Spent six days in October 2008 in Bologna and thought to hare some eating experiences
1) Book Melonocello well in advance. It's impossible to get into if you don't.
2) If you go anywhere in italy at this time of year be aware that some of the 'best' restaurants maybe empty and while we all agree the food is important it's pretty uncomfortable to be the only ones eating in a place
3) Eating on a Monday in Bologna is difficult. Make sure you research what's open before you go
4) We found trattorias some of the best places t eat. We booked GIANNI'S the day before. It's down an alley off Via Clavature by Bistro Rosa Rose. It was packed when we arrived at 8.30pm and a great atmosphere. O ur delightful waiter spoke English and we ordered the mixed antipasti as suggested which included two types of prosciuto, salami, a delicious creamy mortadella puree, mozzarella in carozza , a dab of butter (very unusual to find) and brushcetta, served with tiny brown and white rolls.
Our primi were a pasta I think called stringi( they wouldn't give me a menu as they said they only had a few but suggested photographing the menu outside the restaurant). They were thin string like threads with a thick rich ragu sauce. Dry as everywhere we had eaten by which I mean not very saucy as we are used to outside of Italy, but very tasty. The tortelli stuffed with pork and beef sausage, ricotta and radicchio were sublime and covered in melted butter. Very silk. We drank a bottle of Sangiovese di Romanga 05 by Perdiccha. It tasted a bit harsh to start with ( maybe because it was young) but improved in the glass. 18.00 euros . I hink the wine prices in the restaurants are much fairer than in the States and UK int terms of mark up. We shared a plate of chicory with a dash of peppericino flakes which was perfect but was too oily. For our secondi we shared a plate of tender medium rare pork sliced and covered in a creamy porcini sauce. Strong mushroom flavor, tender and totally delicious. It was served with the best mashed potato, made with milk, butter Parmesan and a a dash of nutmeg.
The desserts sounded great, a cream gelato with hot berry sauce, ciocolato cakes and pannacotta and zuppe inglese, but i couldn only manage a lemon sorbet. Total bill 75 euros plus I left another six as the waiter said service was not included. See a separate posting for this subject as it's very confusing.
5) On a Saturday we just managed to get a booking at TONY'S TRATTORIA on Via Rhigli off Via Independenzia by agreeing to coming at 9.45. He had nothing available for the rest of that week. Again packed when we arrived at 9.30 pm with a wonderful atmosphere going on.
We had the homemade tortellini in capon broth - no words to describe this simple dish, I could have eaten if forever. We had a tortelli with ragu, very nice. Again we shared a dish of pork sliced and covered with a truffle and porcini gravy, very nice but not as good as at GIANNIS . Their mixed salad had a dressing of 'old' balsamic vinegar on it,which was the best I'd tasted but I didn't feel inclined to spend 27 euros on a bottle or 88 euros for the 100 year old stuff, as I'd already purchased far too much elsewhere. We drank a Lambrusco Cardinale Pighini - L. Grasparosso Seco which was dry and tasty.Cost about 55 euros total for the meal.
6) The only pizza we managed to eat was at NICOLA's PIZZA known to everyone , with miserable staff but in a lovely square and with absolutely delicious wood oven pizza. My husband chose one with tomato, mozzarella, pork sausage, onion and mozzarella and although it was a bit burned around the edges, was the best we'd eaten so far in Italy.The crust may well have had some semolinea flour in it. Bear in mind the count was up to twelve by now and we didn't; travel to 'good' pizza areas.
I made the mistake of ordering Sphagetti Vongole, which was a bit mean with the clams and lacking in taste, but not texture. In the end I asked for some garlic on oil to add some flavour.
the wine was a half litre of the frizzante Pinot and it was light tasting. Together with a bottle of water the bill came to 29 euros.
7) On a monday we ate at Biagli della Grada on Via della Grada, a litttle difficult to find and a huge restaurant. There were only seven of us eating in total, but the waitress was a sweetheart. We ordered a bottle of Chianti Classico Peppoli (Antiniori 2006) which was a reasonable 21.00 euros, soft and delicious. To start we had a platter of mixed meats, super smoked ham and a delicious salami. The very thin flat bread tatyed very floury to us so we stuck with the rolls. (BBy the way, the bread in restaurants always seemed superior to that which we purchased in bakeries). For our primi we chose a rissotto with zuma (pumpkin) and tiny pieces of smoked cheese. it was cooked to perfection with the cheese just put on top at the last moment. A great mix of flavors. We also ordered taglietelle ragu with a very strong meaty taste. We shared cotoletta a thin piece of breaded veal covered in ham and melted mozzarella and manzo, thin slices of beef cooked medium rare and very tender. Both dishes were served with tiny oven baked potatoes and we also ordered a grilled gratined vegetabels. The tomato was not as sweet as it could have been but the griller eggplant and the zucchini were lovely and smoky. Only a sorbet for dessert and the total bill was 99.00 euros. It was worth it just for the rissotto alone.
8) On Wednesday we ate locally on Via San Felice at a local trattoria, Trattoria DANIO that had been packed on Sunday lunchtime. No reservation was needed and they had a huge back room. A little handwirtten sign in the front window said that homemade handmade pasta had been made in the restaurant for 37 years, and next to it was a pile of flour with an egg dropped in the center. It was packed with locals in for a quick dinner, students, foreigners, and very down hom and simple. Wait staff helpful and friendly. We ordered tortellin with pasticcio and cream sauce ( the bst yet) and I had tortelli verde stuffed with ricotta and with a truffle sauce. It was a dream. Tortelli was a little tougher than some but probably because it was made with spinach. We followed it with a light risotto with shrimp, which was excellent. I made the mistake of ordering two side dishes. The fried artichokes were covered in a thick batter and so were the olives stuffed with beef. Would have been tasty to have one of them as an appetizer but it was all too much. My husband said that the artichokes would have been great with a spring roll sauce! I had some strawberries (underripe and out of season so it serves me right) but still good with lemon juice and sugar. We drank a liter of the cold house red, very acceptable and the total bill was euros 47.