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Jan 17, 2011 06:02 AM


We had a group of 4, go to Bologna Cafe, the dinner place that makes you think you are in Emilia Romagna, last Saturday. Well, after Claudio and Barbara's annual trip to Italy; they came back with a few recipes from their families in Bologna.
The result is, after a complimentary taste of a delicious puree of root vegetables; an expanded selection of pasta and second courses including a Spezzetino de Pollo, a stew of chicken, peas, wine, in a sauce that is cooked down for hours. Delicious! All after his unrivaled "IL Torre", an appetizer of imported items, primarily cured meats and very special cheeses, including his housemade Mozzarella.
I noticed a very full display case of cheeses that I was not familiar with. Claudio said "I have been working with small producers that I knew in my old business,(cheese distribution in Italy) and getting them to export to the U.S. His wine list includes small Italian winemakers and a direct import that he has exclusively,(Mirabella a winery his friend owns, Italian film director, Lina Wertmuller).
The place was packed from 7:00PM until we left about 10:00. Almost everyone there was a regular, with one happy diner commenting "This is as close to italy as you get without going there."

Obviously, all at our table had a wonderful time; if you go, (especially fridays or Saturdays) a reservation is a must!!.

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  1. I guess I will be driving to Sarasota pretty soon. Sounds amazing. Thanks LMF

    2 Replies
    1. re: LilMsFoodie

      Maybe we can carpool! :D

      Sounds amazing....

      1. re: sweet_polly

        I enjoyed a pleasant lunch today at the small but comfortable Bologna Café. They now have a fuller lunch menu than they had in the past, which now makes it a much better place for lunch. Also, their wine list has been much improved. Everyone there is very accommodating. No wi-fi though.
        I had a delicious, sharp provolone (not as sharp as I would like) for an antipasta, excellent bread and then a tagliatelle with Bolognese sauce. They were kind enough to open a fresh bottle of Dolcetto d’Alba from which I had an enjoyable glass of it with my meal. I was already late for an appointment so an espresso was not able to be enjoyed.
        The Bolognese sauce was delicious, but it did not seem to be a “traditional” example of a Bolognese. However, it wasn’t the ersatz example of the famous sauce which is unfortunately common in most restaurants.
        Only two tables were taken while I was there. My guess is that lunch business is always slow, but from my experience it is quite busy for dinner.
        I highly recommend Bologna Café. It is nice to have a restaurant of this quality in the area

    2. We went in April 2012 and loved it. Great Bolognese and antipasti, and the pasta with truffles was to die for.

      Looking forward to visiting again during our vacation next year.


      1. Coincidentally, Bologna cafe is having a Fundraiser Special for the month of June. A full 50% of the revenue for the Special Lunch will be donated to the Emilia Romagna Relief Fund to help with the rebuilding of the region as a result of the recent 2 earthquakes. See the menu below.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ospreycove

          Cafe Bologna used to be one of my most favorite restaurants in and around Sarasota. I didn't mind the prices being a little higher than they should be, thought the food was good and liked the friendly service. Also, it has a nice list of wines—also higher priced than they should be.

          However, a couple of weeks ago I stopped in for lunch and ordered a nice antepasta of mixed cured meats and mixed cheeses. One of the meats was a bit “off” and one my friends complained that he had stomach trouble during the night. Now whether that was caused by the mortadella being off is a question. I did ask that we should not be served slices from the end piece of the mortadella, but my request went unheeded. The pasta was simply not good. Since I was hosting the lunch for two of my friends I did not complain about the lunch(s). We had bottled water, two rounds of coffees (espresso) and two glasses of wine. The price was a shade under $100 with tip.

          I haven't yet returned, but I will soon and discuss my complaints.

          By the way, their bolognese sauce is not traditional bolognese sauce. That doesn't make it bad however.
          In fact it is usually quite good notwithstanding that. It was not good the day on which this brief report is based.


        2. osprey-I recently moved to Sarasota, and one of the reasons for doing so was the Gulf seafood and the great small city. Having been to Italy, I see that you love the Bolonga Cafe and will go there because of this recommendation. However, I truly hope your review is legitimate. Any tips for dining there that won't cost a fortune? Thanks

          2 Replies
          1. re: vitaminD

            vD, you can trust osprey. He lives in Italy part of the year. And delucacheesemonger lives in Paris part of the year. They have good tastes so listen to them here. But getting them together is herding cats. I moved to the area for your same reasons, 6 years ago. It all works.

            1. re: vitaminD

              VitaD, Admittedly Cafe is not the most value oriented place to dine; but it is the quality of the imported items, the homemade pastas/dishes that are almost always excellent, and the charm of the owners, that drive this small restaurant. Tips for keeping the bill a range woiuld include sharing the antipasto, tell them it is for 1 and you will share just so you can taste several of the cured meats and wonderful cheeses. Also mention that it is your first time dining there. For Second course, I would stick to the pasta dishes of which there are several that are my favorites. Wine list is not overpriced, again ask what wine they would suggest that is not expensive; all of their red wine selections ,(only wine I drink), are good.Claudio, the owner is also very proud of his Espresso & Cappuccino!
              Hope this helps......

              Veggo, we will get together at some point, when the 3 of us are in town!!!

            2. I 100% concur with you. My wife and I discovered this place back in February. We had 2 anti-pastis, and 3 pasta dishes! I couldn't get enough pasta so I ended up ordering a 2nd dish. I'm such a pig.

              Here are some photos from our first time there.

              2 Replies
              1. re: duckfat73

                This is going to sound crude but those pictures made me want to lick the screen on my tablet. I want smellovision.

                1. re: suzigirl

                  Haha, that's too funny! I was actually getting hungry just looking at the photos.