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May 1, 2012 12:27 PM

Traditional Eating in Bologna / Gubbio / Modena


I am visiting Italy for the first time in June, for which i am very excited, having never been before i am keen to eat as much of the more traditional fare as possible.

My journey takes me to Bologna (two nights) then down to near Gubbio (4 nights) up to Modena for the day (Osteria Francescana) back to Bologna for the night.

I understand Bologna is meant to be an excellent place for produce and for tortellini in broth, is there anything or anywhere I should be trying? At present my only reference/starting place is this

Any recommendation for Gubbio area? We are staying with friends so am hoping to make the most of the produce and eat at home, drink some wine etc

is Osteria worth the trip? have eaten in a fare few good restaurants and am keen to try here (maybe chasing the stars a little!). Of the three menus am thinking the classics looks to be of preference.

Thanks for any help

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  1. Are you aware of the search function on this board? It would be worth your while to go to the upper right hand corner of this page and do searches for Bologna, Gubbio and Modena. You should be able to access a good number of past threads, with many helpful suggestions already here for you to review. You will also find a number of threads to review directly below.

    1 Reply
    1. re: DavidT

      Several Chowhounders have been to Hostaria Guisti in Modena for lunch and it gets high marks pretty much across the board. There are only 4 tables, so a reservation is mandatory.

    2. Two years ago I spent about two weeks in Rome during November and did a single day round trip to Bologna for lunch. Even now thinking about that meal brings a smile to my face. I no longer remember exactly what we ate but remember it all being wonderful. The restaurant is Drogheria della Rosa ( Via Cartoleria, 10.
      Before our trip there had been write ups at Tripadvisor which were mixed but I found nothing to be negative about. We put our meal into the hands of the owner who just talked to us about what we liked and made suggestions for two dishes each course. Seeing us eying a huge plate of truffles that I think had a value in excess of my retirement fund, truffles were central to some of our dishes. I remember each time food arrived there were extras and little tastes arrived between each course and always we each wanted to try the other's dish but also did not want to give up the plate in front of us. We received complementary glasses of Procecco at the start and a bottle of a vino santo on the table during dessert. My friend and I braced ourselves for a huge bill but decided the experience was worth it. Then the bill arrived for this huge wonderful meal and while we were expecting to pay at least 100 euro each, but the total bill for two was 85 euro. The bill had no details just a number. Some can be upset at the lack of detail but it just was a continuation of the wonderful experience.
      Recent write ups on TripAdvisor show visits that left the diners with the same happy feeling I had two years ago. If it works into your visit plans, do have a meal at Drogheria della Rosa.

      3 Replies
      1. re: NYC_Steve

        Hi David,

        Apologies for not using the search, I had done previously and found bits and bobs, I will endeavour to do a bit more research and add in some potential venues, experiences etc, then ask for comments


        Will definitely have a look at Drogheria, sounds fantastic, just the kind of suggestion was hoping for, particularly at that price!

        1. re: stanleyk

          If you are going all the way to Bologna to sample tortellini in brodo, I suggest you go to Trattoria Anna Maria. You can find the address online.

          1. re: stanleyk

            there are a few major bologna threads, hardly just bits and bobs though admittedly our search function is not so hot. if you search you will find a lot of info. Barberinibee, who posts right above had written a lot. The Drogheria has been praised and slammed for their approach.

            here is a link to a recent report and thread which links to others.

        2. there have been recent reports on Osteria Francescana, including one within the past week or so where the poster was let down. Maybe they will come on here and respond to you. chasing the stars, given what you will pay for a meal there, is only worth it if the meal is exciting.

          2 Replies
          1. re: jen kalb

            Our Tortellini in Brodo at Al Sangiovese was is a link to my recent Bologna review:


            1. re: jen kalb

              Osteria Francescana is not, in any case, the place to go in search of traditional cooking. It offers a traditional menu, but its I Classici is a menu of Bottura's creations. They are deeply rooted in local tradition, but traditional they are not. Go elsewhere for (less expensive) traditional cooking; go to Osteria Francescana for creative cuisine.

            2. My advice would be to look for the annual restaurant guide published by Slow Food (Osterie d'Italia 2012 is the latest version). Only in Italian, but it doesn't matter if you can read a menu in Italian and google some adresses. I had excellent meals throughout my trip by just looking for recommandations in the guide (extra tip: look for the snail symbol), and especially in Emilia-Romagna. The best meal of our trip was at a trattoria in Bologna whose name escapes me right now, I will try to find it in my version of the guide at home. It was really classical regional cooking, we had Tagliatelle alla Ragu, Squash ravioli, Rabbit and stuffed courgettes. Mortadella as antipasti. Everything was out of this world.

