America's favorite Italophile reveals his go-tos for everything from killer tortellini to stellar gelato. (You're welcome!)
I lived in and around Emilia-Romagna’s capital for three years and saw its markets groan with every single good thing in season.
Where to Eat:
Ristorante Diana. Lunch here is one of the greatest experiences. Try the classic salumi, like culatello, and a trio of pasta: tortellini, tagliatelle and lasagna.
Trattoria Battibecco. The rigatoni with canocchia (mantis shrimp) is mind-altering.
Rosteria Luciano. A tiny, sexy spot for tortellini di ricotta.
Ristorante Pappagallo. Go ahead, try the fried veal brain.
All’Osteria Bottega. Feels like a private home. There’s nothing on the menu I would not recommend.
Ristorante Al Cambio. Step outside tradition and trust the chef. The guinea fowl stuffed with black truffles brought me to tears!
Where to Shop:
Tamburini. A gastronomic temple in the center of a food-obsessed town. If you’re lucky, owner Giovanni Tamburini will break out his guitar.
Via degli Orefici. The market stalls on this street are spectacular.
This magnificent small town, in the center of Emilia-Romagna, is famous for art, food and cars. Ferrari’s headquarters are nearby, and balsamic vinegar originated here.
Where to Eat:
Hosteria Giusti. This dining room behind a tiny deli has just four tables, serves lunch only and requires reservations. Everything I have ever eaten here, from the simple gnocco fritto (fried dough) topped with the most fragrant lardo, to handmade tortelloni with sage and butter, is perfection!
Osteria Francescana. My pal Massimo Bottura (pictured above, far left) is a very special cat, and the meal here is as emotionally satisfying as it is physically stupendous. It’s one of three 3-star restaurants I love in Italy.
A critical stop on the tasty tour that is Emilia-Romagna. Home to Parmigiano-Reggiano, the king of Italian cheeses.
Where to eat:
Ristorante Cocchi. A simple trattoria; fresh produce arrives all day.
Ristorante Angiol d’Or. Classic Parma cuisine, near the duomo.
Perfect Day Trips from Emilia-Romagna
Porretta Terme. My old stomping grounds, home to Trattoria delle Tele, are an hour by train from Bologna through the foothills of the Apennines. Try the fresh pasta, still made with a rolling pin, not a machine.
Ravenna. A day or two on the Adriatic coast in the Romagna half of Emilia-Romagna is a fantastic experience.The mosaics in Ravenna are amazing. And I especially love the nearby town of Cesenatico.
Pavullo nel Frignano. This town, an hour southwest of Bologna and Modena, is known for borlenghi, light crêpes filled with pancetta and herbs, then sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.