A Week In Bologna? 7 Pasta Delicacies For You!

Bologna is a beautiful city in Northern Italy. You can take pictures with the leaning tower, wander through the streets of Quandrilatero, visit the Museum of History and enjoy Bolognese specialties. Bolognese pasta delicacies lure many tourists every year. I am listing down the best pasta dishes you must try in Bologna and where to find them. If you spend a week in Bologna, you can try one special pasta dish every day.

A Bologna classic... Lasagne. The best I ever had. Ever.
Lasagne in Bologna? Hungry now!

Tortellini.

Tortellini name after the belly-button as they do appear like a navel. There is an interesting story about how Tortellini came into existence. Once, Pope’s daughter, Lucrezia Borgia stayed at an Inn in the town of Castelfranco Emilia. The Innkeeper finding her extremely beautiful, tried to peep through the keyhole in her room and got a glance of her beautiful navel. Impressions of her navel never left the mind of the Innkeeper and he made Tortellini during the euphoric state he was unable to get out of.
Tortellini are delicious and generally served in broth of chicken or beef. Generally, they contain a mixture of meat and sometimes cheese. These small parcels filled with so many different flavors are so delicious that you will keep craving for more even if you are full.

Where to try
You can try delicious Tortellini at Trattoria Anna Maria, but make sure it’s not Monday, as they are closed on Monday.

Lasagne

One of the finest Italian cuisine, you just cannot afford to miss this one while you are in Bologna. The key ingredients for Lasagne are Bolognese sauce and fresh pasta. Many places claim to be the birth place of Lasagne, but generally, Bologna is accepted as its place of origin. Sheets of Lasagne Pasta are layered with Parmesan, bolognese sauce, bechamel, etc. and baked to produce the best flavors for your taste buds. Some people also recommend to let the lasagne settle for one day and expect a better texture and flavor on the second day.
Lasagna appears to be as a tower of food and they are, so maybe the architecture of Bologna inspired the cooks to build a tower of foods.

Where to try
A restaurant, not so far from Downtown, with an amusing decor, Osteria Satyricon serves amazing Lasagne.

Tortelloni

They are stuffed mainly with with ricotta cheese and spinach, look like Tortellini, but 2-3 times larger in size. They are generally served with melted butter, Parmesan and sage or ragu. Though Tortelloni sound and look like Tortellini, but they taste entirely different. Extremely thin dough is rolled and being larger in size, obviously more fillings go in Tortelloni. Tortelloni contains mainly veggies and ricotta and generally easier to digest as greens contain more fibers. Other than ricotta and spinach, other ingredients like  parmesan, nutmeg find their place in the fillings of Tortelloni.

Where to try
Ristorante Diana, located close to eight square parking August.

Passatelli

Passatelli means, ‘to pass them through’. A special tool, iron for passatelli is used to give it its typical form. Pasta dough balls are pressed and cut when they are around 4 cms long. Passatelli are composed of stale breadcrumbs, grated parmesan cheese and eggs. They are prepared in broth traditionally, but nowadays preparation may include tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, prawns and many other ingredients. Passatelli are poured into boiling chicken stock and it lets them absorb all the flavor from the stock inside out. They are eaten generally in the evening.

Where to try
Trattoria dal Biassanot. It is advisable to book a table in advance, especially if you are planning to go there on a weekend.

Tagliatelle

They look like flat ribbons and prepared with egg pasta. It is said that a court chef took inspiration from Lucrezia D’Este’s hairstyle at her marriage and then keeping that in mind, prepared ribbon like pasta and tried to match the hair of Lucrezia with his dish. Later on, it came out to be a humorous story cooked by Augusto Majani.
A gold replica of tagliatelle has been kept in glass case at the Chamber of Commerce, Bologna.

Ragu’ is one of its main ingredients and you can find many different variations of it throughout the Italy. There is no one variety of ragu’ which is better than the rest, it simply varies with individual preferences. Tagliatelle go particularly well with meaty and earthy sauces and that’s why Bolognese sauce is the most served sauce with Tagliatelle.

