You won’t really know what it is until you eat it in Bologna. The dish, flatly named “pasta bolognese” in our latitudes, is much more than a meat sauce recipe. Our favorite tables.
To find your way around, let’s start with a bit of vocabulary, a prelude to a gastronomic journey through the lands of what is nicknamed “La Grassa”. Because our dear “bolognese” spaghetti, which we have all tasted or prepared one day in our French kitchens, have no equivalent in Bologna. To discover the dish that inspired the transalpine version, you will have to order much more noble tagliatelle with ragù bolognese.
Let’s start from the base: sfoglia, a thin sheet of dough made from soft wheat flour and eggs, patiently stretched by hand with a rolling pin. Folded and folded back on itself, it is then cut (tagliata) with a knife, hence its name. Now let’s get to the sauce, it bolognese ragu, the real one, whose name derives from the French term ragoûter, awaken the taste. Submitted to the Bologna Chamber of Commerce in 1982, the official recipe calls for the use of beef and pork belly, to enrich the tomato sauce, in which finely chopped onions, carrots and celery simmer. You don’t have to be in a hurry: the ragu must cook for at least two hours over low heat to allow all its aromas to express themselves.
To sublimate the fruit of so much work, nothing like the tagliatelle, pasta that has the characteristic of absorbing the sauce, unlike spaghetti, which is far too smooth and slippery. As for the width of tagliatelle, the perfect measure exists, also deposited at the Chamber of Commerce in 1972. To find it, calculate a 12.270 from the Torre degli Asinelli, emblematic monument of the city center, or more simply 8 millimeters. This shows us how the Bolognese take cooking seriously, without ever losing their characteristic irony. On the way, under the porticoes of beautiful Bologna, let’s discover five addresses where tagliatelle al ragu rise to the rank of art. One last thing: to make it more local, pronounce the Italian sound correctly gl- a kind of wet i – say ta-ya-té-llé.
Trattoria Anna Maria
Anna Marie is the name of the owner of this restaurant, located in a quiet area punctuated by porticoes under which the students of Fine Arts come and go. His reign began in 1985, with the opening of this address destined to become an essential stopover for anyone undertaking the grand tour of the bolognese restaurant. Over the years, the most famous and anonymous customers have left photos, messages, thanks or drawings on the walls. A mosaic of frames that tells the story of the establishment and whets the appetite. First of all, order a charcuterie platter, then ask for the famous tagliatellewhich you will be offered classic, or green, a version whose dough is enriched with spinach.
Trattoria Anna Maria. Via delle Belle Arti, 17/a. 40126 Bologna. Such. : +39 051266894.
When he opened a little over fifteen years ago, Daniele Minarelli had clear ideas: to make his restaurant a place to celebrate the excellence of local products. In a more contemporary atmosphere, but which retains the spirit of the old osteria, customers savor traditional dishes made with sourced products. As an appetizer, try the culatello di zibello, a product with the slow food label, or opt for a plate of the famous mortadella, a Bolognese product par excellence. Then, of course, tagliatelle al ragu or to change, a variant, the ragù bianco di vitello, made without tomato coulis and made with veal. Don’t forget to book, the osteria has an excellent reputation and quickly sells out!
All’Osteria Bottega. Via Santa Caterina, 51. 40123 Bologna. Such. : +39 051585111.
Trattoria della Santa
In Bologna, the gates are a blessing. Covering most of the pedestrian spaces, they allow circulation without getting wet during the autumn rains and shelter from the sun in the summer. Sometimes, as in this trattoria, a few tables take advantage of the shade and the coolness of the porches to allow customers to have lunch outside. A family address, with its regular clientele of locals who know they will enjoy fresh pasta of the day, in sauce al ragu or in the form of excellent tortellini with walnuts and gorgonzola.
Trattoria della Santa. Via Urbana, 7/F 40123 Bologna. Such. : +39 051330415.
Trattoria Da Vito
In the Cirenaica district, a sort of modern suburb built in the 1910s, the Da Vito trattoria justifies the incursion outside the walls of the old town. The Porta San Vitale, the former Jewish Ghetto and the Santo Stefano Basilica are only a few minutes away, but already the atmosphere is changing, becoming less touristy. The decor of the restaurant, a bit nostalgic, recalls the time when the trattoria was the haunt of Bolognese singers, from Lucio Dalla to Francesco Guccini, a neighborhood child. Ragù tagliatelle have been at the same price for years: €7.50 a plate. A popular price that allows everyone to frequent the premises, in a joyful mix.
Trattoria Da Vito. Via Mario Musolesi, 9a 40138 Bologna. Such. : +39 051349809.
In a modern setting with decor that an Instagram follower would not disapprove of, this address offers an interesting concept. In the first room, the sale of fresh pasta to take away, to cook at home. The adjacent room has a large shared table around which to sit for lunch, and smaller intimate tables. The products are just as fresh, and the traditional recipes at affordable prices. Convenient and quick to taste the famous tagliatelle al ragù, or another local pasta specialty, such as tortellini, served in broth in winter when the days are freezing.
Sfoglia Rina. Via Castiglione, 5/b 40124 Bologna. Such. : +39 0519911710.