high alcohol content, pleasant acidity, and lively carbonization are sure to cleanse the palate.

pastiera buona

And if you happen to spend Easter lunch at a restaurant, or are invited to a friend or relative’s home instead, thus shirking the culinary burden, well… a fair number of these recipes (8/10) will still make a great impression at a picnic lunch on Easter Monday!

Happy Easter!