General Discussion

Northern Italy, Holy Week, April 2019

bsprout | May 21, 201901:45 PM     3

We spent a lovely 11 days in Northern Italy just a a few weeks ago. I wanted to share with you where we ate, in case it is helpful to anyone, as so many of your suggestions have been to me in the past.

We flew in to Milan and rented a car. We weren't staying here on the way in, but I had an errand to run in the city before heading out to Bologna, which kind of got in the way of lunch plans in Modena. So while in Milan we stopped at a nearby Princi bakery for a quick and tasty lunch (they have sandwiches, salads, pizzas). It was a beautiful sunny day and we sat outside and enjoyed people watching in this aptly-named fashion capital. On the way to Bologna, we stopped in Modena. By the time we reached Modena it was late afternoon, so we checked out the Duomo and main piazza and went to Emilia Cremeria in Piazza Giuseppe Mazzini for gelato. I had the cannoli flavor (incredible and well worth seeking out; not all gelati are created equal!). http://www.cremeriaemilia.com/en

In Bologna we stayed just outside of the city center, in the suburb of San Donato, about a 20 minute bus ride from the Piazza Maggiore. Most of our dinners were within a 5-10 minute drive of our hotel. Dinner on the first night was at Trattoria della Gigina (http://www.trattoriagigina.it); everything was excellent. I had green (spinach) gnocchi filled with ricotta in a truffle cream sauce. For dessert I had panna cotta with a deliciously thick Italian balsamic vinegar. For wine we chose a bottle of Amarone (Zenato). The little 'ceremony' with which they opened our wine was such a treat: placing a little table in front of us with 3 glasses and pouring a little in and out of the 3rd glass so that my husband and I would have the perfect glass. I had never seen this before (although I would see it again during one or two other meals in Bologna), and this obvious reverence for wine was so impressive and enjoyable to watch.

Since all our dinners were heavy, I chose 'lighter' fare for lunch in Bologna, such as piadinas or pizzas. We had lunches in Bologna at the Mercato delle Erbe (touristy) and La Tua Piadina (not). I had intended to try a pizza place called O'Fiore Mio (behind the Basilica di San Francisco), but we weren't close by that day. For gelato, a highlight was La Sorbetteria Castiglione (http://www.lasorbetteria.it), which we went out of our way to find and is a must, if you're into gelato. Their special Emma flavor (caramelized fig) is spectacular! I paired it with gianduia (chocolate hazelnut. I'm still dreaming about this gelato and the one from Emilia Cremeria. I had also picked out Cremeria Santa Stefano but we didn't make it here. We tried the chain Il Gelato di San Crispino, next to the towers, and it was good but really paled in comparison to the texture and creaminess of La Sorbetteria. The only reason we didn't go back to La Sorbetteria is because we would've missed our slot to climb the Torre degli Asinelli (also recommended, btw).

Dinner at Danilo y Patrizia (http://www.ristorantedanilopatrizia.c... excellent. Here they brought out a delicious balsamic vinegar (Allambrusco) for our bread that I had never tried before and really liked. The brand was 'I Solai di San Giorgio,' and you can order it in the U.S., which I plan on doing at some point... Another dinner at Osteria della Pieve (http://www.osteriadellapieve.it) was a nice surprise. This is a beautiful yet unassuming 2 level restaurant in the middle of nowhere, with great ambiance and great food. I had eggplant parmesan tostini (kind of like a tartelette, without the crust), and pappardelle with shrimp. For the table we ordered a tagliere (tabla) of mixed sliced meats, which was accompanied by gnocco fritto (their typical fried pillows of dough) and several toppings (fig jam, olives, cheese, artichokes). Yum! Other dinners in Bologna were at Trattoria del Ghiottone (www.trattoriaghiottone.it), just outside the city walls; very close to the city center (charming, and lovely owner and staff). And we loved Osteria dell'Orsa Fuori (www.fuoriposta.osteriadellaorsa.com), the 2nd recently-opened sister restaurant to the one that's in the city-center. The one we went to was also located just outside the city walls, coincidentally on the same street and further down from Trattoria del Ghiottone. Here I had ricotta-filled tortelloni with butter, sage, and parsley, and a salad. So simple yet so delicious.

For Easter Sunday we were in Parma. My first choice was already fully booked almost 3 months in advance when I called to reserve (Antica Trattoria Leoni), and to say I was bummed is an understatement. Anyway, my second choice was Trattoria del Grillo (http://trattoriadelgrillo.com) on the outskirts of Parma, which was fantastic, except that they lost my reservation (and a few others' that day too, I would later come to learn). The owner's son was very gracious and apologetic about it, and they were miraculously able to give us a great table (larger than our party of 4), in the fully-packed and bustling restaurant. On the bright side, they were fully prepared for the crowd, with enough staff (front and back of house). We thought all of Parma was here, lol. We skipped dessert to have gelato again at Emilia Cremeria in the Parma city center. Later we had a chance to try the traditional Easter 'Colomba' [dove] cake, with mascarpone cheese - I was happy to try this since I think Easter is the only time it's served.

We were In Verona for pasquetta, the day after Easter and a Monday, when a lot of restaurants are closed anyway. We had lunch at L'Orologio, just outside the Piazza Bra. It's a pretty restaurant that doesn't get as mobbed by tourists as some of the places within the city walls. We had a nice Amarone wine here. I had a delicious salad of fennel and scamorza (like smoked mozzarella), etc., and polenta with mushrooms and grana padano cheese. My kids had pizzas which they enjoyed.

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