Bologna + Emilia-Romagna

Restaurants in Bologna + Emilia-Romagna

A platter of sbrisolona sits on a counter inside the front door, a good start. The menu gives the age and maker of the prosciutto (28 months, Leporati), and culatello (20 months, Consorzio di Zibello), another excellent sign.

If no one had told you this is one of the three or four finest places to eat in Parma, you might guess it anyway before even lifting a fork.

Parmesans take the pulse of their own city at this hectic institution, where the cheap nibbles are strangely better than the panini you pay a lot more for. If all you know of Lambrusco, Emilia-Romagna’s most famous-slash-notorious wine, is disco-era Riunite, Fontana will bring you up to speed.

Say you knew some stylish, young, design-conscious Parmesans. And say they’d just redone an old farmhouse outside the city. Their eat-in kitchen might look like Croce di Malta. The concise menu (supple tortelli, fragile polpettine, silky Bavarian cream) changes daily.

Food artisan Giancarlo Rubaldi presides over Bar Schiavoni, in Modena’s exquisite covered market. Oblivious to the huge lines, Rubaldi meticulously assembles lunches with care. To start, an artwork of bread, smoked swordfish, and baby tomatoes, with pistachio for crunch.

Splurge on dinner at the rustic-chic Michelin-starred restaurant, in the ancient town of Soragna.

Set in the countryside just outside the city, Sapori is more ambitious, refined, and serious (but not too serious) than most trattorias in the Parma area, offering modern dishes so as not to seem old-fashioned (Parmesan gelato melting over a luscious hunk of molten eggplant in a pastry nest), and

Massimo Bottura is the chef who marries sensuous Slow Food preservationism with futuristic invention at the Michelin two-starred Osteria Francescana.