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Bologna Food Guide: 27 Traditional Bologna Italy Foods You Need To Try Now

Wondering what foods you should eat in Bologna? We’ve spent two months eating our way through the city to tell you which Bologna Italy foods you have to try.

Bologna, Italy is one of the world’s greatest food cities. Home to classics like tagliatelle al ragu, tortellini, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, and flavorful cured meat, it’s no wonder Bologna is crowned as Italy’s culinary capital.

Yet, while these classic bolognese dishes draw all the attention, Bologna is far more than tortellini.

In this Bologna food guide, we’ll take you through the city’s best traditional dishes and introduce you to some typical dishes you never even knew existed. Whether you’re planning a self-guided Bologna food tour or deciding what you should order for your next meal in Bologna, our guide will introduce you to some of the most mouth-watering and authentic Bologna foods.

Let’s go taste Bologna.

Want to know what restaurants to eat at? Check out our Bologna Restaurant Guide.

What food is Bologna, Italy known for?

Bologna, Italy food is renowned for its traditional home-style cooking with rich, hearty flavors. The most famous foods from Bologna include meaty pasta dishes, pork-based meats, Parmesan cheese, and balsamic vinegar.

The city is a food-lovers paradise. As a heads up, many of the most famous dishes from Bologna include meat, so for the most traditional Bologna food experience, we recommend eating meat. Having said that, Bologna does offer plenty of incredible local vegetarian dishes.

Perhaps the most well-known foods from Bologna are Parmigiano Reggiano, tagliatelle al ragu (known in the U.S. as spaghetti bolognese), mortadella, balsamic vinegar, and tortellini.

However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. This Bologna, Italy food article is going to cover the favorites listed above, but we are also going to go into the dishes and foods you never even knew existed, including drinks, pasta, desserts, and more!

By the end of this article, you’ll have a full list of everything you have to try on your trip to Bologna. So let’s get to the good stuff.


Best Pasta from Bologna, Italy

Here we’ll list the classic pasta dishes you must try along with some absolutely divine Bologna pasta you may have never experienced before. It goes without saying that all of these dishes are prepared with fresh pasta. If you have time, we recommend you take a Bologna cooking class to learn how to make some of these dishes on your own.

1. Tortellini in Brodo

Tortellini is one of the most iconic pasta dishes in Bologna, Italy. This small ring-shaped handmade pasta has a rich history and an even richer flavor.

It’s said that tortellini got its shape from the god Venus’ navel, but regardless of its origin story, it’s no doubt a popular dish among locals and tourists alike! In fact, it’s so popular that every year the city hosts a tortellini festival where the top 20 chefs in the city compete to see who makes the best version of tortellini.

The traditional filling for tortellini includes pork loin, prosciutto ham, mortadella sausage Parmesan cheese, and nutmeg. Depending on the restaurant you are visiting in Bologna, ingredients may vary slightly to create unique flavors – but all varieties are sure to tantalize your taste buds!

In Bologna, the traditional way to eat tortellini is in a savory beef broth and topped with a heaping spoonful of grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

2. Lasagna Verde

Lasagna isn’t an Italian food unique to Bologna, and it can be found in cities throughout the country. However, Bologna does have its own unique take on lasagna that is nearly impossible to find outside of the city. It’s called lasagna verde.

Traditional lasagna verde is made from three key components: fresh egg pasta incorporated with spinach, ragu alla bolognese, and bechamel. The spinach gives this dish its distinct green color.

The one ingredient that you won’t find on any lasagna in Bologna is mozzarella. This is typically found in Southern Italy, but never in Bologna.

To get the most out of your stay in Bologna, you’ll want to try some fresh, homemade lasagna bolognese. It’s heavy, filling, and comforting, but worth indulging in. Just make sure you have time to relax after eating some lasagna because it might leave you in a delicious food coma.

3. Passatelli in Brodo

Bowl of Passatelli

Pasatelli is one of Bologna’s lesser-known pasta dishes, but it absolutely deserves a place in your food almanac.

Pasatelli is made from bread crumbs, Parmigiano Reggiano, eggs, and lemon zest. Their shape looks a little bit like worms, but their flavor is so good. This is a unique dish that you’d have a hard time finding outside of Bologna.

