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Aug 27, 2003 01:50 PM


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After reading chowhound for about a year and getting some good advice, I'm fianlly submitting a post..need your help please.
My husband & I are planning our first trip to Italy for the end of Sept. Starting in Venice ending in Positano, we're driving. We originally were not going to go to Bologna but after reading some posts on this site and being complete foodies... seems we have to make a stop.
So we have 1 dinner to be had in Bologna and it has to be worth the trip, after all, that is why we are going.
Read about Bitone & Battebecco...should our 1 meal be at either of these places or is there another amazing place that I don't know about.????
We may be able to squeeze in a lunch if we're lucky!

Would really appreciate your suggestions.

Suggestions in Venice, Tuscany/Umbria, Positano or along our drive would be great too. THANKS!

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  1. v
    Victoria Libin

    If you want fancy and polished service, yet lackluster food, then Bitone and Batibecco fit the bill. Not worth it. In general, Michelin starred restaurants tend to dissapoint.

    The best food I had was at Gigina in the outskirts of the city. Best rendition of traditional dishes overall, but is is very casual.

    Caminetto D'Oro was excellent with very well executed traditional Bologna dishes. Best version of tortellini in Brodo I had anywhere and their cured meat antipasto had the best culatello and salami di feligno is really top notch. The stuffed guinea fowl was amazing. The room is cozy and elegant in a casual way. This may be your best bet.

    Another good choice is Gianni a la Vecia Bulagna. More bustling and casual. Perhaps better for lunch.

    That said some of the best food in that area is to be found in the road between Bologna and Modena at Il Gaidello. Everything on the menu is made in house from the cured meats to every vegetable that is grown on the farm. Incredible value. Just bring your own wine since they offer their house made wine which is not very good. The room is cozy and elegant. They also offer rooms.

    Go to Nocia in Umbria and check out the cured meats, black truffles and lentils.

    On your way to Positano, stop at a restaurant called Il Gastronomo in the province of Avellino in Campania (just South East of Naples in the country side). Best food in the whole Campania area, way better than Don Alfonso, Il Principe, or Torre Saracena. So good that I am traveling back to the area in October just to go there:

    Il Gastronomo

    Ponteromito - (AV)

    Via Nazionale, 77 a

    Tel. 0827 67009-67059

    Have fun.

    27 Replies
    1. re: Victoria Libin

      We were in Italy in March -- eating at restaurants that were middle of the road price-wise for the most part. Our favorite meal of the whole trip was lunch at Gianni. Great service, wonderful regional foods. A woman in the back was rolling out pasta on a large table as we ate. I would suggest reservations.

      Gianni a la Vecia Bulagna
      Via delle Clavature 18
      Bologna 40124
      Phone. +39 051229434

      1. re: jen maiser

        Yes -- that was our favorite Bologna dinner last winter. As comfortable as eating in someone's home, everything so delicious. The owner was initally standoffish until we made it clear that he needn't worry himself about speaking English, we were willing to wing it with our poor guide-book Italian. Complimentary dessert and grappa, and another digestiv that I can't remember the name of, at the end of the meal.
        I also remember an incredibly beautiful, elegantly dressed, stick-thin Italian woman at the next table delicately putting away the biggest plate of osso bucco with polenta that I've ever seen. :-)

      2. re: Victoria Libin

        I have recommended Battebecco several times on here based on three meals two, three and five years ago. I was there two weeks ago and it was a major disappointment. Even their risotto which was once exemplery was no longer special. I have not been back to Bitone in two years but I remember the chef owner as exuberant and a wonderful ambassador for his food and the city. Has this, too, fallen so far?

        By the way one of the best meals that I've had in Italy anywhere was at the one star Il Postale in Umbria. I believe 52 points for food in Gambero Rosso and just superb. More than reasonably priced with wine at only a 50% markup over the Italian price wih some bottles selling for the same as in some stores.

        1. re: JoeH.

          Joe, I actually have your post printed out in front of me...april 2002. So glad you replied letting us all know that Battebecco wasn't that good on your last visit. Your previous post made me really want to go but now...I don't think so.

          Where is Il Postale.....would like to go but I'm not sure if we'll be near it.

