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Bologna Restaurants: Reviews & Recommendations


Alex F
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On Monday, September 21, Alberto and friends from Amerigo da 1934 are celebrating their 75th anniversary in style: an all-local meal, right down to the plates and glassware (well, mostly local: the water's still/sparkling Lurisia "It's not local, no one's perfect, but hey, it's the best!"). Dinner is in the main piazza in Savigno, costs 30 bucks (20 if you're > 75; free if you were born in Savigno in 1934), and proceeds go to toward a fund for building a senior center. A locavore's dream!

The announcement arrived in this morning's email, and since it doesn't appear on the website, I'll add it here:

Amerigo: Una storia lunga 75 anni

Savigno, Lunedì 21 Settembre 2009, dalle ore 20

FESTEGGIAMO ASSIEME

CON UN GRANDE TAVOLO CONVIVIALE DAL MUNICIPIO ALLA PIAZZA

IN CASO DI MALTEMPO O FREDDO ECCESSIVO CI SPOSTEREMO NEL TEATRO COMUNALE

SARANNO CON NOI:

le carni bovine e suine dell'antico MULINO DEL DOTTORE, SAVIGNO

la farina dell'antico MULINO DEL DOTTORE, SAVIGNO

il pane del FORNO CALZOLARI, MONGHIDORO

il salametto di Mora di CA' LUMACO, ZOCCA

le patate dell'altipiano Bortolani-Tolè di BRUNI, SAVIGNO

le verdure dei CONTADINI BIOLOGICI DELLA VALLE DEL SAMOGGIA

i prodotti del sottobosco di APPENNINO FUNGHI E TARTUFI, MONTEVEGLIO

il latte e la panna di Bianca Modenese del CASEIFICIO ROSOLA, ZOCCA

il caffè della TORREFAZIONE GUIZZARDI, PONTECCHIO MARCONI

i vini delle Aziende ISOLA, TORRICELLA E VALLONA, COLLI BOLOGNESI

cucineremo con i Signori del Barbecue di ATHOS GUIZZARDI, CASALECCHIO

utilizzeremo piatti e bicchieri di PRONTOLO, CALDERARA DI RENO

mangiando su tovaglie personalizzate dalla TIPOGRAFIA BM2, MONTEVEGLIO

ascolteremo musiche, storielle ed altro, in tema con la serata.

IL COSTO DELLA SERATA E' FISSATO IN 30 EURO. CHI E' NATO PRIMA DEL 1934 PAGHERA' SOLAMENTE 20 EURO, MENTRE CHI, COME NOI, E' NATO NEL 1934 A SAVIGNO O NON E' NATO QUA MA VI RISIEDE, SARA' NOSTRO OSPITE. PRENOTAZIONI 0516708326 - info@amerigo1934.it

Il ricavato della serata organizzata con il Comune di Savigno, i volontari delle locali associazioni e gli sponsor, andrà a costruire un fondo di finanziamento per la costruzione di un centro d'aggregazione dedicato ai cittadini anziani.

NONSOLOVINO-L'acqua, il chinotto e la gazzosa sono LURISIA. Non sono locali, nessuno è perfetto... però sono le più buone!!

UN GRAZIE AD EATALY CHE E' DEI NOSTRI ANCHE IN QUESTA FESTA.

Edited by cinghiale (log)
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  • 2 weeks later...

I've recently eaten very well at Al Cambio, in Via Stalingrado. Very competent chef, right balance between tradition and modernity, excellent materials. I found its 'brother restaurant' (each chef has on the menu a dish by the other chef), Scaccomatto in via Broccaindosso, one notch below but still good. Both are moderately priced. Cesarina mentioned by John was one of my old favourites and a lovable institution, though I had the impression that you need to be on good terms with the manager to get the best bits...

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  • 2 weeks later...

So, here's a brief update after my trip to Bologna and the Ravenna area. Should I add my Ravenna (etc.) notes here too? I had to make a judgement call on where to eat lunch in Bologna, as we ended up spending just one day there. I eventually chose Da Poeti, and would highly recommend it. Their tagliatelli bolognese/ragu was voted the best of the trip (although a small place in Caorle, along the coast from Venice, was a close second). I was the only one to have two courses and wine, and was greatly pleased. A half-bottle of wine I requested was not available, so a full bottle of the same wine was offered instead. I politely declined, explaining that I was the only one drinking, and that it would be a waste. An alternative half bottle was suggested and provided, and was delicious (both were local Sangioveses). Ashamedly, I can't think what my primo consisted of, but I certainly remember enjoying it. Secondo was beef strips (stracci?) with rosemary, served with delicious roast potatoes. I may have been limited to one good eating opportunity (I had a weeks worth of places I wanted to try), but I did not regret my choice. I explored Tamburini with eyes like saucers, and bemoaned my lack of time and conservative companions. We did have a drink later in the attached bar, where I would happily have run rampage through their wine selection. While Bologna is a very pleasant city, and the central attractions around Piazza Maggiore are very impressive, I did get the impression that food is the big draw. Sadly, I need to add a warning: while we had time for just one 'good' meal, we did need to eat before we headed back to where we were staying, and I was obliged to pick a more non-foodie destination for something quick in the evening (the parking garage just outside town was closing early, at 8pm). I picked La Brace, on Via San Vitale, which was mentioned in our guidebook (Lonely Planet, since you ask) with the slightly worrying (and in hindsight, clarion-like) description that 'pizza and seafood aren't what Bologna is known for, but that's what you'll find here' or words to that effect. The place was a disaster. Perhaps, it was slightly self-inflicted: we turned up just before they were opened properly, at 7, and said we were happy to wait a while for service (apparently, the kitchen staff were eating). This didn't bother us too much; we'd walked a lot, were tired, and had limited choice and time when it came to eating at 7 and needing to be finished by 8. However, this doesn't excuse the brutal service, which was at turns too quick to demand our orders and then utterly disinterested in whether we needed anything else. No bread or grissini were served, despite an extortionate 2 euro per person cover charge (I don't disapprove of 'coperto' in general, but considering this was the highest we paid anywhere, including Venice, in two weeks, for the worst service by far, I think it's ridiculous). Other tables were provided with bread, for whatever reason. When the food did arrive (it was quick, I'll give them that), it was disappointing. The bolognese/ragu was a shadow compared to other places we tried it (in, and outside of Bologna) and was too salty. The pizzas were flabby and soggy in the middle, due to the use of inexplicably moist ingredients. I had ordered a pizza that included porcini (by design, it wasn't something I requested as an addition myself) which seemed more like those tinned button mushrooms you find in supermarkets. I realise that dried porcini aren't a practical or tasty pizza topping, but the amount of liquid they added ruined what would have been an acceptable (if slightly pricey) pizza. I departed before the rest of the party, to ensure the garage didn't shut, but I learned afterwards that the bill was very slow in coming, despite several requests. All in all, the place was a clear tourist trap, in a city seemingly devoid of them. I think it would have been bad by the standards of touristy places in Venice; somewhere like Bologna certainly doesn't need places like this. And don't get me wrong, this isn't snobbery: the decoration of the room with football shirts didn't put me off (I'm an avid football fan, and enjoyed identifying the teams), and I'm not saying you shouldn't eat pizza (or seafood) in Bologna. I just don't think you should go to La Brace to do either.

