A Taste of Bologna: Discovering Authentic Emilia-Romagna Cuisine

By: Nicole Dickerson / Last updated: December 20, 2023

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes


Ragù alla Bolognese

Guide to Emilia-Romagna Gastronomy and Cuisine: Read more

Regional Cuisine:

Ferrara, Forlí-Cesena, Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Ravenna, Reggio Emilia, Rimini


Balanzoni is another Bolognese pasta prepared with spinach. The green dough is used to make tortellini filled with ricotta, spinach, eggs, Parmigiano Reggiano, and mortadella and is typically served with butter and sage sauce. The name for this pasta was inspired by the hat of Dr. Balanzone, Bologna’s carnival mascot.

Gramigna con Salsiccia

For another authentic pasta dish in Bologna, look to gramigna con salsiccia. This unique, curly-shaped pasta is served with a ragù made from pork sausage, tomatoes, and wine. To serve, Parmigiano Reggiano tops gramigna con salsiccia for a savory dish representative of the region.

Lasagne alla Bolognese

Lasagne, one of the world’s most beloved pasta dishes, originated in Bologna. This baked pasta dish is made by layering wide, flat egg lasagna pasta with ragù alla Bolognese, béchamel sauce, and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. The dish is baked until the pasta is tender and the cheese and béchamel on top are beautifully browned. Additionally, there’s lasagna verde alla Bolognese for a unique take on this Italian classic. This version makes the lasagna pasta with spinach, resulting in a vibrantly green-colored pasta.

Mortadella di Bologna

Mortadella production in Bologna officially dates back to 1661 when Cardinal Girolamo Farnese formally proclaimed production standards for this opulent salami. Since 1998, this cured pork delicacy has been produced under Protected Geographic Indication.

Mortadella is made with the meat and fat from the pigs’ throat; the meat is ground and mixed with the diced fat. The mixture is heated, washed in water, processed, placed in a natural or synthetic casing, and cooked.

Passatelli in Brodo

Also common in Ravenna and the traditional food of Emilia-Romagna, passatelli in brodo was created in peasant kitchens years ago. They developed passatelli to utilize the limited ingredients available at the time. These are dumplings made from cheese, bread, and eggs served in a flavorful meat broth.

Ragù alla Bolognese

Regarding Emilia-Romagna’s food, ragù alla Bolognese has had the most far-reaching impact. This ragù is the inspiration behind the Italian-American version of spaghetti bolognese. However, you’ll never find ragù alla bolognese served with spaghetti in Bologna. Instead, tagliatelle alla Bolognese is more authentic to the region. The more comprehensive and rough (thanks to using a wooden rolling pin) egg-based pasta noodles are ideal for sopping up this rich sauce.

Ragù alla Bolognese is made with beef, pork, and sometimes veal. The meat is slowly simmered with tomato, wine, a splash of milk, broth, celery, carrot, and onion for a hearty, flavorful sauce.

Zuppa Imperiale

For a classic soup in Bologna, enjoy zuppa imperiale. The main ingredients are semolina dough made with eggs, butter, Parmigiano cheese, and nutmeg; baked until fluffy, cubed, and then served in a flavorful meat-based brodo (broth). Krinofel, a similar Austrian soup, is thought to have inspired zuppa imperiale. The soup was brought to Emilia-Romagna by Marie Louise, the Duchess of Parma. She was the first wife of Emperor Napoleon I.


Avatar photo

Nicole Dickerson

Further Reading: Discover More Related Blog Content

More information

If you would like us to customize an exclusive luxury tour, contact us and let us know your travel plans. We offer luxury food and wine tours for private groups of a mininium two guests. In addition, all of our private, chauffeured tours are available year-round upon request.

Cellar Tours Private Luxury Food & Wine Tours

Cellar Tours

Welcome to Cellar Tours, the premier Luxury Travel Specialist since 2003. Our goal is to provide you with the ultimate food and wine vacation experience, with exclusive Mercedes chauffeured tours that showcase the best of local cuisine and wines.

Our team specializes in crafting bespoke, custom-designed vacations, events, and incentives tailored to your unique tastes and preferences. Travel is not just about seeing new places - it's about creating unforgettable memories and indulging in the finer things in life.

As members of Slow Food, OTAVA (Travel Agency Association in Spain), and the IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals), we promote sustainable tourism and support local communities. We work closely with top-rated hotels, restaurants, and wineries to provide you with the highest level of service and attention to detail.

Whether you're planning a romantic getaway, a family vacation, or a corporate retreat, let Cellar Tours be your guide. With our passion for food and wine, extensive knowledge of local culture, and dedication to exceptional customer service, we're confident we can exceed your expectations.

Contact us today to start planning your dream vacation – we can't wait to hear from you!

Recommended by