34 Best Restaurants in Emilia–Romagna, Italy

Cibo Pasticceria

$ Fodor's choice

Just a handful of steps from Modena's beautiful cathedral, this lively place serves coffee, juices, fine wines by the glass, and lovely little sandwiches. But perhaps it's best to come here for a sweet, as they are luscious and delicious, and they're all made in-house.

Da Cesari

$$ | South of Piazza Maggiore Fodor's choice

Host Paolino Cesari has been presiding over his eatery since 1962, and he and his staff go out of their way to make you feel at home. The food's terrific, and if you love pork products, try anything on the menu with mora romagnola: Paolino has direct contact with the people who raise this breed that nearly became extinct (he calls it "my pig"). The highly flavorful meat makes divine salame, among other things. All the usual Bolognesi classics are here, as well as—in fall and winter—an inspired scaloppina alla Petroniana (veal cutlet with prosciutto and fontina) that comes smothered in white truffles. This one-room restaurant has white tablecloths, dark-wood paneling, wine-bottle-lined walls, and is just a few minutes' walk from Piazza Maggiore.

Via de' Carbonesi 8, Bologna, 40124, Italy
051-237710
Known For
  • pork dishes like flavorful salame
  • wine list with lots of local bottles
  • traditional setting
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Sun., Aug., and 1 wk in Jan., Reservations essential

Danilo

$$ Fodor's choice

Honest cooking doesn't get much better than this: host Danilo has been at the helm for decades and oversees his restaurant with a keen eye and great spirit. The food here is local, terrific, and unpretentious. There's a reason why locals swarm here, and visitors as well. Regional favorites like tortellini in brodo, or tortelli stuffed with pumpkin (all pasta made in-house), and bollito misto are on the menu, as are many things with that local product (balsamic vinegar). If you can possibly, do have one of the fab cakes or desserts. 

Via Coltellini 31, Modena, 41121, Italy
059-216691
Known For
  • il filetto all'aceto balsamico (beef fillet with a sumptous balsamic sauce)
  • well-priced wine list
  • attentive and courteous staff
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Sun., Reservations essential

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Enoteca al Brindisi

$ Fodor's choice

Ferrara is a city of wine bars, beginning with this one (allegedly Europe's oldest), which opened in 1435—Copernicus drank here while a student in the late 1400s, and the place still has an undergraduate aura. The twentysomething staff pours well-chosen wines by the glass, and they serve cappellacci di zucca (pasta stuffed with squash) with two different sauces (ragù or butter and sage). Those in search of lighter fare might enjoy any of the salads or the grilled vegetable plate with melted Pecorino. Perfectly dusty wine bottles line the walls, and there are wooden booths in another small room for those who want to eat while they drink. No reservations.

L'Oca Giuliva

$$ Fodor's choice

Food, service, and ambience harmonize blissfully at this casual but elegant restaurant inside a 12th-century building. The chef shows a deft hand with area specialties and shines with the fish dishes. If they have the chestnut ice cream, don't miss it. There are two tasting menus, and a terrific cheese plate complements the amazing wines poured here. Patrons enter through a tiny wine bar, some pausing for a glass of wine before proceeding into the restaurant.

La Forchetta

$$ Fodor's choice

Sicily-born Parma transplant Angelo Cammarata makes magic in his small eatery on the ground floor of a 16th-century palazzo, where the menu teems with Parma classics as well as modern takes on Sicilian dishes. Creatures from the sea play a starring role—try the terrific starter of blanched shrimp. The “Duchessa di Parma” (chicken breast stuffed with Parma ham and cheese) weds beautifully with marsala sauce. The interior is sleek and minimal with exposed brick complementing the pale, muted gray of the walls.

Mon Café

$$ Fodor's choice

Locals love this lively café because it does just about everything and does it well, beginning at 7 in the morning with excellent coffee and tasty breakfast pastries and ending long after dark with aperitivi (aperitifs), cocktails, and dinner. The fairly limited menu includes Italian tapas and starters and mains with vegetarian and fish options. The place comprises two rooms, showcasing temporary art enhanced by subtle lighting, and there are tables outside. The wine and cocktail list is winning, as is the service.

