Lunch in Ravenna
Any recommendations for a budget-conscious tasty lunch in Ravenna? We'll be doing a day trip from Bologna.
Another thumb's up for Trattoria al Gallo. Still as good as these four-year-old posts indicate. Two starters: artichoke hearts topped with shrimp, and a rucola salad with grana, capers, and thinly shaved, giant mushrooms (rather mild, much like champignons). Two mains: cuttlefish "a moda di Gallo" - basically batons of cuttlefish in a spicy broth with large chunks of tomato and carrot - and paillard-style swordfish filets. Dessert was a semifreddo amaretti (affogato al caffè). Everything was quite good. Prices are a bit on the high side, but price-quality seemed right. Wine, on the other hand, was very reasonable by the glass at EUR 4: a prosecco valdobbiadene and a rebola. Nice pours, too.
Beautiful rooms(s): Art Deco to the max, which you don't find often in Italy, with wonderful furniture and mantelpieces (a main theme seems to be women with animals (dogs, stags, etc.)). Lots of wood and stained glass. Lovely garden. Very pleasant service. The restaurant also provides tourists with gift of a detailed guide on the history of the town, particularly about the mosaics (in Italian, of course).
Here is a write-up from a trip to Ravenna approximately six years ago. I don't think of Trattoria al Gallo as a budget-conscious option, but I do think of it as a cost-effective choice. Once we pay a bit more for a meal, we want the extra cost to be worthwhile.
Ristorante Bella Venezia: (Via IV Novembre) We passed up several outdoor restaurant possibilities to eat lunch indoors here for what was described as the best pasta in town. (The source of this recommendation was the head of the local Ravenna tour guide association.) Suffice it to say that the home-made pasta in our order of tagliatelle with porcini mushrooms certainly enhanced the restaurant’s pasta creds. We also had our first real prosciutto in a shared antipasto of melon and prosciutto. We were blown away by the sweetness of the real thing. Before we began our trip, I had read everyone’s rhapsodic comments about culatello. Yes, culatello is extra-ordinary and we adored it. However, we were, in effect establishing our culatello baseline so the excellent version became standard. We have never, never eaten prosciutto of the quality we routinely ate throughout Emilia-Romagna, and that comparison includes seven previous trips to other regions of Italy.
Antica Trattoria al Gallo: This restaurant is located outside the historic center on Via Maggiore. It is off the maps that you’ll be given by most hotels. It’s not far outside the gate at the end of the pedestrian street, Via Cavour. In fact, the best way to think of its location is that Via Maggiore is, essentially, a large traffic-carrying extension of Via Cavour. (With your back to the historic center, the restaurant is on the right side of Via Maggiore) We ate dinner here, so we ate considerably more courses than you might choose for lunch. With the exception of dessert, my husband and I shared every one of the courses I mention.
This is clearly an upscale restaurant with lots of art-nouveau small bronze sculptures on shelves sticking out from the walls or on half-walls that created small niches within the restaurant. However, the resaturant is saved from stuffiness by some homey touches including old photographs and testimonials to the mother of the current owner, perhaps the founder.
I’m a fool for stuffed zucchini blossoms, but this was the first time we actually ordered them on the trip. We shared an antipasto of zucchini flowers stuffed with gorgonzola served with a delicate sauce. The gorgonzola was the mild, buttery type. We’re not completely certain about what was in the sauce, but we certainly detected some vinegar and black pepper. This was a light and elegant preparation; I don’t believe the zucchini flowers were actually cooked. I know they weren’t breaded and fried, and this treatment produced a dish of light, clean flavors.
Now, for the pasta. Amazing! We shared an order of Spaghetti Carbonara with Pesce Spada. The restaurant substituted smoked swordfish for the guanciale in carbonara, and the result was fantastic! I have no idea whether this dish is a regional Adriatic variation of carbonara or a modern invention. The bottom line is that we thought this was exquisite.
After our extra-ordinary pasta, our braciola castrato was something of a let down, although perfectly tasty. We saw the cognate “castrato” and we inquired about the type of chops before we placed the order. My spoken Italian was woefully inadequate to frame an intelligent question. Fortunately, the server must get a question about that dish often enough that she understood and volunteered “lamb.”
We broke our pattern of shared and simple desserts at this restaurant. My husband ordered crepes filled with gelato and strawberry sauce. I ordered yogurt gelato with warm honey and pine nuts. Both desserts were lovely, but I liked the combination of the tangy gelato and the sweetness of the honey more than I liked the consistent sweetness of his dessert.
re: Indy 67
I recommend Al Rustichello on Via Maggiore just outside the city walls. This is a place where many Italians lunch. It is inexpensive and they make their own pasta. The pasta was great -- delicious asparagus and cheese-filled tortellini served right out of the pan. Huge portions and we ate it all, it was so good. Little English is spoken but the proprietor was very friendly (I speak basic Italian), and proudly declared that the pasta was "Mama pasta," i.e. the stuff your real Italian nonna would make. The meat course was fine but nothing special.