Bologna is known as “The Red, the Learned and the Fat”, the latter name refers to Bolognese cuisine: good, genuine and not at all light. Everyone knows the city of Bologna for its famous first courses, such as: tortellini, tortelloni, lasagna and tagliatelle with meat sauce.
Kingdom of fresh pasta, it is in the first courses that Bolognese cuisine expresses its potential at its best, with elaborate pastas, beautiful to look at and good to eat.
However, there is no shortage of greedy main courses based on meat and sumptuous desserts. Here are the typical dishes of Bologna and the best restaurants to taste them.
At the end of Via della Grada, there was once the canal with the public wash house, a corner of old Bologna. Posta is a historic place opened thirty years ago, always the same management and a strong Tuscan imprint.
This restaurant is in fact a corner of Tuscany in Bologna: here you can eat the famous soups, such as ribollita and pappa col pomodoro, alternating with pappardelle with wild boar, tripe, peposo and of course Florentine steaks.
The young chef Andrea Rambaldi, half Bolognese and half Tuscan, looks after and researches raw materials and uses new techniques for a classic and not obvious proposal of regional cuisine.
On the menu we find livers, tripe, lampredotti, seasonal soups. The loin is cut at the moment by weight. Tartar, a symbolic dish, seasoned at the table. Then there is the trolley with many Tuscan pecorino cheeses.
Fish is also always on the menu, especially cod. Saturday for lunch dedicated to Bolognese cuisine, with crescentine and traditional dishes. Wide and refined the choice of wines with a prevalence of Tuscan red wines and a good selection of local wines.
Trattoria da Me
Very popular and lively, Trattoria da Me owes its success to a successful mix of traditional dishes – where fresh pasta stands out, on sale in the shop next door – and specialties that are inspired by the cook’s inspiration, such as ossobuco.
The room is furnished in a sober style. with a large table and small television reminiscent of grandma’s dining room. La Trattoria Da me is a place that, despite having its core in the cuisine of Bologna, also knows how to express some creative dishes that look to tradition with extreme ease.
Both in the winter menu, richer, and in the summer one, there are the great dishes of Bolognese gastronomy combined with some more innovative courses such as cheese ice cream (to be tasted as an appetizer or dessert), tagliolini with squacquerone cheese or chicken fried fish that mixes Bolognese flavors with Thai ones.
The full taste of stracchino, robiola and gorgonzola cheeses accompanied by a classic fig jam, then goes very well with golden and crunchy codfish balls, but also with ravioli stuffed with ricotta, accompanied by anchovies, mountain butter, ginger and poppy seeds.
Here you will find Emilian cuisine made as tradition dictates, without reinterpretations, but enhanced in its most typical and well-known recipes. From the extraordinary selection of cold cuts and cheeses to desserts, passing through fresh pasta and meats, up to wines, predominantly local.
The menu opens on a roundup of high quality meats and cheeses that denotes a meticulous search for raw materials. Alongside the inevitable great classics such as tortellini, tagliatelle with meat sauce and Bolognese cutlet, there are rigatoni with giblets and guinea fowl galantine, real traditional dishes.
A menu that pleases the palates of the most demanding Bolognese people, but also many tourists. The platter of cold cuts includes, among other things: black pork culatello from Parma; mortadella from the Felsineo sausage factory; Parma lard.
Among the first courses the rigatoni with offal stand out. The only vegetarian first course on the menu is the ricotta filled tortelli seasoned with tomato and spinach. The wine list is extensive, with a nice choice of national wines, in which interesting local labels stand out, to finish with some dessert wines.
The Osteria Bartolini in Bologna can count on the most beautiful outdoor area in the city: an elevated garden in front of the Dondini Rusconi palace in Piazza Malpighi. The uniqueness lies in the fact that it is dominated by a monumental plane tree that spans three centuries and is by far the largest tree in the historic center.
This is a pleasant and convivial restaurant, where the Romagna tradition keeps the freshness of the fish intact. The mixed fry – in different proposals – is always the main dish of the restaurant, alongside other classic seafood dishes.
The mussels and clams are both served “alla marinara” (with garlic and parsley) according to the typical version of the Romagna coast. The octopus is excellent and it is served on a bed of potatoes scented with basil. The great fried of Adriatic Sea is a fried dish consisting of small mullets, sardines, shrimps, scampi and squid, all accompanied by floured and fried vegetables.
There are only a few first courses on the menu and the offer is divided between the seafaring tradition, with typical dishes of the Adriatic coast, and different types of fried foods.
Among the desserts suggested by the menu we have: a good lemon sorbet; chocolate and passion fruit and an excellent hazelnut cream.
Ahimè offers local cuisine that is attentive to the sustainability and seasonality of the products. Organic wines and a convivial but at the same time professional service. A space that welcomes guests in a room with light and natural colors.
The vegetable world takes center stage, with a menu that changes daily and enhances it to the fullest. The protagonists are the raw materials of the territory, with vegetables that change according to the production of the restaurant’s garden (from which most of the vegetable ingredients used in the kitchen come).
The menu includes three different formulas: à la carte, sharing one or more dishes ordered à la carte, tasting itineraries of three or five courses. Thus, dishes that revolve around vegetables according to the seasons arrive on the table. As well as recipes like Spaghetti with chicken, lemon and parsley. And again, fennel cooked in butter with fermented grape sauce, candied fennel flowers and candied onion.
