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A low angle shot of apartment buildings built over large porticos, with diners seated at patio tables below
Bologna, Italy
F8 studio / Shutterstock

The 18 Essential Bologna Restaurants

Where to find artisanal mortadella, tortellini with Lambrusco caviar pearls, and salty Turkish pistachio gelato in the capital of the Emilia-Romagna

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Bologna, Italy
| F8 studio / Shutterstock

Bologna, nicknamed “la dotta, la grassa, e la rossa” (the learned, the fat, and the red), has a mixed reputation when it comes to dining. With the oldest university in Europe and charming architecture (including medieval towers and nearly 25 miles of porticos which hug the city), the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region is a renowned cultural hub — but for a long time people clung to the idea that Bologna is only worth a day trip for a bowl of tortellini in brodo.

Now, more food-loving travelers are finding their way to the city, which is rich with quality ingredients thanks to the nearby Po Valley; the area is responsible for the bulk of central and northern Italian food production, including high-caliber foods known the world over, like aged balsamic vinegar, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and cured prosciutto di Parma. Bologna’s pride and joy is its mortadella, which you’ll see on every menu in town, alongside other hallmarks of the traditional dining scene like fried cotoletta (veal) cutlets in melted Parmigiano sauce and pasta freshly rolled by mattarello (rolling pin). The city is also the birthplace of lasagna, tagliatelle al ragu, tortelloni, and tortellini Bolognesi in broth (the way it should always be served, if you ask purists), as well as lesser-known specialties passatelli and gramigna.

Aside from casual eateries like cafes and bakeries, you’ll need to book at least a week in advance, if not more. The Bolognese are persnickety eaters, and everyone knows the restaurants that prepare the most exceptional meals. Don’t get caught hungry without a booking; you will be turned away. Also, considering the city attracts a huge student population and has major tourist appeal, real estate is some of the priciest in the country. Combine this with the city’s fare using more expensive raw materials (butter, Parmigiano-Reggiano, labor-intensive fresh pasta), and you’ll need to be prepared to spend a little more, too.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

Prices per person:

$ = Less than 20 euros (Less than $22 USD)
$$ = 20 - 40 euros ($22 - $44 USD)
$$$ = 40 - 60 euros ($44 - $66 USD)
$$$$ = 60 euros and up ($66 USD and up)

Coral Sisk is a certified Italian sommelier and writer with Italian and Persian heritage. She parlayed her Florence-centered food blog Curious Appetite into food and drink tours in Italy. She moved to Florence via Seattle in 2012 after earning a B.A. in Italian Studies and splits up her time in San Francisco.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Trattoria di Via Serra

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Via Luigi Serra, 9/b
40129 Bologna BO, Italy

Near the train station on Via Serra, homey Trattoria di Via Serra offers an all-inclusive sanctuary for hyper-regional dishes and ingredients with a slow-food approach. Bolognese staples like corkscrew-shaped pasta gramigna, tortellini, and meaty mains like rabbit and meatballs are served alongside seasonal produce and foraged goods hard to come by at traditional trattorias in la grassa. [$$-$$$]

A person’s hand shapes tortelloni on a wood surface with a cutter nearby
Pumpkin ricotta tortelloni
Trattoria di Via Serra/Facebook

2. Vivo Taste Lab RestaurArte

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Viale Antonio Silvani, 18
40122 Bologna BO, Italy

Located near the Mambo (Bologna’s modern art museum) with an aesthetic to match, this restaurant serves intriguing, playful interpretations of local dishes with international influences. Think tortellini with Lambrusco caviar pearls, heritage pork barbecue, or cave-aged cheese-stuffed ravioli served alongside contrasting gels and foams made with unique niche ingredients like locally made bitter liqueurs. Local chefs often come by for guest pop-ups to cook Persian, Thai, or Ethiopian. [$$$-$$$$]

A bowl of tortellini in broth topped with a small pile of dark red caviar
Tortellini with Lambrusco caviar pearls
Coral Sisk

