Finalising restaurants in Bologna
Less than two weeks before I am in Italy and the closer it gets the more I change my mind about restaurants. I am not relying on guidebooks, I am mainly relying on this site. When I had a look, however, at a major on line travel site, virtually none of the restaurants I intend to visit in Bologna are in the top 50 (which is not necessarily a bad thing!).
At the moment, my short list is thus:
Da Gianni (terrible reviews on other site)
Osteria Numero Sette
On the 'other' website, I am interested in Al Sangiovese and Trattoria Battibecco. Are these worth trying? Are any of the restaurants on my original list now no longer worth visiting? (I have been researching on here for some time!!)
We will have 5 nights (dinners) and two lunch spots to fill. Including Sunday night and Monday night which I believe can be quite difficult (but Gigina is open Sunday).
Any thought/advice would be much appreciated.
Via Henri Beyle Stendhal, 1, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna 40128, IT
Via Guglielmo Oberdan, 4, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna 40126, IT
Osteria Numero Sette
loc. - Rastignano ,Via Andrea Costa 7, Pianoro Bologna, Emilia-Romagna , IT
A brief trip report. Thanks to everyone who helped with our itinerary!
Da Gianni - We were lucky to get a table here for Sunday lunch, having booked in person the day before. Half hidden down an alley, it was cool and relaxed inside (less formal than I had imagined) and busy with a mix of locals and tourists. We really enjoyed the generous affetati misti and two excellent pasta dishes – tagliatelle with a rich lamb ragu and the signature ‘Strozzapreti Gianni’. I wish we’d had the appetite to eat more here because the tortellini in brodo and a daily special of pork shank looked excellent. The only disappointment was dessert – panna cotta and crème caramel, both stodgy and unpleasant. I would come back to try more of their savoury courses, but skip dessert in favour of gelato elsewhere.
Ristorante da Nello al Montegrappa - We weren’t expecting much from this place, perhaps because we were seated in the ‘tourist section’ in the pleasantly air-conditioned cellar space, but we ended up having two fantastic meals here. The staff are excellent, very friendly and attentive, and recommended some great dishes. We enjoyed the classic cotoletta alla Bolognese (lightly breaded veal wrapped in prosciutto and drenched in a rich and creamy cheese sauce) and the gramigna alla salsiccia (pasta with an incredible sauce of cream, sausage and porcini mushrooms). The trio of pastas (for two) and a plate of their tortellini Montegrappa proved that all their pasta is good, and the veal chop arriving at the next table looked great. Dessert was the lightest, wobbliest panna cotta I’ve ever had, with a fresh berry coulis. Our meals here were rich, delicious and not overly expensive. We would definitely come back.
Trattoria del Rosso - Despite hearing mixed things about this ‘cheap eat’ in the University area, we really enjoyed it. We stumbled across it on our first night after a long day of travelling and managed to bag an outside table, even though the place was packed. Tables are turned quickly and service is fast but friendly. We loved the hot, puffy crescentine with Mortadella; pappardelle with lamb ragu; and the classic tagliatelle Bolognese. The house red is cheap and palatable, if a little rough, and the bill was extremely reasonable. On a second visit, we had some wonderful greaseless zucchini frites, but the gnocchi with sausage ragu was far too salty – perhaps just an off-night. Great for a quick bite to eat or if you are on a budget.
Da Cesari - This was one of the more expensive meals of our trip. We liked the old-world decor and the service from a lone blonde waitress was very good. This was one of the few restaurants in which we noticed tourists. We were happy with our food, though didn’t think it any better than some of the cheaper places we tried. That said, their famous pumpkin ravioli was among the best I’ve ever had – beautifully light pasta with a not-too-sweet pumpkin filling and plenty of butter and Parmesan. Like Da Gianni, desserts were disappointingly stodgy and seemed pre-plated.
