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May 8, 2010 03:20 AM

Sunday lunch and dinner in Bologna

Unfortunately I only have 1 day in Bologna on my way back from Puglia. I will be arriving early in the morning on an overnight train, and then leaving on another overnight train from Bologna to France. I intend to leave my luggage at the station and walk around all day, punctuating the visit with at least 2 delicious meals I hope. Any recommendations on sights not to be missed and trattorias open on Sundays at lunch and/or dinner? I'll be on a budget, so ideally I wouldn't want to spend more than 15 to 25 euros for a meal if possible. (at lunch I probably won't have wine since it makes me sleepy, but for dinner I'll definitely want plenty to help me sleep on the train ;)
Grazie in advance for your advice!

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  1. I was in Bologna for a week last year and it is a very nice city to stroll around and have a look at the streets, the food shops and sights like the churches and the Due Torri. You can start with heading down to the main center and Piazza Maggiore, and have some refreshments there in the sun while watching the people. There is some wonderful churches around this piazza and many small streets to explore. Bologna is very nice and buzzing in the evening with a lot of people outside in the many, many cafes and restaurants.

    My two favourite places for lunch/dinner in Bologna were Al Sangiovese in Vicolo Del Falcone and Da Benso in Vicolo San Giobbe. Go for the seasonal dishes and pasta and you will have some good meals there. The portions can be large, so if you want to have both lunch and dinner you might go for a light version at one of the places. Both places have web sites, so you can check them out and book ahead if you want.

      1. Since you only have a day, I would suggest having a light lunch and then a more hearty dinner at Da Gianni, which is mentioned in the thread referenced above. It is a superb trattoria with excellent food, great atmosphere and reasonable prices. It is very near the Piazza Maggiore, with the Duomo and town hall which you must visit. The streets around the restaurant are filled with food stalls and stores, fun to walk around and gawk at all the beautiful food. There is a smaller branch of Eataly, the gourmet supermarket based in Turin, which also has some wine bars with food that may be good for a drink and snack or light lunch.

        3 Replies
        1. re: rrems

          Thanks for the replys! These suggestions look great, but I have a few questions: 1) is Da Gianni definitely open on Sundays (and should I book?) and 2) what are "reasonable" prices in your opinion?
          Would the gourmet supermarket also be open on Sunday? Having lived in France for 15 years where almost everything is closed on Sundays, or at least Sunday afternoons and evenings, it is odd for me to imagine that an even more Catholic country would have stuff open on Sundays...? But I hope to be pleasantly surprised!

          1. re: mllecathy

            According to an Italian Web site, Da Gianni is open for lunch but not for dinner on Sunday. Going out for Sunday lunch is big in Italy, so it's best to reserve. "Reasonable" is about 40-45 Euro per person for three courses with wine.

            Eataly is always open; on Sunday, it's open from 10 am to midnight.

            1. re: zerlina

              I think you are right. I had checked one website which showed it being open for dinner, but several others say lunch only. IIRC, we spent about 60 or 70 euros for 2 including wine..

        2. Also, any insight on Osteria dell'Orsa? I saw it recommended in the New York Times but worry that it might be too touristy...

          4 Replies
          1. re: mllecathy

            I live in Bologna so I can tell you that Osteria dell'orsa, despite a lot of tourists is very authentic: it's a bolognese (student) favorite. Don't expect fancy anything, it's a very laid back place, old school bolognese and best of all CHEAP, a rarity in the center. The food's really good, I recommend the tagliatelle con ragu (can't go wrong). I often take people there when visitors come to town and it's never let me down as it's one of the few places where you don't spend a fortune in the historic center.

            Here's the secret about bologna: the best food isn't found in the center but in the countryside. But if you don't have a car here are the places I often go to (you can google them for the addresses), I think I actually posted these places some time ago. Seeing as my budget is fairly limited, you won't be finding places where you spend too much on my list as we try to stay around 25 pp.

            Trattoria Trebbi: Everything is good, the Squash Tortelloni with a balsamic reduction and guanciale are divine. Vegetarian friendly (a rarity in bologna).
            Trattoria L'Autotreno: Ooooooold School bolognese. No English. 60s decor. Just outside the city center, the buses 19 and 13 stop right by it (San Pio X first stop outside Porta San Felice).
            La Scalinatella: I know, I know, it's not Bolognese but if you're craving good pizza this place can't be beat for ambiance (reserve a table outside!) and it's as central as it gets.
            Bertino: The pasta is good, but not my absolute the main attraction is the meat cart: boiled or roast. Boiled meat with sauces is a bolognese tradition and it's one of the last places to have it.

            Now, if you go outside the city center and go to the agriturismi t's another story.
            Agriturismo Soldati: 15 euro all you can eat organic pizza, wine, coffee, spirit. Amazing. The other menus are great too and cheap.
            Agriturismo La Quercia: out in the boonies, but a cute farm with great, cheap food.
            Agriturismo Dulcamara: Probably the only vegetarian, handicap accessible agriturismo in emilia (the pork belt) and a great place to go if you have kids because they have tons of animals.
            Acqua Sulforosa: Ok, to be honest we haven't eaten here yet cuz it's really far out towards Modena in Guiglia, but one time when I went for a walk with my husband we stopped off here for coffee and stinky water (they have a sulfuric water spring) and there were all the women sitting around a table making the tortelloni and the tortellini and it was a sight to behold. It could only be fantastic.

            Other thing to do: during the spring and summer there are tons of "sagra" local festivals where they celebrate some kind of food or the Festa de l'unità, the leftist political party's summer festivals (just ignore the politics-as always in italy it's an excuse to eat) where you can get great food for really cheap + it's really fun!

            Oh yes, and don't forget to eat the gelato in Bologna, imho the best in Italy.
            Sorbetteria Castiglione, Stefino, Gelatauro...too many to name.

            Hope that helps!

            1. re: LeahinBologna

              This is fantastic!! Thank you so much!!

              1. re: mllecathy

                No problem, let me know if you need any other advice!

                1. re: LeahinBologna

                  Update on my Bologna eats:

                  The Sorbetteria Castiglione was hands down the best gelato I have ever eaten, and I have eaten A LOT of gelato in my 41 years. I had the pistachio and hazelnut flavours and it took all of my personal strength not to go back for a second helping later in the day...

                  I had lunch at Osteria di Mura (not sure that was exactly the name, it's across the street from a hotel on the south end of the city center near the Porta San Mamolo. Delicious and fresh whole fried baby calamari, house-made pasta with clams (not on the menu but I saw the owner's daughter eating a bowl of it when I came in so I asked if I could have some too, not a problem!) Very friendly service and charming décor. A bit more expensive than Osteria dell'Orsa but that is not saying much! Since most of the choices involve fresh fish or seafood, the prices are extremely reasonable.

                  Dinner at Osteria dell'Orsa. I'm sorry to say I was *very* disappointed in the tagilatelle con ragu. My starter, the vegetarian crostini, was wonderful, and the house wine in carafe surprisingly good. The tagliatelle con ragu, on the other hand, had so little meat it would not have even filled a spoon if I had scraped it all together, and the tomato sauce was just so-so. Also, not the best fresh tagliatelle noodles I had while in Italy. The most positive point: all that plus a liter bottle of sparkling water only cost 15 euros, and the staff were very friendly.