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Bologna Restaurants

Al Cambio
Via Stalingrado 150
Tel: 051 328 118
Fax: 051 320 535

This lesser-known gem located outside Bologna's city walls is worth the trek. Chef Massimo Poggi, considered to be one of Italy's promising young chefs, whips up creative versions of classic dishes. Specialties include tortellini with scampi, green lasagna, and chocolate hazelnut ice cream.

All'Osteria Bottega
51 Via Santa Caterina
Italy 40123
Tel: 39 051 585 111

This serious neighborhood osteria, not far from the Porta Saragozza town gate, celebrates the humble pig in all its gastronomic guises, from Parma ham aged for 30 months to gramigna con salsiccia (curly pasta shapes in tomato and sausage sauce). Host Daniele Minarelli is a highly knowledgeable gourmet and wine buff, and it pays to follow his prompts. The tortellini in chicken broth is exquisite; among the secondi try the cotoletta alla Bolognese—a huge veal cutlet fried in breadcrumbs, then wrapped in thin slices of ham and coated in melted parmesan. They also serve an excellent Bolognese dessert called torta di riso, a moist rice cake flavored with crumbled amaretti biscuits, candied fruit, almonds, and lemon peel. This place is well known on the city's foodie circuit and it only seats 24, so book ahead.

Open Tuesdays through Sunday afternoons.

Via Emilia Levante 111
Tel: 051 546 110

Visiting gourmets and locals rave about the fresh local cuisine that has earned this popular dining spot a Michelin star. Housed in a wedge-shaped building outside the city (but worth the trip), the restaurant has operated as a trattoria since 1834. The main room has an arched ceiling, windows, and wood beams; a smaller, more intimate dining area is paneled with dark wood and features a skylight and wall paintings. Specialties include tortellini filled with herbs and hazelnut butter, turbot with crisp artichokes, and a wine list with more than 400 names. The vegetarian and tasting menus are also outstanding.

Via Indipendenza 24
Tel: 051 231 302

This 1920s restaurant located near Piazza Maggiore was once considered the high palace of Bolognese cuisine. It still does justice to the basics—tortellini soup, tagliolini with butter and truffles to name a few—and suited waiters continue to showily carve meat tableside. For dessert, try the popular rice tarts or semifreddo Diana (ice cream cake).

Drogheria della Rosa
10 Via Cartoleria
Italy 40124
Tel: 39 051 222 529

Bohemian chic is the key mood in this funky gourmet bistro. In a designer-cluttered former druggist's emporium, with ancient glass jars still intact on the shelves, chef Emanuele Addone meets and greets his regular guests with in-crowd familiarity. Addone's tendency to hold court and the lack of anything like a printed menu would grate if the food weren't so damn good. Recited a voce, the day's spread might consist of tortelli filled with runny Squacquerone (cream) cheese and topped with artichokes, or lightly grilled swordfish served with seasonal vegetables. Desserts are delicious—but you might prefer to end a memorable meal with a gelato at the Sorbetteria Castiglione just around the corner.

Open Mondays through Saturdays.


As befits a city that takes its food seriously, Bologna can boast a handful of ice-cream emporiums that are the equal of anything in Rome, Florence, or Naples. The high temple of the local gelato cult is Sorbetteria Castiglione, a gleaming modern space that's so spotless it looks more like a laboratory than an ice-cream shop. And in one way it is: Since opening in 1994, the Sorbetteria has been at the forefront of gelato experimentation; not only are all the ingredients carefully sourced (Piedmontese hazelnuts, Sicilian pistachios, lemons from the Sorrentine peninsula), but the gelati are low in sugar (fructose is used instead) and contain no gluten; there are also milk-free and egg-free flavors. Most importantly, though, they're delicious: Creamy combos like the Dolce Emma (ricotta and figs caramelized in grape must) or the Guglielmo (coffee-flavored mascarpone and caramelized cocoa beans) vie for one's attention with more than a dozen seasonal fruit sorbets, including lemon, raspberry, and cinnamon-dusted apple. You can even have your gelato served between two slices of sweet focaccia. Other great Bolognese ice-cream outlets include the Gelatauro, in the University district, where three Calabrian brothers bring a taste of the warm South to their blends of strictly organic ingredients—witness flavors like the Principe di Calabria (bergamot and jasmine) or orange chocolate (made with top-quality Amadei cocoa). Another top spot is the ever-popular Gianni, the closest to Piazza Maggiore, where alongside the standard flavors are fantasy melds with kooky names like "Dove vai?" (zabaglione, gianduia, and coffee with crumbled ladyfingers and chocolate) and "Cosa vuoi da me?" (Amaretto and hazelnut).

Marco Fadiga Bistrot
23c Via Rialto
Italy 40124
Tel: 39 051 220 118

Tucked away in a courtyard, this in-crowd diner weds the informality of a Parisian bistro with the culinary intensity of serious Italian chef Marco Fadiga—a young protégé of Milanese super-chef Gualtiero Marchesi. So the walls are painted in raunchy hues, Piaf is playing on the stereo, and the menu is chalked on a portable blackboard—but the dishes themselves are ambitious creations like sea bass tartar with a salad of apricots, mango, chervil, and almonds, or stracchino-filled ravioli served in a sauce of cime di rapa (turnip tops) and anchovies. Some of the combos, like the salmon marinated in coffee, are a little too daring for their own good, but most of Fadiga's intuitions work, and with the strong emphasis here on seafood (including oysters delivered daily), fruit, and vegetables, the late-closing Bistrot offers light relief from Bologna's meaty, calorific traditional cuisine.