Osteria del Tempo Perso

$$ Fodor's choice

A couple of jazz-, rock-, and food-loving friends joined forces to open this smart little restaurant in the center. The interior's warm terra-cotta-sponged walls give off an orange glow, and wine bottles line the walls, interspersed with photographs of musical greats—but the food is what counts. Here you'll find nicely done classics—like cappelletti prepared three different ways (with butter, with a meat ragù, or in brodo)—as well as more contemporary fare. The fritto misto is an absolute winner. The carefully culled wine list includes many local labels, and service is stellar.

Quel Fantastico Giovedì

$$ Fodor's choice

Locals and other cognoscenti frequent this sleek eatery just minutes away from Piazza del Duomo, where chef Gabriele Romagnoli uses prime local ingredients to create gustatory sensations on a menu that changes daily. Fish and seafood figure prominently among his dishes, such as with a gratinato (similar to a French au gratin) with seafood. There are also Ferrarese classics like cappelletti pasta. The restaurant's tasting menus are well priced, its wine list is divine, and the service, led by gregarious hands-on proprietor Mara Farinelli, is always top-notch. Two small rooms festooned with works of art have linen tablecloths and jazz playing softly in the background.

Via Castelnuovo 9, Ferrara, 44121, Italy
0532-760570
Known For
  • seasonal menu
  • notable fish and seafood dishes
  • excellent service
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Wed. No lunch Thurs., Reservations essential

San Domenico

$$$$ Fodor's choice

Year after year this restaurant defends its position as one of Italy's most refined dining destinations, and heads of state, celebrities, and lovers of fine food venture here to savor chef Valentino Marcattilii's wondrous creations. Typical of these is his memorable uovo in raviolo San Domenico, in which a large raviolo is stuffed with a raw egg yolk—it cooks only a little, then spills out and mixes with Parmigiano-Reggiano, butter, and black truffles (depending on the season). Valentino has passed his expertise on to the next generation, as his nephew Massimiliano Mascia is now in the kitchen with him, while the formal dining rooms are graced with stellar staff, who serve one delicacy after another with discreet aplomb. There are tasting menus alongside the regular à la carte, and the wine list impresses, with more than 3,000 choices.

Via G. Sacchi 1, Imola, 40026, Italy
0542-29000
Known For
  • creative destination dining worth the price
  • raviolo filled with egg yolk
  • impeccable service
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon. No dinner Sun. Closed Sun. and Mon. June–Aug. No lunch Sat. June–Aug., Reservations essential

Tabarro

$ Fodor's choice

Convivial, lively, and full of locals, this favorite little wine bar on one of Parma's main drags has a couple of keg tables outside, a few stools on the ground floor, and several more small tables upstairs. The menu is based largely on cheese and pork products (equine as well: people in this part of the world like to eat horse) and is designed to pair with, and accentuate, the fine wines on offer. There are plenty of seriously good Italian wines to choose from, and there are also a fair number of French wines and labels from across the rest of Europe. Genial proprietor Diego Sorba jettisoned his academic career (he has a PhD in Irish literature) to follow his true calling: wine and food.

Tamburini

$ | Piazza Maggiore Fodor's choice

Two small rooms inside plus kegs and bar stools outside make up this lively, packed little spot. The overwhelming plate of affettati misti is crammed with top-quality local cured meats and succulent cheeses, and the adjacent salumeria offers many wonderful items to take away. At lunchtime, office workers swarm to the "self-service tavola calda" for simple but remarkably tasty primi and secondi. In the evening, Tamburini stays open as a wine bar with a vast array of selections by the glass and the bottle.

TCafè

$ Fodor's choice

The beauty of TCafè is that it does just about everything: the festivities begin with breakfast and end with an evening aperitivo. Locals flock to this place, which once housed the aristocratic Dalla Rosa Prati's art collection, to catch up on gossip, and have lunch, which offers local specialties (among them plates of mortadella and culatello), a soup of the day, sandwiches, and tasty salads like the one with smoked duck breast. The lengthy wine list includes something for all tastes, as does the equally extensive list of artisanal beers.

