Restaurant Golem

Restaurant Golem is on the Piazza San Martino named after, surprise, San Martino Cathedral which was built in 1217. Its a short walk away from the Finistrella di Via Pella (The Secret Window) and also near the Jewish Ghetto district in Bologna.

The menu was varied with both traditional offerings from the Emilia Rogmagna region and some asian inspired dishes. The atmosphere was very cool. It was one of the few places that actually

had a bar with chairs at it. And there were paintings and sculptures by local artists decorating the restaurant. Apparently they do art shows and events on occasion.

 

 

 

 

Beef Carpaccio

So the food. I started out with beef  carpaccio topped with lots of caramelized onions and big slivers of parmigiano reggiano, seasoned with salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.

 

 

 

 

Tortellini En Brodo

I also ordered tortellini en brodo. I had been ordering this at almost every place that I went where it was available. This was my second favorite bowl of soup. The broth was thick and peppery. The filling seemed to have more nutmeg than most and was really warming and filling. Keep in mind it was also in the 30s outside so this soup was just what I needed to mentally and phsycially prepare myself to continue exploring the city.

 

 

 

Gramigna with Sausage

And so because while in Emilia Rogmana one pasta course per meal is not quite enough I also order the Gramigna with sausage and cream sauce. I wasnt familiar with gramigna (which is a local pasta) and tried researching a little history about it but alas the internets failed me and I only know that is “most often paired with light sauces”.

 

 

 

 

If I went back to this place I would definitely try some of the asian inspired dishes, not that the regional food wasn’t great but I think Id like the Bolognese twist on asian flavors.

By the time I was done the place started filling up with what appeared to be University students and hip italians. The restaurant apparently has a good nightlife scene since it is close to some dance clubs. Disclosure: I do not know where they are but the service staff informed me that it was a spot people gathered before going out. The place stays open until 1am.

 

 

La Biata Salumeria

La Biata Vecchia Malga  was recommended to me by a local girl who worked in a luggage shop. I took the reccomendation with a grain of salt (I had been asking the best place to get a tasting of Culatello and Proscuittos.) since after her suggestion she promptly informed me she does not eat cured meats but her friends seem to like the place.

Either way, it was close and I decided to check it out.  The space is small but two stories. The bottom floor has outdoor seating (all year round, the tables were full in January) and there is a second floor/loft set up that looks down on the retail portion of the space.

View from Second Story

The store is actually one of many in Italy. The company was founded in 1969 by Rino Chiari, which directly “imported” products, especially fresh, from the typical areas of production and that “handing out” then to retail stores in Bologna, then the market has also expanded in Modena , and finally to almost all Italy. Even though they have an import business and now 4 stores and a full fledged restaurant it is still family owned and operated.

Various gourmet items for sale

The quality of the ingredients and offerings were spectacular. The menu is huge, but its basically a lot of the same ingredients in different arrangements. The salumi platters are broken up by meat/cheese and region. I ordered the Emilia Rogmagna with local meat and cheeses and the Parma which had mostly proscuittos and culatellos.

For some reason all the employees behind the salumi counter wear these snazzy hats. I never found out why…

Salumi Platter with Mortadella, Proscuitto and Salami Fellino

Proscuitto, Culatello and Mozzarella

 

There are also pasta dishes and salads on the menu. While I was in bologna I tried both offerings of tortellini. They have a typical tortellini bolognese, with a chunky meat sauce(not to be confused with the italian american version which is much more saucy  and tomato-y). And the tortellini in cream sauce. The really interesting part of the preparation is that they cook the tortellini in broth (as you would tortellini en brodo) and then toss with the various sauce, which really add another layer of flavor. Although according the residents I spoke to you never cook your tortellini in water lest you want it to lose all its flavor.

 

Tortellini in dream, I mean cream sauce

Tortellini Bolognese

The food was great, the selection of gourmet food items was spectacular. I wanted to bring home all the jams, truffle goods, and salumi I could afford but Dutch Airlines and United States customs would have put a kink in my plans.

Anyway, if you are in Bologna this place is gem and not at all expensive. The wine list is reasonable and has a great selection of local Lambrusco which is the perfect pairing for the cured meats and cheese.

Lambrusco!

 

La Biata Vecchia Malga,Via Pescherie Vecchie, 3/A, 40124 Bologna, Italy

 

 

The Quest for Tortellini

Bologna is known for its food, well the whole Emilia Romagna region has so many treasures.

