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Bologna revisited -- September 2011 (quite long)

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barberinibee Sep 22, 2011 04:46 AM

I spent most of September 2011 in Bologna, doing very little cooking and therefore relying upon the city's food vendors and restauranteurs to feed me. Here are my thoughts.

Overall observations:

1) Portion size in the best restaurants is correct: They don't load up your plate with food. An antipasto course can often be shared, but otherwise expect manageable portions. You will not be too full to eat a secondi, and even dessert.

2) A lot of mid-priced recommended eateries that serve traditional fare are indistinguishable from each other, and none are worth walking out of your way to eat at. Since this comprises the bulk of recommended places on message boards and in mass-publication guidebooks, you might as well just go to the one closest to you or whose dining room appeals to you. It's for reasons of convenience or atmosphere that these eateries become favorites of the people recommending them, but that's about it.

3) A great many short-stay visitors to Bologna would probably enjoy the many other wonderful pastas available in the city beyond lasagna, tagliatelle with meat sauce or tortellini in broth. These are wonderful classic dishes when done right, but there are also pastas stuffed with gorgonzola, or passatelli (a unique breadcrumb-and-parmagiano pasta) or pastas tossed with seasonal mushrooms or stuffed with pumpkin, or dressed in non-meat sauces, that can be delightful. I wouldn't feel obliged to stick to the most famous classics if something else catches your eye.

4) If your sole reason for visiting Bologna is food, consider staying someplace with a kitchen so you can sample a lot of different pastas. Many great fresh pastas are available from the markets, and can be cooked at home and simply dressed with butter and sage, or served in broth. It is rare to see a tris of pasta offered on restaurant menus, and then usually it is a 2 person minimum.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Caminetto d'Oro -- If there is a better place in Bologna to eat tagliatelle, I don't know it. In the wrong hands, tagliatelle with a traditional Bolognese meat sauce can be heavy, or dry, or just plain old like the dog's dinner. At Caminetto d'Oro, it is a revelatory pleasure to eat, and worth the extra 5 euros to do so. It is even served in exactly the right kind of pasta dish, which keeps the pasta hot while you savor the tastes. I found the restaurant space and ambience at lunchtime really very nice and relaxing. Everyone was informally dressed. The service was good. Nice wines available by the glass. In addition to my tagliatelle, I had a refreshing salad -- paper-thin slices of apple and finely shredded zucchini, topped with parmagiano shavings, and dressed with a marvelous apple vinegar (Alto Adige). For dessert I ate panna cotta with preserved figs, followed by the best coffee I drank during my entire stay in Bologna. In the end, only the tagliatelle was remarkable; everything else was nicely executed. I was sorry I hadn't tried a secondo. My lunch was 50 euros. (This restaurant is listed in the 2011 Gambero Rosso and Fred Plotkin's top recommendation for dinner.)

Trattoria Anna Maria -- I had such a bad experience at this trattoria last year that -- given its near-legendary reputation -- I vowed to return to learn more. I'm glad I did, because the tortelloni al gorgonzola made me understand immediately why people say this is some of the best hand-rolled pasta you can find. Unlike my last visit, a tasty plate of mortadella and slice of frittata appeared on my table as a gratis antipasta. I ate for my secondo roast duck, which was forgettable. For dessert, a zuppa inglese that I found over-rich and too cold. The house wine is unmemorable and the atmosphere of the restaurant slips into touristy. But I would go back for stuffed pastas all the same. My Sunday dinner was 40 euros. (This is a Fred Plotkin listing.)

Serghei -- In addition to serving wonderfully satisfying pastas, Serghei serves the best secondi I've tasted in Bologna. I ate gramigna con salsiccia for my primi (with more tomato and less fat than some other versions) and a succulent roasted turkey for a second, a difficult bird to get right. All very tasty, and a good house red wine. There is no menu at Serghei. Everything is recited to you quickly by the owner, so you need to have an ear for the classic Bolognese menu before you walk in. My dinner (without dessert or coffee) was 34 euros. (This restaurant is in Gambero Rosso, and I think it is the best mid-priced place for tasting a classic Bolognese menu.)

Trattoria Giampi e Ciccio -- The overall atmosphere is incredibly pleasant in this small trattoria, and the food is fresh and cheerful to match. I ate a tagliatelle in a light onion-tomato sauce and enjoyed every bite, I followed it with a plate of grilled vegetables, noting special, but it was what I wanted. Bread here is very, very good. If this were my neighborhood trattoria, I'd be very happy. My bill for a Saturday lunch was about 30 euros, no dessert. (This is a Fred Plotkin pick.)

Teresina -- On the first beautiful day of autumn, I sat outside for lunch in Teresina's lovely alley-way terrazzo, which is such a comfortable, glowing, quiet space, you simply don't want to leave. I only wish the food was as compelling. There is nothing to complain about it. The food is very intelligently done, with care. But it just seems not to really sing. I ate a puree of potato topped with a rich pumpkin puree, with some crunchy cabbage and onions hidden deep in the plate. . I also ate a pappardelle pasta with porcini. The pasta itself was a bit on the doughy side. Were I to return to Teresina, it would be for fish dishes, because they use scrupulously fresh ingredients. My lunch -- without wine, dessert or coffee -- was 26 euros.

