Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Italy >
Mar 26, 2014 11:34 AM

recommendations for bologna

I will be in Bologna in Mid-May for 2 nightsSaturday and Sunday) . I really need restaurant/trattoria recommendations and suggestions of food stores to wander into. Also, are there any markets in the city center area that would be fun to go to? We would prefer not to leave the city for dinner.
Thanks for all your help and recommendations

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I will be in Bologna in late June and was just looking at this post, which you may find helpful:

    1 Reply
    1. re: lisaonthecape

      Here is a link to a more recent thread, from a different poster, with a follow up from the poster on their Bologna meals when they completed their trip

    2. Yes, there are markets in the city center. Fish, meats, vegs, fruit, you name it. Maybe not Sunday.

      1. Thanks for the suggestion. My only concern is that the review was a few years old--

        11 Replies
        1. re: begpe


          I see that you are a new poster on CH and welcome you. I must point out that things do not change much in a few years, maybe in Paris or Rome, but certainly not in Bologna. The trickiest thing about when you will be in Bologna is not that things will have changed since these older reviews, but that you will be there on a weekend, when many places are closed. We had this problem when we were there several years ago. We ate much better on Monday and Tuesday than on Saturday and Sunday (dinners at Diana and Meloncello were mediocre).

          Sadly, I can't be of much help finding wonderful food on those days.

          I hope others will chime in with good Saturday and Sunday recs.

          1. re: rrems

            As the author of the thread being referred to, I would like to say that I disagree that things don't change in a few years in Bologna. There is more dynamism in Bologna's eating scene then is generally talked about on Chowhound, where the dominant view of the city is pretty fixed on crying into the brodo about the decline in Bologna's fine dining opportunities and people are warned against going there at all (by people who haven't been in years).

            While hoping not to sound rude, I really don't understand on what basis someone who spends one Saturday and one Sunday in a city of 350,000+ people and more than 1500 restaurants concludes that one only eats well on Monday and Tuesdays there! Every place you enjoyed eating at on Monday and Tuesday in Bologna was open on Saturday night, so if you would tell the poster where you ate those nights she or he would possibly be on their way to solving half their meal needs.

            As for what is open on Sundays, you are not going to eat a better lunch on Tuesday in Da Gianni than you can eat on a Sunday (it is open for Sunday lunch), or a better dinner at Teresina's on Monday than you will on Sunday (it is open for Sunday dinner). Like I said, every restaurant in Bologna is open Saturday night and the people doing the cooking are the same ones cooking on Monday and Tuesday (if they are open those days).

            Personally I don't think it is a good idea to eat in Bolognese restaurants twice a day. Even the simplest looking pasta dishes are usually rich in egg and cheese and sometimes fatty meat as well. Any day that the markets are open it is possible to assemble wonderful food head to Osteria del Sole to eat it. There are bars and cafes serving large salads and light plates, even in the evenings.

            1. re: barberinibee

              The places where we ate on Monday and Tuesday were not open for dinner on weekends. I agree with Da Gianni as a great lunch choice for Sunday.

              I would also point out that "while hoping not to sound rude" you are doing a very good job of just that. Even those of us who have not spent a great deal of time in a place can contribute useful information. You can express your disagreement without denigrating someone else's credibility.

              1. re: rrems

                I am curious to know which two restaurants you ate at are not open Saturday nights in Bologna. I'm also just curious to know where you ate "wonderfully." I'm sure everyone here would like that information.

                I fear I learned my manners about Bologna restaurants from a rough crowd, but I actually didn't wish to sound rude. But I do think there is a difference between disagreeing on whether or not a particular restaurant is worthy of recommendations (or even whether Bologna is worthy of its reputation as a destination for restaurant lovers), and advising that people eating in Bologna on weekends won't eat as well as they do on Mondays and Tuesdays. I do find that an incredible statement. Yes, it is the local custom to eat a very large Sunday lunch, so Sunday dinner means many restaurants are not open because nobody is hungry. But it is rare to find frequently recommended ones that are not open Saturdays.

                Anyway, the real reason I am here is to say that the restaurant page for the Bologna tourist office shows Teresina to be closed on Sunday -- so my apologies. I take that to be authoritative. The tourist office index is actually a good way of locating which restaurants are open and in one's desired price range. You can cross check them with online reviews.


                I note that Home Food is serving dinner in Bologna center every Sunday night in May (lunch as well). That would be my pick over any restaurant meal in Italy.


                1. re: barberinibee

                  Your last statement is interesting - your great experience in Sicily aside, can it be true that any Homefood meal is going to be better than ANY restaurant meal in Italy?

                  1. re: jen kalb

                    Forgive me for once again running the risk of sounding rude, but I think that's a ridiculous question to put to anybody regarding eating in Italy, and anybody who tells you there is some guaranteed great destination for eating in Italy that supersedes all others -- well, believe that if has some meaning for you, but thinking like that has no meaning for me.

                    I said where I would prefer to eat on a Sunday this coming May in Italy if my only choices were paying somebody to feed me. That's it. I do tend to think that no one will jump on you if you now say what you would do on a Sunday this coming May in Italy, or maybe in particular in Bologna. if you know. (Or at least I won't. The Slow Food trattoria Meloncello isopen on Sundays in Bologna, maybe you would prefer that despite rrems disdain. I've never eaten there.)

                    1. re: barberinibee

                      I must have misread the clear meaning of your last paragrah then where you said that [a Homefood meal] "would be my pick over any restaurant meal in Italy.". It sounded like you werent just make a Sunday eve in May in Bologna recommendation.

