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Trattoria di Via Serra - Tagliatelle al Ragu Bolognesewith Parmigiana Reggiano - Bologna Food Guide

Where to Eat in Bologna Italy – A Bologna Food Guide

In Food Travel Guides, Italy by Daryl & Mindi Hirsch6 Comments

Curious about what and where to eat in Bologna Italy?  Check out our Bologna Food Guide with our favorite Bologna restaurants, cafes and markets in Italy’s most gastronomic city.

Tagliatelle al Ragu Bolognese with Parmigiana Reggiano at Trattoria di Via Serra in Bologna Italy

Have you been to Bologna?

Many tourists spend their Italy trips in the ancient city of Rome, the artistic city of Florence and the watery city of Venice. Others spend time drinking wine in the rolling hills of Tuscany or eating pizza in Naples. But not so many travelers realize that Bologna is known around the world for its exciting food culture and that the best things to do in Bologna all involve food.

With the 2017 opening of FICO Eataly World, this situation may be changing as travelers discover the gastronomic charms of Bologna, one of Italy’s major transportation hubs. Yes, Bologna is a city where you can eat well and then get a train or plane to almost anywhere.

We first visited Bologna seven years ago. After stays in the more touristed cities of Rome and Florence, we opted to skip Venice, the third city in the Italian tourism trifecta, and instead headed to the more food-focused Bologna.  Any city known as “La Grassa” (the Fat One) intrigued us for its nickname alone.

As the center of the Emilia-Romagna food culture, Bologna is famous for access to great products like Prosciutto di Parma, Parmigiano-Reggiano and Mortadella. Most importantly, Bologna is THE place to eat hand rolled, fresh pasta served along with complex, meat-laden ragus known around the world as bolognese sauce.

Aperitivo Plate in La Bottega Di Via Montegrappa in Bologna Italy

Local products abound in Bologna. We ate this plate topped with Prosciutto, Salami, Mortadella and Parmigiano-Reggiano at La Bottega di via Montegrappa.

Where Is Bologna?

As Italy’s main rail hub and home to Europe’s oldest university, Bologna is a crossroads of culture that spans Italy’s long geographic boot. Located in Northern Italy, the distance by speed train to Florence is under 40 minutes.

With this location, Bologna restaurants have begun to attract chefs from as far away as Campania and Puglia. These chefs are placing an exciting new stamp on some Bologna classics like Tagliatelle al Ragu and Lasagna Verde al Forno.

During our initial visit, we connected with Bologna and its tasty food selection as well as the city’s rich history and architectural beauty. As we strolled through the city’s maze of ancient porticoes while licking cones stuffed with gelato, we vowed to return to the city one day for many reasons but most of all for the food.

It took us seven years, but we finally made it back. To our pleasant surprise, the Bologna cuisine is even better than we remembered. Update:  We returned to Bologna yet again and have updated this article with new Bologna food favorites.

Bologna Food – More than Ragu

Bologna Portico Street Scene

Bologna’s stunning porticoes provide welcome shade to pedestrians during the hot summer months.

If the question is what is Bologna known for, the answer is food. And lots of it.

Blessed by its geographic placement in Emilia Romagna, one of Italy’s major food regions, Bologna has some of the country’s best cuisine. Streets in the center of town are hectic all day and night, though the city comes alive in the early evening when cafes fill with locals sharing plates topped with locally produced meats and cheeses.

L'Arco degli Albari in Bologna Italy

Locals regularly hit the streets for aperitivo breaks after work. Pictured here is L’Arco degli Albari in the heart of city.

We’re talking about Prosciutto from Parma, Coppa from Piacenza and Parmigiano Reggiano from Modena. And the wine! Local favorites include Sangiovese, Pignoletto and the classic red sparkler Lambrusco. Unlike the swill available in grocery stores around the world, the Lambrusco produced in Emilia Romagna pairs perfectly with Bologna’s hearty pasta fare. If you’re wondering what to do in Bologna, the answer will likely involve food.

Tagliatelle with Ragu Bolognese at Osteria Broccaindosso in Bologna Italy

Pasta reigns supreme in Bologna Italy. Pictured here is a plate of Tagliatelle al Ragu at Osteria Broccaindosso.

Speaking of pasta, Bologna is the epicenter of freshly prepared pasta. Bologna restaurants serve all types of pasta but local favorites include Tagliatelle al Ragu, Gramigna with Sausage, Lasagna Verdi al Forno and Tortellini in Brodo.

For the uninitiated, Tortellini in Brodo consists of small handmade dumplings served with a rich, meaty broth. Trust us – this dish alone is worth a trip to Bologna.

Home Cooking in Bologna Italy

Daryl proudly displays the fresh pasta for our home cooked meal.

And it’s not just restaurants. You can buy pasta from local pasta pros named sfoglinas to eat later and, if you’re ambitious, you can even take a pasta class and learn how to make it yourself. Although it’s fun to make your own pasta, we recommend buying freshly made pasta and cooking it up at your short stay Bologna holiday apartment. Even better, you can also purchase ragu (made by the sfoglinas, of course) to go with the pasta – a true time saver while you’re on a Bologna holiday.

