Bologna culinary tradition is mostly based on meat. But the mood is changing pretty fast.
Here’s a list of great fish and seafood restaurants in Bologna city centre that you should visit.
1. Scacco Matto
Do you believe in love at first sight?
Enter this small restaurant in the beautiful Via Broccaindosso, watch the frames with vintage card games on the walls and enjoy Mario Ferrara's cuisine.
I recommend the fish menu (50€) with 5 different dishes because it's the best way to discover the different sides of Scacco Matto.
The chef is from the south of Italy (Basilicata) and arrived in Bologna 30 years ago after inspiring travels in Japan and Brazil. This open mind is reflected in his dishes with the usage of unusual ingredients (like raphanus) and combinations (gnocchi with squid artichokes and periwinkle were amazing).
Gelato is made by Andrea Bandiera of Cremeria Scirocco, one of my best gelato in Bologna.
During summer, Scaccomatto moves inside a beautiful garden called Orti di Via della braina. Scaccomatto agli orti, this is the name of the event, offers a fixed menu that changes every night.
My favorite dish: raw fish antipasto with squid, prawns and sardines
Via Broccaindosso, 63, 40125 Bologna
+39 051 263404
Open every day but Monday lunch
2. Osteria Bartolini
It's the newest of the list and already a reference.
The renovated Dondini Ghiselli palace hosts more than 200 people and in spring you can eat on a wonderful terrace in the shadow of an old plane tree.
The owner, Andrea Bartolini, already has a Michelin star restaurant in Cesenatico (La Buca), but here the concept is different.
Simple dishes of maritime tradition with daily fresh fish only of Adriatico sea.
Their fried fish, absolutely with no lemon!, is a must-try.
If you prefer pasta, spaghetti alla chitarra with clams will do for you or ask for passatelli if available.
Grilled sardines or shrimps are always on the menu. Or try daily dishes like rumble fish or sole, according to fishermen's catches.
Wines list is not wide, most of the selection comes from Emilia Romagna, like Pignoletto or Albana, but you can find a few Franciacorta brut or rosè.
My favorite dish: cartoccio of Adriatico sea fried fish
Piazza Malpighi, 16, 40123 Bologna
Open Tuesday - Saturday 7:30pm - 10:30pm. Closed on Sunday, Monday
3. Banco 32
Inside Mercato delle Erbe, one of the landmarks of our food tour in Bologna, stands this small bistrot that reminds me of the mood some stalls of Barcelona's Boqueria market.
The few tables are just in front of the market's fish stall where the chef chooses every day the best fish to cook.
The menu changes daily and has a short and selected list of fish dishes which usually includes salads, like octopus with potatoes and olives, a few pasta like scialatielli with palamita, confit tomatoes or fish lasagna and some secondi like rolled swordfish with aubergine.
The cuisine has different influences, from France to Sicily, and the using of spices and herbs is perfectly balanced.
When British chef Rick Stein was in Bologna, he followed my suggestions and fell deeply in love with this place and their stuffed squid with spinach and capers.
Arrive there early otherwise you have to queue, especially on weekends.
My favorite dish: hard to say, go with the daily pasta and you won't be wrong
Via S. Gervasio, 3/A, 40121 Bologna
Open Tuesday - Saturday 12:30pm - 2:45pm and 6:30pm - 11pm. Closed on Sunday, Monday
Via San Felice, a street of old taverns and small clothes shops.
A small door opens the ocean.
You cannot start without raw French oysters and red Sicilian shrimps.
Then go straight to the Balik salmon tartare: smoked in the same way since the 1980s it's the top-notch of salmon.
If you like pasta, try their spaghetti with bottarga and sea urchins.
Apricot and cardamom sorbet for dessert, or just walk under the portico to get a great gelato in Piazza San Francesco.
My favorite dish: salmon tartare with French butter
Via S. Felice, 38/a, 40122 Bologna
Tel. +39 051 014 7075
Open every day for dinner, Saturday and Sunday also for lunch
5. Pane e Panelle
Isabel opened Pane e Panelle in 2009. The formula has changed during the years, but not the quality.
Just in time to wear your napkin and a gentle waitress serves you panelle (fried chickpea cake) to warm your mouth.
A short and selected menu to choose from, based on fish and seasonal vegetables.
Start with raw orata with orange and onion or fried sardines if you are in the mood.
Ask for a craft Bolognese beer, especially made for them by the local microbrewery Birra Cerqua (one of the best craft beer of Bologna). Or Sicilian wines like Grillo or Catarratto.
Don't leave the table without cannoli.
My favorite dish: pasta con le sarde (pasta with sardines, saffron, pine nuts, raisin, fennel)
Pane e Panelle
Via S. Vitale, 71, 40125 Bologna
Tel. +39 051 270440