Traditionally, Pasatelli is served in a simple beef broth, with a sprinkling of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese on top. This simple yet satisfying dish is perfect for colder days when you need a warm and comforting meal to lift your spirits.

4. Tagliatelle al Ragu

You’re probably used to calling it Spaghetti Bolognese, but in Bologna, they call it tagliatelle al ragù. No matter what you call it, this hearty meat sauce served with tagliatelle pasta is a beloved go-to for locals and tourists alike.

The ragu is prepared by mincing onion, carrots, and celery and slow-cooking them together with pork, beef, and broth for hours until the meat is tender and the flavor from the fat is incorporated in the entire bolognese sauce. The end result is an appetizing red sauce mixed with light ribbons of tagliatelle.

One of, if not the most iconic pasta of Bologna, tagliatelle al ragu is a staple in nearly any local trattoria or osteria. Much like tortellini, each restaurant will have its own recipe. Some will add more beef, others pork, and some will even add a dash of nutmeg.

5. Gramigna alla Salsiccia

Gramigna pasta from Bologna

If you’re seeking to discover the best foods in Bologna, then no list is complete without gramigna alla salsiccia. This exquisite pasta dish is a true reflection of the region’s rich and flavorful cuisine.

Gramigna is a short, curly, tubed egg pasta. It looks like an elongated and twisted macaroni. The shape of the pasta is perfect for catching and holding onto more of the ragu, so you get a flavorful punch with every bite.

The star of the dish is the sausage ragu, which is a simple sauce made from local pork sausage, onions, tomatoes, and wine. Like many traditional Italian dishes, the simplicity of the dish yields incredible results.

The recipe is quite similar to the traditional tagliatelle al ragu, but the additions of pork sausage and wine make a significant difference in the flavor.

While gramigna doesn’t draw the same attention as some of the other kinds of pasta in Emilia Romagna, you don’t want to miss out on trying it in Bologna.

6. Tortelloni

Tortelloni is tortellini’s bigger brother. While the two dishes have the same shape, their flavors and fillings are unique.

Tortelloni is a great alternative to tortellini if you’ve already had your fair share of tortellini in brodo. Tortelloni is a large navel-shaped egg pasta filled with a variety of fillings.

The two most common fillings for tortelloni are spinach and ricotta cheese and pumpkin. Pumpkin (called ‘zucca’ in Italian), is seasonal and is typically only available in the fall. You cook these by placing them in boiling water for a couple of minutes and then topping them with butter, parmesan cheese, and sometimes sage.

Our favorite way of eating tortelloni is with the pumpkin filling topped with butter, sage, and a drop of traditional balsamic vinegar.

Word to the wise, don’t ask for a red sauce with these. You won’t get it, or you might get an incredulous look if you do. Stick with butter and parmesan and you’ll be delighted by this incredible pasta.

7. Truffle Pasta

Okay, so truffles aren’t exclusive to Bologna and pasta dishes with truffles can be found all over Italy in the fall. However, if you are visiting Bologna during truffle season, it’s worth ordering a white or black truffle pasta dish.

These dishes are simple. They are typically served with tagliatelle and then the sauce simply lets the truffle do the rest of the work.

The beauty of ordering truffle dishes in Italy is that the price is on par with practically any other pasta dish. You can order a fantastic truffle pasta for 12-18 euros.

If you’ve never tasted truffle before, get ready for an enjoyable culinary experience!

Black truffle has a rich, earthy, umami flavor with strong aromas. It is often described as nutty and has undertones that are similar to, but stronger than other mushrooms.

White truffle is a lot more delicate. It has a flavor more similar to garlic, but with notes of pepper. You can’t go wrong with either, and we recommend trying both!

If you are looking for a great vegetarian dish to eat in Bologna, go with truffle pasta.

8. Cappelletti

Cappelletti is a stuffed pasta that is shaped like a small hat – hence where it got its name. The dough is folded into a triangular shape around the filling before being twisted to seal it.

The traditional filling is made with ricotta, parmesan cheese, and nutmeg, although other variations may also include parma ham or spinach.

The typical sauce for cappelletti is a simple butter and parmesan cheese combination, which allows the delicate flavors of the ricotta, parmesan, and nutmeg filling to shine through.

