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May 30, 2012 01:04 PM

A Month in Bologna: Food Report (and blog)

Hello Chowhounders,
I definitely got a lot of help from lurking around this board, so I wanted to give back with some of my thoughts on the restaurants I've eaten at in Bologna. I'm copy/pasting from my blog here, but I am also including the link to see photos, hoping that's ok.

Al Sangiovese (Via Paglietta, 12
)You're not likely to stumble across this, as it's on the southern edge of the walled area of town, but it's worth seeking out. This was actually our post-climb to San Luca lunch since Meloncello was closed, and it was a fantastic substitute. The dining room is cozy, with an english-speaking table next to us but it didn't feel touristy at all - nothing really does in Bologna. The waiter was friendly, but not overly so. They didn't have any carafes of wine, but we each had glasses of, of course, sangiovese.

For a starter, Sam had vegetable pie covered in some kind of lovely cream sauce. And I finally tried a local delicacy, passatelli en brodo (in broth). These are basically noodles in broth, but the flavor is so much more intense than what that sounds. The noodles are basically half cheese, and the cheese infuses the's delicious, and filling. For the next course Sam had a special, cheese filled agnolotti with tomato and basil (pictured at the top of the page). And I had beef carpaccio covered in grana padano cheese, lettuce, and TRUFFLES. The carpaccio wasn't sliced quite as thinly as I liked, but that's my only complaint. The food was really really good.

Trattoria del Rosso (Via Augusto Righi, 30)

Trattoria Rosso is near the University in Bologna, and known for being a great place for eating on a budget. Every day they have a 10E three course menu, although when we went we ordered off the a la carte menu, which was still extremely cheap.

Best thing we had there, and one of the best things I've tasted in Italy, was the polenta appetizer with squacquerone cheese. We loved the cheese so much we bought it at the market the next day. And combined with the crispy fried polenta...oh my goodness. I couldn't stop eating it even though I knew I had a big bowl of pasta coming. In fact, I think I need to return just to eat this again, it was that good.

We also tried the chicken liver pate with toast, which was good. For the mains, which I forgot to take a picture of, we had tagliatelle with lamb ragu. This was good, but not great - too oily for my taste.

We sat outside, and while the service was brusque, it's definitely a great value.

Bistro 18 (Via Clavature, 18)

When friends who don't eat meat visited us, I took them here for lunch. It has outdoor seating, is in the center of town so is great for people-watching, and has a varied menu. Several of us got one of the specials, some kind of noodle with porcini mushrooms, which was really wonderful. For appetizers we got various things, including an eggplant dish and an onion frittata. But I still remember that mushroom pasta. I was too busy talking to my friends to take photos that first time...

But then, we returned for lunch again today, on our last day. I had a potato flan with creamy truffle sauce that I was coveting on someone else's plate last time, and the simple spaghetti with tomato sauce and basil, which was just outstanding, and a perfect way to say goodbye to Italy. Sam also very much enjoyed his trofie pasta with pesto and his sliced beef w/vegetables.

Tamburini (Via Caprarie, 1)

Part-deli, part-take home food emporium, part-cafeteria. This place is just a fun place to look around for a foodie. But I recommend eating at the buffet if you're short on time and/or money. You can get a good hearty meal for 10E or less. I had a salad with mozzarella, artichokes, tomatoes, etc. and a side of potatoes. There are several pasta and meat dishes that change daily. It's right in the center of everything too.

Eataly (Via Degli Orifici, 19)

I was surprised to see an Eataly here, as I know them from the states. The one in Bologna is not quite the same seems to be mostly a bookstore, with also some overpriced gourmet food items. There are also three different places to eat - a self-service cafe on the bottom floor/outside, a slightly nicer restaurant on the second floor, and I think an even nicer restaurant on the top floor. On our first day in town we ate on the second floor. I think I got a trio of vegetable dishes which was good - it's not always easy to find in bologna, but the whole thing was not exceedingly memorable.

