The 12 Best Restaurants in Bologna, Italy

Zerocinquantuno

Courtesy of Zerocinquantuno

In a city widely regarded as having the best cuisine in the country, in a country whose cuisine is adored and replicated (well, attempted, at least) the world over, how on earth do you decide where to eat? Bologna is a legendary food destination, even for food-proud Italians from other regions. Its typical dishes, or piatti tipici, include lasagne alla bolognese in a hearty meat sauce, delicate, hand-rolled tortellini in brodo (broth), and other handmade pastas.

The Emilia-Romagna region in which Bologna sits is equally as famous for its produce, most notably cured pork products and aged Parmesan cheese. These items are star players in nightly aperitivi, or happy hours, which few places do quite so well as Bologna. Then there's pizza, gelato, and all the other delicious foods you've come to Italy for in the first place.

If you're looking for a restaurant in Bologna, you can rarely go wrong by asking a local for a recommendation nearby. Be sure to always look for places that are crowded with Italians. Whatever you do, don't miss out on our picks for the best places to eat in the city.

01 of 12

Best Aperitivo: Zerocinquantino

Zerocinquantuno

Courtesy of Zerocinquantuno

In a city known for its first-rate aperitivo joints, Zerocinquantino has become something of an institution, with locations all over town and a loyal following. Aperitivo is typically a pre-dinner snack and drink, but at Zerocinquantino, you may be tempted to do as many Bolognans do, and make it a meal. Baskets of local tigelle bread are served with the region's famous meats and cheeses, and a long list of wines is available by the glass or bottle. Service is fast, and the vibe is young and modern. Try the location at Via Pescherie Vecchie, just off Piazza Maggiore, for the quintessential aperitivo experience in Bologna.

Address
Via Pescherie Vecchie, 3e, 40124 Bologna BO, Italy
Phone +39 051 238039
02 of 12

Best for Handmade Pasta: Sfoglia Rina

Handmade pasta at Sfoglia Rina

Sfoglia Rina

Tradition, transparency, and innovation are all on the menu at Sfoglia Rina, a longstanding family restaurant near Bologna's famous Two Towers (Due Torri). Rina's started as a fresh pasta shop back in the 1960s, and the pasta is all still handmade, albeit on a larger scale. Traditional daily dishes include tortellini in brodo and lasagne alla bolognese, but a weekly menu serves up surprising flavors, such as green ravioli filled with potatoes and shallots served with red olives, avocado, and lemon mousse. Ingredients are carefully and sustainably sourced, and pasta-making classes are periodically offered for kids and adults.

Address
Via Castiglione, 5/b, 40124 Bologna BO, Italy
Phone +39 051 991 1710
03 of 12

Best for a Cheap, Authentic Meal: Trattoria da Vito

With every list of best restaurants in every city in Italy, it seems like we type this sentence at least once: don't come for the atmosphere. Or maybe it is the atmosphere that keeps people coming back to Trattoria da Vito, a legendary gathering place of Bologna's artists and intelligentsia. The interior hasn't been updated since long before Vito left the building; the menu hasn't changed, and the service is somewhere between surly and sassy. The menu is still gloriously cheap, with nothing—save for a couple of bottles of wine—priced over 10 euro. Meals are of the traditional, rib-sticking variety, so come with an appetite and a sense of humor.

Address
Via Mario Musolesi, 9a, 40138 Bologna BO, Italy
Phone +39 051 349809
04 of 12

Best Bar: Bar Senza Nome

Interior of Bar Senza Nome, Bologna

Bar Senza Nome

Bar Senza Nome—the "Bar With No Name"—is so much more than just a bar. In politically and socially engaged Bologna, it's a focal point for its young, diverse patrons, and a successful community project. Most of the bar servers are hearing impaired and communicate with customers (and one another) via sign language, lip reading, and written notes. Elsewhere this might be just a clever twist, but at Senza Nome, the service is first class, the ambiance is warm and convivial, and the food—mostly aperitivo fare—is tasty and abundant, with plenty of vegan options. Factor in cold beer on tap, a winning wine list, and crowds spilling out onto the sidewalk, and this place is calling our name.

Address
Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, 5, 25034 Orzinuovi BS, Italy
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05 of 12

Best Foodie Experience: FICO Eataly World

Cheese restaurant at FICO Bologna

FICO

There are 26 bars and restaurants. There are food and animal-themed amusement park rides. There are markets, cooking classes, a vast wine store, in-house factories producing food, and farm animals, most of which are destined for a dinner plate. Welcome to FICO Eataly World, the self-described food theme park of the Italian foodstuffs empire. Set about 5 miles northeast of central Bologna, FICO is practically a place of pilgrimage for Italian food afficionados. And with its abundant dining and noshing options and family-friendly activities, it's a full-day affair for foodies and those just along for the ride. It's reachable by bus from central Bologna, or a weekend FICO shuttle from Bologna Centrale train station.