Pizza – As this was my partner’s first trip to Italy, we had to have pizza. On Via Caduti di Cefalonia (off Via Ugo Bassi), we had huge, tasty pizzas at Scalinatella. (Look for the Celtic Druid pub, it’s right next door). Equally good was Pizzeria La Bella Napoli – well worth the walk up the Via San Felice. (Great for lunch after a wander round the Mercato delle Erbe – the bustling indoor food market).
Gelato – The best we had was at Gelateria Gianni and La Sorbetteria Castiglione. (At the latter, don’t miss the Dolce Karin – one of their signature flavours; a mix of white chocolate, hazelnuts and crunchy bits).
We missed out on Al Sangiovese but heard great things, so it remains on our shortlist for our next visit. I’m happy to trade bar and food shop recommendations if anyone is interested.
Trattoria del Rosso
Via Righi 30, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna 40126, IT
Via de' Carbonesi, 8, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna 40123, IT
Via Paglietta,12, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna 40124, IT
I loved Tamburini. Their charcuterie platters are amazing if you want to discover all things salumi.
It's on the corner of Via Drapperie and Via Caprarie (on the tower side of Piazza Maggiore).
For gelato, which Bologna is known for, try Gelaeria di Stefino and Il Gelatauro. The more famousla Sorbetteria undershot my expectations. Venchi (opp. Tamburini) was also good for chocolates.
For quick bites, there is a local fast food place that makes gourmet slider sized panini's that are quite good. Some of the varieties include argula, balsamic and Roast beef, Prosciutto fig jam and parmesan.
I went to the Eataly in Turin, prior to arriving in Bologna and it is a lesser version of the Turin outlet. It is as was mentioned, mostly a bookstore, and what you get there in terms of cooked food, is special only for the 'artisanal, organic, slow food' novelty. That being said, I was on something of a crudo/charcuterie bender the entire time I was in Bologna, Turin and Parma so my experience is somewhat biased.
Just avoid the overtly touristic places and you'll be fine, but even then, the Bolognese cooked better than almost anywhere else in Italy.
When in Italy, follow your nose. The web is a confusing mess interspersed with comments from people with little to no knowledge about food and knowledgeable foodies brought up on interpretations of Italian cooking. We spend months each year in Italy eating. In more than 10 years of doing this our best meal so far cost us $14 for three of us, primo, secondo, wine, espresso and grappa. Try to find that place on the internet!
"We spend months each year in Italy eating."
Therein lies the rub. Most people on this site looking for information have about two weeks to spend in Italy and it's not every year, believe me. Using a hit or miss tactic really doesn't work. Going to Italy with a few good recommendations is essential. There is plenty of good information to glean from these boards. :)
PixieM, like you I've been busily planning a foodie itinerary for Bologna and the restaurants on my 'shortlist' have changed numerous times. It's hard to know which review sites and diner opinions to trust, so I've been cross referencing recommendations with food and travel blogs. (Search for the restaurant name in Google, then filter by blog). At least this way, you can usually see some snaps of the food and get opinions from well travelled / well fed people.
Da Cesari has made our 'final cut'. You might find these links interesting:
Also Da Gianni:
Having read mixed reviews of Trattoria Anna Maria, we've replaced it with Al Sangiovese, which does get great reviews on TA, but also elsewhere.
For a cheap, light lunch, you might consider Trattoria del Rosso:
Apologies if this is link overload, but the blogs etc have really helped with my planning. From what I've read (and I've read EVERYTHING), I would skip Battibecco. If you'd like any bar / cafe / food shop recs, do let me know and please post a trip report when you're back.
Some places that seem to be relatively well regarded by the locals are Fadiga Bistrot,Bistrot 18,Scacco Matto, which I think is Pugliese, and All'Osteria Bottega. The Bolognesi also seem to deplore their city restaurants a bit and feel that the eat better going out into the country.
