Caffè la Crepa (CR)

by Elena Dagani
Caffè la Crepa (CR) — Lombardia Secrets

In Isola Dovarese, in the province of Cremona, a traditional restaurant, wine shop and ice cream parlor where you can completely immerse yourself in the history of the Malinverno family and the splendid surrounding area bathed by the waters of the Oglio river.

We are in the heart of the Po Valley in a small town surrounded for three quarters by water, on the horizon ancient farmhouses and greenery as far as the eye can see and in the center a small village with a late Renaissance flavour, which acts as a border between the territories of Cremona, Brescia, Mantua and Parma.

The central square of Isola Dovarese, where Caffè la Crepa is located like in a painting, is an exquisite example of Renaissance architecture characterized by an imposing portico commissioned by Giulio Cesare Gonzaga at the end of the sixteenth century.

Caffè la Crepa (CR) — Lombardia Secrets
Caffè la Crepa (CR) — Lombardia Secrets

Caffè la Crepa is the access key to our territory, a choice present in the raw materials and also in the original furnishings that tell the history and customs of the place.

(Federico Malinverno)

Recognized by local people as well as “foreigners” as an institution, before being a café and a restaurant, La Crepa is first and foremost a piece of history. The building, the former headquarters of the gendarmerie, once housed military accommodation, offices and stables. The first license as a public place dates back to 1832 and the current management of the Malinverno family began three generations ago, more precisely in 1969, with the grandmother of the current owner Federico.

Federico’s love for local history and culture can be felt in every corner of the restaurant, from the menu to the furnishings, like the original sign hung at the entrance at the time of the first family business, maintained and finely restored.

Caffè la Crepa (CR) — Lombardia Secrets

This reference to past history can even be felt in the name “La Crepa”. A name used since the 19th century to identify the building, which was in ruins at the time (crepa means crack in Italian), it has been maintained in memory of the past, even if today the structure has been completely renovated.

As soon as we enter the restaurant we find the bar and the different rooms that compose it. The oldest is the Senate Room, dedicated to Senator Francesco Pistoia, an illustrious local figure who used to dine here.

Caffè la Crepa (CR) — Lombardia Secrets
Caffè la Crepa (CR) — Lombardia Secrets

At the back, with access from the side street, there is the deli store and the wine shop which offer a rich choice of home-made products, as well as some carefully selected specialties among the most particular of the region.

Among the vast choice of wines, there is also a label coming from the nearby vineyard owned by the family. A rarity as the province of Cremona is one of the very few areas in Italy where wine is not produced and, in fact, the Malinterno Vineyard is located across the river, just beyond the Mantua border.

Caffè la Crepa (CR) — Lombardia Secrets
Caffè la Crepa (CR) — Lombardia Secrets

The cuisine offers some typical dishes that have always been on the menu, such as the Isola-style fish dish based on pike in sauce, marinated eel and carpioni, of which even Gualtiero Marchesi was a “fan”. Many of the recipes, orchestrated today by a solid and close-knit team, start from the memory and the still vivid memory of Mamma Elda, such as the Tortelli Amari with St. Peter’s wort, the Guinea Fowl with Creta and the ice cream by the spoonful.

Caffè la Crepa is, in fact, also very renowned as an ice cream shop: a leap into the past and tradition, not only for the genuine and excellent quality ingredients, but also for the original machines from the 70s, with which it is still produced today. The first cup was served in 1976 and, since then, the tradition of the cup of ice cream brought to the table has always been maintained, even when packaged ice creams became fashionable.

Caffè la Crepa (CR) — Lombardia Secrets
Caffè la Crepa (CR) — Lombardia Secrets

In addition to truly masterful traditional cuisine, a food and wine break at Caffè la Crepa will also offer the opportunity for a nice chat with the owners who love telling anecdotes and dispensing advice on discovering a wonderfully “secret” area.

The Secret

The paintings hanging in the bar room are by important local artists of the last century who used to frequent the place regularly. The four largest works were painted by Ugoletti and Scalvini together specifically to be positioned behind the bar counter and recall the architecture and colors of the central room behind it.

Useful Info

Caffè la Crepa
Piazza Matteotti 14
26031 Isola Dovarese, Cremona
Tel. +39 0375 396161

Starters: 8 — 24 euro
First courses: 14 — 16 euro
Second courses: 16 — 24 euro
Tasting menu: 60 euro drinks included

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