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Oct 15, 2013 07:30 AM

Bologna and...Parma?

We'll be traveling (w/another couple) to Bologna next month, and staying for a number of days and nights before heading to Rome.

We would like to take a day trip, perhaps to Parma, maybe visit a parmesan producer and/or prosciutto producer, in addition to checking out the historical center of Parma. We'd like to have a nice lunch in Parma.

So - reading through the Bologna threads I am getting some ideas for Bologna...but I'm wondering if there are any updates?

And - is Parma worthy? Where should we have lunch?

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  1. We love Parma; it is definitely worthy of a visit. I would recommend lunch at Trattoria del Tribunale.

    3 Replies
    1. re: ttoommyy

      agree with ttoommyy and the lunch recc. Very interesting culturally and great small food city a highlight of a couple of our visits I think you may have a hard time fitting in both a food tour outside the city, and lunch and touring in the town, however - the tours will tend to take a while and feed you, too so you may have to choose. There are a number of threads about these types of tours, you can search.

      1. re: jen kalb

        Personally, I would skip the tours and just see the sites in Parma and have a nice leisurely lunch at Tribunale. Do you agree jen?

        1. re: ttoommyy

          yes, we had a tour out of our parma area agriturismo, which was really interesting the morning after we spent a full day in the city of Parma, but unless farm/industrial tours are an interest of yours over and above culture and actual good eating I would spend the time in the town which has real beauties and eat the food the region is famous for. If you go to tribunale, do have the mixed charcuterie with culatello, prosciutto di parma, felino salami, etc, and a fresh pasta with prosciutto if you can.

    2. I have to second the recommendation to visit Parma. We stayed there 4 nights in May and had a wonderful time! We also ate at Trattoria del Tribunale and had a wonderful dinner... dont forget the torta fritta to go along with the mixed charcuterie, its delicious!

      Parma is also a beautiful little town to walk around, so I don't think you'll have a hard time filling a day there.

      1. We're just back from a trip that included two days in Parma (will post more reports as time permits). We did not get to Tribunale, so often recommended here, but had a nice small lunch at Angiol d'Or facing the Duomo, including the traditional mixed salume plate with torta fritta described in many other postings.

        Dinners were at Al Tramezzo, which is a good taxi ride out of the Centro but well worth it, among the best meals of the trip; and La Greppia, in the Centro and also excellent. Our other lunch was a light pre-opera meal at Sorelle Picchi, inside (sort of) the famous Salumeria Rosi that has a branch in NYC. Not only a fine mixed salume plate, but also a "Formaggi Parmagiano verticale" of three differently-aged specimens.

        I should add that the "cultural" sights and sites in Parma are outstanding. Unique among them is the 17th-century Teatro Farnese inside the Palazzo Pilotta that also houses the main art museum. Forget the dairy farms and meat processors. This is simply not to be missed.

        1 Reply
        1. re: chowtraveler

          thanks for reporting back on your Parma visit! Looking forward to your more detailed account of your trip and meals.

          I guess there are different strokes and people who travel only for food (and food is what this Board is about) but glad you gave a shoutout to Parma's historic and artistic attractions. Its really an allround classic small city and very enjoyable in multiple dimensions.

        2. Da Gianni is still fine for what it is. We enjoyed Ristorante Il Tari on Via Collegio di Spagna - great pastas (my gamberino were the best I have tasted in a long time) and delicious pizza.

          In Parma, Tribunale was good and the historic center is indeed beautiful.

          It's quite apparent that antipasti (i.e. salumi, etc.) and primi are the stars of most of these meals. Our secondi have mostly been disappointing. Looking forward to some lamb and oxtail in Roma.

          8 Replies
          1. re: mitchleeny

            "It's quite apparent that antipasti (i.e. salumi, etc.) and primi are the stars of most of these meals. Our secondi have mostly been disappointing."

            Are you having all 3 courses? Could it be that by the time you have your secondi you are almost full and therefore less than enthused by it? I agree that the antipasti and primi in that region are exceptional, but the secondi can be very good as well. May I ask for a couple of examples of disappointing secondi?

            1. re: ttoommyy

              Interesting question. During our time in the Piemonte and Parma last month, We also generally found the secondi less appealing than the antipasti and primi. We generally had one or the other of the latter (or split one of each), so we weren't filled up by the time the secondi arrived. I think we generally found the secondi more strongly and less complexly flavored, as well as just plain heavier than we expected. Meat doesn't have to be that way (and we are big meat-eaters), but it was in many of the great places we ate. Even some of the fish secondi were in that category, especially those with many major ingredients in addition to the fish such as potatoes or heavy root vegetables.

              1. re: chowtraveler

                Maybe it's all in how you choose your secondi? The types of secondi I can remember having were basically just a meat with a dressing, like a simple sliced steak (tagliata di manzo) with a balsamic reduction. Of course I had bolito misto as well, which consited of mixed boiled meats served with a mostarda and salsa verde. Since this was somewhat more food than other secondi I had, I planned accordingly and had a lighter antipasti or primi.

                1. re: ttoommyy

                  We're pretty good at portion and meal sizing. That said, secondi at Gianni and Tribunale were both (mine, at least) poultry and came nowhere close to the deliciousness of the first 2 courses. Not a big problem - live and learn.

                  Yesterday, however, delivered two fine meals. First, reports of the demise of Meloncello are, in my opinion, greatly exaggerated. Or maybe it's different during the height of tourist season. In any event, our lunch (there were 3 of us) was put together beautifully by our great waiter. He offered to split a tortellini in brodo into 3 small bowls so we could each get a fairly nice taste and it lived up to the best we've had. Fine pasta, tasty filling, exceptional broth. Then, he split 2 orders of fettuccine Bolognese into 3 portions and it was also delicious. Finally, for our "main" we each had a fine artichoke that had been braised in oil and stock. All in all, a fine meal with great service and no rush job - and a total of 20 euros a piece.

                  Last night, our final meal in Bologna really delivered. We had spotted a window that had beautiful porcini and white truffles displayed so we decided we should give it a go. Trattoria dal Biassanot was just what we needed and wanted. On both my friend's pasta and my risotto, the tartufo was a 7 euro supplement, and they shaved a heap on top of both. The risotto, carnaroli for those who worry, was exemplary. My secondi was capretto, beautifully roasted with crackling skin and luscious fat. The serving consisted of a portion of the ribs and a hunk of shoulder. My bud's rooster was the first poultry of the trip that was great. We finished with a drizzle of balsamic on some fine gelato, and I hope if I ever make it back to Bologna, we can once again enjoy the cooking here.

                  Plenty of fine food to be had in Bologna, to be sure. And now off to Rome.

            2. re: mitchleeny

              thanks for the report back, but what is "gamberino"?

              1. re: jen kalb

                Is it possible I mean gamberone? Large shrimp, in any case.

                1. re: mitchleeny

                  ah, that computes, it looked like a modification to your pasta comment,

                  did your friend have rooster or capon at Biassanot? its fairly commonly served in that region, whereas chicken is not that commonly found,

                  interesting and helpful reports!

                  1. re: jen kalb

                    Rooster. Delicious, even if the breast was slightly dry. The legs and thighs were worth it, though.