We had a great week in Bologna (last week in April), followed by 3 really enjoyable days in Piacenza province and Pavia, to be reported upon separately. While Bologna does not have the iconic sights that take people to Rome Florence and Venice, it is nevertheless ancient, beautiful, distinctive, lively, rich in interesting experiences - and of course food - and mainly tourist free except in the area of the Quadrilatero and Piazza Ravegnana. We were very happy spending time there, with one day trip to Ravenna Ive already reported on.
We stayed in a very nice airbnb in Via Saragozza just around the corner from All'Osteria Bottega and also Trattoria di Collegio Spagna, another slowfood pick we were unfortunately unable to visit. The neighborhood was mellow, with a great local feel,not many minutes away from Piazza Maggiore and a 25 minute walk to the Station. Our routine was to eat our main meal out at lunch and dinner (to the extent we needed it) at home, which was about all we could handle due to the richness of the cuisine, despite walking an average of 10 mi per day. So in the end we had only about 6 restaurant meals in Bologna.
While I asked for best reccs for non-carb dishes, in the end I decided I could not visit Bologna and E-R without enjoying the pasta and sample the bread so you will see plenty of pasta described here. Bread is good in Bologna and every place served a different variety (surprise)
Our Bologna dining turned out to be at All'Osteria Bottega (two meals), Trattoria di Via Serra, Meloncello, Trattoria Twinside, and Trattoria Broccaindosso - I highly recommend all of the first three, with perhaps a slight edge to All'Osteria Bottega Twinside was also very good but with stool seating definitely not a place to linger, Broccaindosso acceptable but not a place I would seek out again. More below.
Friday night dinner and Thursday lunch at All' Osteria Bottega - very high quality of cooking, materials and hospitality at the highest price point we experienced but worth it. Our first meal was way too much because we were very hungry and wanted to sample everything. We walked in same day and were lucky to get a reservation, agreeing to a 7-9 time frame (as it happened not necessary to leave)W e were seated in a second room - actually a separate entrance from the main place, they seem to have expanded. Owners were very pleasant and hospitable, service was good, english speaking waiter.
- a plate of mortadella and culatello (they have a big range of cured meats, with culatello from both a local source and zibello - this might have been the former) with a dish of pickled baby artichokes (very good),
- salame rosa balls - very peppery, very good
- 2 sampler plates of Tagliatelle, one with the traditional ragu the other with a combination of prosciutto (or culatello) and their special sweet red medicina onion sauce (see pic). Tagliatelle were very fine and delicate, traditional ragu was truly excellent, flavorful also delicate, larger bits of meat than expected, the best of my experience. for second dish, the onion sauce was delicious - I was surprised at the size of the meat pieces and their chewiness against the delicate pasta(suffered by comparison to similar dishes in parma province) but overall with the onion sauce dish tasted really good
- two sampler plates of tortellini. one in brodo, the other cooked in brodo and then drained and dressed with butter and cheese. Husband very happy with these, to me not exceptional in flavor, not noticeably better or different from tortellini in NY (sorry)
- shared main, the breaded veal cutlet with prosciutto and parmigiano for two (I slipped half of this in a ziplock I happened to have for later, the meal was just too big). this dish huge and very well cooked but I would not go out of my way to have it again.
- fennel with cream and parmigiano, really excellent side this alone was worth the visit
- wine was a sangiovese riserva 2012, I Probi di Papiano, the first of a string of very good sangioveses, certainly the most expensive at 36E
- excellent whole grain bread
Second meal, walked in with no res for lunch at 2 pm.
We had, in addition to a warm welcome from the proprietress:
- strichetti (fresh pasta pinched in bowtie shape) with two livers - husband's best pasta of the trip, great flavor
- malfatti, fresh pasta squares with rabbit ragu
- braised beef with spinach and pickled onions
- lightly fried sweetbreads with fresh peas and a pea puree, a very light a pretty seasonal dish dish
- a big serving of zuppe inglese (good)
- our final sangiovese of the trip