If Da Amerigo isnt working for you schedule there are other country places nearby, like Ostaria di Rubbiara, with the Pedroni aceto balsamico a liqueur making operation adjoining.
I agree with BBee that two meals a day of this food will do you in. I felt like an old frenchman obsessing about his liver after a couple of days of E-R food. I cant figure out what you plan to be doing other than eating - sometimes the meal planning lays out easier if it matches up with your touring plans. think about including some meals that include fish perhaps, or have a dinner of bread, cheese and fruit. Or Eataly or a wine bar.
Osteria di Rubbiara
Via Risaia, 2, Nonantola, Emilia-Romagna 41015, IT
Via Rialto 23, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna , IT
Via Santa Caterina, 51, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna , IT
Via Broccaindosso, 63, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna , IT
Via Clavature 18/b, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna , IT
Via degli Orefici 19, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna , IT
re: jen kalb
Hi Jen, we have made a booking at Da Amerigo but we are still undecided about where the overnight stay will be and how we can fit in a few more country restaurants. In terms of what we are doing other than eating, we tend to travel in a meandering, meet the locals kind of way wherever we are in the world. I don't like crowds and I don't tend to go much for the big wow monuments and museums so we do this sort of stuff in little chunks. I just love getting a feel for a place.....and I think we will have good time doing that on this trip.Last year we ate our way around large swathes of the middle east and still managed to see some amazing stuff. This will be our first trip to Italy but I really hope not our last.
And thanks for the tips re city restaurants!
I ate at Scacco Motto, and if you are going to veer away from the Bolognese classics, I would put Teresina ahead of Scacco Matto. (Perhaps the owners of Scacco Matto are Pugliese, but the menu is all over the map.) Both are popular for offering plenty of fish on their menu, instead of the fatty all-meat-all-the-time which tends to be the norm in the city.
Trattoria Twinside is a place where many diners are eating light, such as only one course or a salads. They have a great wine and beer list.
One classic dish that I adore is passatelli in brodo, so I hope you give it a try when you are in Emilia Romagna. That and some cured meats makes a satisfying but not leaden dinner.
I didn't eat in Eataly, but I also didn't see much food there. It is overwhelmingly a book store in my recollection, but I just waltzed through it rather early in the morning, so maybe I missed it.
This blog my interest you:
Via Guglielmo Oberdan, 4, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna 40126, IT
Via Broccaindosso, 63, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna , IT
It is impossible to help you unless you name the other website you are using for comparison. If it is Tripadvisor or Fodor's, all I can say is woe unto you if you follow in those foot steps. Very few contributors to these websites bring anything other than an extremely uneducated palate to their Italian travels, and a desire to spend less than 30e per person per meal. They often think they are being "ripped off" or "treated like second-class citizens" when they are not loaded up with cheap meaty food or when -- I think understandably -- they are seated in an area with other English-speaking tourists so that the restaurants sole English speaking waiter can deal with the fact they don't understand the menu.
Or maybe you were reading egullet -- which would be a different story.
Since you asked for "any thoughts", five Bolognese restaurant dinners and two Bolognese restaurant lunches over a five day span would probably kill most people.
OK, I was trying to be discreet and not offend anyone,but it was TA. I have never gone for restaurant recs from TA before but it's a bit seductive when they bring out all the hyperboles and you can't see a bad review.....
I have not heard of egullet, I am keen to have a look now!
In terms of the quantities, I am truly a small pixie (160cm tall, 50kgs) therefore I cannot manage anything more than one big meal a day and even that can be a struggle. But I do love my food! We are staying in a hotel but are going to try and have meals/picnics from fresh food we buy and I love the idea of Osteria del Sole so we will probably end up there a bit.
The five day span is actually 8 days, with side trips to Venice, Florence and a couple of days driving the countryside, and I would like to vary what we eat as much as possible but that's pretty much down to what I select from the menu I would imagine. Fish in Venice, Bistecca in Florence...pasta and cured meats in Bologna!