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Restaurant Review: “C’era Una Volta”, Bologna

One day after my dinner at “Da Cesari” which I had picked more or less by random, I went to “C’era Una Volta” (“Once Upon a Time”) in Via Massimo d’Azeglio, 9 because I had read several recommendations for it. It is located a stone’s throw away from the central Piazza Maggiore.

“C’era Una Volta” is definitely a ristorante and not a trattoria even though the price level is only slightly higher than at “Da Cesari”. The interior is mildly luxurious, the tables are arrranged rather sparsely and have a sophisticated decoration. The restaurant offers traditional Bolognese cuisine with all the classics like tortellini en brodo and tagliatelle al ragù.

As this was my final evening in Bologna, I wanted to have a complete meal with antipasto, pasta and a meat dish. Along with the menu came wonderful bits of mortadella and old parmiggiano reggiano as nibbles. Unfortunately this was to be already the climax of my meal.

As antipasto I had culatello which was served with small pancakes, sour cream and fig jam. Of course the culatello was delicous but the sour cream did nothing to enhance it and the fig jam was just too sweet so it overpowered the delicate taste of the ham.

The pasta dish was maccheroni with parma ham and asparagus. It was nicely made and tasty but not really memorable. I picked lamb chops as main dish because I absolutely love them and haven’t had them in quite a while. The best thing I can say about them is that they came with decent sauteed potatoes. But the meat was bland an dry and the seasoning was boring. In short, I am not sure if I ever had worse lamb chops than these. Just about any cheap Greek restaurant does them miles better. I refrained from having a dessert.

I am well aware that cooking in a restaurant is a whole different story than cooking for yourself at home. I have utmost respect for professional cooks who have to churn out dish by dish in a job that is among the most stressful ever. But still, that “I can do that better” feeling I kept having here is never a good one to have in a restaurant, especially if it is a pricy as this one. I paid €62 including 0.5 l of open Sangiovese, an espresso and a grappa.

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