3. Forno Brisa

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Via Galliera, 34d
40121 Bologna BO, Italy

Given Forno Brisa’s motto “fanculo la dieta” (fuck diets), you can trust this independent bakery enterprise for carbs. The team emphasizes slow, wild fermentation, ancient grains, and an all-inclusive work culture. Come here to see how Bologna does bread artistry, third-wave coffee, savory breakfast pastries, and vegan cakes. Plus, if you’re craving a slice, Brisa offers highly digestible, Roman-style pizza with delightful flavor hits like ’nduja and burrata, anchovies, or classic tomato. They offer craft wines by the glass and bottles to take away with the pizza, too. [$]

Two swirled pastries, one with a green filling and the other a pale orange, on a paper-lined tray beside a plate with a slice of chocolate cake covered in crumbled nuts
Pastries at Forno Brisa
Coral Sisk

4. Al Regno Della Forma

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Via Guglielmo Oberdan, 45/A
40126 Bologna BO, Italy
051 233609

Parmigiano-Reggiano lovers rejoice; this shop was built for you. Emilia-Romagna boasts the highest number of DOP food products — including the storied aged cheese — protected by Italian law of any region in the entire country. At Al Regno Della Forma, you can trust you’re getting the real thing, made by extremely specific production protocols. Walk into the shop and you’ll be inebriated with the nutty aromas of the Parmigiano wheels lining the walls, alongside a dizzying array of other Italian cheeses. If you’re looking for food souvenirs to take home, bring back a slab of this concentrated dairy umami to tide you over until the next visit. [$-$$$]

Wheels of cheese arranged on wooden shelves
Wheels of cheese at Al Regno Della Forma
Al Regno Della Forma/Facebook

5. Trattoria da Me

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Via S. Felice, 50
40100 Bologna BO, Italy

Chef owner Elisa Rusconi has quickly earned numerous accolades in the male-dominated Bologna dining scene since opening in 2015. Her fervor is evident in the trattoria’s complex menu, which melds influences from her Sicilian father’s home cooking (taglioni with tomato and soft squacquerone cheese), local staples like lasagna (served on Sundays), and her own creative takes, such as a starter of savory cheese gelato or licorice saffron risotto. [$$-$$$]

A soft boiled egg in the middle of a creamy potato mixture in a hammered silver pot, arranged with artichokes
Egg on creamy potatoes with artichoke
Trattoria da Me

6. Il Punto

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Via S. Rocco, 1
40122 Bologna BO, Italy

Bologna has a few valid craft beer watering holes, but Il Punto wins for its vast selection of bottled craft beers — there are more than 100 on the menu. There are seven rotating craft kegs on tap, mostly Italian, and a tight selection of food. The location is away from the nightlife buzz, off the popular Via Pratello drag. But for craft beer enthusiasts, this address is well worth the trek. [$]

7. Polpette e Crescentine | Mercato delle Erbe

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Via S. Gervasio, 3
40121 Bologna BO, Italy

Mercato delle Erbe is a produce market and food hall with stands ranging from delis and pizzerias to charcuterie bars and a few restaurant outposts. Polpette e Crescentine, located in one of the corners devoted to restaurants, is a prime choice for crescentine fritte: fried, lightly salted dough pillows that pair with Bologna’s fresh, soft squacquerone cheese and thinly sliced cured meats. As the name suggests, they also specialize in polpette (meatballs), from the traditional meatloaf iteration to more fanciful options, like cold canape-style mortadella polpette coated in pistachio. The pastas aren’t half bad either, and here, you’re able to indulge in the midst of the weekend buzz. They’re open Sundays too if you’re in a bind. [$$]

Crescentine fritte served in a wooden basket beside a plate of sliced meats
Crescente fritte at Polpette e Crescentine
Coral Sisk

8. Ristorante Ciacco

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Via S. Simone, 1/c
40126 Bologna BO, Italy