Olivo -- Olivo specializes in serving limited menus. One plate at lunch (either a pasta or a salad) plus wine or coffee, for 12 euros. For dinner, there are 4 choices for each course, the same fixed price for each. It has a pleasant, outdoor eating area facing the relatively quiet piazza Aldrovandi. Lunch service is prompt. One day, I ate a very fresh large mixed salad. On another, crispy crepes stuffed with creamed peas and proscuitto, light and tasty. When I returned with a friend for a Saturday night dinner, it was one of the oddest dining experience I've had in Italy. We were seated at a scuffed table, handed badly torn menus, It was hard to find anything on the limited evening menu that was appealing. We were given stale bread. We offered the house wine, a local Lambrusco, and they said they were out of it. Our antipasta choice of shrimp was terrific. Our pasta were bewilderingly pedestrian. Everything tasted out of a box. 30 euros per person. (This place is listed in Gambero Rosso)

Diana -- I looked forward to returning to Diana to eat their passatelli in brodo, which has been delicious last year, and I was disappointed. It didn't taste fresh. When I ordered an eggplant parmagiana for a secondo, I was told they were out of it. My second choice -- a house specialty of turkey breast, proscuitto and truffle shavings -- improved dramatically once I set aside the overly salty prosciutto. I decided I would finally try Diana's famed house dessert of creme gelato with chocolate sauce. It was like supermarket ice cream and hershey's syrup. I like Diana's house sangiovese. Their coffee is terrible. My lunch was 40 euros.

Il Tinello -- Soulful hand-made homey pastas are served in a pedestrianized corner of the old Jewish ghetto. There is no reason to make a pilgrimage, but Il Tinello falls squarely in the category of the good neighborhood joint for pasta if you happen to be near there at mealtime. Best to skip their antipasti unless you want the typical cured meat plate, go for their pastas (the richer the sauce the better), and order the simplest meat secondo or a salad. I ate pasta here several times for reasons of convenience (and because the quiet terrace was so appealing in a heat wave). Dinner with wine (I never tried desserts) was typically 25 euros.

Les Pupitres -- In the same pleasant quarter as Il Tinello, Les Pupitres is a cafe that serves lunch all day but NO dinner, and has particularly nice, lusty salads. It also manages to turn out credible home-made pastas which surely are reheated by microwave, but they can still be better than some of the sloppier trattorie. Salads and the ability to eat nutritiously off hours is the real draw here. About 10-12 euros.

Bistrot 18 -- This restaurant with outdoor seating could not be in a more touristy spot --- in the heart of Bologna's increasingly touristy main food market area. But a friend and I ended up eating a delightful plate of melon, figs and proscuitto for starters, then his gramigna con salsiccia was really very satisfying. My salad of pressed chicken with pistachios, sliced paper thin, was nothing to write home about. Lunch cost us about 35 per person with wine and coffee (no dessert for us). There is really no reason to choose this place for food, but you won't eat badly if you do choose it.

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PIZZA

Belle Arti -- The owners are Calabrese, so their mixed appetizer plates have lots of heat, but also prosciutto was standout high quality. They fashion themselves as a Neopolitan pizzeria, but in Bologna that simply means a pizza the size of a manhole cover. My cheeseless pizza with seafood was full of flavor but dry. Although I didn't sample the big salads and fish dishes I saw headed to other tables, I'd be tempted to give them a try. The ambience is distinctly student quarter, so go prepared for a noisy evening, even if you sit outside. Antipasta, pizza and wine was 23 euros.

Nicola's -- Sometimes touted as the best pizza in Bologna, Nicolas's produces humongous pies out of a wood burring oven, not real Neopolitan, but very satisfying, especially for the price, and my array of toppings was very well balanced, not too much or too little of any one thing. I got my pizza to go, but they have plenty of seating, including outdoors. 8 euros.

Don't Know The Name, near the end of via San Vitale -- There is a pharmacy right at the old gate that ends via San Vitale. If you walk past the pharmacy, down the quiet alleyway that has no name, you'll quickly see a hole in the wall pizzeria. I stuck my head in one day just as a small square pizza, the size of Mac Air Book, was brought to the counter on a wooden cutting board. I asked if I could buy a slice, and they gave me a quarter of the entire rectangle. It was a near perfect piece of Sicilian pizza. 4 euros.

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Food stores:

Food stores -- The famous food stores near the piazza Maggiore are more touristy than ever, with large tour groups colonizing the sidewalks. The food offerings at Tamburini look tired. The ones at Paola Atti & Figli are much brighter, but the offerings are hit or miss (except for their pastas to take home and their delicious maroons glaces, which you can buy individually), A more inspiring place is the Mercato dell'Erbe, with brilliantly colored, fresh, crisp produce that is head-spinning. A marvelous gastronomia is Bruno e Franco, on the via Oberdan. Further down the same street, all the way at the point where the Oberdan meets the via Righi, there is a tiny cheese shop selling giant rounds of Parmagiano Reggiano, big enough to use as ottomans. It's a starling sight.

