I’ve recently returned from a long weekend in Bologna.
5 wonderful days.
5 days of drinking good wines and eating delicious food, both always to excess…naturally.
Whilst there I was unable to resist the temptation to return to my favourite Bolognese haunt – Drogheria della Rosa. I was slightly dubious about returning to the Drogheria however as sometimes, when you return to a place for which you only have impeccably fond memories, you can run the risk of having your expectations short-changed and therefore tarnishing those treasured memories.
We decided to take a leap of faith however and booked ourselves in on the Saturday evening. We were prepared to rest our prized memories in owner Emanuele, and his teams’, hands.
The Drogheria is situated on one of Bologna’s many porticoed sidestreets in the middle of the city. A quiet area, with the very lovely Godot bar (and its great range of wines) conveniently located next door for a welcome aperitivi before dinner. We supped a delicious glass of red in there before strolling next door in time for our reservation.
Walking into Drogheria your eyes can’t help but widen and scan the room with all of it’s beautiful and eclectic souvenirs and artefacts adorning the walls. The restaurant’s not massive, and would probably be described (in London estate agent speak) as ‘cosy’, and cosy – in the friendly/familiar sense – it really is. You feel like you’ve walked straight into someone’s living room in their home, and in a way you have. You’ve walked into Emanuele’s home.
Emanuele runs Drogheria like the absolute definition of the well-coined ‘supper club’ term. His team are welcoming, warm and utterly delightful. You are shown to your table and presented with a selection of delicious breads and asked to wait for Emanuele. Emanuele then approaches your table, introduces himself, and gets himself comfortable before having a ‘bit of a chat’, like you’re old, fond friends, and he deciphers what sort of thing you’re in the mood for eating. There are no menus on the table, or even in the vicinity. The menus are all in the heads of the staff, and Emanuele does his absolute utmost to ensure that you are going to enjoy your meal by matching the courses on offer to what you fancy. The food changes regularly to match what’s in season, so the food is always fresh, appropriate and delicious.
Emanuele is a man who genuinely wants you to have a superb time in his restaurant. It’s obvious that this is more than a restaurant to him. It’s his life, it’s where his friends are, it’s where all of the things he’s collected over the years are displayed for you to browse over, it’s where he is the host and, boy, does he ever know how to be a great host! As waitresses competently run the tables, in the always-brimming restaurant, Emanuele tends to the every whim of his customers. Now, this does sometimes involve him sitting down at your table, having a glass of wine and a chat with you, so if you’re more of a ‘private diner’ who doesn’t like that sort of thing you’d be better off somewhere with distinctly less personality. Emanuele is a personality. He’s a big, friendly, funny, charismatic, utterly likeable personality.
The food is, in a word, ‘perfect’. It’s classic, simple, Italian fayre that’s cooked perfectly, served with grace and consumed with passion.
We had delicious primi courses of pasta parcels with a veal ragu (for me) and tortelloni with artichokes (for D). These were then followed by the guinea fowl for D and the rare beef fillet for me. All washed down with a couple of bottles of the seriously quaffable Tre Rocche 2009. For dessert we gorged on semifreddo with caramelised nuts for me and a delicious fruit torte with cream for D.Eating at Drogheria della Rosa is an ‘experience’. It’s a marvellous experience, but nonetheless it’s an ‘experience’. Emanuele doesn’t treat you like a prized customer that needs fawning over and complimenting endlessly, he treats you like a dear friend he’s welcoming into his home and treating to a delicious dinner. He’ll drink wine with you, chat happily with you, ensure your plates are collected promptly, that your glass is never empty, and if you mention to him that you write a food blog and have talked about him on it he’ll even give you a giant kiss on the cheek! (before announcing, so sweetly, that he has no idea what a ‘blog’ is).
If you go to Bologna (and I’ll be insanely jealous if you do), and if you’re looking for a fantastic, independent, real Italian dining experience, then book yourself into Drogheria della Rosa. You won’t/can’t be disappointed with the food and you’ll hopefully leave with as treasured memories as I (thankfully still) have.