Where to try
You can try them at Osteria Dell’Orsa near Piazza Maggiore. They don’t accept reservations and open everyday from 12:30.

Cannelloni.

Cannelloni at Ti Piacera

Fine pasta sheets are rolled into cylinders and make them suitable to contain all kinds of fillings from spinach, and ricotta being the most traditional. It is browned in the oven to bring out all the flavors of ingredients and topped with besciamella before being served.

Where to try

Antica Trattoria del Pontelungo, located in the outskirts. You can make reservations for your convenience.

Rosette

These rolled pasta hold together the flavors of cheese, ham and egg to let you savor all the goodness in each bite. Some people also like to add nutmeg in the ingredients. These rolled and cut pieces of pasta containing the goodness of Parmesan, ham and other ingredients are cooked lightly in the over for 20 minutes before they are soft and delicious.

Where to try
Trattoria Aldina, located in the Modena Town Centre, just 20 minutes by train from Bologna, Open only for lunch, no reservation taken. In a lovely ambiance, you will find your rosette even more delicious.

So, let your taste buds go for a joyride with the ingredients of these awesome pasta delicacies in Bologna. I am sure, your love for pasta will bring you back to Bologna over and over again, just like many fellow travelers. I am sure after trying all the listed dishes, you will fall in love with Pasta all over again. All the suggested restaurants provide a very distinct ambiance that certainly make your food more delicious in an unknown way. So, not just beautiful places like Piazza Maggiore, San Luca or Archiginnasio will bring you back to Bologna, but the food will compel you to travel to Bologna again.

Bologna: Review of Trattoria Anna Maria

The Trattoria Anna Maria is a restaurant located in the historical heart of Bologna. The cozy and homely atmosphere definitely remind the customer of the history of the establishment, opened in 1985, and that of Bologna and of the Bolognese cooking tradition.
The trattoria is furnished simply, so that the customers will be able to enjoy the high-quality and handmade dishes of the Emilian tradition of the city and they’ll be able to do so in a setting that welcomes interaction and merrymaking between the people seated at the table, as is typical during an Italian meal!

image
Tortellini in brodo di cappone

The Trattoria Anna Maria prides itself in its selection of local dishes, perfectly in line with what a tourist might be looking for when choosing to sample traditional cuisine. For example, among the first courses served here we cannot fail to mention tortellini, tagliatelle, tortelloni with filling and lasagne, all made with ragù, the traditional meat sauce that accompanies most of the pasta-based dishes of Emilia-Romagna. Among the second courses offered by the trattoria, we have game, such as rabbit (which is a delicacy and a very savory dish that is highly recommended!), guinea-fowl and capon dishes, and again duck or various cuts of pork prepared according to recipes handed down through the generations.
The dishes I’ve ordered have all been presented somewhat simply, but that only contributes in avoiding distractions for the customer, who can then focus on the true tastes of Bolognese dishes.
As the first course of my meal, I had tortellini with capon broth, different than regular chicken-stock broth as it’s more savory and genuine, according to the traditional recipe of grandmothers who prepared this type of dish for the Sunday lunch. The portion was generous and the tortellini were fairly good.
Despite being famous for the first courses of meat-filled pasta, the meat-based dishes of the trattoria were especially well prepared and surprised me for their high quality. I ordered a roast of pork shin-bone, accompanied by a small portion of baked potatoes that was excellent.
I’ve also ordered two typical desserts, a “zuppa inglese” and a tiramisu, both very good and served in generous portions.
The prices for the first and second courses are medium-high, ranging between the 11 and 15 euros per dish. Considering the central position of the restaurant, this is a good price, and the quality to price ratio is very good.

image
Roasted pork shin
image
Tiramisu and zuppa inglese

Three less known dishes that you should not miss in Bologna

Bologna is utterly famous for its fresh egg pasta, such as tagliatelle and tortellini. But there are three dishes equally rich and tasty that are often overlooked by the foreign visitors. Namely Passatelli, Zuppa Imperiale and Tagliolini in Brodo all of them are served in the famous capon broth that made Emilia famous for its food.