Via Belvedere is dotted with some gastronomic gems, but Ristorante Ciacco is tucked away off the main drag. Sophisticated but not stuffy, the white-tablecloth restaurant focuses on finely composed seafood dishes like gnocchi with sea urchin, crudi sourced from the Italian coastline (except for the Normandy oysters), and breaded fried cotoletta with prosciutto and melted cheese (Parmigiano emulsified into a bechamel-like sauce with hot broth). The wine list is vast, ranging from independent labels to cellar-worthy bottlings, making the restaurant great for a special occasion or any day that deserves a slight splurge. [$$$]

From above, a dish of fish fillets surrounded by cooked greens and vegetables, and drizzles of sauce
One of the pescatarian winners at Ciacco
Ristorante Ciacco

9. Caffè Terzi

Copy Link
Via Guglielmo Oberdan, 10/d
40126 Bologna BO, Italy

This craft coffee roaster has been sourcing single-origin coffee beans and whole-leaf teas in Bologna since 2002. Its brand of roasted coffee is served around the city, but the original bar in Via Oberdan is a delight. Its coffee room feels like theater seating with sophisticated table service, and every detail is pleasing, down to the ceramics. [$]

A chocolate-topped drink in a decorated teacup, served on a sauce beside a small plate with a croissant
Caffè Terzi
Coral Sisk

10. Enoteca Storica Faccioli

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Via Altabella, 15/B
40126 Bologna BO, Italy

The ultimate wine bar for natural wine enthusiasts and charcuterie lovers, Enoteca Faccioli has a classy interior fit more for bankers and lawyers than for the funky crowd natural wines tend to attract. However, the tagliere (charcuterie) plates are a must, composed of artisan cheeses and local cured-meat specialties, including mortadella from one of Bologna’s last wholly artisanal producers, Pasquini. The wall is covered with wines from around the boot, but insider advice is to explore the lesser-sung wine region of the Emilia-Romagna and its small yet fascinating selection of indigenous wines, plus Lambruscos made in the style of Champagne. [$$]

From above, swirls of Iberico ham
Iberico ham at Enoteca Storica Faccioli
Enoteca Storica Faccioli / Facebook

11. Trattoria Bertozzi

Copy Link
Via Andrea Costa, 84/2/D
40134 Bologna BO, Italy

Trattoria Bertozzi is a little off the beaten path (about a 15-minute walk from the heart of the city center), but the walk along tree-lined residential streets charms those who decide to make the trek to one of Bologna's best traditional trattorias. There are very few tables, so booking in advance is a must. You can't go wrong with anything on the menu, but the trattoria does make one of the best plates of gramigna in town, a type of hollow, corkscrew macaroni. The Bertozzi version is smothered in a bold, fragrant saffron and Parmesan cream touched with crispy guanciale and zucchini. Note that it has an extensive wine cellar, but the owners are nearly too humble to boast about its contents. [$$$]

A plate of pasta in a decorative dish
Pasta at Trattoria Bertozzi
Coral Sisk

12. Bottega Portici

Copy Link
Piazza di Porta Ravegnana, 2
40126 Bologna BO, Italy

This takeaway pasta laboratory, owned by the city’s sole Michelin-starred restaurant at Hotel Portici, started out as an extension of the hotel in Via Indipendenza. Now, a second outpost sits under the iconic two towers, and sfogline roll out pasta at all hours. There are some tables, but the bulk of the experience is in the pasta itself. It’s a no-frills, high-quality, fresh pasta pit stop. [$$]

Trays of rolled pasta in a glass case, with kitchen workers beyond
Pasta at Bottega Portici
Coral Sisk

13. Pigro

Copy Link
Via Dè Pignattari, 1b
40124 Bologna BO, Italy

Never associate baloney with Bologna again. Mortadella is the ham synonymous with Bologna, and Pigro, a hole in the wall off the main Piazza Maggiore square, serves up local flatbread sandwiches stuffed with artisanal mortadella, called panino con la mortazza in slang. The owner might remind you of an ’80s rock star — but with sophisticated wine standards. He decides when to open and close, and always keeps the fridge stocked with cheap national Italian beer alongside fancy bottle-fermented bubbles like Franciacorta, Trento DOC, and Champagne. [$]

