A Liverpool-Based Food Blog

What we ate in... Bologna

I'm well aware that 'Food Capital' is a title that can be applied to many places in Italy. In fact, I think you'd be hard pushed to find anywhere you couldn't get your hands on a decent meal, but one place that has got to be up there with the best for eating is Bologna.

Much like myself, Bologna is known affectionately as La Grassa (the fat one). This Northern city is the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region- an area best known for producing some of the most iconic Italian edibles like balsamic, parmesan and mortadella. Of course it's also the home of Tagliatelle al Ragu, the dish that us fab Brits have somehow turned into Spag Bol.

Pane, Pasta & Vino in the Quadrilatero 
As much as I'd expected to step straight off the plane and into the nearest osteria, our trip actually started rather uninspiringly in a big Italian chain restaurant called Rosso Pomodoro based on the top floor of the Mercato di Mezzo.  As chains go this one was really good, it was the perfect fuel after a long morning of travelling and I got my mitts around my first ever Panzerotti aka a deep-fried calzone pizza... I'll just leave you to imagine how good that was.

Later that evening (after a long nap, quelle surprise) we headed out for a wander and for the first of many Aperitivo hours. This is the few hours pre-dinner where the Italians have drinks and complimentary snacks and nibbles provided by the bars. We got so carried away with Aperitivo (read: very, very drunk) we ended up basically having a picnic for dinner at a tiny side-street bar called Vecchia Malga.

Vecchia Malga is a speciality food market and deli with a couple of stools outside so whatever you order from the menu comes straight from the counter. We demolished an enormous platter of proscuitto, burrata and tigelle (little round pocket breads) followed by some fresh tortellini in butter. 

There are tonnes of these deli restaurants around the main market streets and the next day we found another good one called Simoni. Just a few doors down from the first place, this one specialised in sandwiches and the Italian Holy Trinity of wine, cheese and cured meat.

Market Lunch

The next day was spent exploring and wandering about looking for the 7 Secrets of Bologna, one of which is the famous 'Instagram window'.  After getting some pictures and then scaling the 500 ancient steps of the Asinelli tower we rewarded ourselves with gelato at Cremmaria La Veccia Stalla

This gelato place was recommended to us by a rather eccentric guide we had on our walking tour and since his taste in desserts was so good we also took his recommendation for dinner that night at Zapap Pratello

Via del Pratello is basically the Italian equivalent of Lark Lane- loads of eclectic bars and restaurants and (apparently) the home of the Bolognese anarchists. Zapap is a tiny craft beer place that does wood-fired pizza on the side. It's really casual, really cheap and clearly dead popular with the locals. Apparently they use the yeast from the beer to make the pizza dough- now hows that for recycling?
Coffee in Piazza Maggiore
Since I'm apparently half girl-half sloth, I don't get round to having breakfast very often so I was very happy to get back into the Italian tradition of late morning coffee and pastries which you can get in any of the hundreds of Pasticcheria. The one by our Air BnB was called Felicity and happened to do the BEST filled pistachio croissants I've ever had. I've been stalking Artisane to see if I can get one of these since I got home.

Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca- take the train if you value your legs.
After an afternoon of coffee, aperol and a cute little train ride up to the Church of San Luca in the mountains we spent our last night at Antica Osteria Le Mura .

 They have a small but interesting menu which is split into two parts 'traditional' and 'creative'.
 I'm boring so I went for traditional which entailed grilled octopus, a proper bowl of Tagliatelle al Ragu (incredible) and some home made tiramisu.

My fella went for the 'creative' options, the highlight of which was his rather surrealist dessert entitled 'il tempo della pere' (the time of the pears), which he said was delicious but after a few too many glasses of vino rosso I found it utterly hysterical.

I loved our time in Bologna, it was a super cool city with loads of stuff to see and you could probably walk around blindfolded for a week looking for food and still never end up with a bad meal.

As always with these travelling food diaries I'm sure I've only scratched the surface of good places to eat, and since I'm not a local, I don't profess to know all the best places to go! All I can do is tell you what we got up to and where we had good food in case you're planning on visiting, or if you're nosey like me and you just like seeing what other people eat.

Next up: Florence- sit tight!


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