              16 Replies
              1. re: sir_jiffy

                @ sir_jiffy, was that maybe Serghei? Sounds like a very similar menu and they are in that book.

                1. re: cleopatra999

                  No it's not, I'm pretty sure about that as I remember trying to finalize my decision between Serghei and the one I finally went to... It's a little to the south of the Piazza Mazzore (sp?), on a little North/South street...

                2. re: sir_jiffy

                  Osteria Bottega was the name of the restaurant.

                  1. re: sir_jiffy

                    While I second the advice to follow the Slow Food guide, I will add that All'Osteria Bottega is not a place I would recommend for tortellini al brodo or any exemplary pasta. The pasta is fine, but the restaurant specializes in the region's cured meats.

                    1. re: barberinibee

                      Many thanks to all thus far, have enjoyed looking through the suggestions and trying to narrow it down, so far I have


                      Serghei - Dinner on the Friday (still shut sat/sun?) - Ragu
                      Osteria Botega - Saturday/Sunday Lunch - Meats
                      Anna Maria - Saturday Dinner - Stuffed Pastas/Brodo
                      Sat/Sun Lunch - Market Purchases for eating

                      Is it possible to book any of the above?

                      I would also like to sample ER wines if possible, so a recommendation or two for Enoteca would be great, so far I have found Devinis, Solferino and Enoteca Italiana

                      I am taking the plunge with Oseria Francescana in Modena, unlikely I will be over this way again anytime soon so would be keen to try some of the more modern takes on traditional cooking.

                      1. re: stanleyk

                        Markets will be closed Sunday in Bologna. You can book all your restaurants, and should, in advance. A spelling correction: It's All'Osteria Bottega. I'm not a huge fan of Serghei's ragu and would pick Caminetto d'Oro instead if tasting ragu is a main reason you are visiting Bologna.

                        Another spelling correction: It's Divinis -- and they are more interested in serving non-local wines. I'm not a big fan of Enoteca Italiana, but maybe they will be cheerier to you than they were to me. In my view, the workaday wines of the Emilia-Romagna are available at all good restaurants and not worth making a project of tasting in other venues. Let the servers help you choose based on what you are ordering.

                        1. re: barberinibee

                          Hi Barberinbee,

                          Thanks again for your valued input. I shall indeed look to book up the restaurants I mentioned. To be fair (and possibly my ignorance) the trip is to sample all things Bologna has to offer, so not specific on Ragu etc, so Serghei's could still be a good option I hope.

                          as for Markets being shut, maybe postpone my lunch at All'Osteria Bottega to the Sunday if they are open.

                          If ER wine is pretty available everywhere then I will see what I am offered at the various stops I have planned and see how I go

                          1. re: stanleyk

                            With all due respect to barberinibee, unless something has changed in the three years since I've been there, Caminetto d'Oro represents the mediocrity that is restaurant food within the city. There is absolutely nothing to recommend this restaurant as a special place. It is okay, but nothing more and certainly doesn't represent anything close to the great food that can be had in ER.

                            As I've been saying here for quite some time, if you want "excellent" places, which you say you do, you can't find it in the city. Get out of the city and into the countryside. See my prior posts on the ER countryside. You don't have to go all the way to the Parmense countryside either (although it's not a long trip). From your description of what you're doing, it appears that you'll have a car. For Sunday lunch, go to Da Amerigo in Savigno, nor far from Bologna, and experience true Bolognese cooking. Again, you can reference it in a number of posts by me and others.

                            Have fun.

                            ps wine. There a very very few ER wines that are worth drinking "as something special."

                            1. re: allende

                              Thanks for your thoughts Allende. We are heading out of the city towards Gubbio, so looks like Savigno may be slightly in the wrong direct, particularly as in a campervan so not the lightest on its feet! Any suggestions heading south though appreciated

                              As for booking my other suggestions in the city, is email acceptable or are they more likely to work on phone bookings? If the latter, how good are they with english, my Itialian is zero


                              1. re: allende

                                With all due respect to Allende, I was only responding to the narrow issue of eating ragu in Bologna's city center, not what might be better in other areas of the Emilia-Romagna. I've not sampled all ragu available at all the restaurants in the centro of Bologna, but of the many I have sampled, I think Caminetto d'Oro's tagliatelle al ragu beats what is served at Serghei (which tends to do other primi better). If allende has an overall restaurant recommendation for Bologna's city center that is better than Caminetto d'Oro, I would be glad to hear it. if the point of the post is "don't eat in the center", then I am not here to disagree, but people who go to Bologna do need to eat, and they might as well eat the best food available. Some restaurants are better than others in my experience, and some do some dishes better than others as well.


