Your Private Italy knows just where to take you for good eating in Bologna!
Bologna is known as “La Grassa” for its notoriously rich regional cuisine. Apart from the city’s vibrant historical treasures, Bologna is known widely for its vast array of fantastic dining options. Whether you are passing through on a day trip, spending 48 hours or even an entire week in town, here is a short list of some of my favorite places to eat in this amazing city. All of the venues listed below are inside the walled city-center and can easily be reached on foot if you if you are staying in the center of Bologna.
Cocktails: Whether you are in search of a pre-meal cocktail during aperitivo (read: happy hour) or in search of the perfect spot to have a nightcap, there are a few places in the city-center that truly stand out for their perfection of the art of shaking up a good cocktail, which believe it or not, is sometimes hard to find in Italy. Cabala Cafe, just steps from the famed Due Torre (two towers) located on Strada Maggiore, 10 is a great spot with a fully-stocked top-shelf bar, outside seating and a crew of bartenders who know how to make a mean dirty martini, New York-style. They also have a signature mango margarita that is to die for. The swanky Nu Lounge, just adjacent to Piazza Maggiore on Via dei Musei, 6 is where Bologna’s self-proclaimed “young, hip, and beautiful” imbibe. They have a pretty decent buffet to go along with the purchase of slightly pricey cocktails during aperitivo. Equally close to the main square, Piazza Maggiore, on Via Pignattari, 1 you’ll find 051 (zerocinquantuno) which translates to the area code of the city of Bologna. This multi-level venue provides tons of seating inside, as well as sidewalk tables where you can eat, drink, and take in the sights and sounds of the city.
Cocktails at 051
Light Bites: My all time favorite place for an authentic “affettati” (sliced meats) has to be Tamburinilocated on Via Caprarie, 1. This historical salsamenteria serves up some of Bologna’s most wonderful gastronomical delights in their indoor/outdoor wine bar, daily from noon until midnight. For those looking for a quick sandwich or a sweet local pastry and a strong coffee to take the edge off your shopping excursion, then Zanarini is the place for you. Situated among Bologna’s miracle mile of high-end shopping boutiques, Zaranini is located in Piazza Galvani,1. I’d recommend grabbing a typical Bolognese sandwich, better known as a piadina, stuffed with tangy, spreadable cheeses and cured meats. If you’re trying to eat a little healthy while in La Grassa I have the perfect solution… Zazie! With two locations in the city-center, the original, just off Via Indipendenza at Via Malcontenti 13/A, and the newest addition in the shopping district of Via D’Agezlio 23B, you can stop in and enjoy a fresh fruit juice, squeezed to order. Apart from the plethora of fresh fruits and veggies to choose from, Zazie also offers a nice assortment of freshly made soups, salads, and cous cous bowls, which make for the perfect healthy snack on the go!
Affettati at Tamburini
Piadina sandwich at Zanarini ~ Lunch & Dinner: With so many restaurants to choose from, and with many of them serving up quite amazing food, its hard to narrow down this list. But based on my own personal experience living in Bologna, I’ll share with you a few of my favorites. I’m sure you’ll read in numerous guide books about the famed Caminetto D’Oro, a Bolognese legend of sorts. But if you’re not into the white-gloved service, gold plated flatware, and the price tag to match, then you must try its little sister, Twinside Bistro located literally next door on Via Falegnami, 6. Same owners, same quality ingredients, no stuffy waiters in suits, and prices slashed nearly in half. If you are in search of the two most traditional Bolognese pastas; tagliatelle bolognese and tortellini al brodo, then you must make a stop at Ristorante da nello al Montegrappa(or more commonly known by locals as “da Nello”). This restaurant is also only steps from Piazza Maggiore, on Via Montegrappa 2, just off the main drag, Via Indipendenza. Da Nello’s serves up extremely well-made local cuisine in a comfortable, laid-back environment, at a fair price. Last but not least, I feel I must mention a restaurant I absolutely love, not only for its great food, but also for its entertainment. Cantina Bentivoglio is part restaurant, part jazz club. Who wouldn’t love to enjoy some live jazz while twirling some of the best tagliatelle you’ve ever eaten? Just steps from the center of the city on Via Mascarella, 4B you’ll be in for a treat as the acts change daily. Check their website to see who’s performing and to make a reservation.
Tagliatelle Bolognese at Ristorante da Nello al Montegrappa ~ As you can see, not all of these outposts have their own websites, but their contact numbers can be found by performing an easy google search. It’s always recommended to call ahead, and if you’re thinking about having a formal lunch or dinner, you should always call for a reservation, even if its the “day of.” Also, keep in mind that in August, many restaurants s up North close for several weeks for vacation, so again, I stress the importance of calling ahead.