Two paninis on a cutting board overflowing with slices of. mortadella
Mortadella panini
Coral Sisk

14. Ruggine

Copy Link
Vicolo Alemagna, 2/C
40125 Bologna BO, Italy

Tucked into a hard-to-find alley, Ruggine, formerly a bike workshop, is part craft-cocktail vintage bar, part pub. The food is decent, but come for the drinks in one of Bologna’s artsy enclaves. The bartenders have respectful command of classic cocktails, utilizing bottles from independent distillers and an ace ice machine (as a compromise between the hand-carved ice of mixologists and the slivers of quick-melting cubes that can ruin even the best Negroni). Given the quality, consistency, and service, this spot can get crowded. [$$]

A frothy cocktail, served with a sprig of herbs pinned to the rim with a tiny clothespin
A cocktail at Ruggine
Ruggine / Facebook

15. All’Osteria Bottega

Copy Link
Via Santa Caterina, 51
40123 Bologna BO, Italy

This address is no secret to dining lists, but earns mixed approval from locals, based mostly on cost. Ultimately, though, the food is respectable, the service cordial, and there’s an affable wine list. Slow-food presidia products star, like a 36-month naturally cured culatello di Zibello sourced from local heritage varieties of swine. Osteria Bottega manages to procure a wide range of traditional Bolognese fare executed with consistency from start to finish. Perhaps the strongest offering is the cured meat selection from fine producers and the main courses, such as pigeon in a wine reduction. [$$$]

A restaurant exterior, beneath a portico, with a hanging sign, twinkle lights, and greenery around the entrance
Outside AllOsteria Bottega
All’Osteria Bottega/Facebook

16. Cremeria Santo Stefano

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Via Santo Stefano, 70
40125 Bologna BO, Italy

Florence and Rome get most of the attention for Italian gelato, but Bologna deserves equal accolades, albeit with a smaller selection of quality scoops to choose from. After all, just outside Bologna is a gelato university operated by the country’s leading gelato machine manufacturers, Carpigiani. Cremeria Santo Stefano is the poster child for a truly artisanal, old-fashioned Italian gelateria. The space is cozy and quaint, and owner, gelato master, and chocolatier Mattia Cavallari has a discerning eye when sourcing caliber cacao, crafting distinct chocolates and churning dreamy patisserie cream. The pistachio flavors are especially worth traveling for. There are two types, both toasted in house: a Turkish-sourced salty pistachio and a Sicilian variety from the volcanic region of Bronte. [$]

An ice cream sandwich stuffed with three kinds of ice cream, including glossy chocolate and one dotted with chopped pistachios
An ice cream sandwich at Cremeria Santo Stefano
Cremeria Santo Stefano / Facebook

17. Vagh in Ufezzi

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Via de' Coltelli, 9/C
40124 Bologna BO, Italy

Despite being hidden off the main thoroughfares, this casual, homey osteria is always bustling. Husband and wife team Antonella De Sanctis (FOH) and Mirco Carati (in the kitchen) opened the humble eatery in 2005. The pair whip up an ever-changing traditional menu written on construction paper taped to the walls or on a chalkboard. A meal includes fresh pastas, crescentine (Bologna’s fried bread pillows), local cured meats, seasonal takes on local pastas such as tagliatelle with seasonal asparagus, national peasant dishes like grilled capocollo with cardoons, and cheese-centric sweets to finish. Wines are simple and are chosen based on what the owners personally drink themselves. [$]

A restaurant exterior, with a sign naming the restaurant, above a thin glass door and windows
Outside Vagh in Ufezzi
Coral Sisk

18. Vetro

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Via Castiglione, 134
40136 Bologna BO, Italy