Scalinatella (Via Caduti di Cefalonia, 5)

We went here for pizza, and that is what we had. Very good pizza straight from the wood-burning oven...I had delicious pieces of eggplant and zucchini on mine that clearly came from the roasted veggie antipasto bar. Definitely recommend.

Le Sfogline (Via Belvedere, 7)

If you have a kitchen or any way to cook pasta STOP, DO NOT PASS GO, DO NOT COLLECT $200, JUST GO STRAIGHT HERE!! It's on Via Belvedere, right behind the Mercato delle Erbe (a great indoor food market) on Ugo Bassi. It's the most incredible homemade pasta. I tried a lot of homemade pasta in our month in Bologna, and I thought they were all good, until I had the ricotta tortelloni from here. I wish I'd found this place earlier, so I could've tried everything (especially the artichoke lasagna). The outside was soft, the inside creamy...oh man. And not even that expensive - 25E a kilogram, and only 7E for a portion for two.

The lady who was working there even asked me - are you having something else to eat or just this - so she would know how much to give me. And they spoke a little English. They asked me to come back in ten minutes so they could make the tortelloni for me! And when I came back, I got to watch (see blog for pics). And then I got to eat! Dressed in a simple butter sage sauce, they were pure heaven!

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  1. If you ever get to Torino, you can skip going to the EATALY there too. As you discovered at the Mercato delle Erbe, supermarket shopping isn't really where it's at in the best food cities.

    I also like Bistrot18, especially for people who really aren't in Bologna much longer than the time it takes to see the old food market streets and a bit of the historic center. You pay extra for the location, but they take some care with the food. They do some of the classics well plus some lighter fare.

    thanks for taking time to share your experiences.

    1 Reply
    1. re: barberinibee

      Yes, you do pay for the location of Bistro 18. Today my husband and I had an argument about where to eat lunch, because he wanted to go to some places not in the center, that are less expensive and perhaps better food, but we had to eat early, and there was nobody in those restaurants, and I wanted to be outside and with we ended up at Bistro 18 again, and we both enjoyed the meal, although not so much the bill (55E for two courses each, two bottles of water, and includes the "service/bread" charge).

    2. I also meant to include something about a great restaurant we went to in Modena, after visiting Acetaia di Giorgio to learn about balsamic vinegar (which was wonderful).

      After the Acetaia, we headed over to Ristorante Da Danilo (Via Petrarca 13). It was about noon when we stepped in, but the nice host apologetically asked us to come back in ten minutes. When we did we were still the first to sit down, so we had our pick of nice covered outdoor tables. We both ordered rocket (arugula) salad with parmesan, and they don't skimp on the cheese here - we had tons of big shavings all over the lettuce. Perhaps that's also why the salad cost more than the pasta course... We then shared tortelloni with pumpkin filling and ricotta tortelloni with balsamic sauce (after all, it is Modena). They were both utterly scrumptious. My favorite was the ricotta with balsamic, as I am not a huge fan of pumpkin (although that was really good too). The pasta itself was soft and not at all chewy, the ricotta smooth, and the balsamic sauce had just the right amount of acidity. One of the best pasta dishes I've had so far.

      2 Replies
      1. re: chicagofoodie84

        The da danilo In rome is on via petrarca - is this a coincedence or did you mix up something? The acetaia is great, i agree.

        1. re: vinoroma

          A mistake! Thank you for catching it. Should be Via Cotellini 31 in Modena.

      2. "I was surprised to see an Eataly here, as I know them from the states. The one in Bologna is not quite the same seems to be mostly a bookstore..."

        Eataly is an Italian chain. The one in NYC is a franchise with the Batali/Bastianich empire at the helm. In Bologna, I believe the bookstore and Eataly are separate entities; they just happen to share the same building. In true Italian "design" they are sort of interwoven together.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ttoommyy

          You are right that bookstore is a separate Italian chain. In Bologna, the space isn't really "woven together". It's more the case that the bookstore totally dominates all the space and EATALY is crammed into a tiny uncomfortable part of it.

          I've suspected that the local historic markets really resisted having EATALY there at all, and they were limited to a mere presence by a different sort of Italian "design".