The food!! ~ Reason #1 why I love Bologna.
I have eaten wonderful food all over Italy (well in 11 regions of Italy) and I have to say that one of my favorite places to find food that has blown me away with each bite is in Bologna.
To give you a little background about my taste in food, I don’t eat beef and pork (although I have occasionally been tempted to try a tiny piece of good proscuitto). Because I like to have at least a few options on the menu, I am more picky about the restaurants I like to eat at. I often decide against eating at restaurants famous for mainly meat dishes. Put ravioli or tortelloni con burro e salvia (butter and sage) on the menu and I will order it. I also love fresh pomodoro (tomato) sauce and a good pesto sauce (although you won’t find much pesto in Bologna).
I have been to Bologna four times now, although my first visit really doesn't count since it was only a quick two hour peek in 2000 while waiting for a train connection to Verona. I can't even remember what I ate while I was there. My first real visit to Bologna was a one night stay the following year in 2001 to break up the train travel from Rome to Coccaglio. My second visit to Bologna was again a one night stay, this time in 2007 to break up train travel from Coccaglio to Cortona. Last summer, I finally spent more time in Bologna, this time spending six nights. I was so excited to finally have enough time to try more of the amazing restaurants I had read about.
Back in 2001 during my one night stay in Bologna, I ate lunch at Ristorante Montegrappa da Nello (located at Via Montegrappa 2). I ordered the melanzane all parmigiana (eggplant parmesan) and the Fiori di Zucchini (fried zucchini flowers). It was so good that I returned to Ristorante Montegrappa da Nello for dinner. I don’t recall what I ordered for dinner, but I do remember ordering some sort of zuppa inglese or zabaglione dessert which was delicious.
Two years ago during my second visit to Bologna, again a one night stay, I enjoyed a very delicious lunch at Al Sangiovese (Vicolo del Falcone, 2), a wonderful restaurant just down the street from the Hotel Porta San Mamolo where I was staying.
I ordered the spinach and ricotta tortelloni with burro and salvia (butter and sage) for lunch. It was so good that I returned there that night and ordered it again for dinner. Palma also has eaten here a couple of times and has posted photos from Al Sangiovese here (after clicking on the link,scroll down to see her fabulous food photos from Al Sangiovese) and here.
Last year I returned to Ristorante Montegrappa da Nello for my first dinner in Bologna. I asked the waiter about the options for something without meat. I think there was a bit of miscommunication because instead of being served the fresh pomodoro with penne I thought I ordered, I ended up being served half tortelline with the creme pomodoro sauce and half penne with the fresh pomodoro sauce. I was happy though with the misunderstanding because I ended up being served two types of pasta. The food was good, but not outstanding. I also ordered a caprese salad (mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil) which was just ok. I have had much better caprese salads in the past. I now have mixed feelings about this restaurant. The pasta was good but nothing outstanding. Although I did not realize it at the time, Ristorante Montegrappa da Nello really is famous for its meat dishes. I am probably not the best person to judge this restaurant. I did find this review with photos. The restaurant was given an 8 out of 10.
The next day, I did a daytrip to Modena, walking everywhere. My feet were so tired when I returned to Bologna that evening. It was Sunday night and many restaurants were closed. The hotel recommended Le Mura, an osteria across the street from my hotel. That sounded wonderful to me since I didn’t think I could walk much further.
La Mura was ok but not one of my favorites. It was very smoky inside. No one was actually smoking when I was there but there was no air circulation and either the people that ran the restaurant smoked inside before the restaurant was open (my guess) or the smoking right in front of the doorway caused the smoky smell in the restaurant. The menu was also meat based. The waiter who was perhaps the owner was extremely nice. He offered to make me some penne pasta with a tomato and cream sauce. I also ordered some grilled vegetables. The food was good but not anything to rave about but I was too tired to really care. Again this restaurant might serve great meat dishes. I can’t really say.
After two good but not great meals, I was starting to wonder about the food in Bologna. On Monday, I did the long trek to the Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca. I had a sandwich in a bar for lunch. If only I had read this review for Trattoria Meloncello, which is located near the start of the walk to the Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca, I would have definitely eaten there for lunch. Make sure to read this review if you are heading to Bologna. The restaurant is given a 9.5 out of a 10 rating.
For dinner Monday night, I decided to give Ristorante Teresina a try. Colleenk from Slow Travel wrote a nice review about this restaurant. Ristorante Teresina is located between the two towers and Piazza Maggiore right off the main street (Via Francesco Rizzoli) at Via Guglielmo Oberdan, 4. I was seated inside at a little table in the corner. There was also outside seating but I prefer eating inside now that there is no smoking inside and everyone smokes outside. This was the view of the tables across from me.
Two very nice waiters took my order and brought me my food. I ordered melone (without the prosciutto) and then mezzelune ripiene di melanzane e formaggio caprino con pomodoro fresco e basilica. My melone (cantalope) was wonderful.
The mezzeluna pasta filled with eggplant and a type of cheese that I think came from sheep was incredibile! The photo does not do it justice.
My dinner at Ristorante Teresina was the best meal I had so far during my entire stay in Italy last summer. For once at the end of my meal I had room for dessert, but I declined because I wanted to keep the taste of the mezzeluna pasta in my mouth for as long as possible. After I paid my bill, I told one of the waiters that my meal was so good that I wanted to make a reservation to return the following night.
Tuesday, I did a daytrip to Empoli to visit my friends Francesco and Irene and their family. Francesco's mother cooked a huge meal. We had a wonderful time catching up while enjoying lunch together. In the afternoon, I spent some time walking around Florence.
After taking the train back to Bologna in the evening, I returned Ristorante Teresina. One of the waiters smiled when I arrived. He said they were waiting for me and showed me to my same table. I ordered the mezzaluna pasta again along with the rabbit roll with rosemary.
The food was fabulous. I ate much too much with my big lunch earlier in the day and had no room for dessert. When paying the bill, the waiter brought me some grappa. I thanked him but told him that I could not drink it because to me grappa tastes like gasoline (not that I have actually tasted gasoline). He was so nice that he then offered me some limoncella. After drinking my limoncella I thanked both of the waiters once again and headed to Piazza Maggiore.
Stay tuned for part 2 coming up tomorrow on the food in Bologna...