Food & Drink
The gourmet’s guide to Bologna
In Bologna, there are lots of things you just have to taste. One of the most important is tortellini. These little knots of egg pasta are made from a dough rolled out so thin it’s almost see-through. They’re usually stuffed with meat or a seasonal filling.
After the tortellini, you can move on to the second-most important local dish: traditional Bolognese sauce, served with fresh tagliatelle. The famous sauce is called ragù here, and the traditional recipe has a limited selection of ingredients: minced beef, celery, onion, tomato purée, meat stock, salt and black pepper.
But Bologna is not only about savory dishes. It also has arguably the best ice cream – “gelato” – in the world. And if you have an appetite to learn more about this sweet sensation, check out the Bologna’s gelato museum.
For fresh produce, head to one of the local markets. Just off Piazza Maggiore you’ll find a fantastic selection at the food market area Via Pescherie Vecchie. Nearby Mercato delle Erbe is well worth a visit, housed in an old stone building on Via Ugo Bassi.
Bolognans may love home cooking, but they like to eat out too. The city has a wide selection of restaurants, cafés and bars, and the standard is high. It’s hard to find a bad place to eat in Bologna.
With such an array of delights on hand, you might feel the need for some gourmet guidance. Fortunately, several companies offer food tours. Some also arrange cooking classes, so you could learn to cook like a true Bolognan. Just give it a decade or two.
Restaurants, cafés & gelaterias
A small place with a great atmosphere, and often crowded with locals. Here you can sample freshly roasted espresso accompanied by a selection of Bolognese sweets.
Via G. Oberdan 10/d
La Bella Napoli
Possibly the best stone-baked pizza in town, plus a great selection of pasta dishes and desserts.
Via San Felice 40
Here you can eat exquisitely prepared local and south-Italian dishes in a rustic environment with a modern twist. Be sure to book in time as it’s very popular with locals.
Via San Rocco 16
Trattoria da Gianni
Try this place for the authentic lunch experience. You can sample all the typical Bolognese dishes, including great tortellini and ragù, accompanied by an excellent selection of wines.
Cremeria Santo Stefano
Considered by many to be the best gelateria in town. Make sure to give it a visit (or two).
Via Santo Stefano 70/C
Food markets & delis
This combined deli and wine bar offers great wines for buying and tasting, gourmet dried pastas and superb olive oils. Don’t miss it.
Via Marsala 2/B
Via Pescherie Vecchie
This central market area close to Piazza Maggiore offers a wide selection of fresh produce as well as grocery stores, delis, bars and cafés.
Via Pescherie Vecchie
Mercato delle Erbe
A short walk from Piazza Maggiore, you'll find this amazing food market inside an old stone building.
Via Ugo Bassi 23-25
Museums & food production
Le Sfogline Pasta Fresca
Two sisters continue a long tradition of pasta-making at this family-run store. Here you can witness the ancient craft of tortellini-making in action.
Via Belvedere 7
Gelato Museum Carpigiani
The museum offers an interactive tour and gelato workshops. You’ll need to make a booking in advance.
Via Emilia 45, Anzola dell’Emilia
Food tours & cooking classes
Text: Jennie Benjaminsson
Find Bologna's gourmet highlights with this interactive map
Published: August 21, 2015
Last edited: August 28, 2017