Trattoria Gianni a la Vecia Bulagna

$$ | Piazza Maggiore Fodor's choice

At the bottom of an alley off Piazza Maggiore, this unassuming place—known to locals as simply "Da Gianni"—is all about food. The usual starters are on hand—including a tasty tortellini in brodo—in addition to daily specials; bollito misto (mixed boiled meat) is a fine option here, and the cotechino con puré di patate (pork sausage with mashed potatoes) is elevated to sublimity by the accompanying salsa verde. The two unadorned rooms are usually crowded both at lunch and dinner.

Via Clavature 18, Bologna, 40124, Italy
051-229434
Known For
  • tortellini in brodo
  • efficient and friendly service
  • busy local spot
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon. and 1 wk in early Jan. No dinner Sun., Reservations essential

Aldina

$$

On the second floor of a building across from the covered market, steps from the Piazza Grande, this simple, typical trattoria is in the very nerve center of the city. Here you'll find exemplary preparations of the region's crown jewels: tortellini in brodo, tagliatelle al ragù, and roasted meats. Wash it down with Lambrusco, as locals have for centuries, and save room for the zuppa inglese (layered sponge cake with custard), which is terrific. The kitchen also puts a contemporary twist on classic dishes. It's highly popular, so even arriving early at lunchtime you'll probably have to wait in line (they don't accept reservations at lunch); or, book a table for Friday or Saturday night.

Via Albinelli 40, Modena, 41121, Italy
059-236106
Known For
  • inexpensive regional food loved by locals
  • authentically old-fashioned character
  • tortellini in brodo
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Sun. in Aug. No dinner Mon.–Thurs.

Archer

$

Bibliophile proprietor (she named her establishment after a Henry James heroine) Marina Bersani presides over this sleek wine bar. High ceilings provide plenty of places to store her vast collection of unique wines, and the short-but-sweet menu offers lots of traditional classics like affettati misti (sliced, cured pork products), as well as cheese plates.

Ca' de Vèn

$$

These buildings, joined by a glass-ceilinged courtyard, date from the 15th century, so the setting itself is reason enough to come; that the food is so good makes a visit here all the more satisfying. At lunchtime Ca' de Vèn teems with locals tucking in to piadine (a typical Romagnolo flatbread) stuffed or topped with various ingredients, and the grilled dishes—including tagliata di pollo (sliced chicken breast tossed with arugula and set atop exquisitely roasted potatoes)—are among the highlights. One dish to consider: insalatina di radicchio con bruciatini, a local specialty with raw radicchio and pancetta as a dressing and topping.

Via Corrado Ricci 24, Ravenna, 48121, Italy
0544-30163
Known For
  • grilled meats
  • weekly menu of Romagnolo specialties
  • majestic, high-ceilinged lively setting
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon., Reservations essential

Eataly

$ | Piazza Maggiore

At this lively shop---the original location in the now international Italian cuisine empire---with an attached bookstore, you can grab a bite to eat or have a glass of wine while stocking up on high-quality olive oil, vinegar, cured meats, and artisanal pasta. On the top floor, you can have a full-fledged trattoria meal, but what you can't have is anything decaffeinated. It's considered "chemical." 

Via degli Orefici 19, Bologna, 40124, Italy
051-0952820
Known For
  • adherence to top-notch ingredients
  • reliance on local producers as much as possible
  • its lively atmosphere and marvelous staff

Hosteria Giusti

$$$

In the back room of the Salumeria Giusti, established in 1605 and reportedly the world's oldest deli, you'll find just four tables in a room tastefully done with antique furnishings. You'll also find some of the best food in Emilia-Romagna—perfectly executed takes on traditional dishes such as gnocco fritto (fried dough) stuffed with pancetta or prosciutto, and anolini in brodo di Cappone (pasta in possibly the most fragrant broth in the world). If you're tempted by too many things, half portions may be available. Just leave room for dessert, especially la tazzina: a cup bursting with chocolate, anise, and egg. The wine list is divine, as are the staff. Reserve well ahead.

