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