10 Best Places To Eat And Drink Like A Local In Bologna

By Gabriele Tabanele A basketball enthusiast and proud Bolognese native.

Edited by Emma White

Known for its authentic food culture its specialty and regional wines, Bologna is a top destination for food lovers planning a visit to Italy. From luxurious, silky fresh tagliatelle to rich and meaty ragù, tortellini al brodo and mortadella right through to Pignoletto wine, Bologna offers a whole host of unique, tasty treats to be discovered during your stay. So if you’re planning a visit to Bologna and you’re eager to discover the city’s traditional food scene, start off your own Bologna food tour with this guide to the best places to eat and drink like a local in Bologna. As a Bologna local myself, I’m immensely proud of my city’s food culture, and we wear our label of “Bologna La Grassa” (Bologna, the fat!) with pride. I love sharing our food scene, especially the local secrets, as everyone deserves to know how, and where, to eat in Bologna like a local.

 

Osteria del Sole

A strong favorite amongst locals, Osteria del Sole (vicolo Ranocchi, 1 ) kicks off our list of the 10 best places to eat and drink like a local in Bologna. Inside this charming osteria, filled with mismatched chairs and wooden tables, and sweetly decorated with old-style paintings and photographs, you’ll find a diverse crowd of locals from old men playing cards, to young students chatting after classes and friends sharing stories about their day. Although del Sole only serves drinks and not food, you are allowed to bring with you any food that you like. Locals will bring meats and cheeses purchased from a nearby deli, crisps, nuts and other nibbles and even pizza, to enjoy alongside their drinks. This hidden gem is the perfect place for an Italian-style aperitivo. This is one of the best bars in Bologna and its authenticity and warm atmosphere will charm you.
Osteria del Sole is open Fridays and Saturdays from 10.30 am to 10 pm, weekdays from 10.30 am to 9.30 pm but closed Sundays.

Caffé Terzi

Most locals typically begin their day with coffee, and if you ask anyone where the best coffee in Bologna is, they will probably tell you to go to Caffé Terzi. Bologna’s best coffee shop, Caffe Terzi (via Guglielmo Oberdan, 10/d), is a wonderfully elegant and authentic café in the heart of Bologna. They serve a variety of excellent coffee - roasted in-house - as well as a selection of delicious pastries, cakes and other sweets. Order a classic espresso or frothy cappuccino, and enjoy it standing up at the counter as the locals do. Pair it with a buttery pastry for the perfect Italian breakfast to set you up for a full day visiting Bologna. Just remember that in Bologna it is frowned upon to order a cappuccino after 11 am, so bear that in mind when you stop for an afternoon coffee break during your day of sightseeing!
Caffe Terzi is open Monday to Friday from 8 am to 6pm, Saturday from 8 am to 12.30 pm but closed on Sundays. 

Trattoria Amedeo

Amedeo (via Saragozza, 88 ) is another little trattoria that's loved by locals, and which serves incredible Bologna food. Although the staff speak very little English, you will find that they welcome you like old friends nonetheless, and try their best to make you feel at home in their home. Take it as an opportunity to practice your Italian, whatever level you’re at! Their friendly service and the authentic Bolognese food will instantly make you feel like a true local the second you step through the door. The seafood risotto is outstanding, and I recommend ending your meal the sorbetto al limone. Delizioso!
Amedeo is open Monday to Saturday from 9 am to 3.30 pm then from 6.30pm to midnight, but closed on Sundays.

Cantina Bentivoglio Café

Another top contender on the list of the 10 best places to eat and drink like a local in Bologna is Cantina Bentivoglio Café (via Mascarella, 4/b), a restaurant, wine bar and jazz club. Here you can enjoy a traditional Bolognese dinner followed by a live jazz music performance. The menu is typical of the Emilia-Romagna region and includes a great selection of local and national wines. The cavernous venue set in the wine cellar of the former palazzo is classy and intimate, offering the perfect setting for a romantic late-night meal. Locals love to come here to indulge in a delicious meal before settling down to listen to the show. So why not join them? Eat and drink like a local in Bologna and then sit back, relax and enjoy the Cantina’s authentic charm and jazzy vibes.
Cantina Bentivoglio Café is open Mondays from 12 pm to 1 am, Tuesdays to Saturdays from 8 pm to 2 am but closed on Sundays.