                                If ragu is not the end-all-be-all for your trip to Emilia-Romagna, and you are planning a stay inside Bologna, then I do think Serghei's is an all-around-good choice for sampling local traditional eating in Bologna (if not necessarily the entire region). Take a moment to look at the menu posted (inconspicuously) outside Serghei's before you enter, because you will not be given a menu inside.

                                In my experience, few Bolognese restaurants accept e-mail reservations and only a minority have English-speakers answering the phone. It is not hard to memorize or commit to paper the limited number of words needed to make a restaurant reservation in Italian.


                                As a last resort, the tourist office may be willing to help you (it is in the piazza Maggiore, and closed during the long lunch hour) or anyone you encounter who speaks both English and Italian to whom you are willing to lend your cell phone can call if you give them the number.

                                1. re: barberinibee

                                  The post was was just meant to say, as I've said many times before, don't eat in the center. I would definitely stay away from Caminetto d'Oro. While it might be considered to be among the best that Bologna offers, that is a relative valuation. IMO it is a mediocre restaurant.

                                  1. re: allende


                                    Like I said, name a better one in the center. Teresina may be all around more reliable, but I tend to think Caminetto d'Oro's pasta (especially its ragu, since that is the only reason it was suggested) is better than other choices (likewise its adjacent bistro).

                                    I do get your point, but it would be great if you would say where you would eat in Bologna center (or a short cab ride away) if you had a reason to be there. (Saying you'd rather starve is an ok answer.)


                                    Gigina is worth considering over Serghei, by the way. Giampi e Ciccio may be easier to negotiate if you don't speak Italian.

                                    1. re: barberinibee

                                      My point is this. Most all the people who use this site, go to Bologna to eat in restaurants (i.e. they are not in the city for business, studying etc.). IMO, that is a mistake if they want to experience the best that ER offers. The city is wonderful; the restaurants are mediocre. It is promoted as being "the" city" in Italy for food. As far as restaurants go there is no "the" city in Italy for food, as perhaps one might say of Paris or London.

                                      I think Caminetto d'Oro is disappointing on many levels. Is the first time visitor likely to have a meal that he or she enjoys? Absolutely. However, why go to Bologna if the primary interest is to get the "best" that ER offers in terms of restaurants? I'd go to Parma and use that as a base long before I'd go to Bologna, if the primary reason is to eat the best that one can.

                                      If I were forced to be there, I would starve. Just kidding. The best place we've found to get a decent meal is Osteria Numero Sette.

                                      1. re: allende

                                        Thanks. I'll try Osteria Numero Sette the next time I am in Bologna. I am never there just to eat, and I've no quarrel with you that if people are going to the Emilia-Romagna because they've heard about the great food, they should head to places other than Bologna for that, or have a kitchen while they are in Bologna so they can shop and cook.

                                        1. re: barberinibee


                                          Just checking: Do you mean the Osteria No. 7 that is about 15 minutes outside the center by taxi/car?

                                          1. re: barberinibee

                                            I did. There is a bus from the center, right to the restaurant. Only a decent meal, nothing more, and am not recommending it as a special destination, but better, in our opinion, than anything else in the city.

                                            I agree with you about having a kitchen to cook in. Bologna is excellent as a place to shop for food. It is a shame that the restaurants are not able to cook those ingredients well. Another example why, in Italy, so much of the really good cooking takes place in the home of good cooks.

                  2. I visited Bologna for 1.5 days and had dinner at Serghei. The food was home-style and unpretentious, and we tried both the tagliatelle al ragu and gramigna con salciccia. We preferred the latter to the ragu, which we found a bit too dry and overly-beefy. The secondis were fine, the pork in milk super-tender and the guinea fowl quite flavorful, albeit on the dry side. Service was actually much friendly than anticipated even though it wasn't a slow night and the place was quite full, so perhaps the server isn't always a sourpuss. Of course, it helped that I had read the menu pasted on the window quite thoroughly so I knew what I wanted beforehand. It's a solid meal but not someplace where the food is absolutely swoon-worthy. Then again, I only had 1 real meal in Bologna with no basis to compare with its competition.
                    The other meal was at il Cacciatore in Castello di Serravalle region, halfway between Modena and Bologna, as part of a food tour that brought us also to a cheese factory and a balsamic vinegar acetaia. Great location perched atop rolling hills, and the food was rustic, simple and very satisfying. The 4 pasta dishes we tried were excellent especially the spinach tortellini with an impactful gorgonzola sauce and very juicy and tender fried rabbit. The trattoria was quite full on a holiday afternoon with local families enjoying the inexpensive and plentiful food (~7e for primis, 10 for secondi)
                    A link to my blog for pictures:

