This is one of our favourites places in Italy, especially for eating, since the local cuisine is very special. Here are a few of our preferred places to visit.
Piazza Maggiore and its Market
Well, no visit to Bologna would be complete without seeing Piazza Maggiore. But don’t miss the market and its shops in Via Pescherie Vecchie and via Orefici, or Piazza delle Mercanzia. You’ll find wonderful fruit and vegetables, fish (even though it is far from the sea, fish is very good and fresh), cheeses, cured meats, bread and pastries, and hardware stores selling knives as well as every conceivable device for making pasta and coffee… Not to mention cafés and restaurants, bookshops, wine shops, clothes shops and haberdashers….
This is a serious business in Bologna, and there are dishes here that don’t exist anywhere else. Don’t expect Spaghetti Bolognaise – it just does not exist!. Tagliatelle al ragù is the nearest thing to it, and you have to try Tortellini in Brodo (filled pasta served in a clear broth, the tortellini made in the shape of Venus’ navel).
Ostaria de’ Poeti
Via De’ Poeti, 1/B, for a nice venue, a little touristy, but nice. Traditional Bolognese food, sometimes there is music, in undercroft of something, so a little subterranean.
Place to get hot chocolate with cream, cakes, coffee, just off Piazza Maggiore on the Via Francesco Rizzoli side. The hot chocolate with cream is famous.
Osteria del Sole
This is in the market area, very busy, old (it opened in 1465!) with a mixed crowd, students and their professors, workers and the people they work for, rich and poor, where you can only buy drinks, but you can take your own food. You will see groups walking in with boxes of snacks, including crescente con I ciccioli (a kind of Focaccia with bacon bits), hoping to get a table. If you go this way, there are bakeries just around the corner where you can stock up.
Via del Pratello
This is a street full of osterie, surely a great street for an evening of osteria-hopping. Il Cantinone, at number 56 is one of these osterie, good for food, with a nice atmosphere and people, and very pleasant staff. At number 74 you’ll find the Osteria del Montesino, a Sardinian-run place, good also for dinner or after dinner, if still a little hungry, with a bottle of local sparkling white Pignoletto and Sardinian bread – pane casarau – with goat’s cheese melted on it….
Enoteca Storica Faccioli
For pre dinner drinks, a tradition in Bologna, try this place. A nice Prosecco or Pignoletto and a plate of prosciutto, salami and cheese to kick off the evening. This osteria, which is a hundred years old, is located near some of the most famous towers of Bologna.
This is a totally traditional Bolognese Restaurant, good for lunch if you have nothing much planned for the afternoon… Start with tortellini in brodo, followed by fritto misto all’italiana or carrello di bollito, with creme caramel for dessert. Il fritto misto comes with deep fried custard! Amazing stuff!
We never made it to the creme caramel, but it is reputed to be nothing like you have ever tasted anywhere else. The Waiters have been there 40 years on average . It is on Via Indipendenza 24.
Ristorante Pizzeria Fraiese
Finally, a little step outside the city walls is the Ristorante Pizzeria Fraiese: fabulous! Located in Via Emilia Ponente 22, passing Porta San Felice, towards Ospedale Maggiore, about 15-20 minutes walk along Via Aurelio Saffi, which becomes Via Emilia Ponente – or you can take a bus to Ospedale Maggiore. It is a cooperative restaurant, known for its fantastic fish, but also for its excellent wood-oven pizzas. Unique atmosphere, with very friendly staff.