The best thing you can do to understand a place to visit, is to star with eating some local food. And this is mostly the first thing I do when I have guests from abroad: I cook or, better, I take them to one of my favourite special places and let them enjoy Emilia Romagna food.
It’s not anymore a surprise: people know a lot about Parmigiano Reggiano, tortellini and mortadella but surely less about the typical food of my area.
Food from the tradition of Romagna
Here food was something very basic. It came from the poor products of this land: flour of chestnuts, milk to do a couple of smooth cheeses and ricotta, meat but very rarely. Going down to the plain, pour flour origin the famous poor brad called Piadina, fruit and vegetables; in the coast blue fish (Sardoncini), mussels and clams.
Azdore, so we call women who care about the family, were really very creative. They were able to invent a whole meal for their family with what they had. Quite different from what we do nowadays. We simply go to the supermarket and buy.
The handmade sfoglia (the dough) rolled, cut and filled was a way to eat a nourishing food in the winter heavy working days. So a very good dish of Cappeletti was and still is a comfort food not to miss.
During my tour in Romagna, I had the chance to taste some different foods, along the via Emilia, but most of all, I had the luck to meet people who love their tradition and put all their passion in what they cook everyday.
Tagliatelle, cotoletta and mascarpone: welcome Bologna
Far from the classical touristic paths and deep in the ancient Bologna, you find the Osteria Broccaindosso, via Broccaindosso, 7. The name of the street comes from a legend. Once this street was crossed by donkeys that carried loads of stones and pits to the river Savena and being lazy, they were continually beaten by broche of wood where broca has the dialectal meaning of tree branch.
The entry is almost hidden. Near by, a crossing of the many students that live here and study in Bologna. We are not so far from the University area.
The place has not so much room and it’s very simple. Almost no tourists here, but mainly local people, which is a guarantee of good food. If you want to live this experience, you must reserve your table. No chance to come here and have a meal. The place is almost always full.
There is no written menu. The Oste, a very nice man, tells you what is available. This is an old way of serving, exactly as it was once upon a time in town.
Our menu today is fab: Tagliatelle al ragu, Tortellini Butter and sage, Bolognese cutlet and Mascarpone. Be prepared to eat a lot of food. Here the portion are really big. But I assure you: nothing will remain in your dish.
The quality of the food is one of the best I have ever tasted in town.
By the way: an old Bolognese legend says Tagliatelle were invented by Zefirano, the personal cook of Giovanni Bentivoglio the Second, a Bolognese family.
Via Broccaindosso, 7, Bologna
Tel. 051 234153
Romagna: a taste of tradition
Faenza is a small town. Internationally known as the city of ceramics and pottery. The main square, Piazza del Popolo, is a quite place. Just sit in one of the bars around (I advice you the Bellini, just in the tower near the Dom) and watch the slow flow of the people across the square. Have your nice coffee and a cake, while reading your book. You will even notice the time passing by. For lunch you can choose one of the places in the square or even stroll around: you will not be disappointed. Faenza is the capital of well eating.
La Marianaza is a new place for me. I love going around to taste new places, but this is a special one. The place is not so big but has a very special atmosphere. You feel from the beginning that warm welcoming, typical of Romagna.
The trattoria Marianaza born at the beginning of the nineteenth century and passed from generation to generation, keeping intact all its charm and the goodness of its culinary proposals. Today it is managed by the current owner Natascia Cucchi, who together with her sister Luana and her mother Mariangela, continue to offer a quality Romagna cuisine, made of good and simple ingredients.
Hand made pasta and grilled meat are their best dishes. Passatelli, a typical poor pasta is made following the ancient method. I had the chance to talk with the lady who stays in the kitchen and she told me the secret: she still uses the old device inherited from her granny.
The photo is not mine, but explains well.
In the main room, you can see a huge grill with wooden ember. They can grill any kind of meat, from mutton to lamb to liver.
This is a must go place if you want to live the real Romagna food and enjoy the center town atmosphere.
Via Evangelista Torricelli, 21, Faenza
Tel. 0546 681461
Ravenna and not only: piadina and cappelletti
Le spighe, non solo piadine
A place to relax, before facing a long bike trekking. Paolo will welcome you. It seems like a piadina kiosk but in the kitchen you will find a super famous chef: Gianprimo Ricci Maccarini who served The Queen, Elizabeth the II and many other glam VIPs.
Here the excellence comes from the local selected products, chosen from local producers. A very simple place to enjoy Romagna food and the nature around.
Via Raspona, 61A Alfonsine (Ravenna)
054484876 – 3487245190
Cooking school Saperi e Sapori
Rosella is the Queen of this special school. She is the proof that life can be surprising and always offers you a chance.
She is Rosella!
The place she works at is something unusual: the Darsena of Ravenna was once a very downgraded area. But then a recovery and restauration project created a place where now all the people, especially young’s, go to have their happy hour, a nice dinner or a gelato or have a stroll along the Candiano Channel. You can have sport there (basket ball, skate, parkour, beach volley) or attend to the many events organised.
Rosella is a very expert chef. She knows the story and the origin of the food she cooks. Being with her is quite a revealing experience. She teaches you how to cook but also let you understand where food and traditions come from.
We had a very special lunch, learning the history of Romagna cappelletti, a filled hand made pasta and a comfort food for all who live here.
Via Dell’Almagià, Ravenna
Tel. 348 153 9975
My journey along the food of Romagna will go on. Stay tuned!
Disclosure: this post was written during Slowbike Tour. I would love to thank Thomas Randi to let me in and make me live this experience and all the partners of the Slowbike Network. This tour is a part of Slow Bike Tourism itineraries. If you want to visit Emilia Romagna by bike, please check www.slowbiketourism.com.