Finally, Majani chocolates is still one of the prettiest antique stores in Bologna. Poppiing into Zanarini to sample some of their miniature pastries is also enjoyable. I like the tiny cannoli best.

********************************

Gelato or granita -- Il Gelatauro serves up the most fascinating gelato and granite, in flavors like smoked tea or pumpkin or rosehips, or lemon-mint. They are noticeably NOT sweet. Stefino has fruit flavors that are very bright and light and refreshing. it almost tastes like they don't pack calories (they do). Gelateria Gianni is probably Bologna's most popular, with a giant branch just under the Due Torri but my one taste was unimpressive.

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Wine and Coffee -- One of the nicer spots for a glass of wine and snacks is Divinis on via Batticbecco, not far from piazza Maggiore. I found Enoteca Italiana an interesting wine store, but a cold place for a glass of wine. There are no end of atmospheric places in the Jewish quarter, in particular Camera e sud, hidden away on the via Valdonica.

Good coffee is extremely hard to come by in Bologna. Terzi's is closed. The best I could find (and it wasn't great) was the Roxy Bar on the via Rizzoli and an organic cafe on via San Petronio, if you are in that area.

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Non-Italian food: The Indian restaurant Moghul (dinner only) is a terrifically tranquil spot in the via dell'Inferno with many tasty dishes on the menu less than 5 euros each. They also make tasty lassis, including rose or salt. There is a large Asian population in Bologna, so the food comes closer to the real deal than you find in the Greek or Mexican restaurants in the city.

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All in all, Bologna is an incredible cultural destination, and that is the primary reason to visit the city, not its restaurants. Any hard core foodie worth their salt will want to come to examine the historic markets and pasta makers and taste the best. But for people trying to plan a knock-out trip to italy where food and food alone is the focus, other destinations in Italy offer a lot more excitement and bang for the euro, even if they are not as seductively lovable as red, fat Bologna.

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Caminetto d'Oro
Via de' Falegnami, 4, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna 40121, IT

Serghei
Via Piella, 12, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna 40126, IT

Teresina
Via Guglielmo Oberdan, 4, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna 40126, IT

Trattoria Anna Maria
Via delle Belle Arti, 17, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna 40126, IT

Giampi e Ciccio
Via Luigi Carlo Farini, 31, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna , IT

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  1. b
    barberinibee RE: barberinibee Sep 22, 2011 08:40 AM

    incredibly, I have one more thing to add to this overly long report, including a correction of a typo: It's Camera a sud.

    Bologna's eateries often have many atmospheric and lively outdoor seating areas but be aware these are the tables most often filled with smokers, since they are no longer allowed to smoke inside. Also, many sidewalk eating areas abut parking areas, and in the middle of your meal, you may suffer a motorist leaving or attempting to back into a tight parking space, with the tailpipe of their car or motorcycle repeatedly belching smoke within a few inches of you.

    6 Replies
    1. re: barberinibee
      DistendedBelly RE: barberinibee Sep 22, 2011 02:31 PM

      Thank you barberinibee for this amazing update on la grassa! I wish it could be permanently tacked somewhere on this board (at least for the current year) as a reference post for Bologna.

      Ooooh (eyes widen) il Gelatauro ftw!

      I'd echo what you've said about Majani - what a beautiful store, and exquisite cremino squares. And on the subj of cioccolato, Roccati was very lovely too, albeit a more modern approach.

      Last year we had a very nice plate of pre dinner salumi @ Tamburini, and were planning on doing the same this year.. so I'm saddened to hear that the food looked tired. Do you have any suggestions for pre dinner salumi/antipasti?

      1. re: DistendedBelly
        b
        barberinibee RE: DistendedBelly Sep 22, 2011 03:04 PM

        I won't discourage you from repeating your success with getting cured meats at Tamburini. My comment about the food looking tired had more to do with their cooked take out items, like grilled artichokes or frittata and such. Will you be in Bologna for more than one night? If so, try Tamburini early on, and if it isn't everything you remembered, try Divinis the next night. Or ask around. In my experience, the Bolognesi are not shy about expressing their opinions about who does the best what. Just emphasize to them that you are willing to pay for great stuff. It's also true that a lot of the negative opinions you hear are protests against the high prices in the historic center.

        I've confessed before on this board that I'm not a gelato buff, but if you are one, Il Gelatauro is worth the 10 minute walk from the Due Torri to sample. One day, when I was walking near the store, an extremely sophisticated young woman, self-consciously dressed to the nines, emerged with a cup of two flavors that she delicately dug into as she sailed by me. I heard her exclaim "Mmmmmmmmmmmmm!" at her first bite. She was so plainly concerned with cutting a "bella figura," I am sure that sound would not have escaped her without serious cause.

        1. re: barberinibee
          DistendedBelly RE: barberinibee Sep 22, 2011 03:11 PM

          This year we're just passing through with one night in Bologna (which we chose specifically for Bol's amazing tag rag). Thanks for the recommendation re Divinis - I will add this to our gmap!