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Bologna Food Guide

Freshly Prepared Pasta To Go at Pasta Fresca Naldi in Bologna Italy

Every meal in Bologna is another opportunity for more pasta. We purchased these containers at Pasta Fresca Naldi and ate them at a local cafe caddy corner to the shop with a side of beer.

We dined at some of the most popular Bologna restaurants and found some hidden gems during our three-week stay in Bologna. We also took pasta-making classes and indulged in leisurely aperitivo sessions.

Clementina Verrocchio at Forno Brisa in Bologna Italy

Clementina Verrocchio holds a tray of pizza at Forno Brisa. The modern Bologna cafe sells third wave coffee along with excellent bread, pastries and pizza.

Every time we thought we had eaten the best Bolognese pasta, we found even better pasta to include in our Bologna guide. And that doesn’t even contemplate pizza, coffee and other local specialties. Such is the food scene in Bologna.

Restaurants

Outdoor Dining at Trattoria del Rosso in Bologna Italy

Bologna diners spill on to the portico topped sidewalks in the warm summer months.

Places to eat in Bologna skew on the casual side with diners enjoying long meals often involving heaping plates of fresh pasta and carafes of local wine. As a bonus, the prices at the best restaurants in Bologna tend to be reasonable with a few exceptions, namely upscale restaurants like Diana and I Portici that cater to business travelers and those celebrating special occasions. As for us, these are our favorite Bologna restaurants:

Trattoria di Via Serra

Gramigna with Sausage at Trattoria di Via Serra in Bologna Italy

Pasta in Bologna rarely disappoints. We especially enjoyed this plate of Gramigna with Mountain Sausage and Fresh Herbs at Trattoria di Via Serra.

If you think that all trattorias are created equal, then Trattoria di Via Serra will convince you otherwise. Helmed by slow food acolytes Flavio Benassi and Chef Tommaso Maio, this trattoria serves superior pasta dishes along with an exciting range of Bologna Italy food options that create surprise and delight with every bite. Don’t be fooled by its off-center location near the train station, Trattoria di Via Serra is a must visit Bologna restaurant.

Flavio Benassi and Chef Tommaso Maio at Trattoria di Via Serra in Bologna Italy

Partners Flavio Benassi and Chef Tommaso Maio made us feel at home and fed us well during our lunch at Trattoria di Via Serra. Benassi runs the front of the house with style while Maio controls the kitchen with a steady hand and ready smile.

Benassi, who manages the restaurant’s dining room like a well-oiled machine, greeted us like old friends and then patiently walked us through the menu, explaining how the restaurant procures its ingredients from local producers, many located in small mountain towns near Bologna. Since we were dining with friends, we ordered a range of primi plates (starters) and secondi plates (main courses) to share.

Via Serra’s gramigna dish with its distinctly flavored local pork was notably superior to other gramignas we enjoyed throughout Bologna. We also loved the restaurant’s salumi plate as well as the basket of crescenti tra le tigelle served with mountain pesto. Based on fresh dishes like these, Trattoria di Via Serra may be the best place to eat in Bologna.

Crescenti tra le Tigelle with Mountain Pesto at Trattoria di Via Serra in Bologna Italy

Hot out of the oven, these Tigelle were almost too pretty to eat. We somehow managed by spreading delightfully fatty Mountain Pesto on to the small warm rounds of bread.

Pro Tip:  Be sure to make an advance dinner reservation for Trattoria di Via Serra. With only 35 seats, the restaurant fills up every night except Sunday and Monday when the popular Bologna restaurant is closed. Trattoria di Via Serra is also open for lunch on the weekends (Friday, Saturday and Sunday).

Trattoria di Via Serra is located at Via Luigi Serra, 9/b, 40129 Bologna BO, Italy. The restaurant has earned a Michelin Bib Gourmand rating.

Oltre.

Tagliatelle at Oltre in Bologna Italy

Tagliatelle never tasted better to us than when combined with culatello and asparagus at Oltre.

Don’t be surprised when you arrive at Oltre located just a few blocks from the bustling Mercato delle Erbe.  Plastered with stickers, the restaurant’s front doors look like they lead to a hipster club or dive bar. Once inside the interior of Oltre, which translates to beyond, we realized that the restaurant is no mere saloon.

Oltre in Bologna Italy

A culinary oasis hides behind the stickered doors at Oltre.

One of the restaurant’s three partners, Lorenzo Giacomo Costa confided that the doors are an intentional attempt for Oltre to blend into the gentrifying neighborhood. However, Oltre’s interior is a different story with a sleekly modern design by second partner Jacopo Pozzati. And then there’s the food.

Chef Daniele Bendanti, Oltre’s third partner, has created an exciting menu filled with deceptively traditional dishes like tagliatelle, tortelloni and cotoletta. During our meal, each of Bendanti’s dishes featured an array of fresh ingredients that elevated Bologna food classics to new heights.

Tortelloni at Oltre in Bologna Italy

Deceptively simple, this tortelloni dish with anchovies, fava beans and pecorino cheese burst with flavor.