          Where can I get my hands on a copy of Gambero Rosso?

          1. re: Stephanie

            Stephanie, thanks for the nice words. Battebecco really was a disappointment. I was in Italy, Germany, France and the Czech Republic in the hottest week of the last century. On business yet it was awful. Battebecco I had looked forward to yet it was a real disappointment. I've been to Bitone twice before a enjoyed it immensely both times, in part because of its owner. Still, Victoria's comments ring true especially in light of my recent experience.
            Il Postale is in Umbria, in Citta de Castello which is about 40 miles north of Perugia or 90 minutes east by southeast of Florence. My wife and I went because we went to Deruta to buy ceramics (greatest source in all of Italy!) and wanted a serious meal on the way back. A gorgeous drive from Florence to Deruta which is a wonderful medevil hill town with about 60 or 70 cermics stores and factories. Returning through Citta de Castello to Il Postale (which is only five mintues or so off of the autostrada) and then back to Florence was a fairly easy drive. If you are into shopping you could even incorporate Prada and the Mall (Both of which are WELL worth it!) into the same trip. Ideally just spend several days in Tuscany and Umbria. But few people on this (or any) board have really talked about Deruta and it is a wonderful place to visit. Several factories sell directly to Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus, others to various North American and European outlets. You can special order chargers, plates- any ceramics to match a dining room or, simply, to do a really spectacular serving piece that is custom made for you. All in an incredible town that is a real pleasure to wander around. On google type in Deruta ceramics and see what you get. You'll be surprised. If you go, say from Florence, Il Postale is a wonderful stop for dinner on your return. You'll have an hour or so drive after but it is fairly easy.
            This isreally a fault of mine since I obsess on things like this. On my business trip I took half of a day off and went to the Moser factory in the Czech Republic to buy crystal. 1/4 the American price for some of the most beautiful crystal in the world.
            My wife says that I am hopeless. She's right!


            1. re: Joe H.

              You're the person who wrote about Moser! I read that post about a week ago & kept thinking I had to read it again & find out more. There's these wine glasses I MUST have! About $140 each here in NYC, will they be much less in Italy? where should I look?

              I too am very much into shopping, my husband not as much but we did plan on going to the outlets one day. What are my chances of getting Frette sheets for cheap?

              Just looked at my map. I'm spending 3 nights in Cortona (il falconiere, have you been?) which seems real close to Citta de Castello... looks like I'll have to eat at Il Postale!

              1. re: Stephanie

                Below is the link to Moser's website. You can buy directly from them, over the phone. Ask for Linda she speaks perfect English and is trustworthy. She'll also remember me since I was just there and bought a Paula decanter along with several glasses and a second decanter.

                Pricing: Specifically it is generally 50 to 100% more to buy European crystal (and Frette) in the U. S. than in the country where it is made. This is true for most every manufactured good, clothing, shoes, linens, porcelain, etc. ALL (yes, I mean ALL) factories (i.e. Meissen, Moser, Lladro, Spode, etc.) have places where they sell first quality at a discount and/or second quality at a bigger discount.

                For example, I bought a second quality Paula wine decanter which is the most beautiful, exquisite decanter I have ever seen. In America this sells for around $1,250. In the Czech Republic, at Moser's factory showroom, it is 21,000 Czech. They had one second quality for 16,000 C. The only blemish was/is a tiny pinhead size black dot on the base that it takes me ten seconds to find even knowing where it is. The 16,000 C is minus 16% VAT which brings it down to 13,440. 13,440 C converted to U. S. is $463.00.If I had purchased first quality (no black dot) it would have been US $630.00.

                But Moser crystal at 64% off is worth driving 100 miles out of the way for especially since they will hve virtually everything!

                You can also buy this over the phone (!!!!!!) for these prices. You only need to add in shipping and insurance which will bring it up to about half the American price. The direct phone number is 011-42-353-416-136 in Karlovy Vary. Ask for Linda. First confirm the name by looking it up on their website under products and she will give you the price and cost of shipping. It took two weeks for it to be shipped to me.

