What to Eat in Bologna: A Bologna Food Guide

We will unveil what food is Bologna italy known for and the best food to eat in Bologna italy

What to eat in Bologna

The capital of the Emilia-Romagna region has also been named the capital of Italian gastronomy, thanks to its handmade pasta accompanied by rich sauces, perfect to pair with a glass of Sangiovese, a typical red wine from the area. 

But it’s not just the pasta that stands out in Bolognese cuisine; in fact, in this article What To Eat in Bologna: a Bologna Food Guide, we will take you on a journey through flavours that will help you discover why Bologna has earned the well-deserved title of “La Grassa“, the Fat.

Let’s start now with the article but if you are curious to know the top 6 Restaurants in Bologna, click here.

What to eat in Bologna: a Bologna food guide.


The first dish of our guide to what to eat in Bologna is a precious dish often consumed in the past on special occasions such as Christmas lunch or for an important holiday, Tortellini warms the hearts of every inhabitant of Bologna.

Ring-shaped, or someone may say belly-button-shaped and filled with a tasty filling based on raw prosciutto, pork loin marinated with salt, pepper, garlic and rosemary, eggs, Parmesan cheese and nutmeg, to give that sweet touch. 

Tradition wants a dense broth of capon meat to accompany them. Also appreciated is the condiment with cream and Parmesan cream; not accepted by the purists is the condiment with ragù, used instead by other typical Bolognese dishes.

what food is bologna italy known for: Tortellini

You’ve probably heard of the famous “Spaghetti Bolognese,” and once in Bologna, you hope to taste them. We’re sorry to disappoint you, but you won’t find spaghetti Bolognese anywhere, neither in Bologna nor in Italy!

Instead, what you will find here are the delicious and beloved Tagliatelle al Ragù: fresh egg pasta cut into strips and accompanied by a dense beef sauce made with celery, carrots, onion, tomato sauce, pepper, and salt. Served with a sprinkle of Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano on top: a must eat in Bologna.


These days, you can eat lasagna practically anywhere in the world, in any kind of variation and with a huge variety of ingredients, but if you want an authentic culinary experience while you’re in Bologna, the recipe must follow the tradition.

The true Bolognese lasagna, which is a must eat in Bologna, is made of a green dough, prepared with flour, eggs, and boiled spinach. The porous pasta is interspersed with layers of ragù, béchamel, and Parmigiano Reggiano. Baked in the oven, you can appreciate the crispy edges and the soft, creamy heart. Accompany it with a glass or two “della casa” (of the house) red wine and prepare yourself for a happy nap right after.

Not sure about Where to Stay In Bologna? Check here the Best Accommodations in town, close to all the amenities and point of interests.

Balanzoni Bolognesi

This is the last pasta we suggest in our list of what to eat in Bologna, but the list is certainly not complete, and we promise you that we will write an article solely about pasta in Bologna!

The Balanzoni resemble tortellini in shape but are larger and green. They take their name from one of the city’s symbols, Balanzone, a pompous and arrogant lawyer, who is usually depicted with somewhat ridiculous manners and a big belly, that reminds of the filling of our Balanzoni pasta!

The color of the pasta comes from spinach, and the filling is made of ricotta cheese and mortadella. For the condiment, a great classic of Italian cuisine, simple and effective, namely butter and sage. The thick pasta contrasts with the creamy filling, and the addition of the aromatic notes of sage makes it an unforgettable dish.

Crescentine e tigelle

Crescentine and tigelle are a must-have on our list of what to eat in Bologna. Consumed for an aperitif or dinner, accompanied by a mix of cold cuts, cheeses, and sometimes jam and honey, they will allow you to experience many typical elements of Bolognese cuisine in one dish.

Crescentine are made of fried dough, crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Open it and fill it with your choice of cold cuts and cheeses. 

Tigelle are prepared with a dough made of flour, lard, yeast, and water, cooked in terracotta discs called tigelle, from which they take their name and the round shape. Cut it in half and fill with cold cuts and cheeses. You can also find a sweet version filled with Nutella.

Crescentine and tigelle are the names given to these dishes in Bologna: you can find variations in other cities but with different names. When ordering, make sure they are accompanied by “salumi” (the Italian equivalent of the english word salami): if you see the word “salami” it refers only to a seasoned and spiced meat, in the form of sausage, served in slices.


Also known as “La Bologna” (funnily enough, not in Bologna but everywhere else in Italy), mortadella is a sausage made of pure pork, pink in color with a typical aroma, usually served sliced with other cold cuts or in cubes.

Mortadella is so precious that there is an organization dedicated to its protection, and to ensure its quality, look for the one with IGP certification (Protected Geographical Indication).

In the memories of children, there’s the mortadella sandwich prepared by grandma or mom, and that’s how we propose you to taste it.

Go to Mò Mortadella Lab on Via de’ Monari to choose from different versions of mortadella, or if you want a more old-fashioned experience, head to Bottega Ranocchi, a delicatessen that will be happy to prepare you a classic mortadella sandwich. 

Just ask for a “Panino alla mortadella da asporto” (mortadella sandwich to take away), they’ll let you choose the bread (we recommend Rosetta), if you want cheese (we recommend a not too aged pecorino), and if you want to fully enjoy the Bolognese experience, take your sandwich to the tavern across from Bottega Ranocchi, called Osteria del Sole: there you can ask for a few glasses of red wine and enjoy your mortadella undisturbed at one of the tables!

Cotoletta alla bolognese

The cotoletta resembles the famous German Schnitzel in appearance, but the Bolognese version has its own twist

The base is a veal steak, breaded and cooked until golden brown in a pan. But in Bologna, here comes the magic: to become “Bolognese,” the cotoletta is covered with a layer of raw prosciutto, melted Parmesan cheese, and meat broth at the end of cooking, which gives it additional creaminess. 

If you are wondering what food is bologna italy known for, this is definitely one of those!


Bologna offers a culinary journey like no other, with rich flavors waiting to be explored. 

From tagliatelle al ragù to mortadella and crescentine and tigelle, you will keep your belly busy during your stay in here. 

Bologna’s food scene is sure to leave a lasting impression. So, when pondering what to eat in Bologna and what food is Bologna, Italy known for, rest assured that the city’s culinary treasures won’t let you disappointed!


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Gramigna salciccia con panna

Absolutely another great dish! Do you have a favourite restaurant where to eat it?