If you’re planning to stay awhile in Bologna (and you should), set aside time to make the trek from the main historic center to Giardini Margherita. That’s where you’ll find Kilowatt, an urban project that revived an abandoned greenhouse space for coworking, community gardens, and Vetro, a quaint restaurant/bar space where you can have a lazy lunch in the sunshine at one of the picnic tables outside. Fare here is vegan and vegetarian with macrobiotic twists: potato, olive, and tahini salads with heritage varieties of local beans; fresh, whole-grain pastas with cauliflower roux; and farro kale bowls. The cooking is definitely gourmet enough to please a variety of appetites, should you need a break from hearty, starchy fare. If you don’t have room for a full meal, Vetro is also suitable for a pour over and cake with a good read. [$-$$]

Outdoor tables set on various levels of a sunny garden, with diners bundled in winter garb enjoying lunch
Dining outside Vetro
Coral Sisk

1. Trattoria di Via Serra

Via Luigi Serra, 9/b, 40129 Bologna BO, Italy
A person’s hand shapes tortelloni on a wood surface with a cutter nearby
Pumpkin ricotta tortelloni
Trattoria di Via Serra/Facebook

Near the train station on Via Serra, homey Trattoria di Via Serra offers an all-inclusive sanctuary for hyper-regional dishes and ingredients with a slow-food approach. Bolognese staples like corkscrew-shaped pasta gramigna, tortellini, and meaty mains like rabbit and meatballs are served alongside seasonal produce and foraged goods hard to come by at traditional trattorias in la grassa. [$$-$$$]

Via Luigi Serra, 9/b
40129 Bologna BO, Italy

2. Vivo Taste Lab RestaurArte

Viale Antonio Silvani, 18, 40122 Bologna BO, Italy
A bowl of tortellini in broth topped with a small pile of dark red caviar
Tortellini with Lambrusco caviar pearls
Coral Sisk

Located near the Mambo (Bologna’s modern art museum) with an aesthetic to match, this restaurant serves intriguing, playful interpretations of local dishes with international influences. Think tortellini with Lambrusco caviar pearls, heritage pork barbecue, or cave-aged cheese-stuffed ravioli served alongside contrasting gels and foams made with unique niche ingredients like locally made bitter liqueurs. Local chefs often come by for guest pop-ups to cook Persian, Thai, or Ethiopian. [$$$-$$$$]

Viale Antonio Silvani, 18
40122 Bologna BO, Italy

3. Forno Brisa

Via Galliera, 34d, 40121 Bologna BO, Italy
Two swirled pastries, one with a green filling and the other a pale orange, on a paper-lined tray beside a plate with a slice of chocolate cake covered in crumbled nuts
Pastries at Forno Brisa
Coral Sisk

Given Forno Brisa’s motto “fanculo la dieta” (fuck diets), you can trust this independent bakery enterprise for carbs. The team emphasizes slow, wild fermentation, ancient grains, and an all-inclusive work culture. Come here to see how Bologna does bread artistry, third-wave coffee, savory breakfast pastries, and vegan cakes. Plus, if you’re craving a slice, Brisa offers highly digestible, Roman-style pizza with delightful flavor hits like ’nduja and burrata, anchovies, or classic tomato. They offer craft wines by the glass and bottles to take away with the pizza, too. [$]

Via Galliera, 34d
40121 Bologna BO, Italy

4. Al Regno Della Forma

Via Guglielmo Oberdan, 45/A, 40126 Bologna BO, Italy
Wheels of cheese arranged on wooden shelves
Wheels of cheese at Al Regno Della Forma
Al Regno Della Forma/Facebook

Parmigiano-Reggiano lovers rejoice; this shop was built for you. Emilia-Romagna boasts the highest number of DOP food products — including the storied aged cheese — protected by Italian law of any region in the entire country. At Al Regno Della Forma, you can trust you’re getting the real thing, made by extremely specific production protocols. Walk into the shop and you’ll be inebriated with the nutty aromas of the Parmigiano wheels lining the walls, alongside a dizzying array of other Italian cheeses. If you’re looking for food souvenirs to take home, bring back a slab of this concentrated dairy umami to tide you over until the next visit. [$-$$$]