                If your husband is into clothing Brioni has an outlet (yes!) that is similarly less expensive. You can also buy Brioni in, say, Rome or Florence at their stores for about 50% off the American price but beware that U. S. customs will tack on 20% (that's right, 20%) for duty when it is shipped to you here. I have never been charged or crystal, porcelain or linens.

                Frette, like Moser and the others will ship to you in the U. S. and will sell over the phone direct from their Italian stores. In Florence Camilla speaks perfect English and, if you have the style and color, will give you the price and take the order. Her number is 01139055211369. We have bought from her in person and called from here toplace additional orders. Again, the savings are at least 50%. Frette also has several outlets in Italy.
                is the website for The Mall and Prada south of Florence.
                is another excellent website for outlets around Italy.

                Good luck!



                1. re: Joe H.


                  I am wondering you could kindly provide me with the addresses of the Frette factory outlets in Italy, especially if there is one near The Mall in Tuscany.

                  Thank you very much.


          2. re: JoeH.
            Victoria Libin

            Ate at Bitone last November on a business meal. It was much better 4-5 years ago. The best thing about it now is the wood boat like decor and service. Their signature tortelloni with saffron sauce was gummy, bland and oversauced. I kept wishing I had taken my clients to Caminetto D'Oro instead.

          3. re: Victoria Libin

            I've heard good things about Gigina. And Caminetto D'Oro & Il Gaidello also sound great. Maybe I'll have to cancel a night in Positano for 2 nights in Bologna. I hear such great things but I'm worried Positano is way too touristy for us.
            Your thoughts?..... right now we have 3 nights booked at the sirenuse (1st week of Oct., maybe it's less touristy??) but 1 night free along the way.
            Do you think I should book that free night in Bologna or just stay 2 in Positano?
            Also have you been to capri? thoughts?? good eats???

            1. re: Stephanie
              Victoria Libin

              Positano is touristy yet very beautiful. Le Sirenuse is an amazingly beautiful and service oriented hotel. I love their bar. The restaurant scene around Positano is a bit dissapointing and over priced as you may expect, but the main draw about the place is the scenery which will make even ho hum food more palatable. There are some excellent restaurants just South of the Amalfi Coast around the town of Battipaglia (the town known for buffalo mozzarella) and near the Paestum ruins.

              Capri again is really beautiful and worth a day trip.

              Naples itself is worth a night at least and that is what I suggest doing. I would spend 2 days at Le Sireneuse and 1 night in Naples. I can give you a ton of recs on Naples restaurants. I will be in Naples and the Avellino/Irpinia are in late September and then heading to Puglia in October.

              1. re: Victoria Libin

                that may be a good call considering we are flying out of naples airport.
                would love some recc's!

                1. re: Stephanie
                  Victoria Libin

                  I had and excellent meal at Da Tonino located at Via Santa Teresa a Chiaia, 47 Tel. 081 421533. Another good hole in the wall is Il Sebeto Via Rossi, 65 Tel. 081 7743872. Finally, La Cantina di Sica in the Vomero area is supposedly very good an I will be trying it this next trip.

                  Pizza in Naples is a must try even if you normally don't like pizza. The best pizzeria is Da Michelle with Pizzeria Port'Alba following close by. Brandi is famous but they are just cashing in on their fame now.

                  You must have a pastry at Scaturcchio, their sfogliatella is the best I had. Pintauro sells a different type of sfogliatelle made with a soft thicker dough. Also very good.

                  I also suggest that you pick up in Italy a copy of the Slow Food Osterie guide. It is in Italian but you can at least figure out the names and addresses of various restaurants. You will find some gems through that guide.

                  1. re: Victoria Libin

                    who doesn't like pizza! and sfogliatelle....always my first choice in a pastry shop.

                    what about hotels in naples? pricey is ok but if you know of a nice mom & pop, that's good too.

                    can I get a copy of slow food before I go, online possibly?

                    1. re: Stephanie

                      Go to
                      You can buy the Osteria guide thru the website and they will ship to you in the US (I am pretty sure!).

                      1. re: DavidT

                        Yes, they will. Along with Gambero Rosso this is an outstanding resource. The Italian Touring Club is good, too.

                        1. re: Joe H.

