Trattoria Anna Maria – the most authentic place to feel tasty Bologna, Italy

The only place where you can taste the real traditional home-made food from the Bolognese countryside

Can you imagine a restaurant where the use of choppers, bread machines, pasta machines and any other mechanisation is strictly forbidden in the kitchen? There is this restaurant where the food is being prepared following more than 100 year-old technology and recipes from the Bolognese countryside. Where the recipes were not created by a fancy chef but are being read from old books that once belonged to housewives living in the Italian countryside. This is the restaurant where the respect to the real, traditional tasty Bologna food is put on the first place. This is one of the few places in the famous tasty Bologna where you can still taste the life from 2 centuries ago.

Trattoria Anna Maria in Bologna

Trattoria Anna Maria in Bologna

Far from the fancy ads of restaurants offering vegan, modern, molecular or whatever strange food, there is the Trattoria Anna Maria that has preserved the taste of rural areas near Bologna. This is one of the most precious gems of the Italian cuisine in Bologna. And despite everything everywhere is really delicious in this city, this trattoria is one that shines with its rich history and tastes that could not be forgotten.

Trattoria Anna Maria

Trattoria Anna Maria

Who is Anna Maria

Anna Maria was born in 1940 but despite her age, she is still managing the restaurant she founded 32 years ago. She is not cooking anymore but nothing gets out of the kitchen before being tasted by her. She is leaving no room for compromises from the recipes that she knows from her mother and grandmother. Anna Maria is a person of a rare kind that we all could learn from.

Anna Maria and Maria, Bologna, Italy

Anna Maria and Maria

She grew up in the countryside around Bologna, being a child of a normal rural family. During those times, daughters were taught to cook from the age of 10-12 years and she was helping with the housework since being a child. Getting married at 17 was not something unusual at that time.

However, her real history became in the 80s after she decided to get divorced. She did not have an idea for the future but she knew she wanted to work with people. After a few years working as a bartender and a waitress, she found her mission – to open her own restaurant that should bring back the traditional taste of Bolognese food and bring people together around the table. In 1985 was born Trattoria Anna Maria, one of the most notable places to eat really tasty Bologna meals today.

The secret of home-made pasta

Pasta is the jewel of Anna Maria’s menu, all of it coming from the countryside around Bologna. It is both simple and magical. Pasta is one of the foods that require minimum of ingredients and this is the reason why it has been present in the daily life of rural families for centuries. Grain, eggs and pork – these are the traditional ingredients for the area around Bologna and they are still the base of Anna Maria’s kitchen.

The kitchen of Anna Maria's Trattoria

The kitchen of Anna Maria’s Trattoria

The bread

The bread

The keys to the perfect homemade tasty Bologna pasta are both the fresh local ingredients and the right technology. The products should mix and talk together, she says. Then you need to be handy and strong in order to make really good pasta. One very important think about making pasta is the temperature, says Anna Maria. Not everyone could be a pasta maker. One should have warm and dry hands in order to make it right and there are few people that match this criteria.

Many rules follow. For example, the tagliatelle should be really thin. In Anna Maria’s words, they should be as thin as the skin of a woman’s breast. Once ready, they should be left to dry on a room temperature and after 2 hours they are ready to cook.And some bad news for vegetarians and vegans – Anna Maria has almost nothing for you. She insists that meat should be consumed and is often criticising even her close friends that are trying to eat more vegetables.

The real Ragu – Bolognese sauce and the broth that cannot be forgotten

Two of the most popular pasta dishes in Bologna are the Tagliatelle al Ragu and Tortellini in broth. Before asking where the world-known Bolognese sauce went, I will tell you that we are talking about the traditional Ragu sauce. Here no one call is Bolognese. And of course, the real Bolognese Ragu sauce is quite different than its many versions around the globe.

The real Ragu - Bolognese sauce

The real Ragu – Bolognese sauce

Talking about food and pasta, Anna Maria turned upside down our vision of pasta as a quick-to-cook food. It takes around 8 hours to cook the Ragu sauce in the restaurant. For family quantities, it could take maybe 2 hours. And this is without the pasta itself. But I am not afraid of this and I asked Anna Maria for the recipe. I will share it later. Now I will tell you what surprised us the most.

the Tagliatelle al Ragu

the Tagliatelle al Ragu

Tortellini in broth. At first, it was strange to see the tortellini soup when you are used to eat them in cream sauce. But the amazingy tasty Bologna food has no limits – it is normal to see any pasta offered as soup in broth. As soon as I touched the spoon, my doubt disappeared and I was fascinated by this magical taste of the tortellini in broth.

Tortellini in broth

Tortellini in broth.

I have never ever tried such broth in my life and I have never imagined that it could exist. This is one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted in my life. It changed my idea of pasta, soup, sauce and broth. This experience taught me that we should be more open to unusual tastings.

Anna and the broth

Anna and the broth

Another dish that amazed me was the friggione – the simplest garnish, consisting only of onions and tomatoes. I am only sorry that I didn’t ask for the secret recipe and technology of preparation.

Bolognese rules of pasta

The amazing pasta is made following strict rules. You cannot serve any pasta with any sauce, nor you can switch the fillings of tortellini and tortelloni. Ragu sauce is served with tagliatelle of tortellini, as well as with lasagna. All pasta can be served in broth as a soup. Tortellini are filled with meat and tortelloni – with cheese. No compromise.