Via Farini 75 and Vicolo Squallore 46, Modena, 41121, Italy
059-222533
Known For
  • gnocco fritto with prosciutto
  • cozy setting
  • popular and pricey
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Sun., Mon., Aug., and Dec. No dinner, Reservations essential

La Filoma

$$

The dining room here evokes the turn of the 19th century with its high ceilings, chandeliers, and damask drapes. The food shines, from the classic anolini in brodo di manzo e cappone (a local variation on tortellini in brodo) to the exquisite roast veal stuffed with prosciutto and Parmigiano-Reggiano. The friendly staff and a terrific wine list add to the enjoyment.

Borgo XX Marzo 15, Parma, 43121, Italy
0521-206181
Known For
  • regional specialties that don't break the bank
  • Parmigiana di melanzane (eggplant Parm) and other vegetarian options
  • excellent wine list
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Wed. and 10 days in July, Reservations essential

La Greppia

$$

Little-known by tourists but popular with locals in the know, this small and select restaurant just down the street from Palazzo della Pilotta in the historic center offers up traditional Parmesan cooking with stylistic flourishes. The chef has a nice touch with classics like anolini ripieni di stracotto in brodo di cappone (dumplings stuffed with stewed meat in a capon stock) but also prepares innovative dishes. Though the dessert tray delivers stunners like a ricotta and pear pie, you might want to simply ask for Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, carved from a big wheel. Service is personal and friendly, in part because the place is tiny, and the unpretentious surroundings keep the focus on the food.

Strada Garibaldi 39, Parma, 43121, Italy
0521-233686
Known For
  • impeccable service
  • good gluten-free choices
  • superb antipasti and desserts
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Thurs., Reservations essential

La Marianna

$$

It's all about fish at this welcoming spot, and aside from vegetable side dishes and dessert there's little on the menu that wasn't recently swimming (or lurking) in the sea. Locals flock here, and with good reason—the food is excellent, and the prices are reasonable. Depending on what's in season you might find a starter like mazzancolle alla catalana (steamed shrimp with cherry tomatoes and red onions, awash in local olive oil), which provides a tasty introduction to more complicated delights. Pastas are made in-house, and the fish on offer is the catch of the day. The winning desserts include fresh fruit sorbets and poached pear al Sangiovese. If on foot you'll likely approach this trattoria via the Ponte di Tiberio, a bridge from the 1st century AD named after the ruling Roman emperor.

Marianaza

$$

A large open-hearth fireplace dominates this rustic trattoria, and wonderful aromas of grilled meats and garlic greet you as you walk in. Marianaza successfully showcases the best of la cucina romagnola (the cuisine of Romagna): the extraordinary primi are mostly made with fresh pasta—tagliatelle or garganelli (egg-based and tubular)—while secondi rely heavily on the grill. Garlic toasts topped with prosciutto crudo delightfully whet the appetite. The mixed grill is perfect for sharing, and the grilled vegetables pair well with it. There is almost always a full house.

Mercato di Mezzo

$ | Piazza Maggiore

This former fruit and vegetable market, established in medieval times and transformed into a covered market after unification, has now morphed into a fancy gourmet food hall. Various outlets offer quality Bologna classics plus some innovations, including tortellini and tortelloni at DeGusto Coop; pizza at Rossopmodoro; panini, pasta, and cold cuts at L'Antica Bottega; and fried fish and quirky fish hamburgers at Pescheria del Pavaglione.

Molto Più Che Centrale

$$

A winning combination of traditional and innovative dishes is the big draw at this colorful, contemporary restaurant with splashy modern art spread over two floors. Young chef Giacomo Garutti delivers Ferrarese classics like salamina da sugo con purè (salami atop creamy mashed potatoes) alongside fried and grilled seafood, and innovations like cappellacci pasta filled with pumpkin, orange, and ginger. There's a good wine list, too. The youthful staff are welcoming, attentive, and informative.