                          I had a very bad experience with purchase of the Gambero Rosso guide through their website a couple of years ago I wanted to relate as a caution. I ordered the guide from Italy, airfreighted (I think that was about $50 altogether, but perhaps I exaggerate) within month before my trip. Anyway, the first thing I saw in a bookstore there upon arrival was a NEW version of the guide. They had shipped me the out of date one. So I would wait to buy your guidebooks there unless you can find a better source than their website

                          1. re: jen kalb

                            so both slowfood & gambero rosso should be bought once in Italy?

                            Anyone been to La Chiusa in Montefollonico, Tuscany recently?

                            1. re: Stephanie

                              Below is the link to's page where they sell Gambero Rosso for Rome and Gambero Rosso's wine guide, both in English. Respectfully but I disagree about waiting to buy both books in Italy. If you do you're going to spend time reading and studying them there and may change plans at the last minute to accommodate this. I did buy my copy of Slow Food at the Florence airport but it was the last copy. It is also literally two inches thick.
                              I received my copy of Gambero Rosso in about two weeks ordering it off of the internet with an e-mail and following up with another e-mail two days later. Then, one week after this, I sent a third e-mail to confirm that it had been shipped. When I did not receive a response from this I then sent a fourth e-mail. The book arrived three or four days later.
                              There is a second primary advantage to having the book before you go: This is a website where you can type in groups of words or individual words and you will receive a literal translation back, i.e. from Italian to English. This is nowhere near perfect but when reading a review of a restaurant and such as Slow Food where the featured dishes are in bold type you can use this to translate. In many instances it is only an approximation but it is really helpful. It takes time to do this but it is also part of the fun of anticipating the trip.
                              Further, although all three books feature different types of restaurants, it is interesting when one restaurant appears in all three. For Bologna there are two that satisfy this: Melencello and Paradisino. Al Cambio has the highest overall rating in Gambero Rosso (78) and two tie for highest food rating, Al Cambio and Bitone with 46 (scale of 60). Of course Michelin does NOT give Al Cambio a star but it does give it a mention. Gambero Rosso gives Battebecco 45 for food while Michelin continues to give it a star. I found it to be very disappointing, Victoria remembered the Bitone that I do and relates that like Battebecco it is not on the same level.
                              Bottom line: this theory of following a consensus for as many books as you can find doesn't always work!
                              If you are going to be driving near Padua (roughly on the way from Venice to Bologna) you should seriously consider a meal at Le Calandre. Three Michelin stars (just awarded) with the youngest chef to ever receive the third star. It is superb and I personally believe it is the best restaurant in all of Italy. It is expensive but not exhorbitant (i.e. 110E prix fixe + reasonable wine markup). Just superb. Their website is Take a look.


                              1. re: Joe H.

                                you made my point for me, Joe, about how dedicated you had to be to get what you needed. Notice that the current Gambero Rosso for Italy as a whole is NOT currently listed on Amazon - a lot of out of date editions of their books are, though.

                                I had the same problem buying "What to Eat in Canada" through them - it took MONTHS to get the current edition tho they can offer several old versions and the book is available from Canadian sources and the small publisher directly.

                                I am as much of a compulsive researcher as anybody, but sometimes it just better to wait til you get there. Or settle for looking at an old edition and websites for your info. Stick with the foreign language side of the websites, too - a lot of the english language portions are grossly out of date and have a lot less content.

                      2. re: Stephanie
                        Victoria Libin

                        Then you have to stop in Naples. Scaturcchio is a must. Da Michele is a hole in the wall pizzeria and your hotel will likely try to discourage you from going there but don't miss it. They only have marinara and margherita but the dough is ethereal. Go there for lunch. Grand Hotel Parkers is tops (expensive at around 250 Euros but worth it). The Grand Hotel Vesuvio is also considered to be a grand 5 star hotel, but I do not think it is as charming. A less expensive yet acceptable hotel is Miramare.

                        You can special order the SlowFood guide, but shipment is expensive. I suggest buying it in the first news stand or bookstore you see upon your arrival. If you know the exact places where you are staying, you can go online to their website and write down the vitals of places rather than buying the book, you just don't have something handy in case your plans change.