Passatelli, Bologna style bread dumpling.

Passatelli probably is a dish from the poor farmer culinary tradition. In fact they involve to use left overs such as stale old bread. It was a custom of the area to keep all uneaten bread in a bag and used it up for these poor dishes. To make passatelli you will need to make breadcrumbs and mix them with one egg, parmesan cheese until you form a moist dough. To season you can add a bit of salt, nutmeg and lemon rind! Once you have done so you will need to make “worm like” extrusions from the compound, this is usually done with a tool that resemble a potato ricer with bigger holes, if you do not have this you can use a grater with larger holes and literally grate the pasta you made. Cook the passatelli in your best broth and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Enjoy.

Zuppa imperiale, The imperial Soup of Bologna.

Zuppa imperiale is one of the lost recipes of the Bolognese traditions and one of the most tasty ones. Mentioned by Pellegrino Artusi cookbook, the dish has ancient origins. The ingredients are simple: semolina, eggs, Parmesan cheese salt, lemon rind, nutmeg and butter. It is interesting that the semolina and the parmesan cheese are used in equal amounts. The trick is to obtain a soft and whipped compound that it is going to raise and become like a savoury sponge cake once baked in the oven. The cake should be golden and slightly crispy outside and soft and spongy inside in order to absorb the broth that it is going to be serve with.

Tagliolini in brodo, Italian style noodles in chicken stock.

People are often impressed by this dish due to the familiarity with Asian preparations such as Japanese ramen. Tagliollini are egg tagliatelle that have been cut very thinly, about a 3rd of the typical width. The stripes are simply cooked in the traditional capon broth and they should be eaten with a fork and spoon, probably the only pasta dishes that you are allowed to eat that way.

 

 

20130112-133811.jpg
Tagliolini in Brodo

Foods that you must eat in Bologna

5 foods you should eat when visiting Bologna. This province has one of the greatest culinary tradition in Italy because its area encompasses the Appennini mountains and the Pianura Padana. The array of basic ingredients is enormous giving birth to sophisticated and traditional cuisine.

Crescentine or Tigelle.

20121213-121843.jpg
a typical dish of Bologna and Modena: crescentine or also called tigelle

Crescentine are simple small breads traditional baked sandwiched in disks of clay and cooked by the kitchen fireplace. The ingredients for the dough are simply flour, water salt, yeast (sometimes a splash of cream). The greatness of this bread is that it becomes crispy outside and it is hot and moist inside therefore thy are just great when cut in half and stuffed with the local salumi. Crescentine are the food of the Appennini mountains and widely eaten across the provinces of Bologna and Modena. For a nice addition you should try them with Pesto alla Modenese. This nothing else than pork lard mixed with a pinch of salt, garlic, rosemary and parmesan cheese.

Mortadella

Mortadella vendor in Bologna

It is long the tradition of pork raising in the Emilia Romagna area. The meat is mostly consumed in form of sausages, salami and hams, and rarely eaten fresh. Bologna most iconic sausage is Mortadella. Lately this cooked sausage is living a revival and producers are trying to move away from the unhealthy image of a fatty sausage. According to the traditional recipe it must be made from the lean and noble parts of the animal which are ground to a fine paste, fat cubes and spices are added, then stuffed into a casing suitable for the size, and finally slowly cooked for 2/3 days at low temperature. Mortadella can be thinly sliced or cubed.

Parmigiano Reggiano.

20121213-122224.jpg
Parmesan cheese – Parmigiano Reggiano

Parmesan cheese is the king of cheeses. Made from high quality unpasteurised milk and aged from a minimum of 12 months. However rarely it is eaten at this age. Bolognese people like their cheese when it is at least 24 months old. At this age it has fully developed its potential flavours and it is suitable to enhance the stuffing of tortellini . Bologna produces Parmigiano Reggiano only on the west bank of the Reno River. At the moment of writing there are about 10 producers of the cheese in the Bologna area, you will find more proudcers in Mantua, Modena, Reggio Emilia and Parma.
Shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano can be also enjoyed with a few drops of traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena.