Sure, we could have ordered tagliatelle al ragu, but how could we resist eating fresh noodles in a buttery white sauce with culatello and asparagus? And tortelloni has never tasted better than the version we ate here stuffed with anchovy perfumed ricotta cheese and adorned with fava beans and pecorino cheese.

It was fortunate we opted to share a secondi. The Cotoletta alla Bolognese (Bolognese cutlet), literally as big as our heads and topped with generous amounts of culatello and 24-month aged Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, packed a mighty flavor punch. As we plowed through the gargantuan dish, glasses of fruit forward local chardonnay provided a nice and surprisingly weighty counterbalance to the delightfully salty, umami-packed cutlet.

Chocolate Tortino at Oltre in Bologna Italy

Oltre’s culinary team applies the same level of expertise to desserts like Chocolate Fondant and Zuppa Inglese.

Dessert options include favorites like 70% dark fondant cake with English cream but the true gem is the recently introduced breakfast pannacotta. This sweet and salty dessert looks like pain perdu but has elements of buttery, salty popcorn. Trust the team at Oltre to turn a classic dessert into something ‘beyond’ the expected.

Pro Tip:  Enjoy an aperitivo at nearby Mercato delle Erbe before your dinner at Oltre.

Oltre is located at b 1, Via Augusto Majani, 40122 Bologna BO, Italy.

Osteria al 15

Crescente with Squacquerone at Osteria al 15 in Bologna Italy

We spooned Squacquerone on to crispy Crescentine (fried bread). This tasty primi plate cost us all of €3 at Osteria al 15 in Bologna.

Cozy and decorated with a kitschy decor, Osteria al 15 is the neighborhood tavern of our dreams. Located in the Via Mirasole neighborhood, Osteria 15 serves classic Bolognese dishes at reasonable prices and in generous portions.

Lasagna Verde Bolognese at Osteria al 15 in Bologna Italy

Lasagna Verdi al Forno at Osteria al 15.

We started our meal by sharing a plate of Crescentine (fried bread) and Squacquerone (soft cheese from Emilia Romagna). The dish conveyed the rich, decadent, melt in your mouth flavors we crave in Bologna. Our primi plates, Tagliatelle al Ragu and a generous slab of Lasagna, surprised us with their execution and sophisticated mouth feel. The tagliatelle, though cooked, still maintained a pillow-like texture. Osteria al 15 also offers desserts like tiramisù and pannacotta just in case you have any room after a day of consuming cornetti, salumi and gelato.

Pro Tip:  Just a short walk from the center of town, this cozy, subterranean restaurant is the perfect spot for a romantic dinner.

Osteria Al 15 is located at Via Mirasole, 13, 40124 Bologna BO, Italy.

Sette Tavoli

Sette Tavoli Sous Chef Mattia Eletto in Bologna Italy

Sette Tavoli takes diners on a culinary tour of Italy. Pictured here is sous chef Mattia Eletto.

Unlike many of the top restaurants in Bologna Italy, tiny Sette Tavoli offers cuisine with origins beyond the Emilia Romagna borders. Chef Marco Spanghero offers a rotating menu that spans Italy’s many regions like Campania, Puglia, Basilicata and Calabria.

Spaghetti with Botarga and Langostines at Sette Tavoli in Bologna Italy

This plate of Spaghetti with salty Bottarga and Langoustines was a change of pace from Tagliatelle Al Ragu during our three-week stay in Bologna.

After starting our meal with a selection of cured meats, we plowed into a range of pasta dishes including the “Super Spaghettone” Verrigni with Langoustine and Mullet Bottarga pictured above. We managed to save just enough room for a light dessert of Pannacotta made with basil, strawberry sauce and fresh mint – an odd flavor combination that worked.

Pro Tip: Sette Tavoli lives us to its name with just seven tables inside the Bologna restaurant. Consider making a lunch reservation if you’re not able to secure a table for dinner.

Sette Tavoli is located at  Via Cartoleria, 15/2, 40124 Bologna BO, Italy.

Osteria Broccaindosso

Gramigna with Pork at Osteria Broccaindosso in Bologna Italy

The Gramigna with Pork at Osteria Broccaindosso had just the correct ratio of al dente pasta and flavorful Bologna meat.

Not every meal needs to be an epic event, which is how we ended up at Osteria Broccaindosso on a night when we wanted a casual meal filled with pasta and red wine. After settling into a corner table, we ordered classic pasta dishes and a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from Veneto.

Tortelloni at Osteria Broccaindosso in Bologna Italy

Cheese filled Tortelloni (Tortellini’s larger cousin) with Butter and Sage is yet another classic Bologna pasta dish.

As we ate our generous portions of gramigna and tortelloni, we enjoyed a bit of voyeurism while observing our fellow diners including a group of young women sharing salads and spirited conversation. With a welcoming and convivial vibe, the restaurant made us comfortable while we indulged in some Bologna pasta classics.

Pro Tip:  Try Osteria Broccaindosso’s Tortellini in Brodo in the cooler winter months. This dish will warm you from the inside out.

Osteria Broccaindosso is located at Via Broccaindosso, 7/A, 40125 Bologna BO, Italy.