While cappelletti is from the greater Emilia Romagna region, if you are only visiting Bologna on your trip, you can find fantastic cappelletti all throughout the city center.


Best Side Dishes from Bologna

Typical Italian dining features antipasti served before your main course. These are some of the best, and most traditional bolognese appetizers you can order with your meal.

9. Crescentina

Gnocco Fritto in Emilia romagna

If you’ve been traveling throughout Emilia Romagna, you may have come across crescentina under a different name. In Bologna, they are called crescentina. In Reggio Emilia and Modena they are called gnocco fritto. And in Parma, they are called torta fritta.

Crescentina is a traditional side dish in Bologna that is made with dough composed of flour, water, salt, and lard. The dough is then rolled into thin discs and fried in hot oil until golden brown and crispy.

Crescentina are a versatile appetizer and pair really well with meat platters, fresh cheeses, friggione, or even dipped in your morning coffee.

These are one of my favorite foods to eat in Bologna.

10. Stuffed Zucchini

Zucchine Ripiene dish from Emilia Romagna

Stuffed zucchini, called zucchine ripiene locally, is one of my all-time favorite foods in Bologna. The Bolognese have a way of turning simple dishes into a culinary experience you’ll remember for the rest of your life.

Zucchine ripiene are made with a local variety of zucchine. These zucchini are shorter and stockier, which makes removing the filling easier than a traditional zucchini. They are then stuffed with the same filling that you’d use for a classic bolognese ragu.

The zucchini are then topped with the most robust red tomato sauce and cooked in the oven until the zucchini is tender and easy to cut through. They are served with meatballs on the side.

You’ll want to make sure to order this on your self-guided food tour of Bologna.

11. Erbazzone

Erbazzone is a savory pie typically found only during the summer and early fall months in Bologna. Think of an Italian version of spanakopita.

The dough is very simple consisting of only four ingredients: flour, salt, water, and olive oil or lard. The filling is a delightful mix of spinach, Parmesan, ricotta cheese, and some garlic. It is then baked for about 30 minutes and is best eaten right out of the oven.

Unlike tagliatelle al ragu or crescentina, you won’t find erbazzone in all of your favorite Bologna restaurants. This local specialty is something you’ll have to go out of your way to find, but it’s absolutely worth it.

12. Aceto Balsamico di Modena

Aceto Balsamico di Modena is a unique condiment that has been produced in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy since the Middle Ages. It’s a thick, syrupy vinegar made from Trebbiano and Lambrusco grapes. It’s then aged for up to 25 years in wooden barrels, giving it an intense flavor, unlike any other balsamic vinegar you’d find outside of Italy.

True Aceto Balsamico di Modena is sweeter than other balsamic vinegar due to its high concentration of sugar content and low acidity levels. This makes it perfect for drizzling over fresh fruit as well as finishing off cooked dishes such as roasted vegetables or grilled meats. Because of the sweetness, this traditional balsamic vinegar also pairs well with Fior di Latte gelato.

We recommend doing a taste-testing of different balsamic bottles of vinegar within the old town of Bologna or on a day trip to the hills where it is produced. You’ll be surprised by the different flavors that come as a result of the aging proccess and types of wood used in the aging barrels.

Balsamic vinegar is a must-eat in Bologna.

13. Friggione

Friggione dish in Bologna

Friggione is a traditional side dish from Bologna, made of slow-cooked onions and tomatoes. It’s especially popular during the cool winter months when you crave something comforting.

You’ll typically see this ordered as a side that you can then pair with meats, bread, crescentina, and cheeses. Many Bologna restaurants will even serve it with fresh egg pasta.

Both the aroma and flavor are powerful but exquisite. As soon as you walk into a restaurant and the scent of friggione is in the air, you’ll instantly become hungry.

You’ll find this in nearly any restaurant in Bologna, and we recommend trying it at least once to get an authentic Bologna, Italy food experience.


Best Sandwiches in Bologna

Sandwiches serve as a perfect lunch option or midday snack when you are in a hurry. They are served up quickly and are easy to eat on the go so you can eat while you sightsee. These local sandwiches are flavors you must experience on your Bologna food journey.