Tortellini.

20121213-122137.jpg
window shopping in Bologna: hand made tortellini

Tortelllini are the quintessential Bologna’s winter food. In town there is no Christmas without a plate of tortellini cooked in capon broth. As the legend goes they have been shaped according to the navel of Lucretia Borgia. As she checked in to a INN, the host impressed by her beauty was trying to spy her from the keyhole, but he could only see her pretty belly button.
Traditionally tortellini are made from sheets of egg pasta. Then stuffed with minced pork, parmesan cheese, mortadella, prosciutto, and the recipe changes depending on the family who makes it. Today you can buy tortellini almost everywhere but the best ones are those made by hand. They are pricey but well worth every cents.

Zuppa Inglese.

To conclude our short guide to the Bologna food tour we wanted to include a dessert. After all sweets always close all good meals. Zuppa Inglese is another iconic dish of Bologna but quite common all over Emilia. This pudding is inspired from English trifles in fact the the name translate roughly to “The English Soup” . it is made from 2 custards: egg and a chocolate custard which are then layered on top of savoiardi biscuits (Italian Ladyfinger). These biscuits are spongy and especially made to soak up the liquors that are added.

 

 

 

The cuisine of Emilia Romagna

A short guide to the food of Bologna, Modena and Parma

by Gabriele Monti  November 8th, 2012

Tortellini alla Panna

Lovers of Italian food have labelled the Regione Emilia-Romagna as “the bread-basket of Italy.” It’s easy to see why. The historic cities of Parma, Modena and Bologna are famed  for their food, from the air cured and delicate prosciutto (Parma ham), parmigiano reggiano (parmesan cheese) and traditional aceto balsamico (balsamic vinegar) – some of the quintessential ingredients  of Italian cooking. The verdant Po Valley has given rise to agricultural practices that produce some of the most flavoursome and robust ingredients in the country.

Starters.

When visiting Parma, Modena and Bologna, the starters are most likely to be slices of Parma ham, culatello, Salame di Felino, and shavings of Parmesan cheese. Parma ham has a delicate sweet savouriness that it is unique to this air cured ham. Culatello has also a unique and distinctive savouriness and every bite keeps giving our flavour, with hints of aromas like black pepper. Parmesan cheese is the quintessential savoury flavour, unique and inimitable, due to the long fermenting ageing.

 

First courses: Pasta Dishes

Fresh egg  pasta in Emilia-Romagna is an artistic affair. Indeed, the cooks of this region are believed to be the masters of fresh pasta, producing distinct varieties of stuffed tortellini, and Tortelloni. Such pastas are recognised by their intricate and delicate shapes, as well as their rich fillings, which usually include pork or soft ricotta cheese.

Tortellini or Cappelletti

These attractive little pasta dumplings are filled with the best meats of the region – prosciutto, mortadella (a local variety of sausage) and ground pork. There are many old legends as to how tortellini originally came about. The most popular tale comes from Modena, near the Castelfranco Emilia. Lucrezia Borgia checked into an inn there, and the host was so captivated by her beauty that he spied on her through the keyhole of her private room. He only got a glimpse of her navel, but was so thrilled by this sight that he immediately went to the kitchen and attempted to recreate it in the form of pasta. And thus tortellini  were born. For the real connoisseur they are only  served in the famous Emilian capon broth, but a cream version is also available in most restaurants.

Tortelloni

This is a larger version of tortellini, squares of egg pasta (in Emilia Romagna is commonly called sfoglia) are folded into triangle and folded one more time into a hat shape. They are commonly filled with spinach, ricotta cheese and a generous sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.  They are  served with a sauce – butter and sage being a local favourite, but also with a nice tomato sauce with a leaf of basil.

Passatelli

To your surprise this time it is not going to be a pasta dish. Passatelli is the poor man meal made into an elegant and refined dish, and if you visit Bologna in the winter months, it would be a sin not to have passatelli. This dish consist of dumpling made of bread crumbs, egg,  and parmesan cheese. This is worked and turned into a dough and pressed through a die to obtain the classic shape. The dumplings are then served in a rich capon broth.