So, on, or back, to Ravenna, where we were based for the first week of our vacation. We didn't eat much in Ravenna itself, however the Covered Market there is well worth a trip for foodies, being similar (even if much smaller) to the Bocqueria in Barcelona (or, if I may venture, the English Market in my native Cork). You won't find any chichi stalls here, just the usual staples (dazzling vegetables, delectable meat both raw and cooked, and wonderful larder ingredients) that make most tourists to Italy drool and concoct menus in their head as they take it all in (or is that just me?). We did take some sausages with us when we left, which were later barbequed when we arrived at our second destination. I would recommend getting ice-cream from the cafe right on the corner when you're leaving the Duomo though, it was top-notch. The big revelation in Ravenna was a restaurant close to where we were staying, near the beach resorts just outside town. It's a place called Il Molinetto, on the Canale Molinetto that links Ravenna to resorts like Marina di Ravenna, Punta Marina, and Lido Adriano.

Initially, I was wary of the place, being largely in the middle of nowhere, but passing it most days, it always seemed busy (and it wasn't high season, bear in mind). So, we stopped off one evening for dinner to check it out, while only being in the mood for pizza which seemed a decent yardstick of the place. The parking area was very busy, a good sign, and when we went inside it was packed with what we took for locals. They found us a table (we were close to being turned away I think, and this was a Monday or Tuesday evening, not too late) and we settled in. The menu was quite long, but seemed quite authentic, rather than 'lets put every Italian dish you've heard of on the menu'. We chose some pizzas, while admiring the rest of the menu, and vowing to return to do the place justice. The pizzas were very very good, with everyone satisfied with their choices, and we noticed the large family groups evidently celebrating events together, with 3 generations being a common site. Those are all good indicators in my book, so later in the week we made a reservation for the following Friday evening. This time, with a booking, the service was even better, and we had a great table. Some of the less adventurous eaters in the party took a very chances and were very happy they did, and we covered a reasonable number of bases by ordering pasta, risotto, and different grilled meat platters/dishes. I had a wonderful scallop and truffle risotto which could easily have served two people, and would have made a respectable mini-starter for four people if it had been divided up accordingly. We had a half bottle of pignoletto as an aperitif, then a half bottle and a bottle of Sangiovese (only two of us were drinking wine). All were very good, and cost the princely sum of 22 euro in total (the risotto, the most expensive single dish apart from a grilled meat platter for two, was 14 euro). The two different meat platters for the second course were very good, with a nice variety of cuts served in a variety of ways. One piece of mine was a bit dry for my liking, but a carved steak that formed part of the platter for two was cooked medium well at one end and daringly rare at the other, a nice balance. It was a wonderful piece of beef also.

Since it was a bit of a blow-out meal to mark the end of our time in the Ravenna area, desserts (semifreddo and crema catalana) were ordered, and they were magnificent. Once those were out of the way, a bottle of limoncello was put on the table with 4 glasses and an invite to help ourselves. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), the rest of the party were not fans of limoncello so I was left to my own devices. Shortly afterwards, another ice-cold bottle and more glasses were placed on the table; this time it was liquorice liquer. Note: liquorice, not aniseed. I love the former, and mostly loathe the latter. This dark, almost balsamico-like liquid was delicious, tasting much like you'd imagine good liquorice dissolved in alcohol would taste like. It was a surprise hit. Again, we were told to help ourselves. After we'd paid, and wheeled ourselves out of the restaurant, a small discrepancy was spotted on the bill: a bottle of wine, which was out of stock, had been included on the bill. We felt partly to blame, as we had asked a second waiter about it, and were later offered an alternative wine when told it was not available. We pointed this out at the till, and were immediately refunded the 15 euro in cash from the till, despite paying by credit card. The total, with three courses for 4 people, several beers, the wine (as mentioned), and several bottles of water, came to almost exactly 160 euro. This was a meal well worth 40 euro per head. It wasn't a guidebook type of place, but it felt like the local restaurant that your family always went to when you were a kid, or the place you always go to when you want a favourite dish. The food was well-executed, well priced, and served in a very comfortable way. For anyone staying in the area, it would be a great place to have on your doorstep. I'll add some comments elsewhere on Venice and Treviso.

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