14. Tigelle

Tigelle in Bologna, Italy

Tigelle is one of the most beloved snacks in Bologna, Italy. This very traditional dish originated in the Emilia Romagna region and has been around for centuries.

Tigelle is a popular Italian sandwich made with thin round discs of soft dough which are filled with fresh local ingredients such as cured meat, cheese, and vegetables.

The dough is traditionally cooked on a tigella – an iron griddle plate – and served warm with a variety of different fillings that range from savory to sweet.

Both layers are then stuffed with delicious fillings such as cheese, meats, vegetables, and sweet jams before being served hot off the grill.

15. Piadina

Piadina from Ravenna, Italy

Piadina is an Italian flatbread sandwich that is popular in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy. Originally from the towns along the Adriatic Sea, these local sandwiches have spread their way throughout the region and are common in Bologna.

Piadina is made from a simple dough of wheat flour, olive oil, and water which is then cooked on a hot griddle until it’s crispy and golden brown.

The piadina can be filled with all sorts of delicious ingredients such as cured meats, cheese, vegetables, and even sweet jams.

Some of the most common fillings include prosciutto crudo, ground sausage, squacquerone cheese, fontina, and leafy greens like arugula or radicchio. But the possibilities are endless.

This type of sandwich has been around for centuries and continues to be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike due to its simple yet bold flavors. Whether you’re looking for something savory or sweet when visiting Bologna, you won’t want to miss out on trying this classic Italian food.


Best Meat from Bologna

Bologna is home to some of the most popular cured meats in the world. These meats are staples in Italian cooking. You’ll find these meats in any local salumeria in the region. Each one is delicious on its own or served up as lunch meat in a sandwich.

16. Mortadella

No Bologna food guide would be complete without mentioning mortadella. Mortadella is the meat of Bologna. You’ll find it on top of pizzas, in delis, at the market, and on any charcuterie board. There are even local sandwich shops that only serve mortadella sandwiches. In short, it’s one of the most delicious foods in the entire region.

So what exactly is mortadella? Mortadella is an emulsified pork sausage. That means that all the ingredients are stuffed into a casing and steamed until the entire thing is cooked through.

The popular meat is made of high-quality finely ground pork from the neck and shoulder, cubes of lard, black peppercorn, and sometimes pistachio. The mixture is then stuffed into a casing before being cooked.

The flavor of mortadella is typically bold and savory, with a slightly sweet and nutty taste from the added pistachios. The meat has a smooth and creamy texture, due to the fat content and the process of grinding and mixing the ingredients.

We recommend trying it on its own, on a square pizza with fresh ricotta and pistachio, and on a sandwich, and you’ll see why mortadella is the talk of the town in Bologna.

17. Salame Rosa

Salame Rosa is a type of cured Italian meat that is unique to the Bologna region of Italy. Similar to mortadella, it is made with pork and pork fat mixed with a blend of spices, garlic, and pepper.

The mixture is then stuffed into a natural casing and cooked in an oven for up to 24 hours. This process is quite different from traditional salami, and it makes Salame Rosa a hybrid between salami and mortadella.

The result is meat that looks pink and speckled like mortadella but has a much milder flavor. The flavor is more similar to ham than it is to mortadella.

And while mortadella is used in many recipes in Bologna, Salame Rosa is only found in delis. We highly recommend getting a couple of slices and comparing it to mortadella.

18. Prosciutto di Parma

As the name suggests, Prosciutto di Parma is not from Bologna, but you wouldn’t know that by the quantity of it consumed in the foodie city.

Hailing from nearby Parma, Prosciutto di Parma is a must-try when visiting Bologna. Much like Parmigiano Reggiano, Parma ham goes through a highly controlled and regulated process to ensure a high-quality and protected product.

Parma ham is made from the hind leg of Large White, Landrace, and Duroc pigs, and then uses sea salt to cure it over the course of 12-36 months.

We recommend eating Prosciutto di Parma plain, in a piadina or tigelle, and on pizza. It’s such a versatile meat and pairs well with a nice glass of Lambrusco wine.


