Bologna is regularly touted as the food capital of Italy. Here you’ll find typical Italian fare like pizza, meat boards, and gelato, but pasta definitely runs the show in this understated city. Coming to Bologna and NOT eating pasta would be blasphemous. I mean, have you ever really thought about where the term “ragù Bolognese” comes from?
As I do before every trip, I did research and made a list of food points of interest. So many restaurants showed up on my radar, but Bottega Portici instantly stood out to me. Why? Because it has an open kitchen where you can watch fresh pasta being made. Surely anywhere with pasta-making on display is worth visiting, right?
I decided to stop in to Bottega Portici for my last dinner in Bologna. I wanted one more dose of pasta before leaving and this place seemed like a good fit. Plus, it’s super affordable. Double win. Bottega Portici has an upscale, street-food vibe. The food is made on site, you can take it away or you can enjoy it at a table underneath the porticos. As a side note, the porticos in Bologna are SO cool. They’re so practical for rainy cities. I couldn’t help but wonder how Edinburgh city planners missed this trick!
Upon entering Bottega Portici, the pasta-making station is clearly visible. During my visit, a woman had already rolled out sheets of pasta and she was filling and sealing ricotta tortelloni. I struck up a conversation with the pasta-maker (who was lovely by the way!), and learned that they make A LOT of pasta on the premises each day. There was something so satisfying about watching her swiftly wrap the pasta into parcels. She was a total pasta-shaping boss and she even humoured me when I asked if I could film her tortelloni skills. Check out the video above. I swear, it’s a form of hypnosis… but maybe it only works on foodies! Let’s call it a theory in the making.
The menu at Bottega Portici is small and simple: tortellini in broth, ricotta tortelloni, tagliatelle al ragù, and tomato basil gnocchi. In Bologna, tagliatelle al ragù is king and ricotta tortelloni is it’s queen so I had to get one of these for my last dinner, but which one? I desperately wanted to try both, but for two reasons I couldn’t: (1) I wanted to save room for gelato as I had my eyes on a gelateria in town; (2) I only had enough Euros for one pasta dish and one gelato. I was down to the wire, but that evening the universe proved that it works in mysterious ways.
While undergoing my internal debate, I met two travellers from London who stopped in for their dinner as well. We started talking, I decided to order the tagliatelle (because it’s such a classic Bolognese dish), and we sat under the porticos together while we waited for our food. Unfortunately for them, but fortunately for me, one of them received the wrong order of pasta. They kindly offered me their extra portion of ricotta tortelloni in butter sage sauce thereby rendering me a VERY happy foodie. I couldn’t help but smile and think that someone was watching over my appetite that evening. Not only did I get to photograph both pasta dishes, but I got to eat them too. Thanks universe and thank you kind strangers for your generosity!
The pasta was – of course – delicious. How could it not be? It’s FRESH handmade pasta. While I enjoyed my dinner, locals were also popping into the shop to buy uncooked pasta to make at home. Now that is a serious perk of living in Bologna! I’d love to be able to pick up fresh, handmade pasta on my way home from work. Italians have really nailed this whole “live (foodie) life to the fullest” thing, haven’t they?
Bottega Portici is as much a treat for your eyes as it is for your taste buds. Looking back at these photos makes me want to stuff my face with fresh pasta all over again. When in Bologna, I highly encourage you to carbo-load on pasta at this place. Carpe diem foodie friends. It’s the only way to live.