          Nice description about the extremely sophisticated young woman enjoying her 2 scoops ;)

          il Gelatauro and Castiglione were our 2 absolute favourites last year. Gianni and Stefino didn't compare. Needless to say, we're pretty stoked for a return visit!

          1. re: DistendedBelly
            b
            barberinibee RE: DistendedBelly Sep 22, 2011 03:24 PM

            I've never had a gelato from Castiglione so I can't compare. Il Gelatauro has a website, plus David Lebovitz swooned over it in his blog when he visited Bo.

            http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2006/10/...

            http://www.gelatauro.com/

          2. re: barberinibee
            jen kalb RE: barberinibee Sep 22, 2011 06:40 PM

            terrifc report, great info, my hat is off to you

            1. re: jen kalb
              b
              barberinibee RE: jen kalb Sep 23, 2011 01:44 AM

              glad you liked it. Before allende scolds me, I should correct myself here to say that Serghei is a trattoria, not a restaurant.

              -----
              Serghei
              Via Piella, 12, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna 40126, IT

      2. ttoommyy RE: barberinibee Sep 22, 2011 11:17 AM

        Thank you for such a detailed and intelligent report barberinibee. I love Bologna probably the most of all Italian cities I've been to. Not only is the food amazing, the people are friendly and the city itself is beautiful.

        1. z
          zenduck RE: barberinibee Sep 22, 2011 08:37 PM

          I'm leaving for Bologna tomorrow - your timing is superb. Mille grazie!

          1 Reply
          1. re: zenduck
            b
            barberinibee RE: zenduck Sep 23, 2011 01:45 AM

            Your timing is superb too. The heat wave is finally breaking. Have a wonderful time in a beautiful Italian city.

          2. l
            LiberalFoodie RE: barberinibee Sep 27, 2011 05:18 AM

            great resport on Bologna, thank you.

            Did you do any food tours? cheese/ham tours in and around Bologna? Near Parma, possibly? I am looking for information on that but am not so lucky.

            6 Replies
            1. re: LiberalFoodie
              b
              barberinibee RE: LiberalFoodie Sep 27, 2011 06:42 AM

              I didn't take a food tour, but I know of people who had very positive experiences with this company, which offers a day tour that includes a trip to a cheese-makers and prosciutto-makers in Parma and balsamic vinegar makers (tradizionale) in Modena. The price of the day tour includes lunch at a winery.

              http://www.italiandays.it/

              If that isn't what you are looking for, you might do a search on the Slow Travel website because I believe people there have taken these kinds of tours. Or put up another post on Chowhound specifically asking about food tours. I don't think many people will find your question here at the bottom of this long thread.

              1. re: barberinibee
                l
                LiberalFoodie RE: barberinibee Sep 27, 2011 06:47 AM

                Thank you, I will look into it.

                1. re: LiberalFoodie
                  jen kalb RE: LiberalFoodie Sep 27, 2011 07:51 AM

                  If you have a car, as I thinkyou do, Parmagolosa offers such tours and people seem to enjoy them.

                  http://www.parmagolosa.it/

                  we had a tour, offered by our parma agriturismo, of their dairy operation, the parmesan cheese factory they supply their milk to, and the associated hog operation (the pigs get fed the whey, and are in turn sold to the makers of prosciutto and other local pork products.
                  they also offer guided tours to other regional food operations
                  http://www.agriturismoleoni.com/ita/a...

                  1. re: jen kalb
                    l
                    LiberalFoodie RE: jen kalb Sep 27, 2011 08:59 AM

                    Thanks Jen!

                    I actually contacted the balsamic manufactures directly and was able to get a tour for free.

                    1. re: LiberalFoodie
                      jen kalb RE: LiberalFoodie Sep 27, 2011 09:12 AM

                      thats great - some of the organized tours are really quite expensive - you could probably do the same by contacting some of the dairies in the parmigiano-reggiano consortium directly - or visit some of the producers in the culatello zone. There is all kinds of info about food and wine "trails" in Emilia Romagna

                      a list of some of these (no links)
                      http://www.orientarsi.org/URBANTREKKI...

                      for example

                      http://www.stradadelculatello.it/

                      http://www.stradadelprosciutto.it/

                2. re: barberinibee
                  p
                  PixieM RE: barberinibee Oct 21, 2011 02:40 AM

                  We did the Italian Days tour when we were in Bologna in April this year - the guy who runs it is a very proud Bolognese (? Bolognan?) and he is a delight - as is the lunch that he organises in a restaurant in the hills at the end of the morning. Highly, highly recommended and worth the money, IMO.

              2. c
                clarkgranny RE: barberinibee Sep 27, 2011 08:53 AM

                Oh dear I have already booked a night at Diana's. So many conflicting reports. My husband and I arrive in Bologna after a long drive from Austria that day( Saturday Oct 29) and planned to eat there for our first meal. On Sunday we have Da Gianni reserved for lunch; for dinner we are trying to get reservations for Trattoria Gigina ( recommended by a native from Bologna I know and Fred Plotkin?) Should I switch Sat dinner to something else?I am working on Venice and Vienna right now and thought I had Bologna nailed down.