Homemade bread is another protagonist of the experience signed Ahimè: the result of a 72-hour leavening, it is prepared with local flours made exclusively from Emilian grains, with a mother yeast that has over ten years of history.
In the lively neighborhood of the Mercato delle Erbe, Oltre. is a restaurant that in a fun way combines a young and design look. It is a pleasant place that offers Bolognese cuisine renewed in the techniques of execution, but respectful of tradition, with the classic dishes of Bologna, as well as a couple of more current creations.
Selected ingredients are used in the preparations, meats from the Savigni butcher’s, fish from the best fish market in the city, carefully selected seasonal vegetables. The menu is composed by: 4 appetizers, 6 first and 5 second courses to which is added the proposal of 5 desserts.
There is no shortage of classic Bolognese dishes. It is also played with some fun digressions such as “ramen in Bologna”: an appetizer of tagliatelline or the cream of pumpkin with mussels and clams that focuses on a sweet-savory combination. The meatloaf is also not to be missed.
Then we have the tortellini in two versions: classic capon broth and parmesan cream, a solution to serve the dry tortellino with an enveloping sauce that enhances its aromas. Also good are the balanzoni in the classic green pastry, and also the lasagna.
Among the non-traditional first courses there are macaroni al torchio with butter and sausage and tagliatelle al ragù.
We are in the heart of Bologna, inside a luxurious hotel that combines the Art Nouveau atmosphere of Maccaferri Palace with designer, modern and minimalist interiors. The adjoining restaurant is in a fascinating space, the nineteenth-century hall of the former Eden Theater, with a frescoed ceiling and beautiful Art Nouveau works.
The kitchen is in the hands of the talented chef from Campania Agostino Iacobucci who offers unusual and creative dishes resulting from the contamination between northern and southern Italy, flanked by exotic influences. Here tradition winks at international cuisine.
A cuisine of great creativity and attentive to quality raw materials, with an innovative look at tradition. Do not miss iconic dishes such as Spaghettone Felicetti, with black garlic from Voghiera, scampi and rocket; or the Piccione, pistachio dish, shallots in Lambrusco wine and blackberries. Among the starters: grilled scampi; Mantuan pumpkin; shellfish broth. And pasta with Bolognese sauce; suckling pig Bologna style; crescentina with Romagna blackberry lard and strawberry mustard; pappa al pomodoro. The dessert menu features a spiral of milk chocolate and passion fruit, salted caramel and sorbet.
We are in the heart of the city, inside the prestigious 18th-century building that houses a hotel. The restaurant occupies a room of great charm and refinement whose splendid ceiling is decorated with frescoes from the Carracci school: sixteenth-century Bolognese painters from which the restaurant takes its name.
The cuisine also plays its part, combining classic and modern tastes in a menu that, in addition to the regional tradition, offers Italian dishes from the sea and from the land. It offers traditional Emilian cuisine but also fish and vegetarian dishes using locally grown vegetables.
Among the most representative dishes we can mention the pink prawns in citrus and cardamom marinade with a salad of peaches, sprouts and toasted almonds; grilled tuna spit with tomato soup, caper pesto and smoked ricotta; Spaghetti alla chitarra in crab sauce with courgettes in bloom and grilled squid; slice of cod in extra virgin olive oil with soaked toasted bread and summer pizzaiola.
We close with two valid desserts: liquorice parfait with wild berries compote and frozen eggnog with fig and dried fruit sauce.
In a characteristic alley of the historic center, a stone’s throw from the Renaissance Bentivoglio Palace and the Municipal Theater, there is a cozy and welcoming bistro-style restaurant, simple in its setting, but with well-made cuisine and mainly Mediterranean tastes; the sea is very present in the dishes, although there is no lack of vegetarian recipes and some vegan specialties.
The fish to be the protagonist of the menu, worked in a decidedly Mediterranean style, with the utmost attention to the catch (mostly of Adriatic origin) and to the executive simplicity. For seasonality and availability of raw materials, the menu is changeable, a feature that, for a fish restaurant, represents an added value.
The original dishes stand out such as Passatelli in a stew of snapper and artichokes flavored with lemongrass and Tubetti with Romanesco cabbage, cannellini beans, mussels and clams. To follow, the creamed cod with Taggiasca olives and sweet paprika, broad beans and chicory with crispy pecorino cheese bread is worthy of note.
In desserts, alongside the traditional rice cake, the original lime pannacotta stands out.
The restaurant is not in the center, but if you want to eat excellent fish, mostly from the Mediterranean Sea and personally selected by the chef-patron, it is worth moving a little outside the city. The fish is very fresh and is delivered almost every day from the ports of the Adriatci Sea. The cooking is also appreciated, simple and respectful of the raw material. A menu with simple dishes with a touch of creativity that make them pleasant to taste.
The cuisine offered by this restaurant is essentially fresh fish from the Adriatic, Tyrrhenian and the Mediterranean Sea. Raw fish with various types of oysters with crustaceans of Italian origin (Adriatic Sea and Sicily). Mediterranean bluefin tuna, swordfish, cod, bonito, mackerel (from Sicily, Sardinia and the Adriatic Sea).
There is no shortage of fried foods that are offered in different ways. The chef’s creativity is felt with dishes such as seared scallops and squid with beetroot soup and potato and chive; cod fillet with Mazara red prawns, avocado and citrus fruit gel.
The wine list has about a hundred labels, chosen with particular attention, which go perfectly with the dishes on offer.