Best Cheeses of Bologna

Used in nearly every traditional bolognese food, cheese is an important staple of the region. It is the ingredient that tops a pasta, ties a sandwich together, or completes a pizza. Here are the cheeses of Emilia Romagna that you cannot miss.

19. Parmigiano Reggiano

Known as the king of cheese, you have not truly tasted Bologna until you have tried Parmigiano Reggiano.

To make Parmigiano Reggiano, you only use high-quality cow’s milk. The milk is then warmed up in a giant vat where the cheese separates from the whey (the whey is then used to make fresh ricotta).

After the cheese hardens, it is cut into blocks and put into big metal drums with salt water. This process helps give it its unique flavor.

Finally, it is aged between 12 and 36 months before being ready to eat. It is the creamiest, most divine cheese you will find.

At 12 months old, the cheese is still quite fresh and milky, good for filling pasta or topping it. However, the best cheese starts at 24 months. You’ll start to notice salt crystals forming in the cheese, which gives it a salty, umami flavor.

We recommend sampling all 3 ages of cheese the see which you prefer. Then, once you’ve decided which one you like the most, we recommend putting a drop of traditional balsamic vinegar on top for a flavor pairing that can’t be beaten.

20. Squacquerone

Squacquerone cheese

Squacquerone is the epitome of a hidden gem. It is the very definition of the phrase. Pronounced skwa-kweh-ROW-nay, this fresh cow’s milk cheese is everywhere in Bologna, yet I had never heard of it until my first visit there. Now, I crave it almost daily, but cannot find it outside of Bologna, much to my chagrin.

It is an extremely fresh cow’s milk cheese, taking only four days to produce. As a result, squacquerone is a cheese that is best eaten fresh and will spoil if you keep it longer than a week.

The soft cheese has a pleasantly mild and sweet, milky flavor.

How to eat it? While technically you can eat it plain, we’d highly recommend pairing it with other dishes. You’ll find squacquerone at many traditional restaurants in the area.

It’s popular filling for both tigelle and piadina, is commonly paired with crescentina, and is often served with charcuterie and cold cuts.

One of my favorite ways to eat it is with local caramelized fig sauce on top of a piece of bread. As you are deciding what to eat in Bologna, I strongly recommend you try this pairing. You can order them together from local cheese shops.

I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.

21. Grana Padano

Just as Salame Rosa is the little brother to mortadella, Grana Padano is the little brother to Parmesan cheese. Granted DOP status in 1996, this ancient cheese was first created by Cistercian monks in the 12th century.

Found all throughout Emilia Romagna, Grana Padano is made from cow’s milk and aged between nine months and two years.

While similar in flavor to Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano is milder overall, mostly due to the fact it isn’t aged as long. We recommend comparing the two cheeses side by side to see which you prefer.


Best Desserts in Bologna

On your Bologna food trip, you’ll eat plenty of hearty, filling dishes. But, you’ll want to make sure to save room for dessert. Bologna is home to the world’s best gelato, not to mention a few other sweet treats.

22. Torta di riso

Torta di riso is a popular dessert in Bologna, Italy. This simple rice cake is a sweet treat made with arborio rice, eggs, sugar, lemon peel, almonds, and milk. The ingredients are combined together to create a creamy and chewy texture – almost like you are eating a mixture between rice pudding, creme brulee, and a rice.

If I’m being honest, the torta di riso isn’t the most beautiful-looking dessert in the world. If you saw a bunch of treats lined up in a row behind a glass counter, it probably wouldn’t be your first pick. But don’t let the appearance stop you from trying one of the best desserts in Bologna.

While you can order torta di riso after your meal, I’d recommend ordering it as a sweet morning pastry to go along with your cappuccino from a local pasticceria.

23. Zuppa Inglese

Zuppa Inglese dessert in Emilia Romagna

Some desserts’ origins are known, while others are lost forever. And some, like Zuppa Inglese, land firmly in the middle.

According to legend, Zuppa Inglese is believed to have originated in the 16th century in the city of Ferrara. It was said to have been created by a chef trying to replicate a classic English trifle for the Dukes of Este.

The traditional recipe has three distinct layers. First, a thick layer of classic pastry cream. Second, chocolate cream. And third, sponge cake soaked in alchermes, a bright red Italian herb liqueur that gives the Zuppa Inglese its characteristic red color.

