The central section of Parma is lovely and there is delicious food there, rich and creamy given the area and its specialties of cheese and ham. We had an unforgettable saturday lunch at La Filoma (still there) 25 years ago - the memory is based on the convivial, buoyant mood of the place, extremely pleasant environment as well as the very good food, tho I cant say it hasnt changed since that time. Ive linked to a list of the "rated" restaurants (Michelin, L'Espresso), which should at least be reliable. We have always found that the places at the bottom of the Michelin list - 1 fork - are just fine.
Hopefully someone will be able to give you some more recent ideas
We were in Parma for 3 nights in April & had a very nice dinner at Cocchi in the Hotel Daniel, Via Gramsci 16. We found it thru CH (Kirk Wallace's post) and Slow Foods. My wife had taglietelle w/duck ragu then grilled lamb; I had the eggplant parm. special (not the same style as here) & then duck w/pink peppercorns. We split side orders of roasted potatoes and grilled veggies. Then we split a cheese plate. Drank a very nice Amarone 2000, had bottled water con gas and a couple of espressos. Total was 115euros. Well worth it.
My other memory was of lunch and dinner at Trattoria Corrieri, Via Conservatorio. A very popular lunch place that we stumbled into (31euros for the 2 of us, eating a lot) & liked so much that we went back for dinner. Dinner was salumi misti, torta fritta (cold cuts with a great fried puffy bread), melanzane (ok so we love eggplant), veal, polenta, mixed salad, lambusco (carbonated of course) and some dessert for 58euros.
If you ever do get to go to a parm. cheese factory, try Caseificio Gennari, an out of the way (winding roads w/bad directions) but lovely small family run place. They took us in with one day's notice (called from our hotel) and the cheese maker gave us the tour. He spoke no English, we speak very broken Italian, so we compromised by throwing in a lot of French. Very hospitable, very friendly, very open and they didnt charge us. We bought a lot of cheese to make up for that over the top hospitality. Two months later we just finished it.
Parma was the surprise love of our trip. I'd go back in a flash. Have fun.
Trattoria Sorelle Picchi was one of the best meals I had in Emilia-Romagna. I'm sorry I can't provide an exact location, but I'm sure you can locate it somewhere online. It's a small place in the rear of an old salumeria and it seems to be very popular with locals. We went for lunch during the week and it was packed with people on their lunch break. Obviously, being in the back of a salumeria in Parma, we started with a plate of meat and cheese(prosciutto, culatello, coppa, etc.) They simply take your plate to the shop up front and fill your plate with freshly sliced salumi. The pasta was simple and incredible- both the tortellini en brodo and the tortelli d'erbette. The best part is the older woman who presides over the dining room and seems to glow with pride for her food. It was like being served by a doting grandmother. Have a glass of Malvasia, a regional sparkling wine, with your meal.
I live in Parma and think I can help.
I second the recommendation on Trattoria Corrieri. It's a gorgeous place, reasonably priced, very professional operation. On Via del Conservatorio, 3 minutes from Piazza Garibaldi, the main square, by foot.
I also enjoy Ristorante Gallo d'Oro on Borgo Salina, off of Via Farini leading away from Piazza Garibaldi. It's owned by the same guy who owns Corrieri, and sports a taverna look. Best to go at night and dine outside (inside is nice too), and at night with the salumi there is free torta fritta.
I think Sorelle Picchi, that was recommended by another poster, is decent but overpriced and has grumpy service.
A place I recently tried is Antica Cereria, on Borgo Rodolfi Tanzi, across Ponte di Mezzo on the "other" side of Parma away from the main part of the historical center. The Tagliatelle al Culatello is to die for.
At any of the restaurants, try a carafe of lambrusco or malvasia as some one pointed out.
FWIW, here are the places in the Slowfood guide for Parma:
Antica Ceraria, Borgo Tanzi 5 (trattoria-osteria)(open evenings only - hol in August)
Cocchi Via Gramsci 16 (restaurant in hotel)(closed Sat, a week in August)
I Tri Siochett, Strada Farnese 74 (tratt)(closed MOndays and holiday in August)
Trattora del Tribunale, Vicolo Politi 5 (closed Thursdays, summer also Mondays and "20 giorni in agosto"
wine bars: Antica Osteria Fontana Via Farini, 24a, closed sun and mon
Ombre Rosse, Vicolo Giandemaria, 4 closed tuesdays
ditto the reccs for the lambrusco - its delicious here
Thanks for your help. We enjoyed two excellent meals, the first at Ristorante Gallo D'Oro and the second at Osteria del Gesso, Via Ferdinando Maestri.
At Gallo D'Oro all the tables outside were reserved so we ate in the dining room on the left which is simple but comfortable. The recommended Malvasia was a joy, salumi very fine, torta fritta a revelation, pasta superb and the braised pig cheek was good without actually shouting pig or cheek. 2001 Amarone is definitely too young and frankly inappropriate. Pudding would have been preposterous.
On the second night we were looking for a plain grilled steak and an early night but gave up at Osteria Del Gesso. It had the air of a serious restaurant and was good unless you wanted a plain grilled steak - salumi again good, grilled porcini good and veal kidney mildly disapointing. Cracked the wine though - barbera parmigiano, frizzante delicious and very good value at 12 euros.