Since this board was so helpful in planning my trip to Venice and Bologna, I wanted to chime in on where we went and what was good. Previous thread here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/994255
Venice for New Year's Eve through Jan 2nd.
Had a very great prix fixe meal at CoVino (the wine bar related to Al Covo) for New Year's eve. The wine was excellent, the pasta course was amazing. Secondis were very good. All told it was a great casual pick for new year's eve to get us to San Marco in plenty of time.
New Year's day we got a light lunch at a small place right next to Rialto based almost entirely on the view and not on the food. The food was surprisingly good. My wife got a delicious gnochhi and my seafood antipasti was fresh and delicious. Can't remember the name of the place but it was a store or two down from Ristorante Florida on the grand canal. Considering it looked like a huge tourist trap and we were just trying to get anything to eat considering it was New Year's morning, we were pleasantly surprised.
Dinner on New Year's day we went to Poste Vechie and it was a horrendously bad experience. We were seated promptly but it literally took 45 minutes before they would let us order. The entire time the table runners and the servers were trying to help, but I guess the main server is the only one 'allowed' to take the order so we sat there and waited and were even denied ordering 2-3 times as the main server walked past us. No joke, 4 different groups that were seated after us got up and left without actually ordering because they could not stand the wait. We were already pot committed so stuck it out but it was without a doubt the worse service I have ever seen at a restaurant. To make matters worse, it wasn't even busy. It was simply the main server being a complete pain to the shagrin of his co-workers who were feeling the wrath of the others. At one point, a fellow english speaker who had already paid and was leaving, got up, walked by me, and goes "Good Luck trying to order, you are going to be here for awhile, but it's worth it." I am not sure I totally agree with him, but the pastas were pretty good. I got a black pasta (can't remember if it was squid ink or cuttlefish) with crab meat which was delicious. My wife's pasta, a green fettuccine was a little less memorable but still very good. The secondi, grilled prawns was completely was a complete dud. All told, 2 hours of my life I would love to have back.
For ciccetti, we went to a bunch of very good places, most of whose names escape me at this point but I do remember Bancogiro and Arco being among my favorites.
We arrived in Bologna on Friday, Jan 2 and had dinner at Serghei, but first enjoyed some wine, meats, and cheeses from Tamburini before we headed to Serghei. Considering the somewhat mixed reviews we had heard on here and on tripadvisor about ordering at Serghei, we were expecting a bit of an ordeal with the pay off being great food. In reality, the service was impeccable, the food excellent, and it left me wondering where the reviews came from. First, we got there a little early and surveyed the menu outside, deciding on what we wanted and taking a picture of the menu just in case we had to make impromptu decision. We were seated and immediately given menus. From the looks of it, I am pretty sure the restaurant only has one set of menus which may be why others have had such a difficult time getting one. I started with the tortellini in brodo which was delicious. My wife got the tortelloni with butter and sage. We got the guinea fowl and the rabbit for our mains. Both of those were good but the pastas were definitely the highlight. I wish we had gotten another round of pastas because they were excellent. We also had a very good zabaione with amaretto and chocolate sauce. It was the best dessert we had in a restaurant in italy (Although not as good as some of the wonderful cannolis and sfogiatalle we had at various bakeries). All told, Serghei was a great low key meal and I would encourage anyone to get past the supposedly difficult in ordering and just get there a few minutes early to figure out what you want if you are nervous about going off menu.
Saturday we woke early and went on a food tour organized by "Italian Days" and led by Allessandro. This was without a doubt the highlight of our trip in Italy and Spain. I could not recommend this trip more highly. They picked us up in Bologna and drove us to a Parmesan Reggiano factory. The four of us (three people and one guide) were the only ones in the factor other than the 6-8 workers who were busy making the cheese. We spent 1.5 or so watching them make the cheese, seeing the cheese room, learning the inns and outs of the process, and finally tasting the cheese as well as some cheese of various ages (with a bit of Lambrusco as well). We then headed off to a small balsamic producer and went through the balsamic process for about an hour, finally ending with tasting the 12 and 25 year balsamics by themselves, on gelato, ricotta, and some other things, washing it all down with some of their own nocino. Fantastic. Then, to top it all off, Allessandro took us to some small restaurant up in the hills outside of Modena where I am pretty sure we got to try everything on the menu. Tortellini in brodo, fried tortelloni, parma ham, mortadella, tigelle, gnocchi, tagliatelle and bolognese, and about 5 other pastas all of which were better than the last. Through in a fiorentina steak, a dessert of pears and balsamico, panna cotta, and some nocino. It was truly a one of a kind taste of Emilia Romagna. Allessandro was GREAT and the tour was even better. I highly recommend this for anyone looking to see and taste how these products are made and get an authentic experience.
After a morning and most of the afternoon of eating, we almost decided to take it easy, but one thing I was still dying to try was Culatello di Zibello which I managed to see at the shop at Tamburini the day before. We headed over there, ordered from the deli (not the wine bar), and took out 80Euro a kg meat for a tasting in the square. It was delicious although I am not entirely sure if it was so much more delicious than the dozen or so fantastic pork products I had already had on the trip. Definitely glad I was able to find it and try though. Dinner that night was a simple snack of tigelle with some gnocchi from a small bar right around Tamburini after we decided to cancel our reservation at Sale Grosso for fear we wouldn't have enough of an appetite. We started with some drinks and decided we needed to supplement that with some more pasta. It was good but nothing that needs repeating.
Sunday we decided to take a cooking class with Il Sallatto di Penelope. Barbara and Valerie taught us how to make bolognese, butter & Sage sauce, and a pomodoro sauce to go with the Tagliatelle, tortelloni, and potato gnocchi. They were great and the class was excellent. I would definitely recommend to those looking to take a cooking class in bologna. We have already come back and tried to replicate some of the techniques we learned, and although we still need practice, we at least partially cured our hankering for some delicious pasta upon our return to the states.
Dinner that night was at going to be a Da Gianni but it was suggested by a few people in bologna that we try Scacco Mattco instead since we were looking to try something other than the local pastas after having had our fill that morning. We did the 5 course fish tasting menu and while it was all very good, none of it was memorable enough that I would venture back there if I ever found myself in Bologna again.
All told, a wonderful trip and despite many places being closed for the holidays, we managed to have some truly memorable and delicious food experiences.
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