                -----
                Gigina
                Via Henri Beyle Stendhal, 1, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna 40128, IT

                3 Replies
                1. re: clarkgranny
                  b
                  barberinibee RE: clarkgranny Sep 27, 2011 01:26 PM

                  clarkgranny,

                  I would switch your Diana reservation to another restaurant. If you are willing to go with less formality at a lower price, try Serghei, Ciccio e Giampi or Trattoria Anna Maria (the last is mildly touristy, but I think the stuffed pastas make up for it.) One restaurant I was unable to try was All'Osteria Bottega, but it comes highly recommended from all directions. I also regret I was unable to get to Gigina, so keep trying.

                  -----
                  Gigina
                  Via Henri Beyle Stendhal, 1, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna 40128, IT

                  Serghei
                  Via Piella, 12, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna 40126, IT

                  Trattoria Anna Maria
                  Via delle Belle Arti, 17, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna 40126, IT

                  All'Osteria Bottega
                  Via Santa Caterina, 51, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna , IT

                  1. re: barberinibee
                    c
                    clarkgranny RE: barberinibee Sep 27, 2011 02:24 PM

                    Ok thanks. I will cancel and make reservations at All'Osteria Bottega ,if I can. Second choice Serghei

                    I am also going to try the pastries at Zanarini for breakfast; I heard very good things about this place

                    -----
                    Serghei
                    Via Piella, 12, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna 40126, IT

                    All'Osteria Bottega
                    Via Santa Caterina, 51, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna , IT

                    1. re: clarkgranny
                      b
                      barberinibee RE: clarkgranny Sep 27, 2011 04:35 PM

                      I like the teeny cannoli best at Zanarini, but I confess I've not worked my way through many of the abundant offerings, and have never been there before noon.

                      For breakfast in Bologna, I like to eat a "salata brioche," which is the typical not-so-great croissant, but instead of being horribly sweet or stuffed with apricot marmalade, it is just a bit salted in flavor. Not much, just a bit. The best I've found are at the Roxy Bar on via Rizzoli, but I've not made a study, and I've never tasted them at Zanarini.

                      But definitely don't each lunch at Zanarini. Stick to pastries.

                2. l
                  LiberalFoodie RE: barberinibee Sep 28, 2011 02:07 AM

                  I've narrowed my Bologna/Parma/Modena list down to the following. With 6 meals in these 3 cities, I can't decide on what is a must and what can go.

                  Parma:
                  Lunch- Trattoria del Tribunale
                  Dinner- Locanda Mariella

                  Bologna:
                  Lunch- Trattoria del Rosso - Via Righi, 30
                  Dinner- Al Cavallino Bianco OR All'Osteria Bottega

                  Modena:
                  Lunch- Hosteria Giusti the 41100th, Modena
                  Dinner- Locanda del Mulino or All'Osteria Bottega

                  We're staying at Locanda del Mulino and I hear their food is good. I am not sure though.

                  Help!?!?

                  -----
                  Trattoria del Tribunale
                  Vicolo Politi, 5, Parma, PR 43100, IT

                  Hosteria Giusti
                  Vicolo Squallore, 46, Modena, Emilia-Romagna 41100, IT

                  Al Cavallino Bianco
                  Via Sbrisi, 2, Polesine Parmense, Emilia-Romagna 43010, IT

                  Trattoria del Rosso
                  Via Righi 30, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna 40126, IT

                  All'Osteria Bottega
                  Via Santa Caterina, 51, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna , IT

                  Locanda Mariella
                  localita Fragnolo,Strada Provinciale 61, Calestano, Emilia-Romagna 43030, IT

                  13 Replies
                  1. re: LiberalFoodie
                    DistendedBelly RE: LiberalFoodie Sep 28, 2011 08:48 AM

                    Nice list!

                    RE Hosteria Giusti in Modena: Has anybody made a recent visit? We went last year, and left with mixed feelings. Whilst the setting (we sat outside, facing the medieval tower in the vicolo) was incredibly lovely, some of the food left much to be desired.

                    I only remember the gnocchi fritti being notable (transcendental actually - it was really amazing: pillows of fried dough with sublime salumi draped over each one). The pasta dishes were ok, and then it all went down hill from there (nasty dolci, to boot).

                    To make things worse, we are certain that the rest of the meal was reheated in the microwave (we heard beeping throughout the meal, and ecco! there would be our food on the table). I don't have my notes with me now, but I do recall we ordered faraona, and another meat dish for secondi - both were inedible and dried out - what an unbelievable contrast to the incredible gnocchi fritti.

                    I can appreciate the history of the place, and I wouldn't rate the meal as the worst in memory, but I can't help but feel the place isn't all that it's cracked up to be anymore (unless they were having an off day).

                    Anyhoo, I'd be interested to know if our experience was a rare off day.. or if things have indeed slid since the death of the owner (hubbie).

                    -----
                    Hosteria Giusti
                    Vicolo Squallore, 46, Modena, Emilia-Romagna 41100, IT

                    1. re: DistendedBelly
                      DistendedBelly RE: DistendedBelly Sep 28, 2011 09:04 AM

                      Ack, I just realized I hijacked the thread and went off topic ~ apologies, barberinibee!

