What's the first food you think about when you think of Bologna?
Tortellini sure, maybe tagliatelle with ragù, mortadella of course.
You'd never think about Bologna dessert traditions.
Hidden in old bakeries and in ancient grandma's cookbooks, there's a sweet world to uncover.
Do you want to please your sweet tooth and end your meal on a glycemic high?
One dessert, many stories behind it.
The origins of zuppa inglese are blurry, but one thing is almost certain. Its name comes from its resemblance to the trifle, a British dessert made of layers of cake, cream and wine.
The layers of Zuppa Inglese are 3: custard, chocolate cream and a sponge soaked in alchermes, a pink liquor that gives the dessert his brilliant red color.
Where to eat Zuppa Inglese
Oltre reinterprets Bologna's culinary tradition in a sparkling, contemporary way. Their zuppa inglese is an unforgettable one.
Via Augusto Majani 1, Bologna
Tel. +39 051 006 6049
A must food during Christmas in Bologna. This treat was originally prepared by monks (Ordine dei Certosini).
It’s a caloric bomb made of almonds, pine nuts, candied fruits, chocolate, flour, cocoa, honey and A LOT of spices (the reason for its name panspeziale, bread with spices).
Seems too much?
Many people hate its sticky texture but try it and drink a glass of red to push it down.
Where to eat Certosino
Bar Billi is the most iconic bar in Bologna. The box containing their panspziel with the face of the founder, Mr. Billi, imprinted on it is a blowing gift to bring home.
Via Pietro de Coubertin 1, Bologna
Tel. +39 051 614 2225
Ah, torta di riso!
Can you say to have been in Bologna if you haven’t tried its rice cake?
Also called Torta degli Addobbi, it was prepared during a Middle Age celebration when people hang out colored drapes on their windows.
Rice of course, but also sugar, eggs, candied cedar and bitter almonds liqueur.
Where to eat Bolognese Rice Cake
Ready for the most unusual dessert of the list?
A pastry crust filled with almonds and candied cedar and topped with…tagliatelle.
Yes, the pasta, caramelized with orange juice.
Delicious and very scenographic.
Where to eat tagliatelle cake
This bakery in the middle of Quadrilatero food market provides bread and desserts from over a century. Enter for a slice of cake and exit with a full bag.
Via Drapperie, 6, 40124 Bologna BO
Tel. +39 051 233349
Also known as Portuguese milk, fiordilatte it’s the local version of crème caramel, with a few differences like the color.
In Bologna fiordilatte is darker because, before adding eggs, you have to wait until the boiling milk has decreased its volume.
Hence the name, “fiore del latte”: the essence of milk.
Where to eat Fiordilatte
You go at Amerigo for its Michelin star, its truffles, its vintage atmosphere.
But when Alberto asks you for a dessert, now you know the answer.
Spoiler: in spring his fiordilatte has asparagus!
Via Guglielmo Marconi 14/16, Savigno (BO)
Tel. +39 051 670 8326
What’s crema fritta?
Small cubes of custard cream sprinkled with flour, eggs and breadcrumbs.
Then fried, of course.
It doesn’t get much better than this.
Where to eat Crema Fritta
Casa Merlò opened in September 2019 with a motto: don’t be ashamed of fatty, greasy, sugarish food. And crema fritta is always on their dessert list.
Via de’ Gombruti 2/d, Bologna
Tel. +39 051 239645
Pinza is a Christmas dessert shaped like a bread loaf and filled with a black jam called mostarda, and optional raisin and pine nuts.
The origin of its name is uncertain: it may be from a Latin word, a French one, or from local slang.
What's sure is that pinza stands on the table of every Bolognese breakfast.
Where to eat Pinza
Forno Calzolari is one of my favorite bakeries in Bologna and not only for its amazing bread. The mountain wheat gives a unique taste to all its cakes and cookies.
Mercato di Mezzo, Via Clavature, 12, 40124 Bologna
Tel. +39 051 006 2894
These cookies were born in the nearby village of San Giovanni in Persiceto at the end of the 19th century.
Francesco Bagnoli, a local pastry chef, decided to bake them in honor of Regina Margherita queen.
The result is a thin-crust cookie made of egg yolks, sugar and flour similar to a meringue. Crunchy outside and oh-so-deliciously soft inside.
Where to eat Africanetti
Every bakery in San Giovanni offers africanetti.
But you can jump back in time at Antica Drogheria Bergamini, a grocery store with osteria that still looks like the 1920s'.
Wear your good hat and open the door.
Antica Drogheria Bergamini Duilio
Via Rambelli, 46, 40017 San Giovanni in Persiceto (BO)
Tel. + 39 051 821279
Raviole is a moon shaped cookie usually prepared in the countryside on the 19th March to celebrate St. Joseph.
The filling is jam: the classic black mostarda, sometimes with pears and oranges.
Sprinkled with sugar, my favorite ones are pink because soaked in Alchermes liquor.
Where to eat Raviole
Monica and Daniela and the most famous pasta sister in Bologna. But don't underrate their skills with desserts.
Via Belvedere, 7, 40121 Bologna
Tel. +39 051 220558
Planning to get married in Bologna?
We have many romantic restaurants and an essential dessert for your guests.
These doughnut-shaped cookies, boiled in sugar and anise, are typical of Appennini mountains and they have a distinctive hint of licorice.
They are traditionally prepared for weddings as a good omen to the newly married because their shape resembled the ring.
Where to eat Zuccherini
This is tough. Zuccherini is the main guest of weddings and country celebrations where they're given for free. Take a walk at Mercato Ritrovato on Saturday morning and if you're lucky you can find them there.
Via Azzo Gardino, 65, 40122 Bologna
Tel. +39 328 139 6004
Photo courtesy of Sara Querzola www.fiordifrolla.it