The highlight of our recent trip to Bologna was supposed to be dinner at the Michelin starred Ristorante Il Sole at nearby Trebbo di Reno (based on a review in this blog). I had secured a table via an internet booking site and was looking forward to great things. I rang the day before we were expected to confirm that everything was in order. But the man who answered said ‘E chiuso’ (it’s closed). And between his poor English and my poor Italian it transpired that he is about to open a new Restaurant elsewhere. Unfortunately we now had to find another restaurant, of the same calibre, without wasting a lot of time on research. We settled on Bitone (another Michelin star restaurant) based on a quick scan of some fairly decent customer reviews.
We arrived at a very uninteresting building just outside the old centre. But the unassuming entrance belies the magnificence of the interior. The reception area leads into a magnificent art-deco style dining room. The room has an arched roof with dark beams and the ceiling is fitted with Murano glass lamps. The shades were drawn on the windows and these blinds were decorated ornately, yet tastefully, with paintings of parrots and hibiscus flowers. (See gallery here).
We were shown to our table and two chilled champagne flutes were brought to us and filled with sparkling wine. The menu was brought and we weren’t long in deciding to go for the chef’s special menu at €65.00. This was to include two pasta dishes (a broth one and a tortelloni), sorbet, a main course of wild boar and a chocolate ice-cream dessert. As soon as we gave our order the amuse-bouche arrived and it was amusing! It was a little circle of cheese on toast. The kind of thing I used to give my children when they were small. Indeed, the kind of thing I still give them as a stop gap between meals. These were tasty crostini but nothing more than that.
Our dish was passatelli served in broth – long, fat, worm like pasta which reminded me of African chongololos. It was fine but, in general, any kind of pasta served in broth doesn’t really rock my boat. Fortunately, this was followed by fabulous tortellini served in a squash sauce. These tasted divine as did all the tortellini that we ate in Bologna. A palate cleanser of lime and apple sorbet were served. This was really scrumptious, more creamy than a sorbet normally is. By the time I was finished it I was full. I loved it.
The main course was described on the menu simply as ‘wild boar’. I never thought to ask how it was prepared. It turned out to be wild boar stew and the tender meat was still attached the bone. I had no problem with the bones but the sauce was so salty that I simply couldn’t eat it. I think it may have been more salty that sea water. So I had to do a Mr Bean on my dinner and hide the meat under the delicious roast potatoes which I couldn’t finish either. Perhaps two pasta dishes before an entrée is just a bit too filling.
There was a change to the dessert menu and we were served with an enormous portion of panna cotta with strawberry coating. I love panna cotta and, under normal circumstances, I would be overjoyed to have this served in preference to any type of chocolate dessert (not being a chocolate fan) but I had long since raised the white flag. I couldn’t manage this generous helping. Nor could I manage the complimentary glass of dessert wine and I hope I didn’t murder the plant into whose pot that I chucked it.
I ordered tea and was very happy with the Earl Grey that arrived. It was a light refreshing tea that quenched my thirst beautifully. I could barely look at the petits fours that came with the tea. I didn’t even taste one and my handbag was too tiny to put them in if I wanted to take them home, which I didn’t. I have to add that I hated the little cocktail sticks with the plastic wrapper at the top. It screamed of early nineteen eighties kitsch. The Chef came and chatted to some of the guests and said ‘Bouna Sera’ to the rest of us.
It was a good meal, but not a great meal. What we ate was no better than what we ate in many of the restaurants in the area. In fact, on the basis of what we ate, half the restaurants in Bologna probably deserve stars. I wouldn’t recommend visiting this restaurant if you are dining in Bologna. We had a much better meal at Antica Osteria Romagnala in Via Rialto.