This is a must-try Bologna food.

24. Gelato

The best gelato in the entire world is in Bologna. You can quote me on that. As somoeone who is completely obsessed with this creamy Italian dessert, I have tried a lot of gelato all over Italy, and nothing compares to the gelato scene in Bologna.

Bologna is home to over 100 gelato shops and Gelato University, and the average quality of gelato in the city far exceeds gelato anywhere else in the world.

We have a list of the best gelato shops in Bologna that you can read, and we recommend trying as many of these places as you can. But be warned, gelato will never be the same again. Once you’ve tasted gelato in Bologna, you’ve reached the mountain top.


Best Drinks from Bologna

To complete your Bologna food experience, we recommend pairing your meals with a local white or red wine. Emilia Romagna is emerging onto the world’s wine scene with these refreshing drinks.

25. Lambrusco

Lambrusco wine from a winery in Emilia Romagna

With all of these foods to try, you’re going to end up a little thirsty. Fortunately for you, Bologna is home to some great regional wines, the most popular of which is Lambrusco.

Lambrusco is a sparkling red wine that originates from the Emilia Romagna region of Italy. It is made with several different grape varieties, including Marani, Maestri, Montericco, and Salamino di Santa Croce.

Lambrusco has a bright fruity flavor and can range in sweetness depending on the style. Depending on the bottle, you’ll get notes of cherry, watermelon, rhubarb, and violets.

A great food wine, Lambrusco pairs well with traditional Italian food from Bologna such as pasta and pizza. We recommend pairing it with Parmigiano Reggiano as well as cured meats like prosciutto and mortadella.

The light effervescence of Lambrusco makes it an ideal accompaniment for any meal.

26. Pignoletto

A glass of pignoletto wine

For those of you who prefer a glass of sparkling white wine, look no further than Pignoletto.

This refreshing wine from the hills of Emilia Romagna is made using the Grechetto Gentile grape variety. This fun white wine has the aromas of crisp green apples, freshly cut grass, and lemons. It also has light floral notes of honeysuckle and jasmine.

When thinking of ordering yourself a glass, it goes great as an Aperitif, with young cheeses, vegetables, and seafood.

27. Aperol Spritz

Is there a more iconic Italian cocktail than the Aperol Spritz? The vibrant orange color just oozes feelings of warm summer days and even longer summer nights.

While most cities in Italy make the cocktail with Prosecco, in Bologna, they use the comparable Pignoletto wine, giving the cocktail a distinctly bolognese twist.

This zesty drink is perfect with lunch or dinner, or of course, simple by itself.

Bologna Food: Frequently Asked Questions

Is Bologna the food capital of Italy?

To say that Italy is full of incredible food scenes is an understatement. Whether you visit Milan, Rome, Florence, or Palermo, you are bound to eat a dish that awakens something deep within your soul that will leave you wanting to come back for more.

And while each of these Italian cities, and many others, can make a valid case as the food capital of Italy, Bologna can go punch for punch with any of these heavyweights. Bologna serves as both the literal and gastronomic capital of Italy’s “food valley”, Emilia Romagna, putting it squarely on the map as Italy’s gastronomic capital.

In fact, Bologna has earned the nickname “La Grassa”, meaning “The Fat” as a tribute to the rich and delicious cuisine of the region. The nickname is also given because Bologna cooks with a lot of pork meat. Seriously. A lot.

Bologna has a well-deserved reputation as the food capital of Italy; it’s as if every meal is an intensely flavorful sensory experience. And when you visit, you’ll notice that food takes the center stage in the lives of the locals. In Bologna, food is not just a way of life, it is life.

What time do people eat dinner in Bologna, Italy?

Italians tend to eat dinner a bit later than what you might be used to at home. Bologna restaurants typically open anywhere between 7-8 pm but don’t reach their peak until around 9 pm. Most restaurants in Bologna are open until 10:30 or 11 pm.

What time is lunch in Bologna, Italy?

The lunch window for restaurants in Bologna is between 12:00 pm and 2:30 pm. When you plan to eat in Bologna, you’ll want to plan your day accordingly because restaurants are only open for a brief 2 or 2.5-hour window for lunch. If you start looking to eat lunch at 3, you’ll be out of luck at most restaurants.

