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Where to Eat and Drink Like a Local in Bologna – Eat Like a Girl

Where to Eat and Drink Like a Local in Bologna

Bologna is a fantastic city for food and drink lovers. You will be instantly charmed by the narrow streets lined with 40km of grand porticoes, some grand and others crumbling, that shelter from the Northern Italian rain and the sun in summer. The rust red walls, sometimes teasing red, yellow and brown. An ancient place with the first recorded university, there are lots of students here and it is a young buzzing city, despite its age. In Emilia Romagna, an Italian province nestled between Milan, Florence, Venice and Genoa, it is actually two historical provinces, Emilia & Romagna, both with their own food & wine identity, but with common threads. Home to Parma ham, parmsesan cheese & balsamic vinegar, and those are just the most famous ones that you have heard of, it is also the home of pasta, specifically tagliatelle with ragu, lasagne, tortelloni and tortellini in brodo. There are several local breads, gnocco fritto (called torta fritta in Parma), a fried puffed bread that you stuff with salami, and tigelle, small patterned breads traditionally made in stacks of heated round terracotta tiles, now in pans over a fire. The capital, Bologna is a great city to start from. Easy on the eye, brown, orange and yellow buildings are lined with porticoes – arched walkways – which protect from the rain in winter and the sun in summer. It is a gorgeous bohemian city, the perfect size for a weekend exploring, and has much to offer in terms of trattorias, gelaterias and salumerias. It is a great base from which to explore the rest of  Emilia Romagna. Trains are reasonable and frequent, if you have a car, the countryside has lots to offer too and you would miss much if you didn’t explore it. Lambrusco and Sangiovese are the most prolific local wines. Lambrusco, a gorgeous sparkling wine, whose reputation has sadly suffered due to lots of cheap imitators in our supermarkets. My favourites were the dry sparkling reds and rosés, some rich and thick, and others light and transparent. Lambrusco is the wine of Emilia, which is perfect for clearing the palate after the rich foods usually cooked in butter there. Sangiovese is more commonly found in Romagna, where olive oil is the cooking fat of choice. Both use lard too. There are many dishes particular to this region that you should try in Bologna. Start with tagliatelle with ragu (there is no such thing as spaghetti bolognese in Bologna), then tortellini in brodo and lasagne. Every local you speak to has a preference and strong opinion on all of these dishes. The Bolognese ragu tends to be very meaty and served with a toothsome homemade tagliatelle. Some prefer the pasta thin, but not me, I was to discover. Where to Eat in Bologna   Sette Tavoli  A local recommended Settle Tavoli to me, a gorgeous local restaurant near the university. I say local in that there were really only locals there on a bustling weekday lunchtime. The room is cosy and small and the food is very good. The lunch menu is terrific value. I went classic and had a very good tagliatelle with ragu.  http://www.settetavoli.it/ Via Cartoleria, 15, 40124 Bologna, Italy Caminetto D’Oro Caminetto D’Oro is at the higher end. Bright and smart, the wine list here is very interesting with an extensive champagne list as well as lots of local and Italian wines. The menu is traditional, with some twists. I had a lovely porcini and black truffle papardelle which was on special on the day that I visited.  http://www.caminettodoro.it/ Via dè Falegnami, 4, 40121 Bologna, Italy Trattoria Anna Maria Now well on the tourist trail due to copious coverage, Trattoria Anna Maria is still serving very ood authentic dishes. Tortellini in brodo is the star dish here, tiny stuffed homemade pasta with mortadella, parmesan, prosciutto, nutmeg (the ingredients vary, but these are generally core), served in a clear meat broth. I also had the stinco al forno, another local dish, oven cooked pork shank. which was so tender, with the texture of confit duck, or similar. Trattoria Anna Maria, Via delle Belle Arti, 17, 40126 Bologna, Italy Trattoria da Leonida Trattoria da Leonida is one that I just happened on while very hungry. I spotted the bright sign and followed it down a small sunlight alley to find a lovely local restaurant. Ragu with tagliatelle, again (I was still early in the trip!) and a lovely starter of bresaola (air dried beef) and artichoke salad. A lovely terrace outside, and Lambrusco by the half bottle completed it. Good food and a very enjoyable place. Trattoria Leonida, Vicolo Alemagna, 2, 40125 Bologna, Italy Trattoria Montanara Montanara is another local trattoria, favoured by locals too. There is a terrace outside (although be warned, people will probably try to sell you stuff as they go past). The food is very good here, and I had an excellent tagliatelle with ragu, but there is lots more on offer. Half bottles of lambrusco are on offer too, which are perfect for solo diners (or dare I say, light drinkers!), which I was on this occasion. Solo dining is very much underrated. http://www.trattorialamontanara.com/ Trattoria Montanara, Via Augusto Righi 15/a, 40126 Bologna, Italy Serghei Tucked down a side street, Serghei came highly recommended. Favoured by locals, and local businessmen at lunch time, the room is very traditional and relaxed. The tortellini in brodo was delicate and tender, and it was time to try a new pasta shape, gramigna alla salsiccia (gramigna with sausages) which was excellent too. Sausage ragus (and ragus with some sausage in, along with beef and pork) were an eye opener and will become part of my repertoire, for sure. Serghei, Via Piella, 12, 40126 Bologna, Italy Drogheria della Rosa The most characterful of all the restaurants that I visited, Drogheria della Rosa doesn’t have  a menu, well they do, but it doesn’t have everything on and they don’t really want to give you it anyway. When we sat down we had a glass of prosecco poured and had a plate … Continue reading Where to Eat and Drink Like a Local in Bologna