Vineria Favalli

Traditional Lasagna at Vineria Favalli in Bologna Italy

This lasagna at Vineria Favalli is as traditional as it gets. The restaurant also serves a vegetarian version with artichoke.

Located near the Basilica Santo Stefano (also known as the Seven Churches), Vineria Favalli serves a range of Bologna food classics including lasagna, tortelloni and tigelle. For sandwich lovers, the restaurant also serves a variety of piadina options including parma ham, mortadella, speck and eggplant for lunch.

Triangoli at Vineria Favalli in Bologna Italy

This triangoli pasta was stuffed with bufala cheese and cherry tomatoes.

Since vineria literally translates to winery, it’s no surprise that Vineria Favalli has an extensive wine menu with white, red, rosé, sparkling and sweet selections available by the glass or by the bottle. Choosing the right wine is half of the fun. Drinking it is the other half.

Pro Tip:  Weather permitting, request an outside table so that you can people watch on one of Bologna’s prettiest streets.

Vineria Favalli is located at Via Santo Stefano, 5A, 40125 Bologna BO, Italy.

Trattoria del Rosso

Tortellini en Brodo at Trattoria del Rosso in Bologna Italy

We ate this generous bowl of Tortellini in Brodo at Trattoria del Rosso in the center of Bologna Italy.

A visit to Bologna would be incomplete without trying Tortellini in Brodo at least once, even in summer. We satisfied this requirement at Trattoria del Rosso, a cheap and cheerful restaurant in the city center. Reputed to be the oldest trattoria in town, Trattoria del Rosso serves a range of local pastas and other regional favorites.

Pro Tip:  Sit outside if the weather cooperates.

Trattoria del Rosso is located at Via Augusto Righi, 30, 40126 Bologna BO, Italy.

Quick Bites

Filling Pasta at Le Sfogline in Bologna Italy

These future Tortellinis and Tortellonis at Le Sfogline are the perfect quick bites in Bologna.

We mentioned that Bologna’s dining scene is mostly casual, with most diners opting for pasta for part of their meal if not for the entire meal. In Bologna, this situation is not a sacrifice since much of the best food in Bologna is available for under 10 €. Saving money for wine = winning!

Pasta Fresca Naldi

Sfoglina at Pasta Fresca Naldi in Bologna Italy

Eating freshly made pasta from Pasta Fresca Naldi is one of the greatest culinary joys in Bologna.

Open since 1985, Pasta Fresca Naldi is one of the most popular pasta shops in Bologna thanks to owner Valeria Nardi’s commitment to freshly prepared pasta at reasonable prices. Although Nardi’s shop serves a variety of pasta meals there are no tables. Everything is sold on a takeaway basis.

Pro Tip:  Grab some plastic forks and take your Pasta Fresca Naldi pasta to nearby Barazzo where you can order some craft beer and eat your meal. It’s cool and everybody does it.

Pasta Fresca Naldi is located at Via del Pratello, 69, 40122 Bologna BO, Italy.

Le Sfogline

Pasta Making Demonstration at Le Sfogline in Bologna Italy

The Venturi sisters run Le Sfogline, a popular pasta shop in Bologna. Here, Monica efficiently fills Tortellini shells with ricotta and meat fillings.

Open since 1996 and located behind Bologna’s best market, Mercato delle Erbe, Le Sfogline is a pasta institution. Sisters Daniela and Monica Venturi prepare their pasta by hand, only using machines to stretch the dough. Lucky enough to have learned how to make pasta as young girls, they are now skilled enough to make 24 tortellini in a minute – not an easy task.

Watch our video to see the ladies of Le Sfogline in action.

The shop is busy all day long with locals bringing in their babies and leaving with bags of pasta and, in some cases, pints of ragu. Tourists also stream into the shop, lured by positive word of mouth and the shop’s spread in Long Weekends, Rick Stein’s gorgeous cookbook.

Pro Tip:  Don’t leave Le Sfogline without buying Raviola cookies. Filled with jam and flavored with lemon zest, these cookies make a fun snack during a busy day of touring.

Le Sfogline is located at Via Belvedere, 7, 40121 Bologna BO, Italy.

MozzaBella

Pizza at MozzaBella in Bologna Italy

Colorful pizza slices at MozzaBella are priced at €2 to €3, making the cute pizzeria an ideal spot for Bologna cheap eats.

Located across the street from Pasta Fresca Naldi, MozzaBella is serving the best pizza in Bologna with an exciting selection of gourmet toppings. The rectangular in teglio style reminded us of pizzerias we enjoyed in Strasbourg and Bucharest, but the ingredients at MozzaBella are pure Emilia Romagna.

We especially liked the Mortadella, Parma Ham and Yellow Tomato toppings. For full enjoyment, pair the pizza with a cold, refreshing Menebrea craft beer.

Pro Tip: MozzaBella is a great option for Vegans and Vegetarians.

MozzaBella is located at Via del Pratello, 65, 40122 Bologna BO, Italy.

PizzArtist

Pizza at at PizzArtist in Bologna Italy

Bologna gives Rome a run for its money when it comes to pizza due to the high quality of ingredients in Emilia Romagna.

