Bologna is a gastronomic paradise. From wheels of fresh and grainy parmiggiano reggiano to handmade pasta, this pretty porticoed city has a long history of eating well. It’s no wonder that one of its nicknames is ‘La Grassa’ or ‘The Fat One’ — diets die here. To give you a flavour of just how good this Italian city’s gourmet offering is, we’ve rounded up seven of the best dishes to try in Bologna.
The Best Dishes to Try in Bologna
1. Tagliatelle al Ragu alla Bolognese
We all know and love spag bol, but it doesn’t have a patch on the real ragù. Made with two different types of minced meat, as well as a simple sofrito, a true bolognese ragù is dense. Don’t attempt to order it with spaghetti either, this dish requires thick ribbons like tagliatelle and fettucine to cling to. Spaghetti just doesn’t have the staying power.
For one of the best iterations of this beloved Bolognese dish, try Osteria dell’Orsa.
2. Tortellini en Brodo
Tiny pockets of pasta stuffed with local mortadella, minced pork, parmigginao reggiano and nutmeg, then twisted into a navel shape and served floating in a bowl of steaming capone broth. It’s one of the world’s easiest dishes and proves that quick can be delicious too.
There’s also a good story behind the unusual pasta shape. Legend has it that it was invented by an inn keeper who caught sight of a lovely lady’s belly button and decided to replicate it — and so the navel-shaped tortellini was born.
Try Trattoria dal Biassanot’s hearty version.
3. Tortelloni Burro e Salvia
Tortelloni is a larger version of tortellini. Large pillowy pouches stuffed with fresh ricotta and spinach, then smothered in butter and sage. Need we say more?
For the best tortelloni in town, head to Trattoria Anna Maria.
4. Lasagne Verde
In Bologna, all the best lasagne is green. Made with the same ragù as the tagliatelle, spinach leaves are mixed into the fresh pasta dough, rolled out into huge sheets and sliced into rectangles. The sheets are then layered between lots of ragu, béchamel and plenty of freshly grated parmigianno reggiano.
Trattoria Anna Maria is really best for lasagne too.
5. Gramigna alla salsiccia
If you’ve had your fill of variations on the traditional ragù, this is a tasty alternative. Gramigna is a small and dense pasta, curved into a tube shape. Fresh tomatoes, local sausage and plenty of wine combine to create a sexy and smoky sauce.
For the best plate of Gramigna alla salsiccia, head to Osteria Broccaindoso.
For a quick snack, forget the panini and opt for a piadina instead. Try the flatbread stuffed full of salty parma ham, soft cheeses and rocket. Then, try a Nutella piadina for desert.
Piadina have existed for centuries, with the first records dating back to 1371. A truly authentic dish.
If you’ve got a sweet tooth or you’re looking for a way to round off your multi-course spread, try raviole. These crescent-shaped biscuits aren’t particularly well-known outside of Bologna. More’s the pity, because they’re delicious. Shortcrust pastry is stuffed with mostarda, a local jam which is similar to quince.
Beware, these are highly moreish biscuits and it’s impossible to stop at one!