Welcome to Bologna, the “Fat” town!
Here an amazing, old culinary tradition has attracted thousands of visitors in the past few years. We take it very seriously with dozens of dedicated events, meetings and associations, founded in order to preserve this tradition.
Surprisingly to many of our guests, we are so proud of this part of our culture that the original recipes have been stored up in the Chamber of Commerce of Bologna.
Of course, you can also easily find cooking classes and specialized courses to become a professional sfoglino: he/she knows how to make authentic fresh pasta, in Italian “tirare la sfoglia”, according to the tradition, using just eggs and flour, rolling pin and his/her own hands: it’s true work of art!
However, it’s not just all about pasta: here you find a list of must-try dishes, to make sure you don’t miss the best food in Bologna!
Let’s start this list of the best food in Bologna with one of the protagonists of local delicacies, probably the most popular and delicious Bolognese cold cut.
The Mortadella Bologna is a PGI product: selected pure pork, finely mashed, mixed with lard, slightly spiced, stuffed and cooked. It has characteristic features: cylindrical, compact, velvet touch, pink.
Apparently, its origins date back to Romans, and, surprisingly, Mortadella PGI is not fat as you may think because it’s low in cholesterol and salt and rich in iron, zinc, proteins and vitamins. Every year in October takes place MortadellaBò, with tastings in Piazza Maggiore (the main square) and many other events, celebrating this special cold cut widely beloved both by locals and tourists.
Must-try appetizer is mousse di mortadella, a sauce made of mortadella mixed with savoury cream and Parmigiano Reggiano.
Crescentine fritte & Crescente
Speaking of appetizers, if you eat out in Bologna you must order un tagliere with local cold cuts and cheese.
Usually you taste it with some bread or superb Crescentine, small fried lozenges made with flour, water, salt, milk or lard.
Lard is also a basic ingredient in the making of another classic bread substitute: Crescente, a savoury cake traditionally homemade with leftovers, diced ham and bacon. This recipe is deeply bound to country tradition and therefore the original one is kept in the local Chamber of Commerce.
His Majesty the Tortellino must definitely be on the list of the best food in bologna!
It is undoubtedly the most famous Bolognese dish and it’s one of the symbols of the city. In 1974 the original recipe was filed up by Dotta Confraternita del Tortellino and Accademia Italiana della cucina at the Chamber of Commerce of Bologna- 100g pork loin, 100g prosciutto crudo, 100g mortadella, 150g parmigiano Reggiano, 1 egg, nutmeg.
It’s a typical Christmas soup, cooked in broth, but nowadays you can find it drowned in cream and often with small slices of prosciutto cotto.
Even though both Bologna and Modena claim to the originality of this special recipe, its origins are still unknown and the most popular legend connected to it is set halfway, in Castelfranco Emilia, where the owner of the inn Corona, after peering a noblewoman through the keyhole, was inspired by her beauty in the making of a new culinary specialty, the tortellini.
Can you see the shape of a female belly button in it?
Good news for vegetarian visitors (sorry, not for vegans)!
If you have been disappointed by finding out that almost every typical delicacy is meat based, get ready for this meat-free bigger version of tortellini.
Tortelloni is a home-made dry soup traditionally served on Christmas Eve.
According to the original recipe, tortelloni are filled with goat or sheep cheese and served in a tomato and butter sauce – “butter and gold” – but now you can find other fillings and sauces, such as ricotta and spinach or pumpkin, amaretto and wild fennel in butter and sage.
Tagliatelle al ragù
Often known as Spaghetti Bolognese or Bolognese sauce abroad, in Bologna ragù is a delicious meat sauce typically used to dress tagliatelle.
Sorry to disappoint those who believed spaghetti were the original, but it’s fake news!
Tagliatelle are strips of raw yellow pasta which, according to the original recipe must be 7 mm wide.
Ragù requires a long cooking time, around 4 hours. First, make a sofrito with butter, onion, carrot, celery and bacon or lard, add minced beef and pork and later some white wine and let evaporate. Add tomato sauce to taste and let it cook on a very low flame.
From time to time add broth, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Try the original tagliatelle al ragù in Bologna and you’ll be hooked!
Cotoletta Bolognese o Petroniana
Undoubtedly one of best food in Bologna: it’s never accompanied by vegetables or potatoes because this veil cutlet is so rich that you don’t’ need anything else, and, moreover, portions are huge!
According to the classical proceeding described in the recipe stored up in the Chamber of Commerce, the slice of meat is passed in beaten egg, breaded and fried in butter or lard, then it’s covered with Parmigiano Reggiano and prosciutto cotto, cooked in meat broth, then topped with slices of truffle.
Only the brave ones can afford a whole portion!
Good news for vegan guests as well: this recipe is in fact suitable even for those who eat dairy-free food only.
Bound to country tradition, friggione is a tomato and onion sauce, typically served with polenta or boiled meat. The recipe may seem very simple and not very special, but it is, for the original ingredients have been fixed and kept in the Chamber of Commerce along with the recipes of most famous traditional dishes.
Torta di riso o Torta degli addobbi
The rice cake or cake of the decorations (addobbo means decoration) is a very special cake traditionally bound to an old religious celebration “Feast of the decorations” that took place in Bologna every ten years on the second Sunday after Easter, each time set up by a different parish.
A procession took place and for the occasion the portici were decorated with coloured, velvet and sink clothes, concerts were held in the main squares, people celebrated at home with relatives and friends, and the rice cake was tasted. Ingredients: rice boiled in milk, eggs, macaroons, caramel, almonds, candied citron and Almond Amara, a liquor that is used to make the crust.
Luckily, now you don’t have to wait ten years to taste the Torta di Riso: just enter a bakery and ask for it!
Brazadela or ciambella Bolognese is a typical homemade Emilian cake. The recipe is very simple (flour, eggs, sugar, butter and yeast: that’s it!) and it’s baked in a mold that gives it the shape of a big donut: as a matter of fact, in Bolognese dialect the name “brazadela” means bracelet!
Traditionally served on celebration days and on Sunday’s family get togethers, you could taste it dipped in a glass of local red wine, nowadays it’s often soaked in cappuccino.
I hope this list of the best food in Bologna has made you hungry! If you are visiting Bologna and want to get a taste of the culinary culture of this beautiful city join our Bologna food tour. We are waiting for you!