If the question is where to find cheap eats in Bologna, then PizzArtist is the answer so long as you like Roman-style pizza served al taglio style. The design is casual with just a few chairs scattered around the sidewalk, but the solid pizza is so well priced that three of us enjoyed lunch for under €10 including three bottles of sparkling water.

PizzArtist is located at Via Marsala, 35/A, 40126 Bologna BO, Italy.

Pizzeria da Totò

Pizza at Da Toto Pizzeria in Bologna Italy

This Napoli pizza with olives and anchovies at Da Toto Pizzeria in Bologna was big enough to share.

We once met a Romanian couple who didn’t like Italian pizza since, in their opinion, it doesn’t have enough toppings. That couple would like the Bolognese pizza at Pizzeria da Totò, a sprawling Bologna pizzeria with a menu that has a lot of topping options. Though not the best pizza we’ve eaten in Italy or even Bologna, Pizzeria da Totò is a solid choice if you’re looking for a cheap, filling meal outside of the city center.

Pro Tip:  Feel free to visit Pizzeria da Totò with all of your friends. The pizzeria has plenty of tables to accommodate larger parties.

Pizzeria da Totò is located at Via S. Rocco, 7, 40122 Bologna BO, Italy.

Ca’ Peletti

Mortadello Pannini at Ca Pelletti in Bologna Italy

The Mortadella Panini at Ca’ Peletti makes a welcome break from pasta and pizza for diners on the go.

Although Ca’ Peletti has a full menu featuring pasta and desserts, we like the Centro Historico’s cafe’s Mortadella Panini for a quick snack or light lunch. In our opinion, there’s no better place to eat Mortadella, Bologna’s signature pork product dating back to the 17th century, than in the city of Bologna.

Pro Tip:  Go to Ca’ Peletti for an early lunch, which in Bologna means before 1:00 pm. The small restaurant does not take reservations and tends to get crowded at peak meal times.

Ca’ Peletti is located at Via Altabella, 15 C/D, 40125 Bologna BO, Italy.

Aperitivo Bars / Salumerias

The Quadrilatero in Bologna Italy

Bologna’s Quadrilatero comes alive in the early evening when crowds convene for the nightly aperitivo ritual.

The streets of Bologna come alive when the day turns to night as that’s when locals stream to cafes and bars to share aperitivo with their friends and loved ones. An aperitivo is technically a pre-dinner drink, but, in Bologna, the aperitvo is a social activity that involves food and drinks. What can be better than that?!

Typical Bologna aperitivo sessions involve flowing wine and big plates topped with charcuterie and cheese. Those more in the mood for an Aperol Spritz or a Gin & Tonic flock to spots like Very Nice Cocktail Bar, Pastis and Virus Shop. Locals and tourists can expect to find excellent drink and snacks throughout the city, though buffet spreads are not the norm here as opposed to other Italian cities.

Salumeria Simoni

Salumi Plate at Simoni in Bologna Italy

This meat and cheese plate at Salumeria Simoni is an aperitivo favorite in Bologna.

The corner of Via Drapperie and Via Pescherie is the epicenter of the Bologna aperitivo scene, and that’s where you’ll find Salumeria Simoni, a Bologna fixture since 1960. Aperitivo fans fill the shop and spill on the sidewalks every day where they enjoy plates with Emilia Romagna products like Mortadella, Cicioli, Culatello, Ham and the king of cheese – Parmigiano Reggiano along with other local favorites.

Pro Tip:  Arrive early to score an outside table. It’s one of the best people watching spots in town!

Salumeria Simoni is located at Via Drapperie, 5/2a, 40100 Bologna BO, Italy.

Tamburini

Salumi and Cheese at Tamburini in Bologna Italy

Our plate overflowed with a melange of cured meats and cheeses at Tamburini.

Located around the corner from Simoni in Bologna’s Quadrilatero, Tamburini is another classic aperitivo spot where locals meet friends for drinks and a pre-dinner meal. Tourists also flock to Tamburini to try the scintillating variety of Emilia Romagna meats and cheeses that the shop has been selling since 1932. If you order correctly, it is possible to get all the best things to eat in Bologna on one plate at Tamburini.

Pro Tip:  Be sure to wash your salty snack down with a glass of local wine or craft beer. Or, if you’re in the mood, it’s always a good time for an Aperol Spritz in Bologna!

Tamburini is located at via 40124, Via Caprarie, 1, 40124 Bologna BO, Italy.

L’Arco degli Albari

Aperol Spritz at L'Arco degli Albari in Bologna Italy

Is there anything better than having your Aperol Spritz prepared at the table? We think not.

The Aperol Spritz is quite the rage in Europe these days, and Bologna may be at the forefront of the craze. We drank quite a few spritzes in La Grassa (The Fat One) but none were better than the ones we drank at L’Arco degli Albari in a quiet alley just off Piazza Maggiore. After the server shared the special off-menu Aperol Spritz options, we chose the ones made with local sparkling wine. We liked them so much that we ordered seconds. The bar also offers a curated wine selection.