Quadrilatero

Another one of the best places to eat in Bologna is in the historic Quadrilatero Market, a square of little lanes off Piazza Maggiore that's crammed with food shops, restaurants and even clothing boutiques. The food shops boast an excellent selection of Bologna food including beautiful displays of fresh fish, cured meats, cheeses, fresh pasta and balsamico along with other Emilia Romagna specialties. There are also some cafes where you can sample the local food. For a true taste of the territory, make sure you stop by this Bologna food market for a bite to eat. You will find stalls scattered along via Pescherie and via Drapperie, and once you’ve glimpsed the treasures which spill out of the shop front and are generously arranged in the windows, you won’t be able to resist going inside.

Osteria dell’Orsa

This laid-back trattoria is probably one of the most popular Bologna restaurants and is guaranteed to be packed with locals every single day. I think it’s the simplicity of this place that keeps people coming back time and time again. Locals come here for great tasting, no-frills home cooking with fast and friendly service. They stick to classic dishes and take care to cook and present them in the most traditional way possible. Osteria dell’Orsa (via Mentana, 1) is the perfect place to rub shoulders with Bologna locals and eat simple and satisfying Italian home-cooking at affordable prices. They’re open 7 days a week, from 12.15 until 11pm, making this a reliable and constant feature on locals’ favorite spots to eat in the city.

Ragù

Ragù (via Goito, 9) is a small eatery serving delicious Bologna food mainly for take away. Here you can order a number of freshly prepared pasta dishes such as tagliatelle, balanzoni and tortellini. The space is small and most people take away, however there are a couple of tables indoors to cater for those who simply can’t wait to dig into their box of steaming, silky pasta! This is one of Bologna’s well-kept culinary secrets, the food really is amazing and yet you can’t find this place in any guide book. I recommended ordering yours to go and enjoying it in a nearby park or plaza and just soaking up the culture around you. You can place your order online and they also do delivery.
Ragù operates Mondays from 12 pm to 3 pm, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays from 12 pm to 3 pm then 7 pm to 10.30 pm, and Fridays and Saturdays from 12pm to 3 pm, then 7 pm to 11pm.

Mercato delle Erbe

This vibrant, traditional food market is one of the best places to eat in Bologna for an authentic experience of local life in the city. It has a wide variety of fresh food stalls, tapas bars and vendors selling local products such as olive oils, balsamic vinegars and wine on tap. Locals often come here in the early evening to enjoy a couple of small tapas-style plates along with a drink or two before their main meal later on. It’s a great place to sample a range of local Bologna foods either from the vendors at their stalls or in the small eateries surrounding the market. Order a drink and grab a few small plates for an aperitivo amongst locals. If you only have one or two days in Bologna then I definitely recommend prioritizing Mercato delle Erbe for the simple reason that you’ll be able to have a small taste of just about everything that the region is famous for, without having to spend time searching for restaurants and bars around the city. Just a short time spent here will give you a very big insight into Bologna’s local food culture.

La Frasca al Vicolo

Located in the heart of Bologna, La Frasca al Vicolo (4/a, vicolo Ranocchi) is renowned for its fantastic selection of quality craft beers and tasty local food. Favorite dishes amongst locals include the lasagna, tagliatelle and crostini. The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly and you can expect to pay very reasonable prices for your food and drink. It is located right next to Osteria del Sole so some people like to come here for the craft beer, then order their meal “to-go” and take it along with them to the historic osteria. Whatever you choose to do, you are guaranteed a great local experience here as well as exquisite traditional Bolognese food.
La Frasca al Vicolo is open Fridays and Saturdays from 11.30 am to 1.30 am and Sundays to Thursdays from 11.30 am to 12.30 am.

L’Emporio

L’Emporio (via Saragozza, 58/a) is a small, family-run wine shop and deli offering a unique assortment of food and beverages. Every tasting comes with a full explanation of the wine’s origin, reasons for choosing that particular product and advice on day trips from Bologna for those interested in the region’s food produce. The owner will then pair the chosen wines with plates of delicious hams and cheeses which marry together to create beautiful flavors that represent their venture is all about. The passion Nick and Leila have for their food is contagious, and they are amazing hosts who treat customers like family without question. This service, paired with the quality of the products and the owners’ attention to detail, makes this place better than most wine bars in Bologna! It’s certainly one of the 10 best places to eat and drink like a local in Bologna so make sure you stop by.
L’Emporio is open Mondays to Fridays from 12.30 pm to 10 pm, Saturdays from 5.30 pm to 10 pm but closed on Sundays.

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