The Osteria Bottega in Bologna. The emotional table of Daniele Minarelli.

Bologna's name alone is enough to bring back to mind rich feasts of traditional dishes, while taking shelter under the comforting porticoes. And right here, under one of these porticoes above suspicion, is one of the most solid and sincere inns of this city that is also known as “La Grassa” (The Fat one): the Osteria Bottega.

In Via Santa Cristina, 51, among suffused lighting that recalls forgotten times, the host Daniele Minarelli, with a past experience spent in a starred restaurants called Dandy located in the Emilia area, continues with that type of cuisine that is appreciated by every gourmet, which touches the heart and belly. Few tables, fantastic raw materials and accurate service: to top it all off an old-school domestic touch to the dishes, made lighter when necessary, without taking away from the character and power of the flavours. Minarelli is a champion of his work, ready to recite the features and origin of each product in minute detail.

Our adventure at the Osteria started with a whirling triumph of antipasti starters, with artisan cured meats and noteworthy cheeses: the coppa scented with pepper thickly hand-sliced is luxurious poetry thanks to its unique and greedy texture. We then moved on to the cooked cheek and shoulder of black pig from the Savigni butcher: the finish of the cold cuts is impeccable. Still not satisfied of attracting you with an intense perfume, they also show off with an elegant fat that is never sickening. We continued with slices of raw sausage bewitchingly fresh and then to finish-off local salami, put into skins and seasoned by Minarelli himself: a product so rustic it seems “antique”.

We finished the antipasto tour with a truly memorable erborinato of Montefeltro cheese: sweet, tasty, pungent but balanced, accompanied by mostarda (candied fruit in mustard flavoured syrup) from the Veneto region.

The choice of the main course fell on fresh filled pasta: and what a pasta! The tortellone stuffed with sheep's milk ricotta sautéed in butter with crunchy asparagus is a seasonal triumph: the pasta is rolled out thin and yet with a slight resistance to the bite and contains a filling made of a ricotta that is so fresh and tasty it goes beyond words! The French butter is needed to give character to the condiment that is based on perfectly cooked asparagus. Worth an encore!

We then moved on to another type of pasta: the stricchetti in a meat sauce of veal and “coppona” (a cut of pork meat) of Mora Romagnola (a local type of pig) with broad beans are a clear example of elegance in a dish that cries out flavour and taste. The full-bodied meat sauce, lightened by the excess fat, dances in a perfect waltz with the first broad beans of the season that have barely come into contact with the pan when cooking. The stricchetti, a sort of home-made butterfly-shaped pasta, are callous and tender at the same time, ready to hold every last bit of meat sauce left in the plate.

We move on to a must dish of this establishment specially divided into single portions for the occasion: a veal cutlet alla petroniana with Luppi's Parma ham cured for 30 months and parmesan that is finished-off cooking in a capon stock. Majestic, opulent, incomparable for the succulence of the meat and the assembly of flavours and consistencies. An unmissable dish of the Osteria.

We complete our scrumptious experience with three traditional puddings: pinza filled with apple and plum mostarda, ciambella (ring-shaped cake) and a delicious and comforting rice cake comme il faut. The Osteria Bottega confirms itself as an obligatory stop to discover and enjoy the authentic cuisine of Bologna, bolstered by clever intuitions and first rate ingredients.

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