Pro Tip:  Although drinks come with snacks like olives and piadina sandwiches, you can order pasta dishes if you’re feeling extra hungry.

L’Arco degli Albari is located at Via Degli Albari, 2/a, 40126 Bologna BO, Italy.

La Bottega di via Montegrappa

La Bottega di via Montegrappa in Bologna Italy

We enjoyed glasses of local wine at La Bottega di via Montegrappa.

La Bottega di via Montegrappa is a great spot for enjoying aperitivi away from the Quadrilatero’s maddening crowds. Don’t get us wrong, we like the action but sometimes we prefer a chill atmosphere to end the day with good friends, good wine and good food.

This family-run Bologna enoteca serves plates piled high with local meat and cheese (see photo above) as well as a range of tempting pasta dishes. Choosing wine can be a challenge since the selection runs the gamut from inexpensive local glasses to special occasions bottles; however, the friendly staff is more than willing to offer helpful suggestions upon request.

Pro Tip:  If you need a break from wine, order craft Baladin beer from nearby Piemonte.

La Bottega di via Montegrappa is located at Via Monte Grappa, 13, 40121 Bologna BO, Italy.

Dessert

Raviole Cookies in Bologna Italy

Why eat just one Raviole cookie in Bologna? Grab a bag and eat a few. You know you want to eat more than just one!

Considering the pervasive prevalence of pasta in Bologna, you might think that desserts are not a big deal in the northern Italian city, but you would be wrong. It is the fat city after all!

Chocolate Cornetto at Forno Brisa in Bologna Italy

Bologna has sweet treats for breakfast too. We ate this chocolate-filled cornetto at Forno Brisa.

Bologna desserts include Zuppa Inglese, inspired by the English trifle and similar to tiramisu, as well as traditional cookies like Raviole and Pinza. The Torta di Riso (rice cake) is another popular Bologna dessert, but none of these compare to Bologna’s greatest sweet treat – gelato.

Gelato at Cremeria Funivia in Bologna Italy

Two of our favorite things to do in Bologna are walking in porticoes and eating gelato. Why not combine the two activities like we did with this cone from Cremeria Funivia?

We could have eaten a cone of gelato every day in Bologna … so we did just that. We alternated our visits to the best gelaterias in the world including Cremeria Santo Stefano, Galliera 49, Stefino, Cremeria Funivia, Gelatauro and Sorbetteria Castiglione.

Pro tip:  Take a class while you’re in Bologna. Sure, you could go to the University of Bologna, Europe’s oldest university. As for us, we went to Carpigiani Gelato University where we learned how to make gelato and got to eat our work. Yum!

Cremeria Santo Stephano is located at Via Santo Stefano, 70, 40125 Bologna BO, Italy.
Galliera 49 is located at Via Galliera, 49/b, 40121 Bologna BO, Italy.
Stephino is located at Via S. Vitale, 37, 40125 Bologna BO, Italy.
Cremeria Funivia is located at Via Porrettana, 158/4d, 40135 Bologna BO, Italy.
Gelatauro is located at Via San Vitale, 98/b, 40125 Bologna BO, Italy.
Sorbetteria Castiglione is located at Via Castiglione, 44 d/e, 40124 Bologna BO, Italy.

Coffee

Cappuccino at Caffe Terzi in Bologna Italy

Coffee is an important start to the day in Bologna.

Finding a good cup of coffee in Italy can be a challenge for lovers of third wave coffee since the art of drinking coffee is unique in the country that invented the cappuccino and espresso. We drank a lot of coffee around Bologna from tony cafes on the Piazza Maggiore to trendy student cafes near the city’s prestigious university. At the end of the day, these are our favorite spots to drink coffee in Bologna:

Forno Brisa

Forno Brisa in Bologna Italy

Forno Brisa calls itself a hardcore bakery. We call it the best cafe in Bologna.

Despite Italy’s reluctance toward specialty coffee, Forno Brisa is leading the third wave coffee charge in Bologna. Open since 2015, the cafe brews modern drinks like flat whites and V60 pour overs with locally roasted beans sourced from Africa and South America. Prices skew higher here compared to other Bologna cafes, but the extra cost is worth it considering the quality of the coffee and internet availability.

Pizza and Coffee at at Forno Brisa in Bologna Italy

We enjoyed this pizza and flat white at Forno Brisa, our favorite cafe in Bologna.

More than just coffee, Forno Brisa reigns as a premiere Bologna bakery with its wide selection of bread, pastry and pizza. Talented baker Ilaria Prosperi fills the cafe’s counters with a variety of local favorites like cornettos and pinza con mostarda as well as top notch Teglia alla Romana pizzas. Not your grandmother’s pizza, these square pies are creatively adorned with toppings like ragu, cured meat and creamy squacquerone cheese.

In a city known for strong, unyielding customs, Forno Brisa is a shining example of Bologna’s willingness to accept new ideas, like specialty coffee techniques, and integrate these ideas into the city’s long-standing culinary traditions. Be sure to stop by this cafe when you visit Bologna.

Pro Tip:  Shop at Forno Brisa for edible gifts like pasta, jam and nduja.

