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Best Restaurants in Emilia Romagna

Posted 12 Apr 2022

One of the wealthiest regions of Italy, Emilia Romagna is also rich in food and culture. Some of the food we enjoy most and associate with modern Italian cuisine has its origins in the ancient towns here. Favourites such as Parma ham and Bologna were born here, as well as the internationally loved lasagne, tortellini and tagliatelle pasta. And the hero of salads, balsamic vinegar, is made exclusively in the Emilian cities of Modena and Reggio Emilia. Not to mention the region’s most famous cheese, Parmigiano Reggiano. Italians have a passion for cooking unlike any other. When you enter a restaurant here, you’re greeted like family. They’re just as excited for you to try their food as you are.

If you want to stray off the path of the well-known dishes, there are some hidden gems to look out for. Gnocco Fritto are mixed flour stripes fired and eaten alongside ham or salami, creating a lovely combination of textures. Crescentina is a thin rounded bread that’s filled with cunza, a type of spread made from pork lard and flavoured with garlic and rosemary. This is a wonderful between-meals snack or even with a glass of Emilian wine to tide you over till the evening. The most popular dish served before a meal is warm local bread acting as a vessel of flavour for one of the region’s most famous exports, the vinegar of Modena. Although we may know only a few flavours of vinegar, in Emilia Romagna, there is a huge variety, from savoury to sweet.

With the constant teasing of your tastebuds around every corner, you’re spoilt for choice. Although the region lies along the Adriatic coast, the vast majority of dishes here are meat or vegetable-based. From pancetta to prosciutto, pork is the star of the Emilia Romagna kitchen. The various cuts of cured pork are dazzling to experience, and we highly recommend taking some home to share with the whole family. However, it’s in the restaurants where the true magic happens, so read on to discover the best in Emilia Romagna.

Osteria Francescana, Modena

When looking for the best restaurants in Emilia Romagna, the first on our list absolutely needs to be the restaurant that was voted the best in the world. The passion and artistry on display here is astounding. The chefs describe their menus as a ‘sensory depiction of the Italian landscape’ as they aim to truly encapsulate the Italian spirit. Even with such high accolades, guests who dine here remark on the complete utter lack of pretence, and the overarching sense of authenticity here. This can only come from a culture and restaurant so deeply passionate about the journey you take when eating delicious food.

On the menu, each dish is not named after the recipe, instead, it is named after the spirit of Italy that inspired it. With such a huge source of inspiration, it’s no wonder the menu is constantly changing. As a starter, enjoy a dish titled ’Five ages of Parmigiano Reggiano’, where you can experience the cheese in its life cycle, through different textures and flavours. And for the main course, perhaps you’re swayed by their ‘singular interpretation of Fillet alla Rossini’ served with caviar. Impossibly decadent and rich, this is a once in a lifetime gastronomic experience.

View our Emilia Romagna cycling holidays here

Osteria Francescana

Ristorante Angiol d’Or, Parma

Tradition, creativity and passion are what Ristorante Angiol d’Or in Parma strives for. Located right next to the stunning Piazza Duomo and offering gorgeous views, you’d think this restaurant could rely on its location. However, the opposite rings true. A delicious experience with every bite, the owner Giorgio is passionate about the quality of his dishes. You could even say the dishes rival the view. Whether searching for a family dinner or a romantic setting, Ristorante Angiol d’Or will impress anyone. The flavours are sure to make you speechless. It’s a wonder the ambience is so warm and welcoming considering this.

All the specialities of Parma can be found here, from prosciutto to Parma ham and parmesan. You can experience this restaurant during A Taste of Italy, and it truly is a taste of the Italian art form. You won’t be surprised to find a kaleidoscope of pasta on the menu here, including an international favourite – tagliatelle. What makes this restaurant so wonderful is its pride in being from Parma. They proudly serve the local specialities, which means no shortage of Parma ham and parmesan. Not that we’re complaining!

View our Emilia Romagna cycling holidays here

Ristorante Angiol d’Or

L'Arcimboldo, Bologna

In the administrative capital of Emilia Romagna, you’ll find the unimposing restaurant of L'Arcimboldo. In fact, if you were not a local resident, you may not even know where to find it. If perhaps you try and research this restaurant before your visit, you’ll note the lack of words they say about themselves. They prefer to let the food speak for itself, and the food could host a lecture. The chef here is beyond talented, showcasing the very best of the traditional foods that Bologna has to offer. Look out for delicious croquettes and pasta stuffed with rich black garlic, perfumed with smoked sage. The definition of a hidden gem, straying off the beaten path is sometimes the most rewarding decision you can make.

At L'Arcimboldo don’t be surprised to see modern twists on classic Italian dishes. One of their most delicious is a smoked salmon pasta with turmeric and coconut, flavours you aren’t often greeted with in Italy. You should also expect the simple classics to be just as delicious, with one of their standouts being the internationally loved bolognese. A favourite of British households, you’ve never experienced this dish until you taste it in Bologna. Like much of the region, you’ll find a huge variety of dishes that celebrate the bounty of the land, with succulent pork and fresh vegetables. You’ll have the chance to experience this restaurant when on our Riding Real Romagna cycling tour.

View our Emilia Romagna cycling holidays here

L'Arcimboldo

For more recommendations on the best restaurants in Emilia Romagna, give us a call on 020 7471 7760, or alternatively, view our Italy cycling weekends here.

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