Bologna, Italy, tasted on March 21, 2004 — When you have a limited
amount of time in a city you need to choose where you eat carefully.
While appetite can be endless, time is precious as is space in your
stomach. You'd think it would be obvious where to eat. Countless
sources are all hawking their recommendations. But who to trust? In
fact, to be blunt, the distinct lack of reliable sources is partly
why this website was created. We strive to be that reliable source.
But who do we go to? Lauren had a good notion in asking Armandino
Batali, proprietor of the only real Italian sandwich shop in
Seattle, his own salumeria, and father of celebrity chef Mario
Batali where he likes to eat in Italy. His recommendation?
Ristorante Diana in Bologna - apparently (according to Lauren) his
favorite restaurant in all of Italy (and also
preferred by son Mario). Always willing to give people the
benefit of the doubt, we made our way to Diana for our first dinner
Diana was a site to see, an old school
restaurant filled with smoke licking the wood paneled walls. Fancily
dressed waiters carved meat tableside. If the smoke wasn't so thick
it might have been charming. We wound our way through the fog to the
backroom where there was some modicum of a non-smoking section and
We started with the Bresaola Della
Valtellina which had stunning color and rich flavor. Even better was
the Prosciutto San Daniele. This ham was among the best I've ever
had. Salty, yummy, and explosive in flavor. Great. More meat, this
time in a spreadable form - Spuma di Mortadella con Crostini Caldi.
It was like a baloney paste. Mild, interesting, and pink.
Next up was Risotto al Carciofi. The
artichoke risotto was savory and nice. The Taglioline con Tartufo
were ok. The truffles on buttered noodles were subtle, too subtle I
think. But the Bavette al Profumo di Limone - lemon noodles with
julienned ham was quite good. I didn't think I'd like lemon pasta,
but in fact I loved it.
Truffles were sort of a theme as we
ordered the Supplemento Tartufo and ended up with truffle on most of
our dishes. In case anyone's confused, this is definitely not a bad
thing. We had a combination of turkey, Ham, cheese, and truffle, as
well as a Patate Gratinee Tartuffi (potato, cheese, and truffles).
It's hard to really make dishes with these ingredients badly.
Finally we had the scampi in shells. I thought it didn't have huge
flavor, but Alex liked it.
Here's the thing about Diana. Everything
was certainly good, but not special. Let me explain. It's like
eating pizza, or caviar for some people. They're both foods people
love. And they're both foods that even when not great, people who
love them will still eat them. Pasta, truffles, cheese, ham. I
really can't complain about any dish that contains any (or even all)
of these ingredients. That said, other than the lemon pasta, it
wasn't exactly a memorable meal, and ultimately that's what we're