Zuppa reale

Along Passatelli, Zuppa reale is one of the less known dishes of the Emilian cuisine but well worth the hunt. Zuppa reale is a sort of spongy omelette like cake which is cut into cubes and served in the capon broth. The ingredients are flour, eggs, a lot of parmesan cheese, butter. The dough is cooked in the oven until golden crispy and spongy inside, then left to cool a little and cut into bite size dumpling.

Meat Dishes

Emilia-Romagna has a thousand-year history of raising swine – making it one of the most distinguished Italian regions for pork. Local pork dishes are layered in flavour, rich and hearty, and are perfect for chilly winter evenings. Veal is also a popular meaty option.

Zampone from Modena

Emilia-Romagna is famous for its decadent range of preserved meats and salamis. Zampone of Modena  is a unique local treat that is often eaten at Christmas time. This winter sausage was born in 1510. Modena was under siege at the time, and food had to be preserved. As a result, ground pork, rind and other cuts were salted and stuffed into a de-boned pig’s trotter. These days, zampone is served with lentils and washed down with Lambrusco DOC.

Cotolette alle Bolognese

Tagliatelle alla  Bolognese (it’s actually called tagliatelle al ragu in Italy) is not the only famous dish to emerge from Emilia-Romagna’s historical capital, Bologna. This original veal parmigiana consists of breaded veal topped with shavings of parmesan cheese. It can be  also layered with prosciutto, but for an authentic and complex speciality white truffles are added as a final touch.

Bollito Misto

As the tortellini go with the broth, the meat is normally eaten as a second course. When visiting Bologna you should ask for the Carrello dei Bolliti, literally the boiled meat trolley. The waiter will oblige and push to your table a serving trolley full of succulent boiled meats. Here you will find capon, boiler chicken, beef briskets, as well as beef tongue for the  more daring. The meats sliced thinly and served with salsa verde or mostarde. Salve verde is a condiment made with a base of parley and cooked carrots, boiled eggs, olive oil, vinegar, the recipes varies from location to location. Mostarda is more typical in the northern areas of Emilia Romagna and consist of fruits cooked in a light mustard sugary syrup.

 

Desserts

Many sweet dishes of Emilia-Romagna originated from traditional festivals highlighting the weeks before Easter. People would often indulge in sugary treats on Shrove Tuesday before the period of abstinence marked by Lent.

Tagliatelle Dolci

This sweet resemble to original pasta dish is one such Shrove Tuesday invention. Strands of tagliatelle are deep-fried, and then coated in honey. This is a popular dessert throughout Bologna. It can also be topped with sugar, cinnamon or lemon zest.

Zuppa Inglese

This directly translates to “English Soup,” but it actually refers to the Italian version of English trifle. During the 16th century, the rulers of Ferarra met with Elizabethan statesmen from England, and this contact introduced them to the delicious custardy dessert. The Italian diplomats fell in love with it, and attempted to make it using local ingredients. The Emilian version consists of pan di spagna (sponge cake), or savoiardi (finger biscuits), thick custard and Alchermes, an aromatic herb liqueur.

These are just a few of the dishes you will discover on a gastronomic journey of Emilia-Romagna. Its culinary legacy is sometimes rustic, but also elegant and refined – and is considered one of the best in all of Italy.

Digestive liquors

A meal in Italy is not finished without a shot of your favourite digestive. In Modena we have the dark and aromatic Nocino made from unripe walnuts which are steeped into pure alcohol, and sugar. The liquid is aged into oak or hash barrels for a minimum of 6 years. In Parma you will be likely to be served Barniolino. This liqueur is made from the berry of the wild growing hawthorn berries steeped into alcohol and sugar. The liquid has hints of strawberry  and cherries  with a pleasant bitterness.

Wines of Emilia Romagna.

