Everybody has his or her own favorite way of spending a vacation – somebody likes exploring local attractions, others like getting new entertainment experience or simply go shopping.
Without a doubt, in Bologna you can do anything you like. But, in fact, sightseeing or shopping is not the main reason of Bologna’s popularity, since most travelers actually go there just to eat! After all, the best representatives of Italian cuisine, such as Parma ham, prosciutto, balsamic vinegar, lasagna, pecorino, parmesan and Lambrusco have originated in Emilia Romagna region, the capital of which is Bologna.
Of course, you could argue that Italian cuisine can be enjoyed in any place of Italy. However, you aren’t quite right with this affirmation, because you can learn the real taste of a dish only in the region of its origin. So, let’s find out what dishes Bologna is proud of, and what specialties you need to try there.
#1 Ragu ‘alla Bolognese
Probably, everyone knows the recipe of Pasta Bolognese – tomato sauce mixed with minced meat and served with noodles. However, in the region of Emilia-Romagna you will never be served spaghetti under the sauce, as most housewives usually do. The original sauce is served with hand-made noodles called “tagliatelle”. This is the highlight of many restaurants in the region.
#2 Lasagna verdi ‘alla Bolognese
This is a version of the classic lasagna, to which chopped spinach is added. The layers of thin dough get covered with Bologna ragout, bechamel sauce, grated Parmesan cheese and afterwards baked in the oven.
#3 Tortellini, Tortelloni, Anolini
These are not the dumplings called “tortellini” that most of us usually buy in the supermarkets. Tortellini and tortelloni are quite distant from what we usually call dumplings and they are mostly stuffed with fresh ricotta. This type of pasta is so famous that it even has a day devoted to it – the 13th of February. Most often, anolini, tortellini and tortelloni are served in broth and it is one of the most popular dishes at local restaurants.
#4 Mortadella di Bologna
Made from the finely minced pork with the addition of spices, Mortadella is the most famous sausage product of Bologna, known since the 16th century. It has a subtle and specific aroma and a delicate flavor. It is served as a snack, and is added to the stuffing for some kinds of pasta.
Piadina is a typical bread of the region, which has the size of a small pizza. The locals use it to make various kinds of panini sandwich, which is very popular in Emilia-Romagna. There is even a special pan for making piadina. The bread is stuffed with various fillings like soft cheese, parma ham and arugula.
#6 Certosino di Bologna
This is a typical Christmas cake of Bologna made of flour, honey, candied fruit, almonds, pine nuts, chocolate, raisins, anise seeds and cinnamon. It is also called “specialty bread”. Certosino can be stored up to several months, and is considered a great Christmas present.
#7 Torta di riso (rice cake)
This is a typical sweet dish of Bologna, consisting of rice boiled in milk, with the addition of grated almonds, sugar, eggs and grated lemon peel.
#8 Gelato (ice-cream)
For sure, you won’t find an ice-cream of such a great quality and incredible taste anywhere else, but in Bologna! There is even Gelato University established in Bologna, where students learn how to make ice-cream of fruits and berries, chocolate and vanilla, as well as of very exotic products such as olive oil, cheese, basil and red wine.
So, at the moment you know what specialties Bologna offers to its guests. But, now you probably want to know about the places, where you could try them…
Well, as for the restaurants in Bologna it is difficult enough to advise any particular place, because there are lots of them and they all serve good food. Nevertheless, there are a few restaurants, which are strongly recommended to visit.
You can easily find this restaurant if you are in the city’s historic center. The extensive menu offers lots of traditional dishes. Don’t miss the opportunity to try their handmade pasta and a meat of excellent quality. Make sure you reserve a table beforehand. Otherwise, you might not find a seat there.
Taverna del Postiglione
This restaurant is also located in the center of Bologna, in a historic building, just a few steps from the famous towers and Piazza Maggiore. The menu includes traditional dishes of Bologna in conjunction with modern tastes, e.g. pasta with cheese, pear and walnut filling, pasta with pork sauce and others.
Pane vino e San Daniele
This restaurant is the typical Italian Trattoria, located in the city’s central part. The menu offers a variety of appetizers, ranging from a simple sandwich with ham and mortadella to pasta dishes, soups and salads, the ingredients of which, including dressing, you can choose yourself.
The restaurant is located not far from the central square. If you get tired of Bolognese cuisine with its huge portions, you can go to Battibecco, which provides excellent service, delicious food and a great wine list.
By the way, many travelers say that Bolognese cuisine tastes best of all not in Bologna, but in its suburbs! So, if you are a true gourmet or simply a very curious person, you can take an affordable rental car and go there to check whether it’s true or not.
In short, if you want to try the most delicious lasagna, mortadella, pasta and other famous Italian food, you know where you need to go. Even if you’re familiar with these Italian dishes, be sure that in Bologna you will feel another, more exquisite taste of them. Hopefully, after visiting Bologna, you will fall in love with Italy even more, and not only because of its countless beauties, but also due to its incomparable cuisine!