                      Back to Bologna though - we had a very satisfying lunch @ Gigina last year. Had a nice selection: mixed salumi starter, passatelli in brodo, tortellini in brodo, tagliatelle ragu (but of course!), and ended the meal with deep fried custard served with gelato. Everything was fantastic (we thought the tag ragu was a step up from Gianni - which we enjoyed the previous day).

                      Service was warm (even for such a busy big restaurant full of locals, they gave us undivided attention).

                      I thought it was cute how they stored their cheese in a cheesey ceramic parmigiano wheel (!).. which I saw when we returned home (and just *had* to buy for nostalgic reasons ;) )

                      ps - not that this means much or changes anything, but this was one of the places that Heston Blumenthal visited for his episode on "Spag Bol" on his In Search of Perfection series.

                      After all that delicious food, we traipsed over to MAMBO.. and nearly fell asleep attending a video installation/exhibit. In hindsight, full belly + cool dark quiet room = probably not the best idea ;)

                      Anyhow, much love for Bologna!

                      -----
                      Gigina
                      Via Henri Beyle Stendhal, 1, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna 40128, IT

                      1. re: DistendedBelly
                        b
                        barberinibee RE: DistendedBelly Sep 28, 2011 11:12 AM

                        Disttended Belly,

                        I'm glad you responded in full to LiberalFoodie's post about your experiences in Modena, so no problem.

                        I have heard almost nothing but good things about Gigina, and during my upcoming trips to Bologna I will be in a hotel not all that far from there, so I will probably make it a priority to eat there (although recent posts on Chowhound slamming me for only wanting to eat classic Italian food in traditional places may inspire me to turn vegan and eat all my Bolognese meals at Punto Microbiotico).

                        Does Gigina offer a tris of primi or did you just do a blowout and order several primi? (Or were you a large party?)

                        -----
                        Gigina
                        Via Henri Beyle Stendhal, 1, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna 40128, IT

                        1. re: barberinibee
                          DistendedBelly RE: barberinibee Sep 28, 2011 11:45 AM

                          I don't recall seeing a tris of primi. Yes we did just do a blow out and ordered several (just the 2 of us!).. hence my handle name ;)

                          Btw, as part of the "Sapori della Gigina in antepasto", this was one of our starters: "Spuma di mortadella con salsa e gelatina di balsamico" - looked interesting (borderline unappetizing), but tasted divine.

                          Thanks again for your long + detailed report, barberinibee!

                          1. re: DistendedBelly
                            b
                            barberinibee RE: DistendedBelly Sep 28, 2011 01:02 PM

                            I had a spuma di mortadella at Diana last year, and I'm afraid their version put me in mind of Underwood Deviled Ham, minus the embedded relish. I'm not as keen to try that again as I am to try Gigina overall, but I'll mull the challenge. I think I can get by with two primi, and I love passatelli in brodo, and I'd love to taste a delicious version of it.

                            -----
                            Gigina
                            Via Henri Beyle Stendhal, 1, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna 40128, IT

                            1. re: DistendedBelly
                              l
                              LiberalFoodie RE: DistendedBelly Sep 28, 2011 01:04 PM

                              Thank you! I just changed my lunch to Gigina instead of Hosteria

                              -----
                              Gigina
                              Via Henri Beyle Stendhal, 1, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna 40128, IT

                              1. re: LiberalFoodie
                                c
                                clarkgranny RE: LiberalFoodie Sep 28, 2011 01:47 PM

                                yes thank you all; I will try to call Gigina tomorrow to get a reservation. They told me to call back at about 10AM their time because they were too busy to take reservations when I called. But that is very early EST time so I will try them a bit later and hope for the best

                                -----
                                Gigina
                                Via Henri Beyle Stendhal, 1, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna 40128, IT

                        2. re: DistendedBelly
                          jen kalb RE: DistendedBelly Sep 28, 2011 05:34 PM

                          the salumi and gnocchi fritti wa amazing on our visit to Giusti too.

                          the other food we had was elegantly cooked (this was 3 years ago) but it wasnt the meal of that trip I would be most eager to repeat and it was at the high end of the cost spectrum.

                          Unless the OP wants to go into the town of Modena and see the wonderful Duomo, they might be better off staying out in the countryside for their eating in this region. slowfood places nearby I have heard well of are Osteria di Rubbiara in Nonantola and Da Cesare in Spilaberto.

                          Do check out the homemade nocino and other liqueurs which are a specialty of this region.

                          As much as I liked Il Cavallino bianco, dont know if Id want to drive all the way there from Modena for dinner given the other nearer alternatives. Just make sure you sample the wonderful culatello and other salumi somewhere good in the region.

                          by the way there are one or two cheap slowfood places in Modena - look on the Restaurant page or follow the links below.

