SommSelect Travels: Bologna Should you find yourself in the land of Tortellini and Lambrusco, here are few gems that should not be missed.
It had been a long time since I’d visited Bologna and strolled under its arched walkways, in search of Tortellini in Brodo and good wine. The last time was a good 20 years ago, when my wife and I stumbled into the now-classic Drogheria della Rosa, a pharmacy-turned-restaurant whose chef/owner, Emanuele Addone, worked the floor like a maniac—pouring tastes of wine for guests and himself in equal measure and presiding over one of the most memorable long lunches of my life. I’m kicking myself for not getting back there a few weeks ago, when I was in town for a tasting event hosted by SlowWine, the vinous arm of the SlowFood organization.
Winding my way through packs of students drinking beer and smoking cigarettes on the sidewalks, I did manage to find a few other spots my fellow wine geeks need to know about. As countless writers have noted, Bologna is a great food town—not a Michelin-star kind of town, mind you, but more of a salumi/fresh pasta kind of town. Which is to say, my kind of town. I hope it’s not another 20 years until the next time!
Via Mascarella 26B
This is where I went (along with Medulla Vini, below) to feel like I was being plugged into Italy’s natural wine scene. It’s the total package: wine selections scribbled on a chalkboard; shelves groaning with bottles with the prices written in white marker; and a free-wheeling bartender/sommelier (my new pal Eduardo) guiding the journey. Whenever I’m in a place like this I instinctively put myself in their hands—give them a general idea of what I’m looking for, ask them about what they’re excited about, etc. That often means kissing a few frogs along the way, but I’ve got to hand it to the crew at L’Ortica: They didn’t hit a false note all night. Bravo!
Via Guglielmo Oberdan 18A
Here’s another vineria with major natural wine street cred (it bills itself as the first wine bar in the city to focus on organic and biodynamic wines), and one you could easily miss if not for a gaggle of people holding wine bottles and glasses outside on the street. The actual bar, such as it is, is through a door and up a dark flight of stairs, where you can claim one of a few stools or tables. Among their many offerings, available to drink there or take away, are a rotating assortment of excellent vini sfusi (tap wines) from local producers. Like L’Ortica, this isn’t a place where you make reservations. Just show up and figure it out.
Via Santa Caterina 51
Tidy, impeccable, family-run osteria of the highest level. You know what they say: Eat where the winemakers eat (in this case I tip my cap to journalist-turned-winemaker Giorgio Melandri, producer of delicious Romagnan Sangiovese at the nearby Mutiliana winery). All the dishes Bologna is famous for—Tortellini in Brodo; Cotechino; Pasta alla Bolognese—reach their apotheosis here. Just a beautiful little spot.
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Through the grapevine
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