Via Guglielmo Oberdan, 45/A
40126 Bologna BO, Italy

5. Trattoria da Me

Via S. Felice, 50, 40100 Bologna BO, Italy
A soft boiled egg in the middle of a creamy potato mixture in a hammered silver pot, arranged with artichokes
Egg on creamy potatoes with artichoke
Trattoria da Me

Chef owner Elisa Rusconi has quickly earned numerous accolades in the male-dominated Bologna dining scene since opening in 2015. Her fervor is evident in the trattoria’s complex menu, which melds influences from her Sicilian father’s home cooking (taglioni with tomato and soft squacquerone cheese), local staples like lasagna (served on Sundays), and her own creative takes, such as a starter of savory cheese gelato or licorice saffron risotto. [$$-$$$]

Via S. Felice, 50
40100 Bologna BO, Italy

6. Il Punto

Via S. Rocco, 1, 40122 Bologna BO, Italy

Bologna has a few valid craft beer watering holes, but Il Punto wins for its vast selection of bottled craft beers — there are more than 100 on the menu. There are seven rotating craft kegs on tap, mostly Italian, and a tight selection of food. The location is away from the nightlife buzz, off the popular Via Pratello drag. But for craft beer enthusiasts, this address is well worth the trek. [$]

Via S. Rocco, 1
40122 Bologna BO, Italy

7. Polpette e Crescentine | Mercato delle Erbe

Via S. Gervasio, 3, 40121 Bologna BO, Italy
Crescentine fritte served in a wooden basket beside a plate of sliced meats
Crescente fritte at Polpette e Crescentine
Coral Sisk

Mercato delle Erbe is a produce market and food hall with stands ranging from delis and pizzerias to charcuterie bars and a few restaurant outposts. Polpette e Crescentine, located in one of the corners devoted to restaurants, is a prime choice for crescentine fritte: fried, lightly salted dough pillows that pair with Bologna’s fresh, soft squacquerone cheese and thinly sliced cured meats. As the name suggests, they also specialize in polpette (meatballs), from the traditional meatloaf iteration to more fanciful options, like cold canape-style mortadella polpette coated in pistachio. The pastas aren’t half bad either, and here, you’re able to indulge in the midst of the weekend buzz. They’re open Sundays too if you’re in a bind. [$$]

Via S. Gervasio, 3
40121 Bologna BO, Italy

8. Ristorante Ciacco

Via S. Simone, 1/c, 40126 Bologna BO, Italy
From above, a dish of fish fillets surrounded by cooked greens and vegetables, and drizzles of sauce
One of the pescatarian winners at Ciacco
Ristorante Ciacco

Via Belvedere is dotted with some gastronomic gems, but Ristorante Ciacco is tucked away off the main drag. Sophisticated but not stuffy, the white-tablecloth restaurant focuses on finely composed seafood dishes like gnocchi with sea urchin, crudi sourced from the Italian coastline (except for the Normandy oysters), and breaded fried cotoletta with prosciutto and melted cheese (Parmigiano emulsified into a bechamel-like sauce with hot broth). The wine list is vast, ranging from independent labels to cellar-worthy bottlings, making the restaurant great for a special occasion or any day that deserves a slight splurge. [$$$]

Via S. Simone, 1/c
40126 Bologna BO, Italy

9. Caffè Terzi

Via Guglielmo Oberdan, 10/d, 40126 Bologna BO, Italy
A chocolate-topped drink in a decorated teacup, served on a sauce beside a small plate with a croissant
Caffè Terzi
Coral Sisk

This craft coffee roaster has been sourcing single-origin coffee beans and whole-leaf teas in Bologna since 2002. Its brand of roasted coffee is served around the city, but the original bar in Via Oberdan is a delight. Its coffee room feels like theater seating with sophisticated table service, and every detail is pleasing, down to the ceramics. [$]