Do I need to make a reservation for restaurants in Bologna, Italy?

It is highly recommended to book a restaurant ahead of time if you want to secure a table at a restaurant to eat in Bologna. Many of the highly acclaimed Bologna restaurants fill up quickly, especially on the weekend. The best way to make a reservation is to call or email the restaurant ahead of time. Most places don’t have online table reservation systems yet.

Expert tip: If you don’t have a reservation at a restaurant, but really want to eat there, show up 5 minutes before opening time. If you have a party of four or fewer, you have a good chance of grabbing one of their open tables. Sometimes you will be turned away, but this is your best bet to get in if you don’t have a reservation.

What is the most popular food in Bologna, Italy?

If you had to narrow down Bologna to one dish, which is completely impossible, the most popular Bologna food is tagliatelle al ragu. It is simply a must-eat when visiting Italy’s culinary capital.

The second most famous dish would be tortellini. Whether you eat tortellini in brodo, fried, or with a nice sauce, this delicious dish is synonymous with the old medieval city.

The third most popular food is a tie between Parmigiano Reggiano and mortadella. If you try these four most famous dishes on your trip to Bologna, you’ll have completed Food in Bologna 101.

Final Thoughts on the Best Bologna Italy Foods

Bologna, Italy is a food lover’s paradise, with a rich culinary heritage that has been passed down through generations. The city is buzzing with a passion for food and is the ideal destination for any foodie. The amount of high-quality restaurants in the city is astounding.

The city is famous for its traditional and hearty Italian cuisine, and there are a number of dishes that are considered must-try when visiting Bologna. From fresh pasta dishes like tagliatelle al ragù and tortellini in brodo to cured meats like mortadella and prosciutto di Parma, the food in Bologna is full of flavor and character.

The use of high-quality, locally sourced ingredients is a hallmark of Bolognese cuisine, and the dishes are often simple yet delicious. The Emilia Romagna region is also known for its cheeses, including Parmigiano Reggiano, and its aceto balsamic di Modena.

Whether you’re looking for a hearty meal or a sweet treat, Bologna cuisine has something to offer everyone. So if you’re a foodie and you’re planning a trip to Italy’s culinary capital, take a look at both these popular and lesser-known Bologna foods.

We hope this Bologna food guide gives you the ultimate Bologna food experience on your trip to one of Italy’s most remarkable cities.

More Information for your trip to Bologna 

Bologna has some of the most delicious gelato in all of Italy. Check out our guide to the best gelato shops in Bologna

Looking to do a day trip from Bologna? There are so many incredible day trips from Bologna, including a food tour in Modena and a visit to the Ferrari factory in Maranello. Take a look at our article about the 23 best day trips from Bologna.

Wanting to try some unique foods from Emilia-Romagna? Check out our article on the most underrated foods in Emilia Romagna

For a full a list of all of the things to do in Bologna, read our article on the best things to do in Bologna

Wondering how to get from the Bologna airport to the train station? We have an entire guide to help you get to the city from the airport.


Italy Travel Insurance – Should you get travel insurance for Italy? YES! We always get travel insurance before all of our trips for peace of mind. Check out Travel Insurance Master to find the best plan for you.

Italy Rental Cars – Is it safe to rent a car in Italy? Yes! We’ve rented a car in Italy too many times to count, and it’s definitely the most convenient way to get around the countryside. We rented our car through Discover Cars (our go-to rental agency), which helps you find the best rates no matter where you are traveling.

Italy Phone Plans – If your phone plan does not offer free coverage in Italy, then we suggest getting an eSIM. We used Airalo during our trip to Italy, and we had fantastic coverage the entire time. It’s easy to download and you can even top up via the app if needed.

Italy Hotels – Wondering where to book your accommodations for Italy? We’ve been reserving all of our hotels through Booking for years. Their messaging tool makes it easy to communicate with the hotels, and there are endless options to choose from.


  1. Hi,
    I came across your website when researching Emilia Romagna and its been a resource we’ve been referring to time and time again! The food photos all look so delectable and was hoping if you could give a list of the restaurants you went to and rate for the above food? We are massive foodies and would love the insight.

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