Bologna: Arrival & Dinner at Al Sangiovese

It was inevitable I’d get here one day. How could a food & travel blogger who claims a particular love of all things Italian resist coming to Bologna one day? Many believe the best food in Italy comes from Emilia-Romagna and as the region’s capital, Bologna can be said to be the capital of Italian food. No doubt the Italians from Piedmont, from Rome and all the other regions would contest that. The Italians are fiercely loyal to the food of their own region. But no one would contest that the food of Bologna is up there in the top category. This is the home of mortadella, tortellini and of course that much argued and controversial ragu – Bolognese sauce.

My plane landed at 6.00pm so I took the easy route and grabbed a cab to take me into the centre to my hotel: Hotel Porta San Mamolo. It was worth ā‚¬15 for the 15-20 minute drive so I arrived in time to check in, have a little walk and then go for a meal at Al Sangiovese, a restaurant recommended by the hotel and just a few doors down in the same road. Perfect! Simplicity is all to the good when you’ve been travelling for a few hours.

I already had a good vibe about the hotel. They’d been so friendly during the booking process; so helpful with restaurant recommendations, sending me a list in an email for me to check out and offering to book for me once I’d made my choice. Unusually these days, I was actually shown to my room and had everything pointed out to me, like the way to access the wifi. It’s a lovely room just off the courtyard garden, so very peaceful.



I only had 45 minutes until my table was ready for me so I asked in reception where best to head for a pre-prandial walk. Even in the short time I’ve been here and the little I’ve seen, I’m in love with Bologna’s beauty. The weather forecast isn’t great for my three days here but this evening was perfect: warm and a clear blue sky. However, it boasts 40km of covered walkways so when the rain comes I’ll be OK. Tonight on my walk I went through one walkway with beautiful ceilings.

Then I made my way to Al Sangiovese.

As soon as I walked in I knew I’d love it. It was just the kind of trattoria type, traditional Italian restaurant I like best. Nice and relaxed. And the welcome was so warm and friendly.

Was I happy with the table, they asked me. Yes I was, I said. I ordered a glass of prosecco and a basket of bread and small grissini came.

I wanted to order traditional Bolognese food and started with passatelli in brodo – worm-shaped pasta made from breadcrumbs, egg and Parmigiana which is shaped by squeezing the dough through a special crusher like a giant garlic press, then cooked in broth.

It was really wonderful; the broth full of flavour and delicious. My main course was a Bolognese version of beef Tagliata – strips of beef on rocket with parmigiana and balsamic.

When I asked for a glass of red wine, the waitress laughed and said it would be Sangiovese of course. And excellent it was too.

I finished with their house dessert of a warm chocolate cake and mascarpone custard. It was amazing; so good. A heavenly indulgence.

I finished with an espresso. The bill came to ā‚¬40 which I thought was good value for what I’d had. It’s a lovely restaurant. Without doubt if – when! – I come back to Bologna I’ll definitely eat here again. And it had been a great start to my holiday.

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A lifelong lover of good food and travel; writer and book editor

13 thoughts on “Bologna: Arrival & Dinner at Al Sangiovese

  1. Bologna has also been known as ‘La Grassa’ – the ‘Fat One’ – for centuries. This meant it could feed those who came to study at the world’s oldest university. Mortadella is sometimes called Prosciutto di Lavori – ‘builders’ ham’ – because it is cheaper than genuine crudo. If you visit Modena – and you should – look out Brandoli on via Canalino – a vefy old and special salumeria. I look forward to more despatches from ER.

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