Osteria Broccaindosso – local taverna
With such a fantastic food scene it’s hard to tell many restaurants in Bologna apart, but this one really stands out, not just because it’s almost impossible to get a table – which it is – but because the food is incredible. Tucked at the end of a small road, this traditional eatery offers the usual Bologna classics but done superbly well, including tagliatelle al Ragu, gramigna all salsiccia (small, thin curly pasta shapes specific to the Emilia-Romagna region with sausage), and tortellini in brodo (pasta parcels in a rich, meaty broth). During our visit, there were two additional menus on the table for seasonal specialties, including dishes paired with freshly picked mushrooms and ones to be garnished with white truffles – October being the best time for both. The star of the show was definitely the cotoletta alla Bolognese pictured above (a baked breaded pork cutlet topped with local prosciutto ham and Parmesan cheese) served in a rich, buttery sauce and topped with white truffles which were hand-grated onto the dish at the table – sublime! A selection of local wines were available as well as traditional desserts, including a delicious tiramisu. A real taste of Bologna with great service and reasonable prices – definitely worth booking ahead. Recommended by Georgie Hindle.
I Portici Hotel restaurant – fine dining
Being the only Michelin-starred restaurant in a city with as rich a food heritage as Bologna is a tough feat but the restaurant inside the I Portici Hotel definitely deserves it, with meticulously presented and tasty dishes paired with a brimming fine wine list and set in a beautifully serene environment. We opted for the ‘land’ tasting menu (as opposed to the ‘sea’ or ‘vegetarian’ options) which included eight separate courses showcasing both an innovative array of Bologna’s local ingredients as well as the talents of the chefs in the kitchen.
The stand-out starter was a fried, hollow doughnut-type parcel, shaped like a pillow, topped with a warm slice of Parma ham and served alongside a ball of mint-garnished cantaloupe sorbet– rich but light, fresh and crispy, utterly moreish and totally inspired. The bread basket was an array of Italian specialties with sticks, loafs and buns and the two pasta dishes (tortellini pictured above and spaghetti) were masterfully cooked. The attention to detail remained until the end when, if after six courses one can’t quite fit in the decadent chocolate torte, it arrives inside its own clear, take-away box for you to enjoy the next day. An incredible experience and nice change from the plentiful traditional eateries around the city. Recommended by Georgie Hindle.
With so many restaurants in Bologna, you wouldn’t think many people could be found happily waiting over an hour for a specific one but that’s far from the case at dell’Orsa – Bologna’s much hyped tavern where large queues form daily to taste their good-value traditional dishes. Is it worth the wait? Definitely. The atmosphere inside the two-storey restaurant is buzzing with people seated at small tables or tucked together on benches, the menu is small but curated, service is quick and the food is delicious. Being a huge fan of lasagne, that was the obvious choice – and the best we tried in Bologna, as well as tasting the tagliatelle ragu and a plate of mortadella (local Italian sausage) alongside a glass of red Lambrusco. It’s one of Bologna’s most well-known and well-loved restaurants for a reason. Recommended by Georgie Hindle.
Salumeria Simoni – deli & shop
A trip to Bologna isn’t complete without tasting a variety of local hams and cheeses considering there are so many that are so famous. There’s lots of choice of where to eat them, particularly on the lively Via Pescherie, but Salumeria Simoni is one of the best, serving a range of different-sized and themed meat and cheese platters alongside freshly baked bread and focaccia – and a good wine list too. Inside, the deli sells huge blocks of aged Parmesan cheese (from 18-36 months) as well as chunks of Parma ham, balsamic vinegar from nearby Modena and local olive oils to enjoy there or take back home. Recommended by Georgie Hindle.
Medulla Vini – organic wine bar
Just a few steps from the main square, Piazza Maggiore, is Medulla Vini, a cosy and rustic wine bar specialising in organic and sustainable wines from all over Italy as well as from around the world. The owners are friendly and knowledgeable and offer several wines by the glass, including sparkling and even orange wines, or will open any bottle off the shelves to be enjoyed inside or sat outside on the wall under Bologna’s famous porticoes. The bar also features an ingenious wall with six free-flow wine taps for locals to grab a quick glass or fill-up an empty bottle from home. Recommended by Georgie Hindle.
Enoteca Italiana – wine shop & bar
A treasure trove of Italian wine lies inside Enoteca Italiana just off the main shopping street Via dell’Indipendenza. The cavernous shop – and bar – is stocked full of local delights from great value Lambruscos – ranging in style from dry to sweet as well as championing Sangiovese and Barbera reds of the Emilia Romagna region. The rest of Italy is equally cared for with whole sections dedicated to Barolo, Chianti, Sicily and Sardinia to name a few. Bottles are available to take away or you can enjoy a glass at the bar alongside a range of cured meats and cheeses. It’s a great place to explore the wonderful wines of Italy and pick up a souvenir bottle or two to take home. Recommended by Georgie Hindle.
Break a walk back from the hilltop San Luca sanctuary at this wine bar with its ever-changing selection of labels, mostly from independent Italian producers. A tapas-style menu features artisan specialities from the owners’ home regions of Sardinia and Basilicata. Recommended by Sarah Lane.
Dishes that startle both the eyes and the tastebuds. Everything is certified organic and although the choice is largely vegetarian there is seafood too, while speciality meats include local Razza Romagnola beef. Recommended by Sarah Lane.
An authentic market atmosphere. Great options include Vineria alle Erbe for platters and wine or Banco 32 for a delicious seafood lunch or evening tapas. Just behind, Le Sfogline also runs half-day pasta-making courses. Recommended by Sarah Lane.
Bologna’s premier jazz venue is also known for its excellent traditional food, though you can just come to enjoy the music with a drink. Another tip is the Zola Jazz & Wine festival, 16 June-7 July: sunset picnics and live jazz among the vines at Colli Bolognesi wineries. Recommended by Sarah Lane.
Archetypal trattoria: genuine Bolognese dishes such as stuffed courgettes with meatballs. When you leave, look through a nearby window onto one of Bologna’s hidden canals. Call +39 051 233 533 for bookings. Recommended by Sarah Lane.
A welcoming eatery serving exquisite versions of Bolognese favourites, such as tagliatelle al ragu or cold cuts with crescentine (fried doughy pillows) and tigelle (baked bready disks). All the bread, pasta and desserts are homemade and wines are from small-scale regional wineries, including several lesser-known native varieties like Famoso and Centesimino. Recommended by Sarah Lane.
Mercato di Mezzo’s narrow streets are full of eateries, but buy mortadella from Simoni and fresh bread from Paolo Atti bakery, then eat with a Pignoletto or Sangiovese at a shared wooden table at this atmospheric wine bar dating from 1465. Recommended by Sarah Lane.
Relax on the wide terrace at this simple but high-quality seafood eatery. The Bartolini family’s other restaurants include Michelin-starred La Buca on the coast at Cesenatico. Recommended by Sarah Lane.
Far more than just a farmer’s market, this is more like a weekly street food festival. Don’t miss Forno Brisa’s pizza (Monday evenings in summer, otherwise Saturday morning). Recommended by Sarah Lane.
Historic corner store with wooden furnishings and standing room only. The Delfiore family’s core business is supplying restaurants, but they will open any of their 2,000-plus wines, even for a single glass. The regulars are keen on Barolo, but there’s a good selection of local labels too. Recommended by Sarah Lane.
Originally published in 2018 and updated with more recommendations in 2019.