My birthday was this week and that seemed as good an excuse as any to go to dinner at a traditional Bolognese restaurant. After all, la grassa is home to some of the best of Italian cuisine. I had bookmarked an article about some of the restaurants in Bologna that the blogger/professional foodie Curious Appetite had suggested, and G was busy doing his own research. In the end, we decided on Trattoria Serghei on Via Piella. I couldn’t be happier.
After a couple of pre-dinner drinks at Bella Vita near Piazza Maggiore, we took a leisurely walk to Trattoria Serghei and arrived just as they were opening the doors. We’d made a reservation, which I recommend as the restaurant is very small and has maybe 10 tables at best. The decor isn’t trendy, but it does feel a bit like a family dining room and that seems appropriate, as it is a family-run business.
[Speaking of which, despite the name, no, it’s not a Russian family. As I’ve mentioned before, Bologna has a history of communism, though far removed from Soviet communism and not as prevalent now. However, as a result, it’s not completely unheard of to find people with Russian first names or pro-worker ideological names. But anyway, back to the dinner …]
We had already looked at some of the menu options while deciding on which restaurant to try, so we had an idea of what we wanted to order. As we’d been walking over, we’d been debating whether to try the tortellini in brodo and the tagliatelle al ragú or whether to branch out and try something a little different for the first course. After all, those are two of the staples of Bolognese pasta dishes. Although tempted by quite a few other dishes, in the end, we did go with the classics, with G getting the tortellini while I got the tagliatelle. As it turned out, they were excellent choices.
My tagliatelle was much as G makes it — and his is excellent — but thanks to the quality of the ingredients, it was particularly tasty. Full of rich flavor! We’ve been noticing the difference in even the simplest of ingredients since moving here. Just about everything seems to have more flavor. It’s not just great recipes, it’s great ingredients that make many of Italy’s rather simple dishes taste so exceptional. It also means that things will never quite taste the same outside of Italy.
G’s tortellini were equally excellent. The broth had plenty of rich flavor without being overwhelming, and the tortellini were properly al dente and you could really taste the meat in the filling, despite the tiny size. The Bolognese take this dish seriously and G was suitably impressed.
The broth for the tortellini is made from a mix of cuts of meat, and those cuts of meat that have been boiled to make the broth are also eaten. They’re known as bollito misto and are typically served thinly sliced with a green sauce. G’s family does something similar for Christmas and that was the dish that we both wanted for our secondo or main dish. We were both set on that, despite some of the other great offerings. So when it came time to order it, you can imagine how disappointed we were when Serghei said they were out of it. They only make it a couple of times a week and it sells out quickly. *sigh*
Fortunately, they did have the stinco di maiale, essentially a pork shank. That had been my second choice anyway, so we both ended up ordering that. As we waited — though not for long — G was lamenting the lack of bollito misto. He was this close to wailing and gnashing of teeth! Before he started rending his garments, the stinco came and with the first bite, I was in heaven. So tender! So flavorful! Not at all dry. Perfection! My picture doesn’t do it justice, as I essentially got it from the wrong side, but by the end, I was wishing I could start gnawing on the bones to get any last little bits off and then lick the plate like my dog Charlie. I didn’t want to miss a single morsel or drop. As it is, the meat was so tender that it all came off pretty easily and I didn’t really miss anything.
To go with dinner, we ordered a bottle of the Donati Teroldego Rotaliano, which is one of G’s favorites. His family has been buying from that maker for years and it went perfectly with all of our dishes.
In the end, we decided to skip dessert, as we had a cake and some sparkling wine waiting for us at home, but the next time we go, we’ll try one of the desserts as well. We’ll also make sure they have the bollito misto and reserve two orders, just to be on the safe side. After all, if what we had is any indication, the bollito is sure to be fantstic.
If you’re visiting Bologna and want to try an authentic meal from the region, I highly recommend visiting Trattoria Serghei. It’s affordable, delicious, and the menu is in Italian and English (and at least some of the staff speaks English from what I heard).
And now I’m feeling really hungry …