                        I have had withdrawal symptoms for pizza and sfogliatelle all year. I was in Naples and Bologna last year and surpringly it has been the food in Naples that I have been longing for and the food of Bologna is incredible so that is saying something. It is probably because I can get some decent approximations at home of Bolognese cooking, but nothing close to a decent pizza or sfogliatelle. Sigh.

                        1. re: Victoria Libin

                          Naples is that good, huh? I don't know, you're talking to a girl who grew up in Brooklyn and now lives in Manhattan....both places have pretty good pizza and pastry.
                          Or are all the places I've been to trying to live up to what Naples has? :-)

                          1. re: Stephanie
                            Victoria Libin

                            The sfogliatelle at scarturcchio is definitely incredible and I think better than anything I have had in NYC. The pizza is tougher to answer since it is a bit like comparing apples and oranges. NY style pizza is what happened when Neapolitan immigrants found higher protein flour and a place where cheese was less expensive. They are both good in their own right. Tender, delicate vs chewy and assertive. So be prepared for something that is very different both texturally and flavor wise than what you are used to.

                          2. re: Victoria Libin

                            Victoria, I am curious but I have also been to Da Michele and while it is totally different I prefer both Sally's and Pepe's in New Haven to this and several other Neopolitan pizzarias. I'm just curious if you've been to either of these and your thoughts?

                            1. re: Joe H.
                              Victoria Libin

                              I have been to Pepe's numerous times. A good friend of mine lives in New Haven (I went to school in Boston) and he is a die hard Pepe's devotee. I am totally the opposite of you. The chewiness of the dough and the extra cheese of New Haven pizza is just not my thing. That said, I would run as fast as I can to a place in S.F. that would serve pizza like Pepe's if it existed. I guess it is just a matter of personal preference as to whether you like the tender crust and delicate flavors of Neapolitan pizza or the chewy crust and assertive flavors of New Haven and NYC pizza. The use of sauce versus just crushed San Marzanos is a big difference between the two styles as is the use of lower protein flour in Naples.

                2. re: Victoria Libin

                  RE: Caminetto D'Oro

                  We just returned from a 2 night visit to Bologna.

                  We went to this restaurant with the recommendation from this board. I have to say that we were very disappointed with this place...and in fact, could not even eat our main course- which is a first in 6 years of travel and fine dining in Italy.

                  We ordered the roasted lamb and potatoes, as our seconde. We both were served three small chunks of unrecognizable bones with some meat attached-not very roasted. Okay... the big problem was that the meat was completely riddled with grizzle- there was not one tender bite to be had. There was hardly enough grizzley meat to even cut off. It was also strongly "lamby"- which I don't understand why. I've eaten many Italian lamb dishes, and not experienced this strong flavor. Even if this dish was a cultural difference (which I really do not think it was)- this dish cost 18 Euros...almost $20 a piece. It's no excuse for poor, tough cuts of lamb.

                  One quick walk though the market streets, will exhibit the most incredible. beautiful meats available.

                  The roasted potatoes...which should be amazing in the Emilian reigion (slowly roasted to a golden crunch, coated in olive oil and sometimes with rosemary and garlic) were quickly done in a high heat, leaving the edges burned, and the rest of the potato pieces pure white.

                  FWIW, I've attended a week long cooking course in Bologna a few years ago, and have personally loved and cooked in this style for at least 8 years, and feel I am well acquainted with Emilian/Bolognese cuisine. This place is living on it's past reputation.

                  The rest of the meal was fine, not great. I experienced the decor as very casual...nothing special.

                  1. re: Dellmar

                    This isn't encouraging. My visit to Battebecco in mid August was also disappointing and this Michelin starred restaurant, based on five previous visits had always been excellent. Victoria, who had recommended the restaurant you went to, had a negative experience at Bitone, another restaurant which I had liked. A third person on this board also went to Bitone and found it unremakable.

                    Up until the last year or so the better Bolognese restaurants had always been or at least seemed to be consistent. Because I go back there every year on business I'm really going to have to think twice about where I go for dinner. For all of us it's disappointing for a meal like this anywhere in Italy, especially in Bologna, because our expectations are usually so high. In the past even lesser, "Slow Food" type of restaurants have been wonderful and often more reliable than the starred or highly rated in Gambero Rosso. Several experiences of mine in Florence last December tended to disprove these also.