Another local type of pasta are the Passatelli. The sausage-like pasta is made of breadcrumbs, eggs and parmesan cheese. They are served in broth.

The recipes of Anna Maria

Anna Maria is not one of those people who would keep their know-how only for themselves. Instead, she is open to share her experience with anyone who wants to taste the real food. Her mission is to keep showing that food is not just for the stomach, it is for the soul, for the family and for the memories.

This is why Anna Maria insists that all the rules from the old recipes should be observed. She does not let her cooks cut the vegetables with a chopper or another machine. Everything is chopped by hand because she says that the vegetables are crunchier this way. Pasta is also made entirely by hand – no pasta machines or drying devices. Just 20-30 m from the trattoria is the pasta laboratory where you can see how it is being prepared on a daily basis.

In the kitchen, the rules are not less strict. Most of the sauces do not feature any herbs. I was surprised to hear that rosemary and basil were absent. Only salt and pepper are added in the Ragu sauce. And no olive oil – just seed oil.
Despite I don’t believe I could cook the same sauces like Anna Maria, I asked her to share the recipes with me. I will definitely try to cook them at home. Here they are:

Ragu Sauce

Ingredients: Oil, onions, carrots, celery, pancetta, pork mince, veal mince, milk, tomato concentrate, salt, pepper

You start with the so-called soffritto – a fried mix of onions, carrots and celery in equal proportions. Add salt and pepper. Then add pancetta and after that the pork meat. When ready, add the veal mince. Note: do not mix the different types of meat because they have different times of cooking. After the veal is ready, add a glass of cold milk. When it evaporates, add 1-2 spoons of tomato concentrate. A few minutes later the Ragu sauce is ready.

Ragu Sauce

Ragu Sauce

Cooking a big bowl of sauce in the restaurant takes about 8 hours. A family portion would be ready in 2 hours, suggested Anna Maria.

The unbelievable broth

Ingredients: Hen, veal, bones, celery, carrots, onions. A lot of salt. Everything is boiled on a low heat for about 4 hours. Remove the foam twice.


Ingredients: Eggs, grated parmesan, bread crumbs, salt, peppers, nutmeg. 2 portions parmesan to 1 portion bread crumbs. Make a dough from them and leave it to rest for a while. As Anna Maria says, the ingredients should start to talk. Passatelli are usually served in broth.


Despite the strict rules about the food, there are no strict rules about drinks in tasty Bologna. Wine, as elsewhere in Italy, is a widely loved drink and both red and white wines are fine to be consumed with pasta. Two of the popular local wines are the Lambrusco and Pignoletto. The Lambrusco is red sparkling wine. Despite a sparkling red wine is a rare view, this kind or Lambrusco is popular around Bologna. The Pignoletto is nice white wine, both loved sparkling or not. We tried the Ceci Otello Nerodi Lambrusco and we loved it. Another traditional red wine is Sangiovese.

Anna Maria and Anna

Anna Maria and Anna say Cheers

Together with the tasty Bologna food, you can drink wine at a fair price almost everywhere – just like coffee. In all restaurants you can order a glass of homemade wine and all we tried were nice wines. Of course, you could always select from the long wine lists.

The time machine of tasty Bologna

The 2 hours spent with Anna Maria made us think about so many things. Her restaurant is like a time machine. It is not only a fortress of the traditional tasty Bologna cuisine, but also a museum of the history of a whole city and era. Instead of a guestbook, Anna Maria hangs the notes left by guests on the walls. She puts there also pictures of famous people or just friends that have visited her restaurant. There is a specially dedicated wall for kids art. Upon entrance, every child is given pencils and paper and this art becomes a part of the history if this legendary trattoria. After we are finish with processing our photos, we will also send them to Anna Maria. So do not be surprised if you see us on her walls. We would actually be very happy to see them, too.

Anna Maria, Anna, Maria and Andrey at Anna Maria Trattoria Bologna

Anna Maria, Anna, Maria and Andrey

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How to find Trattoria Anna Maria

Trattoria Anna Maria is located in central Bologna, near the university area and just minutes from the main sights including the Due Torri and Piazza Maggiore. Here are the directions:

Trattoria Anna Maria

Via Belle Arti, 17/A

Tel. +39 051 266894

Opening hours:

Lunch: 12,30 – 15 ч.

Dinner: 19,30 – 23ч

Monday – Closed

Credit cards accepted


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Trattoria Anna Maria - the best place to eat in tasty Bologna

Trattoria Anna Maria

Tip: Most of the restaurants in central Bologna are pre-booked for dinner and lunch, especially during weekends. So if you have no reservation, you might need to walk a while until you find a place where they can offer you a table. Also, do not forget that in Italy you cannot eat anytime. The lunch hours are between 12 and 15 h and the dinner starts no earlier than 19 – 19.30. If you need to eat something between 15 and 19 h, your best chance is a sandwich.

How to book: For Trattoria Anna Maria you can make a booking by phone or email, preferably a few days earlier. If you do not speak Italian, use the email or call during the opening hours when waiters speaking English are available.

Many sincere thanks to Laura Bizzari from Bologna Connect and Love Italian for offering us the chance to meet Anna Maria and learn about this stunning place with so amazing tasty Bologna food. Dear Laura, we will be grateful to you about this forever!

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