Via Guglielmo Oberdan, 10/d
40126 Bologna BO, Italy

10. Enoteca Storica Faccioli

Via Altabella, 15/B, 40126 Bologna BO, Italy
From above, swirls of Iberico ham
Iberico ham at Enoteca Storica Faccioli
Enoteca Storica Faccioli / Facebook

The ultimate wine bar for natural wine enthusiasts and charcuterie lovers, Enoteca Faccioli has a classy interior fit more for bankers and lawyers than for the funky crowd natural wines tend to attract. However, the tagliere (charcuterie) plates are a must, composed of artisan cheeses and local cured-meat specialties, including mortadella from one of Bologna’s last wholly artisanal producers, Pasquini. The wall is covered with wines from around the boot, but insider advice is to explore the lesser-sung wine region of the Emilia-Romagna and its small yet fascinating selection of indigenous wines, plus Lambruscos made in the style of Champagne. [$$]

Via Altabella, 15/B
40126 Bologna BO, Italy

11. Trattoria Bertozzi

Via Andrea Costa, 84/2/D, 40134 Bologna BO, Italy
A plate of pasta in a decorative dish
Pasta at Trattoria Bertozzi
Coral Sisk

Trattoria Bertozzi is a little off the beaten path (about a 15-minute walk from the heart of the city center), but the walk along tree-lined residential streets charms those who decide to make the trek to one of Bologna's best traditional trattorias. There are very few tables, so booking in advance is a must. You can't go wrong with anything on the menu, but the trattoria does make one of the best plates of gramigna in town, a type of hollow, corkscrew macaroni. The Bertozzi version is smothered in a bold, fragrant saffron and Parmesan cream touched with crispy guanciale and zucchini. Note that it has an extensive wine cellar, but the owners are nearly too humble to boast about its contents. [$$$]

Via Andrea Costa, 84/2/D
40134 Bologna BO, Italy

12. Bottega Portici

Piazza di Porta Ravegnana, 2, 40126 Bologna BO, Italy
Trays of rolled pasta in a glass case, with kitchen workers beyond
Pasta at Bottega Portici
Coral Sisk

This takeaway pasta laboratory, owned by the city’s sole Michelin-starred restaurant at Hotel Portici, started out as an extension of the hotel in Via Indipendenza. Now, a second outpost sits under the iconic two towers, and sfogline roll out pasta at all hours. There are some tables, but the bulk of the experience is in the pasta itself. It’s a no-frills, high-quality, fresh pasta pit stop. [$$]

Piazza di Porta Ravegnana, 2
40126 Bologna BO, Italy

13. Pigro

Via Dè Pignattari, 1b, 40124 Bologna BO, Italy
Two paninis on a cutting board overflowing with slices of. mortadella
Mortadella panini
Coral Sisk

Never associate baloney with Bologna again. Mortadella is the ham synonymous with Bologna, and Pigro, a hole in the wall off the main Piazza Maggiore square, serves up local flatbread sandwiches stuffed with artisanal mortadella, called panino con la mortazza in slang. The owner might remind you of an ’80s rock star — but with sophisticated wine standards. He decides when to open and close, and always keeps the fridge stocked with cheap national Italian beer alongside fancy bottle-fermented bubbles like Franciacorta, Trento DOC, and Champagne. [$]

Via Dè Pignattari, 1b
40124 Bologna BO, Italy

14. Ruggine

Vicolo Alemagna, 2/C, 40125 Bologna BO, Italy
A frothy cocktail, served with a sprig of herbs pinned to the rim with a tiny clothespin
A cocktail at Ruggine
Ruggine / Facebook

Tucked into a hard-to-find alley, Ruggine, formerly a bike workshop, is part craft-cocktail vintage bar, part pub. The food is decent, but come for the drinks in one of Bologna’s artsy enclaves. The bartenders have respectful command of classic cocktails, utilizing bottles from independent distillers and an ace ice machine (as a compromise between the hand-carved ice of mixologists and the slivers of quick-melting cubes that can ruin even the best Negroni). Given the quality, consistency, and service, this spot can get crowded. [$$]