Osteria dei Battibecchi

$$

Simple, honest food doesn't get any tastier than what's served at this casual, tiny venue (there are about 20 seats at the wooden tables in the wood-beamed space) with an even tinier kitchen. Nicoletta Molducci, chef and owner, takes pride in turning out terrific regional dishes from a short menu with the usual local specialties, such as cappelletti in brodo or al ragù, supplemented by an ever-changing list of daily specials. The polpettine di lesso (little meatballs) in a lively tomato sauce with peas and pancetta, and the squacquerone e fichi caramellati (soft cheese with caramelized figs) are two winning dishes that might be on offer. Attentive service and a fine wine list make a meal here a true pleasure.

Osteria Francescana

$$$$

Chef-proprietor Massimo Bottura has done stints with Adrià and Ducasse, takes inspiration from music and literature, and pours all these influences into creating some of the fanciest plates in all of Italy while remaining true to his Modenese roots. The restaurant contains only 12 tables and although it's possible to order à la carte, most everyone opts for the 12-course tasting menu with the accompanying wine pairing. One signature dish is 5 stagionature di Parmigiano Reggiano (five “stages” of Parmesan, served in different textures and temperatures). Decor and atmosphere are muted (except for splendid floral arrangements). Reservations are not only essential, but must be made months in advance, online and at the beginning of the month.

Via Stella 22, Modena, 41121, Italy
059-223912
Known For
  • a reverential atmosphere
  • five stages of Parmesan signature dish
  • reservations required months in advance
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Sun., Mon., and 2 wks in Aug., Reservations essential

Ristorante I Portici

$$$$ | North of Piazza Maggiore

The frescoed ceiling, parquet flooring, and live classical music are clues that this sophisticated restaurant (part of the hotel of the same name) occupies a former theater and café-chantant, or musical venue, from the late 19th century. It's the perfect setting for an evening of fine dining featuring mainly Emilian-inspired dishes with modern touches and the vision of young chef Nicola Annunziata. The menus change seasonally, and three separate tasting menus offer gustatory bliss.

Via dell'Indipendenza 69, Bologna, 40121, Italy
051-42185
Known For
  • sumptuous surroundings in a former theater
  • sophisticated culinary offerings
  • refined and attentive service
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Sun. and Mon. No lunch

Ristorante Marconi

$$$
Siblings Aurora and Massimo Mazzucchelli have succeeded in enticing a steady stream of Bolognesi to their celebrated eatery 15 km (9 miles) south of the city to sample their startlingly modern gourmet creations. Ingredients are fresh, rich, and well balanced in such dishes as risotto con mosaico di pesce (with raw fish and seaweed) and pigeon breast with cavolo nero (Italian kale), while flavorsome desserts include chocolate and ginger sorbet. The three-, five- and nine-course tasting menus are worth considering, while the extremely extensive wine list takes in labels from far afield. The decor is elegantly muted and sober, with widely spaced tables.
Via Porrettana 291, Sasso Marconi, 40037, Italy
051-846216
Known For
  • <PRO>sober style</PRO>
  • <PRO>intriguing and unusual dishes</PRO>
  • <PRO>discreet but attentive service</PRO>
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon. and 1 wk in early Jan. No lunch Tues.--Thur., no dinner Sun.

Ristorante Parizzi

$$$

Chef-owner Marco Parizzi is the third-generation cook in this elegant restaurant, originally his grandfather's salumeria (delicatessen), where he now serves a mix of Parmense classics and contemporary creations. The anolini alla parmigiana in brodo di manzo e gallina (pasta with Parmigiano-Reggiano in broth) is a more typical dish, while the faraona in crosta di frutta secca (guinea fowl cooked with dried fruits and mushroom sauce) is a flight of fancy. Alongside the à la carte menu, there are two tasting menus with a meat or seafood focus (both with a parmigiano tasting course), and a wine list with a section of "Rarità" collected by the two elder Parizzi.

Strada della Repubblica 71, Parma, 43121, Italy
0521-285952
Known For
  • special menu with white truffles from Alba in autumn
  • inventive tasting menus
  • affordable, well-curated wine list
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon., Aug., and Jan. 8–15, Reservations essential