                3. Stephanie, below is a link to a post of mine from a while back about a cheese shop in Bologna. Do NOT leave Bologna without tasting the gorgonzola naturale. We're talking orgasmic food, here, that is unavailable in America. (!) I've also had phenominal sfogliatelle in Bologna but I don't remember the name of the pastry shop although it was part of the market area. Bologna has one of the best markets in all of Italy. Just wandering around, getting lost, smelling your way from one incredible store to another is fantastic!
                  I do think that one long day in Bologna is enough. If you go consider that the Baglioni (Bologna's best hotel and a superb, ground zero location) has the stiffest, most heavily starched sheets in Italy. If you're into this then you should stay there. If not then you should avoid it at all cost!
                  Much of my love of Italy is, really, just getting lost (if you will) in the countryside and discovering places and things. If you set aside a day or two on your trip with nothing planned other than just driving "somewhere" and playing everyhing by ear you might end up with the most enjoyable part of the trip. To do this you must feel quite self reliant and independent. If so then I urge you to do it.
                  By the way if you are passing through or by Florence seriously consider Sostanza which I think has a better steak than Peter Luger. You'll also find an exemplery version of this in Panzano in Chianti at Vescovini which uses meat from the local butcher shop some consider the best in Italy.
                  My wife and I go back in late November on vacation. (No business!!!!) Talking about this just makes me wish that we were leaving next week. Good luck on your trip and best wishes wherever you go! (If you are into cooking and entertaining pay serious attention to my comments about Deruta and ceamics.)


                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Joe H.

                    There are two wonderful restaurants right near the Hotel Baglioni (each less than one block off Via Independenza, and each less than a one minute walk from the hotel). One is called Franco Rossi. AMAZING food and an upscale environment. Franco works the room, himself, and brings you course after course of whatever he chooses (that said, I don't eat meat, and he will compromise and bring me only veggie and fish courses). But if you're the adventuresome kind of person, and not afraid of a slightly large bill, go for it! It's totally worth it. The other place is called Monticello DiGrappo. Slightly more casual and you can order whatever you want off the menu. The risottos are amazing, as are the ravioli. Enjoy!!

                  2. I had a memorable meal at Diana in Bologna. When the waiter brought my entree, I didn't recognize what I had ordered. I had unknowingly ordered veal kidneys. I traded entrees with my mom, who usually saves me in these organ meat surprise situations. She enjoyed the kidneys, and I enjoyed the sole she had ordered.

                    1. I'm far too late for the original poster, but I have to weigh in in case anyone else is preparing a visit there soon and is looking for an excellent meal in Bologna.

                      Trattoria Anna Maria has been my favorite restaurant of all time across a couple visits and 2 decades. The atmosphere is very cozy and charming. Not fancy. Locals and people in the know, althouggh not a restaurant you'll find in many of the books necessarily.

                      The tortelllini en brodo, a perfectly prepared simple soup with the most delicate pork morsels, the tagliatelle al ragu (bolognese sauce) and the lasagna al forno are so good they set my standards for good Italian food and I've spent FAR more in several other cities in Italy and the U.S. and never come close. The lasagna al forno uses the same ragu (bolognese) style sauce. it has such nice rich flavors. You can taste the pork, beef, carrot, wine, and they blend together perfectly. The pasta is so thin it melts yet still incredibly flavorful. On my most recent visit, we ate there 3 times and that was not enough. The meat dishes for secondi are scrumptious too -- never had a bad one.

                      Go. You won't be sorry.

                      Trattoria Annamaria Di Monari Anna Maria
                      Via Delle Belle Arti, 17/A
                      40126 Bologna (BO), Italy
                      051 266894

                      1. Hello,
                        I will be on a course in Bologna for several weeks, from late Dec. 2006 , until Jan. 2007.
                        I am on a student style budget. I would like to experience authentic Italian food.
                        Please , can you advise me on places that I could try ?
                        Thank you,
                        Rosie the Cat