Having just spent 4 days in Bologna on a 2 week northern Italy trip I thought I would write some comments on Bologna, since I have appreciated so much reading everyone else’s thoughts and gotten some really good ideas from this site.
Art Hotel Orologio - very cute hotel in a fabulous location right next to Piazza Maggiore. You are definitely paying more for the location. I think the prices are high for the actual hotel experience. But very importantly they have great windows which was crucial on May 1 (European Labor Day) when there was a day long, and into the night, concert in the piazza. The staff is extremely accommodating and helpful. On the negative side, the rooms are very small and tend to get stuffy at night and on May 1 they had not yet switched from heating to air conditioning. They were happy to provide a fan which made all the difference. Due to the location it is difficult to sleep with the windows open.
Housekeeping is adequate- towels aren’t straightened and it can take a few days for things in the room to be replenished but I have a feeling if you asked they would be happy to get you more of anything.
Drogheria della Rosa
I have read a variety of reviews of Drogheria della Rosa, but I have to say we had a very pleasant dinner there. We were read the menu and guided to try 4 pastas- raviolo stuffed with eggplant cream which was the best- even according to my non-eggplant eating husband. There was a tagliatelle with beef ragu, an orrechette with lamb ragu which was somewhat bland, and ravioli with zucchini flower and artichoke- also very tasty.
For main courses we tried the guinea hen which was very flavorful, a steak topped with balsamic which also had great flavor and was very tender and 2 of us shared the roasted veal, which they split but generously served us both equal portions of potatoes and vegetables. The veal had good flavor but was a bit on the fatty side. We shared a bottle of Ca’Grande Sangiovese, not being as discerning of our wine as we are of our food. Total bill was 140 euros for 4 people, which I thought was very reasonable. The owner was upset that our 2 husbands weren’t drinking wine and tried to give us a bottle of wine as a gift but we only left with the red roses he was handing out. I would definitely go back and I don’t think anyone should feel at all uncomfortable with the lack of a printed menu.
First of all, I love the idea of the father cooking and the 2 sons as the waiters here. What a comfortable, unprepossessing restaurant.
Having spent 5.5 hours on a Delicious Bologna food tour (more about that later), even by 8 pm we weren’t starving but hated to give up our reservation. Having checked the menu beforehand I knew they had large salads on the menu so we went. My friend and I had a salad of beautiful assorted greens, grana padano cheese flakes, walnuts and I realized afterwards it was supposed to have mushrooms that were missing, but it was still good and just what we were looking for. Our husbands had variations of greens with either sliced steak or bacon on top. My husband said it was the most full flavored meat he has had in a long time. But the place IL Tinello really shone was the desserts, something we rarely order and I had been told the Bolognese do not excel at. Papa was making tiramisu, which was a special and only on the menu when he feels like making it. It was ethereal- a hint of alcohol but really just a hint, a thin layer of chocolate ladyfingers and a towering layer of flavored cream.
Excellent. We had budino di riso-a typical dish from Bologna which we were warned had a strong amaretto flavor but I found delicious and just right. We also tried the crostata with Bolognese mostarda which is very different from anyone else’s mostarda I was told. Very good.
Again, with a half liter of more mediocre Sangiovese the total bill for 4 was 100 euros.
Spacca Napoli for pizza- our daughter studied in Bologna for a year so of course we had to come visit her twice. Both times we visited Spacca Napoli for pizza. Huge pies 2 or 3 people could share and a crust you could tell had had a long, slow, cool ferment. I thought my artichoke, grana padano, mozzarella with a ball of mozzarella di bufala thrown on for good measure was delicious.
My husband says the tomato sauce at Pizzartist was stronger and therefore superior.
That is a good segue into our Delicious Bologna food tour- Pizzartist was one of our stops. Good thin crust Roman pizza alla pala but for me Spacca Napoli was the winner if you are looking for pizza in Bologna. That being said, some of Pizzartist’s topping were very sophisticated- we tried that flavorful tomato ‘sauce’ with nettles and capers.
Not your average pizza, if such a thing even exists in Bologna.
Mattias does a nice tour. Coffee and cornetto at Terzi followed by a glimpse into a tiny pasta workroom. Then a bit of city tour followed by a very extensive charcuterie tasting with some cheese thrown in. We had an actual lunch (pasta course only) at a trattoria that I thought was adequate but not outstanding. We did get to try something you don’t see a lot of- Balazano, another traditional Bolognese stuffed pasta.
You can tell that Mattia really cares about Bologna and her specialty food producers and wants to share that with you. He is generous if you ask for something extra and wants everyone to walk away from the tour happy and satisfied.
Very nice restaurant in a totally different area of Bologna that you probably wouldn’t run across if you weren’t heading for it, but an easy walk from the Piazza Maggiore. They have more than one small dining room and we were in the sala Tortellini. We had Baby Artichokes in olive oil which were one of the best things I ate in Bologna. They have their own 30 month Parmesan which they call la Zocca. Better than the bio 24 month that we tried at Hombre.
The Guinea Hen in its own juices was delicious and the Tagliatelle with a traditional sauce of white onions and tomatoes was good and a nice change from pork centered pasta. The Eggplant Parmesan was lovely thin layers and full of good flavor. Not something you see a lot but again, a nice change. For dessert we tried the Zuppa Inglese which none of us were a fan of and a traditional ‘milk cake’ which was good. All in all a safe restaurant choice with good, solid and fairly reasonable prices.
We did a very nice vinegar tour at Acetaia Leonardi and got to taste 100 year old balsamic that was outstanding. We didn’t have a reservation and walked in and were able to get on a tour pretty easily. We also visited the Hombre Parmesan producing farm which is not a very commercial producer. If you get there by 9 o’clock you can see them making the actual parmesan balls for the day. This one I definitely recommend making a reservation ahead but it is pretty easy to do via email.
There are many very good posts on eating in the Piedmont so I am not going to review anything but just report that we had truly outstanding lunches at Osteria Veglio, Ristorante IL Centro and Trattoria La Coccinella . A person is lucky to eat at any of these places. What we did this trip that was different was a visit to a saffron farm which I will detail below.
This was a very different but interesting piedmont experience. We had been to Hombre Parmesan producer for a tour and Acetaia Leonardi for a tour, both outside of Bologna, but this was totally different. The tour of a saffron farm can be arranged by the Monforte Tourist office. Roberto, the owner, does not speak English but they will get a translator if you book ahead. It is more expensive than most tours-20 euros- but it includes a tasting at the end of many products they are making with saffron. You can go into the fields in addition to seeing a PowerPoint presentation of the whole process. And if you appreciate buying raw materials directly from the source it doesn’t get any more authentic than this- plus the pure saffron they sell is extremely reasonably priced. With saffron included in them we tasted panettone, biscuits, chocolate, meringues, Nutella made with saffron and donkeys milk, honey and we didn’t even start on the various grappas and liquors. In addition to selling the pure saffron they have a small cosmetics line and they will teach you the medicinal properties of saffron. Truly a unique experience.
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