Bologna is known in Italy and around the world for its excellence as its university and its engines, but the thing for which it is most famous is undoubtedly for its gastronomy.

So much so that the ? bolognese sauce? which here call ragout, can easily be found on the shelves of supermarkets in Singapore or in Buenos Aires.

The culinary tradition is ancient and rooted in the territory and extends beyond the city limits to encompass all of Emilia, the historical region of Bologna.

Emilia is the place of production of several gastronomic excellence: parmesan cheese, Parma ham, balsamic vinegar from Modena, mortadella (which in various parts of Italy is also called bologna).

Although ancient, the passion for good food is still very much alive even in a big city like Bologna, in fact it is common to hear about homemade pasta and comparisons between recipes for the filling of tortellini.

You can also find many fresh pasta boutiques scattered around the city (more than I have seen in any other Italian city) and the city is full of traditional restaurants.

Mujer que hace la pasta en casa

It is so much the devotion to the bolognese sauce that those who want to joke say that the bolognese in the restaurant always eat tagliatelle to ragout solo para decir que son mejores las que hacen sus abuelas.

Hombre que hace la pasta en casa. Tagliatelle echas en casa.

This passion for cooking gave the city the nickname GROSSA (=FAT).

The nickname also fits well with the style of local cuisine and the most famous recipes that, although delicious, are not the lightest! And if you are a vegetarian Muslim, perhaps this is not your place, since meat and especially pork, in all its possible forms and forms of cooking, is at the heart of Emilian cuisine.

If that is not your case, then take advantage that you are in one of the gastronomic capitals of the world and try everything! And don’t worry about the diet for a few days, just climb the Asinelli Tower (500 steps on foot) and take the panoramic tour of San Luca (under the longest portico in the world) and you will have burned the extra calories!

Now I want to describe the most classic recipes that you can not miss trying at least once if you come to Bologna, but not only, in fact I want to give you some useful tips so that you recognize that you really have the original Bologna recipes on your plate!

Then let us begin:


It’s the smallest stuffed pasta there is. They have the typical triangle shape with a ring at the base and tradition says that when closing them you should make the ring above the little finger.

Dimensions are an important aspect to recognize that a tortellino is quality!

Tortellini tipicos de Bologna

The filling consists mainly of mixed boiled meat, parmesan and spices, then each recipe has its own variations that may include raw ham or other ingredients.


The pasta is the typical Emiliana, fresh and egg-based (which is the common base of many recipes), that is, different from the typical Italian pasta you buy in the supermarket that does not carry egg.


The result of cooking should be a thin layer of soft dough that does not break easily and inside you will find a very tasty meat ball that completely fills the dough and that is quite solid but not dry.


Tortellini are usually eaten in hot broth and this is the only form considered «correct» by the true bolognese, both in summer and winter; in restaurants you can find different variations.


A tip for sweet tooth? Tortellini with meat sauce, definitely my favorite variation when I just want to exaggerate.

Tortelloni and Balanzoni:

The tortelloni are the elder brothers of the tortellini and is one of the few vegetarian options in the Emilian tradition.

They have the same shape and the same external mass as tortellini, they are simply much larger, even 3 times larger.

Tortellini ragù. Tortellini bolognesa.

The tortelloni are the elder brothers of the tortellini and is one of the few vegetarian options in the Emilian tradition. They have the same shape and the same external mass as tortellini, they are simply much larger, even 3 times larger.

The main ingredient of the filling is fresh ricotta, combined with other ingredients. One in particular that can not miss, in fact should clearly feel in good tortelloni is nutmeg. Other typical ingredients of the filling are parmesan, parsley and egg so that the dough is more compact after cooking.

Tortelloni are usually dressed very simply, with butter, sage and for those who want grated Parmesan cheese, and in my opinion is the best way to enjoy its flavor to the fullest!

And balanzoni? Balanzoni are tortelloni in which the filling is combined with mortadella and ricotta. So inside they will have a pale pink color and a completely different flavor, you will only find them in Bologna!

Lasagna verde:

This is definitely one of the most famous city dishes in the world. A layered pasta cake with meat sauce and béchamel sauce in abundance!

Perhaps it is also one of the dishes from which you will find more variations for all tastes, with vegetarian and vegan elaborations that can be found in many places

One thing that not everyone knows and that characterizes the real bolognese lasagna is the fact that pasta is not the «yellow» normal fresh egg paste.

In fact, traditional lasagna is green because spinach is added to the dough, which makes the overall recipe a little lighter and more delicate. Whereas if it is made only with egg paste, sometimes it becomes a real brick.

Lasagna tipica bolognesa

Then, each recipe has its own unique signature on how many layers of pasta and how they separate. Surely if you spend a few days in Bologna for holidays or work you have to look for an authentic green lasagna, I assure you that you will not regret!

Tagliatelle al Ragù:

The last dish not to be missed is perhaps the simplest but also the most classic, loved by those who want a tasty lunch and not too complicated. Tagliatella is a type of pasta, always fresh and egg-based like that of tortellini. The characteristics of the ? tagliatella? are width, thickness and roughness.

The width should be at least half a centimeter, ideally between 8 and 10 millimeters. In fact, if it were narrower would be a ? fettuccine? , if it were wider it would be a ? pappardella? (yes, the Italians are maniacs when it comes to pasta forms!).

The thickness must be there because tagliatella «must be felt under the teeth» I would say a bolognese. Therefore, it does not have to be too thin and almost transparent.


The roughness, on the other hand, is given by the surface and the tools on which the dough is worked and partly also by the flour. The texture directly affects the feeling of the paste in the mouth and its ability to retain the salsa, the traditional method that is still used in many houses and artisanal pulp factories requires that the paste be spread with a wooden roller on a surface of wood or marble, so that the dough does not become too smooth, as would happen if worked with steel. To understand how harsh are the ? tagliatella? you will have in front of the restaurant, just look how soft and slippery they are, it doesn’t have to be too much!

These are the most important dishes that you cannot miss in Bolongna and if you travel as a couple or with friends, be sure to try them and taste them all to choose your favorite!

If you want more about Bologna and its gastronomy I advise you to come to the free walking tour of the 7 secrets of Bologna, here I leave the link so you can book.

See you soon travelers!