Forno Brisa has multiple locations in Bologna. We were repeat visitors at the location at Via Galleria, 34D, 40121 Bologna BO, Italy.

Caffè Terzi

Caffè Terzi in Bologna Italy

Caffe Terzi offers a selection of coffee beans from around the world.

At first glance, Caffè Terzi looks like a typical Italian cafe with its long bar filled with locals quickly drinking shots of espresso. However, this popular cafe near the city center takes its coffee to the next level by offering a global selection of beans. Trained baristas carefully prepare the drinks, shaving orange peel into some and coffee flakes into others.

Pro Tip:  Don’t skip Caffeè Terzi if you’re not a coffee drinker. The coffee haven has a wide selection of tea and honey too.

Caffè Terzi is located at Via Guglielmo Oberdan, 10/d, 40126 Bologna BO, Italy.

Aroma

Coffee Drink at Aroma in Bologna Italy

This specialty crafted coffee drink at Aroma hit the spot and gave us a much-needed jolt of caffeine. Called a Caffe Fiordilatte, this drink included espresso and artisan pannacotta.

Voted the sixth best cafe in Italy, Aroma serves single origin specialty coffee drinks like the Cappuccino Melange with vanilla or cinnamon, the Caffé allo Zabione with artisan eggnog and cocoa powder and the Caffe Diordilatte with artisan pannacotta. If you want a more simple coffee, the baristas at Aroma also serve coffees brewed with alternative extraction methods such as French Press, V60 and Aeropress.

Pro Tip:  Not in the mood for coffee now? Aroma sells beans that you can brew at home.

Aroma is located at Via Porta Nova, 12/b, 40123 Bologna BO, Italy.

Pappare

Cappuccinos at Pappare in Bologna Italy

Three cappuccinos are better than just one at Pappare in Bologna Italy.

Taking the Bologna coffee scene to the 21st century, Pappare serves coffee with a side of internet, not a given in Bologna. We loved the modern cafe’s airy space and dessert selection but appreciated the coffee and free WIFI even more. In addition to coffee, Pappare serves a selection of cafe fare including options for Vegetarians and Vegans.

Pro Tip:  Bring your laptop to Pappare. The cafe provides a viable workspace for digital nomads.

Pappare is located at Via De’ Giudei, 2, 40126 Bologna BO, Italy.

Food Experiences

Pasta Class in Bologna Italy

If you enjoy eating the best pasta in Bologna, then you will love taking a pasta making class during your visit. Here, Daryl attempts to form a tortellini with his new pasta skills. FYI, it’s not as easy as it looks.

Eating in Bologna is the best way to experience the city, with many different food experiences available to visitors. The most obvious choice is to take a pasta class at Le Sfoglione (see above) or with a Bologna local like Davide Labanti.

Pro Tip:  Email David Labanti at 14pollici@gmail.com to set up a private pasta class.

Watch our video to see us learn how to make tortellini in Bologna.

Another fun food experience is to take a Bologna food tour with a reputable tour company like Yummy Italy. For the adventurous food traveler, we recommend a Vespa tour of the Bologna hills with Travelhoo.

Time permitted, plan to spend a day in nearby Modena for the ultimate Emilia food experiences of tasting Parmigiano Reggiano, Balsamic Vinegar and Prosciutto di Modena at artisan factories where they are produced. You can then also a self-guided Master of None tour in the city. If you haven’t watched the first two seasons of the Aziz Ansari show – watch them now.

Pro Tip:  The train from Bologna to Modena costs £3 and takes less than a half hour. You can buy tickets at the Bologna train station.

Markets

Market Tomatoes in Bologna Italy

Bologna markets are ideal for shopping for seasonal produce. Summer is great for tomatoes (pictured here) and Vignola cherries. Porcini mushrooms are readily available in the autumn months.

As is the case in much of Europe, markets in Bologna are a great place to buy produce and connect with locals. Farmers bring their wares to Bologna from nearby towns, resulting in a vast selection of local, seasonal products at reasonable costs.

Mercato Delle Erbe

Mercato delle Erbe in Bologna Italy

Lucia at Stall 16 is one of the friendly vendors at Mercato delle Erbe. Plus, her tomatoes are gorgeous

Although Mercato delle Erbe is historically a vegetable market, vendors at the largest market in Bologna also sell fruit, meat, wine and prepared foods. Part of the market is now a food court with tables where visitors can enjoy a quick lunch or longer aperitivo. Though tourists are welcome at this covered market, most of the market’s shoppers are locals buying supplies for their next meal. If you’re wondering what to eat in Bologna Italy, you will surely find something good at this Bologna market.

Pro Tip:  Go to the market in the morning for the best selection of the day.

Mercato delle Erbe is located Via Ugo Bassi, 25, 40121 Bologna BO, Italy.

Other Markets

Vignola Cherries

We bought these Vignola cherries at a Bologna market. No lie – they’re the best cherries we’ve ever eaten.

Though it’s the biggest Bologna food market, Mercato delle Erbe is not the only game in town. Other recommended markets include Mercato di Mezzo near Piazza Maggiore and Mercato della Terra operated by denizens of the Slow Food movement.