                      If you have more solid info about good Homefood cooks it would be great to hear it. The Bologna homefood site looks like most (not all) the cesarine are currently serving the same menu

                      1. re: jen kalb

                        Yes, Homefood would be my pick over any restaurant meal in italy in these circumstances and even in most travel circumstances in Italy. Why?

                        I am certain I am not the only person whose experience of traveling in Italy has revealed that much of the glory of Italian food culture is not in its restaurant culture at all but in the tradition of home cooking.

                        In addition, restaurant meals based on recommendations either from the internet, or apps or most guidebooks is VERY hit or miss and results in a lot of -- shall we say head scratching? Just in this thread alone we have one poster issuing dire warnings against eating Sunday dinner at Meloncello, a trattoria in Bologna that has been in the Slow Food guide ever since its inception and still is. I added a link to show that another poster who was warned against eating at Meloncello on Sunday night did anyway and reported back they disagreed and enjoyed their meal and would go again.

                        So why is a recommendation for HomeFood somehow in need of a huge amount of back up in your world? That's why I asked you what you would personally do in these circumstances. Believe rrems? Believe Slow Food? Check Michelin or Gambero Rosso? Why not try Home Food?

                        To me HomeFood has some outstanding advantages right from the get-go, including that I can see the menu for evening in advance AND I can book the dinner online! I don't have to negotiate making reservations, meaning cell phone issues and language issues. Best of all it is home cooking within the traditions of Italy prepared just for me by an Italian who loves to cook.

                        So is that plainer now? I don't know what more "solid" info you are looking for but maybe you don't understand what the Homefood program is. The cooks aren't just anybody who signs up out of the blue. They are an association with its own internal quality control. They aren't interested in giving you a bad meal. Everything is home cooked for you and it is authentic, whether it is in Firenze or Palermo or Bologna.

                        Yes, the cooks cook strictly local recipes. That is the point. Most people going to a particular region want to eat the local food. The menus are created by the cooks, built around inspirational themes reflective of the history of the regions and they are fixed menus. These places are not restaurants where you go and choose from a menu -- but please note that even in restaurants in Bologna the menus are identical to each other before you put down Home Food for that.

                        Home Food is a serious and important culinary and cultural endeavor. The menus are fixed so that people understand what they are getting when they book in advance and can see if they would enjoy the food. I am not understanding why you want to put this down or make it conform to Michelin rating systems or restaurant entertainments of non-stop variety.

                        I understand that many, many, many people traveling like to go restaurant hopping and think restaurants are fun. Of course many restaurants serve outstanding, serious food. I am not putting that down. But there is nothing at all odd -- given what Italian eating is -- to say that HomeFood would be my first choice as a traveler in Italy if I want to plan in advance where to eat and certainly if I want to understand the local cuisine.

                        1. re: barberinibee

                          A new post to this thread just popped up in my email notification, and your comments on HomeFood caught my attention. We are recently back from Italy and had our first experience with HomeFood just outside of Ravenna. It was one of our favorite experiences of the trip, for many of the reasons you noted. It's something we would highly recommend and plan to include on future trips.

                2. re: rrems

                  I think it still be useful for future posters to know where you ate wonderfully in Bologna since many will be traveling on Mondays and Tuesdays as well as weekends. Unfortunately there has been an impression fostered on Chowhound's Italy board that there is no wonderful eating to be had in Bologna, and that the only solution is to rent a car and go out of town. It is nice to have reports from longtime posters about the restaurants in Bologna they enjoyed.

                  So i am including a link to your trip report of your meals in Bologna.


                  I believe Al Pappagallo is open Saturday nights, but am not sure. (I've never eaten there.) As for Da Gianni, it appears from an internet search that is only closed on Mondays, so it should be open weekends, but it is always best to call directly to confirm and reserve. It is a justly popular place.

                3. re: barberinibee

                  Hi barberinibee,

                  We are heading to Bologna on Friday and staying until Sunday. Osteria del Sole sounds intriguing; can you elaborate? How does it work? Do you bring food to be cooked, or just antipasti type stuff?



            2. Here is one of my very favorite websites for restaurants in Bologna, in particular because it has a page devoted entirely the varieties of pasta you can get in Bologna (and sometimes only in Bologna, and with a few pasta dishes snuck in that are from other regions). It is worth looking at so that you don't always feel like you have to eat either tagliatelle al ragu or tortellini in brodo. But actually is just plain fun. If you spot a pasta dish that looks particularly appealing you can read the review of the trattoria where it was taken. If you don't speak Italian you can click on the English language flag in the upper right corner but best to learn the exact name of the pasta dish in Italian if you want to recognize it and order it off a menu


              and a picture of passatelli in brodo, which they forgot to include but is commonplace on menus in Bologna


              As for the reviews of the "100" trattorie themselves, I think it is not a bad list although don't mistake them for "destination" restaurants. I would knock Diana off the list for sure, but the rest of the most highly recommended fall squarely in the category of where people who like Bolognese trattoria food like to eat when they aren't interested in driving out of town. A lot meat-lovers would add all'Osteria Bottega to the list (but only when they are okay with spending a bit more money).

              By mid-May Bologna will have heated up a bit and it is okay to order for a second course grilled vegetables or sliced meats and melon, or just a cheese course if your pasta hasn't been to cheesy.

              As for historic shops in the historic market section, perusing this guide from the Bologna tourist office might be helpful


              1. Oops... not the thread I was expecting. I thought it would be a discussion of Boars Head vs. Schickhaus... :-)~