It's been too long since I was there to recommend specific places, but there are at least two specific specialties worth going to decent restaurants or trattorias for, salama da sugo (nicknamed "la salamina") and tortelli di zucca. The latter are overstuffed ravioli filled with puréed winter squash worked with about a ton of parmigiano. They are usually served with just butter and parmigiano but you might find them with ragù. The salama da sugo is ground pork parts and red wine stuffed into the bladder of a pig. It is boiled for several hours, suspended in the water and wrapped in a cloth to absorb the fat. When the bladder is opened, the wine, which had dehydrated, should have rehydrated and pour out like a sauce. It is served with mashed potatoes ("purè", actually finer than mashed) and is completely delish, specific to Ferrara, a perfectly delightful town. They also are famous for their bread, but I'm not crazy about it. There's also a savory bar food I simply cannot recall the details of except it was good.
We went to Ferrara for a day in July to look around and eat. For lunch we went to the Antica Trattoria Volano. (Via Volano 20) It was really great regional food. I had the tagliatelle al prosciutto and then they offered to make a me a half portion of salame al sugo because it was 95 that day. I sweat it out a bit later but it was worth it. My wife had the tris di primi which had excellent pastas. I almost forgot, be sure to try zuppa inglese, an interesting desert they make in emilia romagna.
There is a central market but honestly it was one of the more disappointing I have visited. The place was half full and the offerings weren't that spectacular. It could have been a function of the time of year because a lot of shops were closed for the summer or their ferie. Maybe in the fall it is more lively. That said, there are a lot of good food shops in and around the center especially right near the cathedral on via corta vecchia and via garibaldi.
There seemed to be a lot of cafes but we tried the two most central, Cafe Centro Storico in the morning for coffee and then for a quick one on the way out of town, Cafe Leon D'oro. We thought the pastries were a little better at the former. Where ever you end up it's a great place and I'm sure you'll enjoy it.
The pictures are offerings at Cafe Centro Storico, and Leon D'Oro, the tris di primi at Trattoria Volano and the zuppa inglese
Back from Ferrara. We did have a wonderful lunch at Antica Trattoria Volano. They had closed the patio but they opened the doors so we could enjoy the beautiful day. We found a market the cathedral that we called our own. I wish that market was near to me in Berkeley!
We had coffee in both of the cafes you mentioned.
Thanks for the recommendations.
For a great selection of wines, we went to Al Brindisi (billed as the oldest bar in the world). We had a very nice time sitting at tables outside in the street (marred somewhat by the very loud younger-persons’ bar with loud music up the street). The antipasti served with the wine were good, too.
We had dinner at Ristorante La Romantica, which was so good that I still think of it, 3 years after the trip! I had the local specialty of salumi al sugo. It looked and tasted a lot like corned beef (but ground more finely), but it's a dish that I can still remember with clarity, and I'd love to return to Ferrara and order that dish again. The rest of our meal was also excellent, though the items were a little less memorable.