 

Markets in Bologna selling fresh tortellini

While I was there I decided I was going on a quest to find the best tortellini in Bologna. It really is an impossible grueling task but I was willing to put in the work and try to make a dent in the offerings of such a great city. Tortellini is such a thing of pride that there is a yearly festival dedicated to it. Infact in 1974 the official recipe of Tortellini was deposited with the Bologna Chamber of Commerce, proving that according to Bolognese officials there is one right way to make it.

First of all, lets talk about Tortellini, there are many legends about the origins of Tortellini. One of the most popular tales

“One night during a trip Lucrezia Borgia stayed at an inn in the small town of Castelfranco, and during the night the host because so captivated with her beauty that he could not resist the urge to peek into her room through the keyhole. The room was lit only by a few candles and so he could only see her navel. The pure and innocent vision was enough to send him into Ecstasy. That inspired him to create the tortellini that night.”

Another really popular legend is that in medieval Italy the god(ess)s Venus and Jupiter were staying at an inn in the outskirts of Bologna and again! an Innkeeper looked through the keyhole at them them and all he could see was Venus’s navel and was captivated.

So both popular stories credit the invention of this pasta to a perv. Were the little ombelico (another name for tortellini meaning belly button) folded like that so the stuffing wouldn’t leak out into the sauce during cooking or because some peeping tom had a navel fetish? I prefer the fetish story.

This is my tortellini journey:

The first tortellini:

This was at a little Salumeria called La Biata . Its very close to Piazza Miaggore. Even though I was looking for Tortellini en Brodo the tortellini I spied on the way to the upstairs dining area (the bottom floor is just retail) looked so amazing I decided to try the Tortellini Bolognese. It was ah-mazing. First let me clarify that REAL bolognese from Bologna does not really resemble its tomato-y soupy american cousin. It was delicious. The tortellini were filled with cheese as often as the case when served with a meat sauce. I was so impressed by the quality of food coming from this tiny salumeria, it reminded me why I love Italy so much and the passion for food.

On to the next:

This was at Ristorante da Nello. Da Nello al Montegrappa has a very authentic bolognese menu. The tortellini were meat filled in a rich Capon broth.  Its down a small alley off of Piazza Maggiore so it wasnt packed with tourists (or so I assumed).

And then:

Restaurant Teresina. This was the best, the best tortellini en Brodo I had in Bologna. The broth was rich and flavorful, it was more herbaceous than a lot of the others I tried on this trip. The filling of the tortellini was perfectly seasoned. I admit I like A LOT of grated parmigiano on this dish but this one didnt need it. I mean, it made it better as adding cheese always does. But it was really really fantastic.  See that look of utter contentment on my face.

This was at I Carracci Ristorante in The Posh “Grand Hotel Majestic”. That is really the hotel’s name. Really. This was the most expensive meal I ate. The tasting menu was 100 Euros per person for 5 courses. I asked if it included the Tortellini en Brodo which was on the a la carte menu and my server assured me it was. Little did I know that I was to get all 5 of the chefs tasting menu in addition to a full portion of tortellini(which was no extra charge). It was good, it wasnt 5 stars, but the other dishes were spectacular. Overall I also may have been overwhelmed by the shear amount of food that was brought to me. I assumed the chefs tasting to have smaller portions but this is clearly a restaurant that wanted to live up the Bologna The Fat reputation of the city.

And continuing

This was my second favorite bowl of tortellini. This was at a small restaurant called Golem. Its off the beaten path in Bologna. I was just wandering the city trying to get as far away from the main piazzas when I found it. The broth was peppery and thick. The tortellini had a more pronounced nutmeg flavor. The warmer spices made the soup seem a little bit more winter-y.

This bowl is from a place in the Jewish Ghetto district of Bologna called L’Archimboldo. The menu at this place is very adventurous  compared to most places that I ate. I had two sections: traditional and modern. Obviously this was from the traditional side and it was fantastic. The tortellini were a lot bigger than all the other soups I had but it was nice, the filling of the pasta was really the star of this dish. It was richer and fattier than most, I’m assuming more mortadella less pork loin.

La Biata again. This was the meat tortellini in a cream sauce. I loved the atmosphere there and really wanted yet another plate of salumi and when I went I couldnt resist trying the other offering of tortellini. It was worth coming back for.

Looking at this tiny list of places I tried tortellini seems unimpressive for the 9 days spent in Bologna, but I tried my best. Its easy to forget that as simple as this dish appears, its filling and hearty, and of course I had to eat other delicious-ness while I was in the food capital of Italy.