Most tourists will probably visit Firenze, Rome, Tuscany, Naples, etc. Not many seem to talk about the Emilia Romagna region, which composes of the provinces of Bologna, Modena, Parma, Ferrara, just to name a few. Although it’s not really mentioned as part of the typical itinerary, it is arguable the most important region for gastronomes who love Italian food. Ask any Italian who cooks the best, and most likely its their Grandmama. Dig down a bit deeper, and Emilia Romagna will undoubtedly pop up.
Emilia Romagna is home to Parmasan cheese or Parmigiano Reggiano, Balsamic Vinegar, Prosciutto di Parma, and all the wonderful Bolognese cuisine such as Tagliatelle al Ragu (or what we refer to as Pasta Bolognese), Tortellini di Brodo, etc. Also, one must try the wonderfully decadent and delicate Culatello di Zibello, which is a ham made from the Pig’s butt. I mean, who doesn’t love a good butt?
After travelling for just about 1 week across Bologna, Modena, Parma, Bardi, and Bergazzi; I reckon it’s worth sharing what I’ve experienced thus far, and the restaurants and places that I truly think are special. It wasn’t just about the wonderful food, but also the warmth and hospitality that one unexpectedly experiences during this enlightening sojourn across the underrated region of Emilia Romagna.
Let us begin. Here is the the Google Map Food Itinerary.
- Osteria Francescana (Modena) – Truly a journey worth making just to eat at this temple of gastronomy. The cuisine will shock and awe, whilst paying reverence to the food of this region, revisited with the playfulness of a child. Reserve this restaurant exactly when the online reservations open, just to stand a chance.
- Franceschetta 58 (Modena) – Massimo Bottura’s other restaurant, which is more relaxed and low key but still serves delicious, well executed dishes e.g. Tortellini in Parmesan fondue.
- Bar Schiavoni (Modena) – Serves the best panini bar none in Modena, located beside the storied Mercato Albenelli in the center of Modena.
- All’Osteria Bottega (Bologna) – Family run, traditional restaurant celebrating the best of local ingredients. Makes the most humble and amazing Tortellini di Brodo, as well as serving some amazing local products such as the coveted Culatello di Zibello, 30 month aged Parmiggiano Reggiano cheese, Prosciutto di Parma, just to name a few.
- Drogheria della Rosa (Bologna) – This charming restaurant had been an old pharmacy back in the day, and has since been converted into a very decent restaurant specializing in the local Bolognese cuisine. No menus are given, and service is decent, but all the dishes we had were well executed and very tasty.
- Restaurant Angiol D’Or (Parma) – A relaxed and local restaurant right in the main square facing the Duomo and Battistero in Parma. Had a fantastic 30 month aged Prosciutto di Parma here, which was delicate and not overtly salty.
- Hombre Farms – Makers of very good Parmigiano Reggiano, located outside of Modena. E-mail them to arrange a visit of their farm, and also to try out their product.
- Acetaia di Giorgio – Family run Acetaia since the early 1900s, and making traditional, organic Modenese Balsamic vinegar ever since. Amazing quality of Balsamic vinegars at 12 years old, and 25 years old aged in various types of wood barrels to impart different and subtle flavours.
- Bologna Nel Cuore (Bologna) – Lovely B&B which is 5 min walk to the Piazza Maggiore, with a lovely host Maria who makes an excellent breakfast with coffee, eggs, various cakes, and other local produce.
- B&B Quartopiano (Modena) – Truly the most charming and well decorated B&B I’ve been in, right in the heart of the sophisticated and stylish Modena. The owner/couple will certainly take care of you and make you feel right at home.
- Ca’ Del Lupo (Bardi / Bergazzi) – Truly worth a special journey to this off-the-beaten path, beautiful B&B run by the lovely Challie. Located in a stone manor country house about 15 min drive from the the charming city of Bardi, which is well furnished and comfortably rustic. It has a beautiful garden with a lovely view of the valley and Bardi, as well as a Turkish bath and massage facilities for those who wish to unwind after a long journey.