Weekend in Bologna - Jan or Feb 2010
I'm tinkering with making a weekend trip to Bologna sometime in either January or February and was wondering if anybody could suggest some ideas and places to visit/eat/stay on the moderate to budget side of things. I will be travelling alone, thus places that are suitable for a single diner or guest are welcome too.
I have been to Italy numerous times, however I never have been able to visit Bologna and my schedule next year will permit me to do so.
Any ideas or suggestions are most welcome.
If you search this board for Bologna, you should find a lot of useful information. To get you started, here is a link to my recent report:
Also, it is helpful to specify a price range as opposed to "moderate to budget" which means different things to different people.
Where to stay depends on whether or not you will have a car. We stayed at the Hotel Imperial, which is a few miles from the center, and we got a phenomenal rate, but we had a car (though there is a bus that stops at the hotel). Without a car, you should stay in the center, and I found some very good rates using tripadvisor.
I'm back from Rio. Too much food. Thanks for your tips.
In Bologna, I can recommend two great places that don't get generate too much ink on this board: Serghei in the center, Via Piella, 12, and Trattoria Gigina, a bit outside the center of town: Trattoria Gigina, Via Standhal, 1, http://www.trattoriagigina.it
I'll have lunch at Serghei in a few weeks and report back; only time for one lunch this time. Serghei is only open for lunch on Saturday, not dinner, and closed Sunday. Not sure about Gigina. They each still make the pasta in casa, and Gigina has an astounding mortadella mousse served with a balsamic jelly.
I wholeheartedly second sambamaster's recommendations. Trattoria Gigina and Serghei are both really excellent. Both do great traditional Bolognese food.
I especially love the passatelli in brodo at Serghei. Among their seconds the stinco di maiale, faraone arrosto and lombo di maiale al latte are all great choices.
At Gigina I once had calves liver in caul fat with bay that left me speechless. The owner is also a fun guy, if you get to meet him.
Neither of these places is cheap.
General eating advice in Bologna: you can hardly ever go wrong with the classics: lasagne, tagliatelle con ragu, gramigna con salsiccia (curly noodles in rich sausage ragu), passatelli (breadcrumbs and cheese pressed into fat noodles) or tortellini in brodo. Seconds might include the aforementioned stinco, faraone (guinea fowl), polpettini (meatballs, in sauce), various chops of pork or castrato (mutton, very good).
The typical Bolognese bollito is hard to come by: traditionally served from a cart from which you can choose which meats, sauces and accompaniments you prefer. Trattoria da Gianni (Via Clavature) does an excellent bollito already plated, and la Gigina also serves a plated bollito. The only cart service place I know is da Bertino (Via delle Lame). It is entirely unfussy, ugly, and yet the best 'authentic' Bologna experience I can recommend. Either brush up on your Italian or keep a meat translations phrasebook nearby because they serve testicles and other bits, very tasty but not to everyone's liking. But try it all, doused in friggione (carmelized onion and tomato sauce) or salsa verde and wash it down with a dry Lambrusco (not because Lambrusco is good, but because that's how it's done).
The last Slowfood Osterie d'Italia I bought (2006) listed Caminetto d'Oro, Meloncello and Trattoria del Rosso in addition to Serghei and Gigina
Trattoria del Rosso is cheap, casual, bustling, and hit or miss. One of the few places that always serves crescentine fritte, fried pillowy breads with cheese and salumi. It does real Bolognese food and the primi are good. Go for lunch if you're not too interested in secondi (which are not terrible, just lackluster).
Meloncello is known for one thing, secondi in umido. Stuffed zucchine in umido, polpettine in umido, everything in red sauce with peas and potatoes. They are the last establishment that still maintains this historical part of la cucina Bolognese. What is noteworthy about this is the seasoning -- heavy on the early modern spices, nutmeg, clove -- which is what sets real Bolognese cooking apart. The primi are good too.
Caminetto d'Oro is a very elegant restaurant, very expensive; unparalleled in their attention to the ingredients: culatello, bistecca fiorentina, a beautiful cheese cart, fantastic wine list.
There are lots of small places all over the city, most do a respectable version of tagliatelle con ragu but not much else in the way of real Bolognese.
You should always make reservations, there is always a shortage of tables in Bologna.
re: ciccia bomba
Cart served bollito is at DIANA. I've eaten it had it there and enjoyed. Had the tortellini in brodo to start.
At Trattoria da Gianni I ate lunch. although more than a year ago, If memory serves me, the food was outstanding - what did I have? Can recall their special antipasti which had the wonderful spuma di mortadella included
Another terrific eat was at Grassilli Ristornate.
For food in an around Bologna/Modena you can try contacting Levolpiciccione.it - excellent for the Balsamic Vinegar. But if you want something really wonderful, try contacting Parmagolosa - email@example.com. You need to set aside a whole day for this but you will get to see the remarkable way Parmesan cheese and Parma ham are made. Not cheap but it will be an experience to remember.