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: xigua

                      i also prefer Serghei's gramigna alla salsiccia to its tagliatelle al ragu. My main reason for repeatedly recommending Serghei is that it is one of the few places inside the historic walls of Bologna that seems capable of doing an enjoyable secondo if you know what to order. I think sticking to pork shank and turkey thigh is the safest bet. (I don't think of the owner as a sourpuss so much as harried and seemingly abrupt, and he is getting a reputation on Chowhound as being something of a secret sweetie-pie.) Da Gianni in the historic center is a good choice for pastas other than tagliatelle or gramigna, and especially if you want a secondo of grilled mortadella.

                      By the way, there are other places in Bologna that do a good gramigna alla salsiccia, but in a different style. Gigina makes a truly fun version (the best), and I also like the dish at Bistrot 18, and also at Il Tinello (at the latter, it is best to go with a grilled vegetable secondo). In general, I think it is a less tricky dish to pull off well than tagliatelle al ragu and tends please more palates anyway. Ravioli with gorgonzola sauces are also too often bypassed by visitors to Bologna in favor of sampling the classic ragu. Trattoria Anna Maria makes a gorgonzola pasta dish that is luscious (for a secondo, proscuitto and melon can be the best bet outside of winter).

                      1. re: barberinibee

                        Very strong earthquake early this morning just north of Bologna. We felt it here on the Tuscan coast.

                        1. re: allende

                          Slept through it in Liguria, but was quite concerned to wake up to the news reports.

                          1. re: barberinibee

                            So I am back from my trip and I must say I am taken by the Italian way. All in all we ate and drank very well and found the towns and cities we visited architecturally beautiful, of course the sun helped too!
                            Day One – Arriving from the airport into 27 degrees and a busy bus station was not an ideal way to start, but I guess every holiday has to start somewhere. Keen to get going on the eating we met family and headed to our first destination, Osteria D’Orsa. Very basic but very well prepared food, got my first taste of meats, ricotta and fried breads, tasty! Followed by a good few courses between us, including a very nice pork pasta dish and my further plate of cured meats (aim was to eat half a pig in my days in Italy). For me the meat was of good quality and one dish served with a very nice mozarella, very creamy, so possibly burata, an excellent start, and very filling. A further walk around the city, some gelato and a drink and we were ready to eat again, well not really but as was limited by number of meals in the city we took our stuffings where we could. So, we headed off to Anna Maria for some stuffed pasta and tortellini in broth. Now I can safely say that this was the most disappointing feed of the trip, it was overpriced and underwhelming. My tortellini was nice but nothing amazing (actually found the filling a bit dry) and the broth nice, but a little over salty I thought. The three remaining pasta dishes were average at best and twice what they should have cost, throw in a 16 euro corpeta and we left less than satisfied, ho hum, you win some you lose some!
                            Day Two – We started the day with a very average breakfast at the hotel, but that was expected, so I ate little and saved room. We then headed to Tervis for coffee, nice to see a selection of beans but for me the coffee was not much to write home about, certainly the milk based were more to my taste. Onwards to lunch and a stop at e Cucina Bologna, a rather hip place serving a lighter touch of Italian fare. Four course, wine and coffee for 20 euro was excellent value, three choices for primi and secondi was very good too for such a cheap set menu I thought. Kicked off with an excellent little salad of tomato, ricotta and basil, good olive oil and the best bread of the trip (a very nice focaccia). The pasta course was chosen by three and was a tomato based sauce with shrimp (prawns to us) and a white fish (possibly mullet I thought). This was an excellent dish with a light but very flavourful sauce, a real triumph, the other dish ordered of veg and mozzarella was also enjoyed, particularly as I got to have some more mozzarella, delicious. The second courses were less successful, with veal being overcooked chunks, rather than the just pink, tender steak we were all hoping for, the accompanying sauce with a lemon base was very nice though and lifted the dish. The fish course ordered was tasty and was a bass equivalent, more of the marinated slow cooked veg, pleasant. Desserts of chocolate and raspberry sorbet was good and the latter excellent, very sharp and full of flavour. Due to the amount eaten at lunch little was consumed in the evening, so we ehaded to Castiglione for gelato, very good it was too, the mascarpone woth fig and lemon was great, as was the pine nut one. I was very happy to find a bar selling Italian craft beer on via Mascarella, I think Ortica was its name. I tried them all (sorry didn’t write names down) and thought them all delicious. Also a Tuscan cider and an excellent Greco di Tufo, slightly oxidative in style (one I like very much).
                            Day three – We left the city and headed to Umbria, satisfied that we had eaten well and that we had found what we hoped in the city.
                            The bit in Umbria to Modena was spent with friends and we had excellent feeds at home with them, all delicious produce and outside eating, very enjoyable. One thing that was consumed, new to me totally, was what I took to be mantis shrimp. Purchased from the marked for next to nothing and cooked in a little wine, butter and water and they were amazing, very sweet and tender, if a little tricky to eat, very sharp shells.
                            The final part of our trip was to Modena for dinner at Osteria Francescana. This was rated very highly recently by Andy Hayler which only added to the expectation. The room we were shown to was small with only three tables, I assume a few others like this around the building, nice enough, but I generally prefer something more open and all in together. We decided to have the basic tasting menu of “Traditional” food, and I am very glad we did, it was excellent. The first course was a taste of Mortadella sandwich, which included a sort of mousse/foam of mortadella alongside crumbs of pistachio and some garlic puree, served with a mini fried bread. The second course was the hams, two different ages and cuts from a wild pig, amazing. All the while we did our duty in polishing off a number of very good breads, olive oil and breadsticks. Next came a double hit of pasta, with a ragu course followed by a tortellini with 42 month aged parmesan sauce. Both were really amazing, with incredibly good pasta (a bit of bite, a bit of give, a bit of chew) and very good saucing. The main of ribs of pork with aged balsamic were delicious, but due to our consumption of bread were a little difficult to put away, but we obviously managed it, if it took a bit longer than normal. Dessert and an excellent array of petits fours followed, all bar a few being snaffled up. To drink with the food we gave a budget and were produced three bottles, the first a late harvest Tokay from Friuli, the red a Barbera from Emilia and the last a sweet wine (sorry didn’t note grape) also from Emilia. All were natural wines and all impeccably flavoured, the red not to ones liking but appreciated for its quality, the nose on it was amazing and really smelt like truffle, the mouthfeel amazing and the richness was very present too. On our scoring system I think we went from 7-8 in score, which is very good and it rates up there for me as a great place to have been, based on other experiences I would say definite 3 star quality but I have eaten better and enjoyed it more, but that is in no way saying I didn’t like it, I did, and having chef come out to talk to us was a nice touch indeed.
                            So, to conclude, I loved Italy, the food (especially the pig) was a triumph, the people nice and it has left me wanting for more. So thank you to all for your help on recommendations, thoughts etc, and when I plan a return trip I will be sure to pose questions and post responses on return.

