One week in Bologna...
I'm going to be in Bologna all next week for the Children's Book Fair. I'll be staying at the Hotel Europa just north of the historical central and spending my days at the fair at Piazza Constitutizone. I'm looking for reasonably priced local food at trattorias etc., where I wouldn't feel uncomfortable dining alone.
Any and all suggestions are greatly appreciated.
Many people in Bologna eat alone in restaurants. It has many business travelers, and it also has many professors and other visitors. You needn't worry about it.
I don't know what you consider "reasonably priced', but within fairly easy walking distance of your hotel is La Baita (the restaurant, not the cheese shop), which serves pizza as well nice pasta dishes. it also has delicious desserts. It's at Via Galliera, 34. It's closed Sundays and Mondays.
A bit longer walk but a good choice for a solo diner is Trattoria Twinside, which is an informal bistro attached of the highly regarded Caminetto d'Oro. Unusual for Bologna, it has an excellent beer and wine list, plus a lot of lighter fare, in addition to some excellent pasta:
Piazza Constituzione is so close to the excellent restaurant Gigina that I hope you will go there. It has outstanding Bolognese food. I'm afraid I don't know if it is open for lunch or when else it might be closed.
Your hotel is actually within reasonable walking distance of the historic center, while the Piazza Constituzione is not. One hopes the book fair organizers will be able to give you some pointers about good lunch places nearby. It is often the case that many delicious trattorie are located away from the more touristic areas, and also away from the university area, which abounds in cheap eats but not necessarily good eats.
The historic center of Bologna is quite safe, so if you do a search of these boards and can come up with restaurant recommendations that appeal to you, you can walk back to your hotel from there. Bologna's trams run until late in the evening and taxis are not terribly expensive or hard to find. Gigina will call a taxi for you if you eat dinner there, although I think as a solo diner that might be one of the very few places where lunch would be better than dinner for not feeling out of place. But if you end up making friends at the book fair who want to have dinner together, Gigina would be a great choice.
I was in Bologna two weeks ago, for work, and had a wonderful lunch - all by myself - at Giampi e Ciccio. The waiters are both out going, gregarious and welcoming, and everyone was talking with other tables. And the food, of course, was delicious. I had wonderful tortellini in brodo.
Another place you can try is Tamburini. Although better known as an alimentari, they have a caffeteria style set up in the back, as well as a wine bar in the front.
Not to be missed in Bologna, in my view, is the Dogheria della Rosa, at 10 Via Cartoleria, south east of the city center.
You appear, are assigned a table, and the chef sits down with you and plans your meal.
He said to us, "This is who I am for you tonight."
The food and wine started coming, and coming, and it was all wonderful, and we wondered about the price but thought this is too wonderful to worry, and the bill was well under a hundred euros for two.
I second that recommendation , Emanuele (the owner) basically took charge of our lunch and dinner...served us fabulous pastas , meats, seafood, and wine to match. He told us he likes to make his clients fell they are dining in his home, and it does feel that way....and both meals were concluded with a single , unitemized bill for 100 euro , a steal for what we had.
Tamburini is not open at the dinner hour, just so it is clear. If you are down there for a glass of wine before dinner, both Da Gianni and Bistro 18 on the adjacent via Claveture serve good food, and solo diners are treated very well.
Giampi & Ciccio is charming and delicious, and for anyone with an interest in football, the on-site proprietors are former Italian national soccer champs. with pictures and news articles about their winning season all over the walls. From Hotel Europa, it's a fairly hefty hike, but they can point you to a taxi after dinner.
Drogheria della Rosa is actually in the historic center (but south east of the piazza Maggiore), not very many steps beyond Giampi e Ciccio (which is on the via Farini, near via Santo Stefano.) I don't know when jnwall was there, but it recently got poor reviews on Chowhound.
I wanted to add that if you develop a strong affection for tortellini in brodo, there is a shop not too far from your hotel and the train station that sells it bagged for travel. They sell the classic version plus a very delicious mushroom tortellini. The shop is called I FAMOSI TORTELLINI DELLA NONNA, on the via dell'Indipendenza.