After arriving in bologna by train, we dropped our bags at the hotel and made our way to Trattoria Gianni (A la Vecia Bulagna) on Via Claveture, 18. This casual Slow Food trattoria is a bit off the street so you would not come upon it when walking. We arrived at 1pm to find only one table free. The menu offers no surprises, just great unfussy food of the region. We were both eager to try to famed tortellini in brodo and that did not disappoint. The difference between this and the versions I had had back in NY were quite remarkable. For second courses we selected from the menu of daily specials. I had baked rabbit , no surprises here but good stuff; my partner could not get enough of the pasta and so ordered strozzapretti a la Gianni, fresh pasta with tomato and prosciutto sauce. Dessert was a sinfully delicious zabaglione-type confection made with mascarpone and topped with crumbled crumbs of amaretti. With house wine and water, the bill came to about 50Euro for two. Closed Sunday night and Monday.
We had reserved in advance for dinner that night at another chowhound rec, Caminetto d"Oro, also a Slow Food place, about 10 minutes walk north of the Piazza off Via Independencia. This is a more upscale and innovative place with a contemporary look; most men were in jacket and tie. Service was very friendly and one of the waiters spoke excellent English, having just returned from a long visit to Florida. Dinner here began with a plate of the prized salumi of the region, culatello. With two excellent pastas (one with ragu and the other with rape and prosciutto); one secondi of baby lamb chops with fantastic roast potatoes, fennel, and zucchini; and a bottle of the local Lambrusco (I had to try it; it was as I had expected) the bill came to 75 Euro. Someone here has passion and interest in the current food scene, as I spotted many new books, including the Fernan Adria tome and others devoted to Spanish and other cuisines. The wine list is long and interesting. Again, advance reservations were essential. Via Falegnami, 4. Closed Tuesday dinner and Wednesday.
The next day we made it to Tamburini, which is among Italy's most celebrated food shops and truly a marvel. You can try some of the things you see here at their self-service, cafeteria-style lunch which is unlike any cafeteria I have ever visited. You can order whole or half-portions of the pasta dishes; there are also salads, vegetables, meat and fish dishes; wine and waters, etc. Nothing is labeled, you just point and are handed a plateful. With wine and water we paid under 10E for two lunches. The streets around the deli are packed with shops selling all of the foods of the region. Parmesan cheese, in various stages of ageing, is one of the best things to bring home; the prices are about half that in New York City and all of the shops will vacuum pack your cheese to bring on the plane. I was hoping to purchase a bottle of traditional balsamic vinegar but the savings was not so great as to merit carrying it back with me. For more food shopping, we also visited the Ugo Bassi market...more salivating and frustration at not being able to carry entire shops back home with us.
Food rating for Bologna: 10. Pounds gained during week in Italy including Bologna: 10.