Open Tuesdays through Saturdays 7:30 pm to 12:30 am and Sundays for lunch.

240a Via Saragozza
Italy 40135
Tel: 39 051 614 3947

Nestled along the covered portico leading up to San Luca, this tiny trattoria is easy to miss. But its unassuming facade belies the basic but delicious dishes served inside. Favorites include meatballs in tomato sauce (considered the city's best), stuffed rabbit, osso buco (braised veal shanks), handmade pastas including knockout tortelli di ricotta, homemade semifreddo, and the traditional rice desert torta di riso, plus any of the excellent wines. You may want to work the meal off by trekking up to the sanctuary—or build an appetite by running up and back before your meal.

Nicola's Pizzeria
Piazza San Martino 9
Tel: 051 23 2502

Bologna's best pizzeria serves up crispy pies with scrumptious toppings in a quiet square near Montagnola and the Ghetto. Best to visit when the weather is good and white-clothed tables line the pavement. Carb counters will enjoy the excellent fish dishes.

3 Piazza della Mercanzia
Italy 40125
Tel: 39 051 23 2807

A Bolognese institution, the "Parrot" is housed in a medieval building near the city's two leaning towers. The comfortable but rather demode restaurant is a favorite of the rich and famous, whose signed photos line the walls. There's nothing nouvelle about the cuisine, but the kitchen here can be relied on to serve up impeccable tortellini, filling lasagna verde, and—a house specialty—turkey breasts baked in white wine, Parmesan, and truffles. A well-stocked wine cellar features some 250 labels.

Scacco Matto
63b Via Broccaindosso
Italy 40125
Tel: 39 051 263 404

When you can't bear the thought of yet more tortellini, head for this southern Italian restaurant just inside the walls near Porta di San Vitale. The owner comes from Basilicata—the region in the instep of the Italian boot—and the menu has an original Mediterranean touch, with dishes like licorice-flavored maccheroncini (little macaroni) with artichokes and shrimp, or seared alalunga (albacore tuna) served with ginger-marinated persimmons and mostarda di peperoncino (spicy relish). The sober dining room with its unforgiving wooden chairs is pepped up with framed sets of tarot and Neapolitan cards and chessboards (the restaurant's name means "checkmate"). Although the vibe can be a little flat at lunchtime on weekdays, it buzzes here most evenings, so book at least a day in advance.

Open Monday evenings through Sundays.

12 Via Piella
Italy 40126
Tel: 39 051 233 533

In the canal district east of Via Indipendenza, this eight-table family-run trattoria is a bastion of traditional Bolognese cuisine. Don't be fooled by the homey appearance of the warm wood-paneled dining room lined by dusty bottles: Serghei's fabulous cooking and convivial vibe attract fashion designers, university professors, and captains of industry as well as local artisans. The pasta is all homemade: Don't miss the melt-in-the-mouth ricotta and spinach tortelloni, served with butter and sage or Gorgonzola sauce. The hearty secondi include zucchini stuffed with polpettine (meatballs) in tomato sauce; in winter, polenta with spuntature (pork ribs) also puts in an appearance. There are some good regional bottles on the wine list.

Open Mondays through Fridays.

Via Mirasole 19
Tel: 051 585 857

This is not your grandfather's trattoria. Chef Silverio Cineri's new Bolognese cuisine challenges the palate with parmesan cheese gelato, sage-spiced lemon sorbet, and egg pasta with wild nettles. Great for terrace dining in summer.

Trattoria Battibecco
Via Battibecco 4
Tel: 051 223 298

This Michelin-starred restaurant specializes in seafood but also turns out a delicious tagliolini with eggplant and scampi or goose breast with honey and walnut salad. Chef/owner Nico Costa keeps the standard high, with impeccable service and an excellent wine list. Spanish brickwork and small niches make the restaurant cozy. In summer, ask to eat on the porch.

Trattoria Fantoni
Via del Pratello 11a
Tel: 051 236 358

This traditional trattoria near the Church of San Francesco is not only tasty and affordable, it even has the requisite red-and-white-checkered tablecloths. The menu changes daily, with such specialties as macaroni Norma style, grilled meats, seafoods, seasonal veggies, bread, and cake, plus several good local wines. This place is always crowded, so book ahead.

Trattoria Meloncello
Via Saragozza 240a
Tel: 051 614 3947

Nestled along the covered portico leading up to San Luca, this tiny trattoria is easy to miss. But its unassuming facade belies the basic but delicious dishes served inside. Favorites include meatballs in tomato sauce (considered the city's best), stuffed rabbit, ossobuco, handmade pastas, a homemade semifreddo, and any of the excellent wines. Many diners work off the meal by trekking up to the sanctuary.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.