Wines in the region and often sparkling red, this is unique characteristic of our products. In fact Lambrusco (Modena) and Gutturnio (Piacenza) are wines that in the tradition where double fermented in their bottles. This would give rise to a first alcoholic fermentation and then a second one which gives the bubbles to the wine. Lambrusco is a wine that is enjoyed young, often the year after the harvest, and it certainly lends itself to accompany the rich local cuisine. Remember that the perfect lambrusco is a dry wine, with an evanescent froth, purple in colour (Grasparossa variety) with hints of violet flowers.

 

 

A food tour in the Bologna province

by Gabriele Monti November 6th, 2012

Picture of Parma hams in Langhirano

The protagonist of “The Garden of the Finzi-Continis” a university student in the 1930 dines at “Pappagallo” and drinks coffee from “Zanarini,”  the same historical buildings  and establishment  that you might find in Bologna today. The City name is “the  learned ” thanks to the university funded in 1088 and “the fat” because of its agricultural wealth, splendour and culinary heritage, not to mention the sympathetic and friendly inhabitants.

The Bologna glories start from the ancient city. The two towers near Piazza Maggiore,  S. Petronio and the University are inviting you to walk under the arcades, to discover a town centre still full of charm. One of the first discoveries are  the attractive food delicacies of the area. A wealth of products which has not match elsewhere.

The local cuisine has an exclusive sense: the gastronomic tradition of Bologna is both wealthy and celebrated.  Over time the tradition has expanded, the name “Bologna”, referring to the cuisine is now a synonymous of flavour and generosity. The Bolognese  sauce along with the tagliatelle  are still the building elements of Italian cuisine. Another cornerstone of this cuisine is  the tortellini. They are still hand crafted one by one, produced according to ancient recipes  (filed at the local Chamber of Commerce). Then there is the lasagne, thick and succulent as the colours of the Baroque painters seeing in the museum galleries. There is also the “Fritto Bolognese” fried vegetables sumptuous arpeggio between sweet and salty.  Another dish is The Pinza a farmer sweet described for the first time in 1644.
Outside the city gates we have the  circle of the Bologna hills that are just there to be discovered. An extended natural park and reserve. The beautiful countryside around the town of Monteveglio is particularly recommended. An ancient walled town, where you can find  an abbey dedicated to of S. Mary.

The province of Bologna is cut in two by the Via Emilia.  To the north lies the vast Padana plain defined by the River Reno, which stretches and leads to Ferrara. In the opposite direction leading south you will find limestone hills called Gessi Bolognesi, then continuing  there are the mountain of the Apennine range. In the plain there is a  thriving farming and horticultural industry, producing one of its leading product known as  Mortadella di Bologna IGP (the of queen of  Bologna). The same area also produces the potato of Medicina and the green asparagus of Altedo IGP, as for the wine we have the  Montuno Doc produced from vineyards growing along the course of the river.

The vineyard becomes the protagonist on the Bolognese hills between the Panaro and ldice rivers. It is the area of the Colli Bolognesi Doc, which is divided into seven sub-denominations or geographical micro zones. In average vineyards are located  between 100 and 300 meters above sea level, the soils is loose and clay is plenty.
Among the white wines, we have the native Pignoletto, along with a robust red Barbera.

Towards the eastern boundary farmers grow  Albana di Romagna DOCG and DOC wines of Colli lmola.  On the west, the tourist will find the ROUTES OF CHERRY AND CASTLES which is leaving the capital Bologna and leading to Vignola where  the most beautiful places in the area can be admired.

Here the food is a mix of the classic Bolognese cuisine (fresh pasta and salami), with the attractions of autumn fruits such as mushrooms, truffles, chestnuts from the Apennines. Continuing on the mountain, an important destinations for the gourmet traveller is Savigno.  It is named “The City of Truffles (white)” with a major festival and exhibition market in autumn. Also you can visit Castel di Casio, another center for the collection of precious fungi in valley of the Reno. Another renaissance town is  Castel del Rio, in the upper valley of Santerno, from here you can also continue up from Imola Montanara along the road that leads to the impressive peaks a between Tuscany, the capital of the Chestnut (IGP) and Marrons.