                            1. re: stanleyk

                              How many people were you? A 16 euro coperto seems high.

                              1. re: badwaiter

                                Just four of us, included bread apparently, although this was dry and tasteless (apart from too salty), so yes, very high. Maybe saw us coming? Still one disapointment out of a weeks eating and drinking is not too bad, just a shame it happened somewhere that came so highly regarded (in many places not just CH)

                                1. re: stanleyk

                                  I feel terrible I was the one who recommended Trattoria Anna Maria to you and your experience was so poor. I just checked their online menu, and they show a 3 euro coperto -- which is already high. I will quit recommending it, not only because of your report, but because I once had a poor experience there; however, it was cancelled out by delicious food subsequently. As you note, it is widely recommended, adding to my belief that my one poor meal was a one-off, and hence my recommendation.. But for those only briefly in Bologna, such disappointing inconsistency -- especially when everything is comparably higher priced than elsewhere -- is an unnecessary risk. I'm glad you were able to get rid of the bad taste of that experience with meals you enjoyed.

                                  I've often heard good things about E'Cucina Bologna, and hope to get there soon.

                                  Thank you very much for your candid report.

                                  1. re: barberinibee

                                    Not at all your fault, recommended in a number of places, just a shame we hit them on a bad night maybe

                                    1. re: stanleyk

                                      Glad for your report - Ive also had problems with some meat-filled pastas having a rather dry and not so pleasing consistency, .In any event, sorry you had a bad experience here -

                                      1. re: stanleyk

                                        Thanks for the reprieve, but I thought that too -- that I'd "hit them on a bad night" when I had a bizarrely bad meal there, given all the praise Trattoria Anna Maria has garnered in the past. In that price category, a visitor to Bologna can find reliable eateries for something so basic as tortellini al brodo. I wont' suggest Trattoria Anna Maria anymore!