Pro Tip:  Don’t forget about the chain grocery markets in Bologna. These stores sell surprisingly fresh food and have longer hours.

Mercato di Mezzo is located at Via Clavature, 12, 40124 Bologna BO, Italy.
Mercato della Terra is located at Via Azzo Gardino, 65, 40122 Bologna BO, Italy.

Further Afield

As a transportation hub, Bologna makes a great base for exploring Emilia Romagna and its many food experiences. Here are a few that you shouldn’t miss.

Agriturismo DonnaLivia

Olive Oil Tasting at DonnaLivia

DonnaLivia offers an olive oil tasting for those who want to compare and contrast the farm’s locally produced olive oil.

Even if you don’t stay at an agriturismo, you can eat a meal at one like we did at DonnaLivia. In addition to serving meals made with locally produced products, DonnaLivia also offers tastings of the olive oil and wine that it produces on the premises.

Agriturismo DonnaLivia is located at Via Cavina 26-28, 48013 Brisighella RA, Italy. 

Fienile Fluò

Travelhoo Vespa Tour Aperitvos at Fienile Fluo

Fienile Fluo provides a lovely spot in the Bologna Hills for trying local products.

We stopped at Fienile Fluò during our Vespa tour of the Bologna Hills. This agriturismo offers wonderful local products plus wine produced at the onsite vineyard. However, the best part of eating at Fienile Fluò is the epic view.

Fienile Fluò is located at Via di Paderno, 9, 40136 Bologna BO, Italy.

Trattoria Pomposa

Calzagatti at Trattoria Pomposa in Modena Italy

Calzagatti, polenta and cannellini bean fritters, is a typical food in Modena. We ate this version at Trattoria Pomposa.

Modena’s most famous restaurant, Osteria Francescana, tops the world’s most important restaurant lists and sports three Michelin stars. However, it’s not feasible for most tourists to eat every meal there, if even one. Luckily, the city has affordable restaurants that offer better reservation availability. During our day trip to Modena, we enjoyed dinner at Trattoria Pomposa where Chef Luca Marchini serves traditional Emilia Romagna dishes including house-made pasta.

Trattoria Pomposa is located at V. Castel Maraldo, 57, 41121 Modena MO, Italy.

Osteria de Borg

Pizza at Osteria de Borg in Rimini Italy

Osteria de Borg serves excellent wood-fired pizza like the Isolana topped with tomato, oregano, capers, anchovies and raw buffalo mozzarella.

Osteria de Borg may be located in the old fishing village of San Giuliano in Rimini, but the restaurant serves more than just fish. Popular dishes include piadina, homemade pasta, meatballs and wood-fired pizza. As a bonus, the outdoor terrace is a lovely spot to enjoy a fine meal and a bottle of local red wine with friends.

Osteria de Borg is located at Via Forzieri, 12, 47921 Rimini RN, Italy.

Ristorante Righi

Ristorante Righi in San Marino

Tomato soup is served inside a hollowed out egg shell at Ristorante Righi in San Marino.

Emilia Romagna has its share of Michelin starred restaurants including Ristorante Righi in San Marino. Plan to stay overnight and spend a leisurely night enjoying Chef Luigi Sartini’s creative menu. As a bonus, you’ll get to enjoy the sunset and sunrise in San Marino, two magical experiences.

Ristorante Righi is located at Piazza della Libertà, 10, 47890 City of San Marino, San Marino.


Hungry for more? Check out our Bologna Gelato Guide with the best spots to eat gelato in Bologna.


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Portico at Night in Bologna Italy

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There’s more to do in Bologna beyond eating great food! Click here to find an awesome Bologna tour or try one of these tours:

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We thank Emilia Romagna Tourism for hosting us during our participation in their Blogville project in collaboration with iAmbassodor. We also thank Valentina Cavalli from Bologna Welcome for her restaurant recommendations and for setting up our pasta making demo at Le Sfoglione. Finally, we thank Halldis for hosting us for a few nights and for facilitating our pasta making class.

Wondering where to eat in Bologna Italy? Check out our favorite places to eat in Bologna including the best Bologna restaurants, cafes and markets. If you're wondering what to eat in Bologna, we include tips for lasagne, tortellini, tortelloni, pasta, pizza,  gelato and more. #Bologna #Italy #BolognaRestaurants #ItalianFood

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Comments

  1. Oh wow! I’m seriously drooling at all these food photos! I haven’t been to Bologna yet but after reading your post it’s jumped up to the top of the list. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Italian food is the best in the world – no competition! My boyfriend is Italian so we visit often, but I’ve not made it to Bologna yet. This has inspired me! That pasta looks toooo gooood!

    1. Author

      We have to agree about the food in Italy. You will not be disappointed when you make it to Bologna.

  3. Thank you for this! Planning a trip to Bologna and majorly struggling with finding places to eat. This is so informative, and all the food looks divine.

  4. I’ve actually visited Trattoria di Via Serra and I can confirm that it is pretty amazing. Some of the best food I’ve ever tried. Great post by the way 🙂

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