Address
Via Paolo Canali, 8, 40127 Bologna BO, Italy
Phone +39 051 002 9001
06 of 12

Best Tortellini in Brodo: Trattoria Anna Maria

Tortellini in brodo
lucagavagna / Getty Images

Tortellini in brodo is practically a sacrosanct topic in Bologna. Recipes are handed down from nonnas and zias, and, from fresh pasta, to meat and cheese filling, to slow-cooked broth, the preparation and enjoyment of this classic Emilian comfort food are engrained in the regional DNA. No wonder so many Bolognans have their favorite spots for tortellini in brodo and are willing to die on that hill. For many, there's only one place to go—Trattoria Anna Maria, a place as venerable as the University of Bologna campus nearby. Anna Maria herself may no longer be running the kitchen as she did for 30+ years, but the dishes are as authentic as ever.

Address
Via delle Belle Arti, 17/a, 40126 Bologna BO, Italy
Phone +39 051 266894
07 of 12

Best Lasagna: Osteria Va Mo La'

Lasagna a pasta verde at Va Mo La', Bologna

Va Mo La'

Along with tortellini in brodo, the second pillar of the classic primi piatti (first courses) of Bologna, lasagne alla bolognese is made with a slow-cooked ragu (tomato meat sauce), layers of handmade pasta, bechamel sauce, and Parmesan cheese. The true Bologna version uses fogli verdi—sheets of egg pasta that get their green tint from spinach added to the dough. At Osteria Va Mo La', the preparation is traditional, and the setting manages to feel simultaneously hip, cozy, and international, with books, vintage magazines, and wine bottles lining the walls. Vegetarian versions of the lasagna are available, too.

Address
Via delle Moline, 3a, 40126 Bologna BO, Italy
Phone +39 051 237201
08 of 12

Best for Atmosphere: Drogheria della Rosa

Drogheria Della Rosa

Courtesy of Drogheria Della Rosa

With tables spilling out under Bologna's medieval porticos, and an interior that retains the location's roots as a former pharmacy, complete with the original fixtures, Drogheria della Rosa is a sentimental favorite for best atmosphere in Bologna. Fortunately, that ambiance is matched by excellent food and service, both provided by chef/owner Emanuele Addone, who personally visits each table. The menu is a mix of traditional Bolognese fare and dishes from around Italy, so you're sure to find something everyone will like.

Address
Via Cartoleria, 10b, 40124 Bologna BO, Italy
Phone +39 051 222529
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09 of 12

Best for Michelin Dining: Ristorante I Portici

Pasta at I Portici Bologna

Pasta at I Portici Bologna

Here's a shocker: For all its food-centered accolades, Bologna proper has only one Michelin-starred restaurant, I Portici, located in the hotel of the same name. Set in an elegant Liberty-style salon with frescoed ceilings, I Portici maintains its Michelin star under the direction of young chef Gianluca Renzi, who trained with Heinz Beck. Dining here is a costly affair (50 euro fish soup, anyone?), but it's sure to be a memorable event. For the most varied experience, we recommend going with a tasting menu of 5 or 7 courses.

Address
Via dell'Indipendenza, 69, 40121 Bologna BO, Italy
Phone +39 051 421 8562
10 of 12

Best Pizza: Ranzani 13

Pizzeria Ranzani 13

Pizzeria Ranzani 13

Ranzani 13 calls its pizzas "small round works of art" and we tend to agree. "Secret" ingredients include wholegrain dough that's lofty, yet light and easy to digest, seasonal toppings, and a mix of traditional and innovative pizzas (mozzarella, pistachio cream, mortadella, and Parmesan? Yes please!). A hamburger menu should please those who just can't deal with another pizza, and a rotating list of 300 beers on tap is there to wash it all down. The main location is just outside the old city walls, and there's a satellite location at Mercato delle Erbe.

Address
Via Camillo Ranzani, 5/12, 40127 Bologna BO, Italy
Phone +39 345 881 1232
11 of 12

Best Gelato: Cremeria Santo Stefano

Gelato at Cremeria Santo Stefano

Cremeria Santo Stefano

Here's a truth bomb: Not every city in Italy is known for its gelato. But given that close attention for primary ingredients and overall food quality are so important in Bologna, it's no surprise that the city has some top spots for all-natural, artisanal gelato. Loyal followers of Cremeria Santo Stefano trek to this slightly hidden, jewel box of a shop for freshly made gelato using seasonal fruits, house-roasted nuts, and premium chocolate. They also make macarons, chocolate candies, pastries, and traditional holiday desserts.

Address
Via Santo Stefano, 70c, 40125 Bologna BO, Italy
Phone +39 051 227045
12 of 12

Best With No Food: Osteria del Sole

You read that right. This restaurant serves no food. Instead, the Osteria del Sole serves wine and beer, and that's it. Customers reserve a table and bring their own food, either from home or sourced from nearby street markets or takeaway eateries. Osteria del Sole is an institution in Bologna's medieval heart—the tavern has been welcoming guests since 1465.

Address
Vicolo Ranocchi, 1/d, 40124 Bologna BO, Italy
Phone +39 347 968 0171
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The 12 Best Restaurants in Bologna, Italy