Vicolo Alemagna, 2/C
40125 Bologna BO, Italy

15. All’Osteria Bottega

Via Santa Caterina, 51, 40123 Bologna BO, Italy
A restaurant exterior, beneath a portico, with a hanging sign, twinkle lights, and greenery around the entrance
Outside AllOsteria Bottega
All’Osteria Bottega/Facebook

This address is no secret to dining lists, but earns mixed approval from locals, based mostly on cost. Ultimately, though, the food is respectable, the service cordial, and there’s an affable wine list. Slow-food presidia products star, like a 36-month naturally cured culatello di Zibello sourced from local heritage varieties of swine. Osteria Bottega manages to procure a wide range of traditional Bolognese fare executed with consistency from start to finish. Perhaps the strongest offering is the cured meat selection from fine producers and the main courses, such as pigeon in a wine reduction. [$$$]

Via Santa Caterina, 51
40123 Bologna BO, Italy

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16. Cremeria Santo Stefano

Via Santo Stefano, 70, 40125 Bologna BO, Italy
An ice cream sandwich stuffed with three kinds of ice cream, including glossy chocolate and one dotted with chopped pistachios
An ice cream sandwich at Cremeria Santo Stefano
Cremeria Santo Stefano / Facebook

Florence and Rome get most of the attention for Italian gelato, but Bologna deserves equal accolades, albeit with a smaller selection of quality scoops to choose from. After all, just outside Bologna is a gelato university operated by the country’s leading gelato machine manufacturers, Carpigiani. Cremeria Santo Stefano is the poster child for a truly artisanal, old-fashioned Italian gelateria. The space is cozy and quaint, and owner, gelato master, and chocolatier Mattia Cavallari has a discerning eye when sourcing caliber cacao, crafting distinct chocolates and churning dreamy patisserie cream. The pistachio flavors are especially worth traveling for. There are two types, both toasted in house: a Turkish-sourced salty pistachio and a Sicilian variety from the volcanic region of Bronte. [$]

Via Santo Stefano, 70
40125 Bologna BO, Italy

17. Vagh in Ufezzi

Via de' Coltelli, 9/C, 40124 Bologna BO, Italy
A restaurant exterior, with a sign naming the restaurant, above a thin glass door and windows
Outside Vagh in Ufezzi
Coral Sisk

Despite being hidden off the main thoroughfares, this casual, homey osteria is always bustling. Husband and wife team Antonella De Sanctis (FOH) and Mirco Carati (in the kitchen) opened the humble eatery in 2005. The pair whip up an ever-changing traditional menu written on construction paper taped to the walls or on a chalkboard. A meal includes fresh pastas, crescentine (Bologna’s fried bread pillows), local cured meats, seasonal takes on local pastas such as tagliatelle with seasonal asparagus, national peasant dishes like grilled capocollo with cardoons, and cheese-centric sweets to finish. Wines are simple and are chosen based on what the owners personally drink themselves. [$]

Via de' Coltelli, 9/C
40124 Bologna BO, Italy

18. Vetro

Via Castiglione, 134, 40136 Bologna BO, Italy
Outdoor tables set on various levels of a sunny garden, with diners bundled in winter garb enjoying lunch
Dining outside Vetro
Coral Sisk

If you’re planning to stay awhile in Bologna (and you should), set aside time to make the trek from the main historic center to Giardini Margherita. That’s where you’ll find Kilowatt, an urban project that revived an abandoned greenhouse space for coworking, community gardens, and Vetro, a quaint restaurant/bar space where you can have a lazy lunch in the sunshine at one of the picnic tables outside. Fare here is vegan and vegetarian with macrobiotic twists: potato, olive, and tahini salads with heritage varieties of local beans; fresh, whole-grain pastas with cauliflower roux; and farro kale bowls. The cooking is definitely gourmet enough to please a variety of appetites, should you need a break from hearty, starchy fare. If you don’t have room for a full meal, Vetro is also suitable for a pour over and cake with a good read. [$-$$]

Via Castiglione, 134
40136 Bologna BO, Italy

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