                          -----
                          Ermes
                          Via Ganaceto 89-91, Modena, Emilia-Romagna , IT

                          Osteria di Rubbiara
                          Via Risaia, 2, Nonantola, Emilia-Romagna 41015, IT

                          Da Cesare
                          via San Giovanni 38, MO, Spilamberto, Emilia-Romagna 41057, IT

                          Stallo del Pomodoro
                          Largo Hannover,63, Modena, Emilia-Romagna 41121, IT

                          1. re: DistendedBelly
                            Smilinglion RE: DistendedBelly Oct 9, 2011 09:23 AM

                            We were just there last week. The food was very good (in particular the breaded salami with eggnog sauce has me still dreaming about it) but I somewhat agree with you about the hype about the place which I got when reading all the bolts/reviews online. It is certainly not the best restaurant in the world or even the best trattoria in Italy (I for one prefer Da Sostanza in Florence). But it has a cult following and having only 4 tables and lunch only helps perpetuate the exclusivity of the place.

                            That said, we had a very good lunch nonetheless and in particular managed to get a very nice wine at the lowest price we've seen in any restaurant (the 2001 Ornellaia for EUR130).

                            -----
                            Hosteria Giusti
                            Vicolo Squallore, 46, Modena, Emilia-Romagna 41100, IT

                            Sostanza
                            Via della Porcellana, 25, 50123, Florence, Tuscany 50123, IT

                          2. re: LiberalFoodie
                            a
                            AWG RE: LiberalFoodie Sep 28, 2011 06:47 PM

                            ust ate at Trattoria del tribunale TWICE this week. Excellent choice. All the classics of Parma in a nice cosy atmosphere. Perfect Trattoria.

                            Restaurant Cocchi was fantastic. Amazing food in an elegant dining room with top rate service. Possibly my best meal in 2 weeks in Italy.

                            1. re: AWG
                              jen kalb RE: AWG Sep 29, 2011 06:17 AM

                              adding a link - love to hear more about what you ate when you have more time.

                              -----
                              Trattoria del Tribunale
                              Vicolo Politi, 5, Parma, PR 43100, IT

                              Ristorante Cocchi
                              Via Gramsci, 16a, Parma 43100, IT

                              1. re: AWG
                                ttoommyy RE: AWG Sep 29, 2011 07:53 AM

                                "ust ate at Trattoria del tribunale TWICE this week. Excellent choice. All the classics of Parma in a nice cosy atmosphere. Perfect Trattoria."

                                We had lunch at Trattoria del Tribunale on a -10 degree celsius day in December 2009 and it was one of the most perfect meals we've ever had in Italy. We just stumbled upon it in our quest for some place that tourists were not going to. I highly recommend the restaurant.

                                1. re: AWG
                                  b
                                  barberinibee RE: AWG Sep 30, 2011 02:25 AM

                                  Great to hear that Cocchi did not disappoint and that it continues to meet high standards. I also remember enjoying the service, absolutely gracious and pro without being the least bit pretentious, and quite helpful in advising about menu selections and wine. They really take care of you.

                              2. ciccia bomba RE: barberinibee Oct 17, 2011 07:53 AM

                                I wholeheartedly second your opinion of the secondi at da Serghei. Their stinco di maiale is exquisite, and I've never been disappointed by any of their roasts.

                                -----
                                Serghei
                                Via Piella, 12, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna 40126, IT

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: ciccia bomba
                                  b
                                  barberinibee RE: ciccia bomba Oct 21, 2011 09:53 AM

                                  I'll try the stinco di miale next time. I must say that I was once disappointed in a braised duck dish that I ordered for a secondi. My dining companion ordered a braised rib dish, and they were braised in the same rather uninteresting "jus"-type thin sauce.

                                  So sticking to roasted meats may be the best advice.

                                  Have you ever eaten stuffed zucchini at da Serghei? I've not particularly liked the versions I've eaten elsewhere because the meat stuffing was ground so finely it becomes a paste. I've heard other people praise da Serghei's version, and I was wondering if the stuffing was toothsome or very smooth.

                                  -----
                                  Serghei
                                  Via Piella, 12, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna 40126, IT

                                  1. re: barberinibee
                                    ciccia bomba RE: barberinibee Oct 22, 2011 09:27 AM

                                    I have not had the chance.
                                    Apropos Serghei, it's also worth mentioning that their passatelli are my gold standard, have not yet been surpassed and I am a passatelli eater.
                                    Did you come across zuppa imperiale on the menu anywhere, out of curiosity?

                                    -----
                                    Serghei
                                    Via Piella, 12, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna 40126, IT

                                    1. re: ciccia bomba
                                      b
                                      barberinibee RE: ciccia bomba Oct 22, 2011 10:48 AM

                                      Ah, well, now I kick myself for not having their passatelli. You may have noticed earlier in this thread that people applaud Gigina's. I will need to try both. It is my favorite.

                                      Regarding zuppa imperiale, I didn't notice, but the Home Food people just sent me their November calendar and Zuppa Imperiale is on the menu in Bologna for Nov. 16.

                                2. p
                                  PixieM RE: barberinibee Oct 21, 2011 02:50 AM

                                  Barberinibee, did you manage to get out of town and find that restaurant you asked me about earlier in the year?

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: PixieM
                                    b
                                    barberinibee RE: PixieM Oct 21, 2011 09:44 AM

                                    PixieM,

                                    I don't believe it was me who asked you -- unless you are the person who took the food tour and was sworn to secrecy not to reveal where you ate in the Modense hills. .(If so, no, I had to stay in Bologna all the time.)

                                    1. re: barberinibee
                                      p
                                      PixieM RE: barberinibee Oct 21, 2011 05:34 PM

                                      Yes it was me and your details are correct.....it was lovely reading your trip report and reminiscing about ours.....

                                      I adore Bologna but on reflection I think that you are quite correct in terms of it not being the 'foodie' experience that maybe some of us expect....the rewards though, of heading out into the hills were enormous and next time I think we will we more village based rather than city based.

                                      1. re: PixieM
                                        b
                                        barberinibee RE: PixieM Oct 22, 2011 01:12 AM

                                        It's kind of a secret that the hills around Bologna, Modena and Parma are pretty as well as being full of wonderful things to eat. The train connections that link the towns are so good people are discouraged from using a car, but if you are a foodie, it makes sense to head for the hills where the trains don't go. I adore Bologna too, but I've also enjoyed everywhere else I've gone in Emiia-Romagna that I've thus far been

                                  2. b
                                    barberinibee RE: barberinibee Oct 23, 2011 03:08 PM

                                    This is a link to a thread by another Chowhound poster who ate at many of the same restaurants I did, one month later:

                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/813720

                                    1. c
                                      clarkgranny RE: barberinibee Nov 7, 2011 01:14 PM

                                      I want to thank all the chowhounds who helped me find restaurants for our stay this October in Bologna.

                                      We drove from Austria to Bologna and arrived in time for dinner Sat night. We ate at All’Osteria Bottega and had a fabulous meal. Throughout our trip I took pictures of our meals but at this restaurant I just felt I shouldn’t do this. Too touristy. There were a lot of Italians eating very close to us and they would have seen us. Even though we stuck out like sore thumbs, I didn’t want to appear too obvious. So I can’t remember everything we had that night (it was a long drive and also nerve-wracking driving from our hotel into the city to find the restaurant)I know we had tortellini broda, which of course is standard food in Bologna and had to be tried. Fantastic. I never had it where I could actually taste something inside the pasta. Just cooked perfectly. We also had as a starter the traditional ragu since it was our first night in Bologna. Fantastic, of course. We had two meat courses but honestly I can’t remember what it was. We also had a side of spinach and two desserts and of course a bottle of wine. The place was cozy, charming atmosphere, wonderful food, great service. We were made to feel welcome and never felt badly for our lack of fluent Italian. I would highly recommend this restaurant.

                                      Sunday lunch was at Trattoria da Gianni. Place was completely filled so we were glad we had reservations. They were turning people away right and left. Again it was a cute place and service was very good. My husband had Mortadella ( 3 scoops of a creamy whipped concoction), which he enjoyed. I had tortellini in broda again for I wanted to compare it to the previous dinner and I really loved the dish. It was as good or better. A slight difference but not much. I enjoyed both. We both had the Lasagna Ragu special and it was delicious. Creamy and yet not too filling. The waiter thought I was nuts having two pasta dishes but I can eat meat or fish anytime. I can’t have original ragu and pasta all the time. For dessert we had a wonderful zabaglione, which was of course delicious Wonderful meal and this restaurant is also highly recommended.

                                      Sunday dinner( our last meal before flying home the next morning) was probably our best. It was at Trattoria Gigina. We were the only non-Italians and it was great to see all the Italian large families coming in for dinner. I forgot my phone at the hotel and so we didn’t take pictures. I know I had the Ragu so I could compare and it was the best ever. A bit plainer and lighter. They had fantastic bread there too. My dinner was 3 medallions of pork in a sweet balsamic vinegar sauce. Unreal, it was so good. Can’t remember what my husband had, but he loved it I know. We were too stuffed for dessert and so skipped on that

                                      That day it was Sunday and many of the food markets were closed. But there was a local organic farmers market set up right in the center and we bought aged balsamic vinegar and olive oil to bring home. We thought the sellers were more authentic and did notice that all the people shopping there were Italians. We had stopped into Tamburini, but didn’t buy for we thought the prices high. They are more after the tourist dollars I think.
                                      The pictures are from da Gianni

                                      -----
                                      Gigina
                                      Via Henri Beyle Stendhal, 1, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna 40128, IT

                                       
                                       
                                       
                                       
                                      1. b
                                        barberinibee RE: barberinibee Nov 9, 2011 10:51 AM

                                        UPDATE: Caffe Terzi, on the via Oberdan, has reopened. They serve exquisite coffees, and well worth visiting if you are a coffee lover.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: barberinibee
                                          DistendedBelly RE: barberinibee Nov 9, 2011 01:50 PM

                                          Thanks for the update, barberinibee. Shame it was still closed during our visit last month. I don't have my GR Bar guide with me now, but iirc Terzi has a 3 bean rating. Ah, always next time..

                                        2. b
                                          barberinibee RE: barberinibee Dec 15, 2011 02:48 AM

                                          UPDATES TO THIS THREAD, DECEMBER 2011

                                          I've added more information about eating in Bologna in this later thread:

                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/823250

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