The Best Food In Italy That Isn't Pizza

Pizza in the south, but piadine, tigelle, gnocco fritto et al. in the north. So is Italy divided in half? Only by creativity in using the simplest and most versatile ingredients in the world: flour and water. Pizza is Italy’s superstar, but if you head north, in Emilia- Romagna you’ll find that piadine (Rimini and Ravenna), tigelle (Modena), crescentine (Bologna) and gnocco fritto (Reggio Emilia) play a leading role in infinite varieties depending on the province. Here are six addresses to try the best.

Trattoria Del Fienile

Via Casette Zanasi 41/a
Castelnuovo Rangone (Modena)
tel. + 39 059 537333

The Apennines around Modena are the culinary birthplace of tigelle, typical local “disks” of dough that are named after the terra-cotta or stone disks used to cook them. It is here, at this trattoria just a few miles outside Modena, that you can taste them at their finest, according to the original recipe.

Trattoria Cognento

Via Picenardi, 11, Campagnola Emilia (Reggio Emilia)
Tel. +39 0522 65382 -

The ritual of Sunday lunch is still taken very seriously at this farmhouse. The menu offers about fifty dishes, but just cut straight to the chase: try the gnocco fritto, incredibly soft and light, accompanied by all sorts of cold cuts.

Teria Dal Nonno

Via di Casaglia 62, Bologna
Tel. +39 051 589093

Located in a farmhouse in the Bologna hills, this typical osteria is quintessentially Emilian: baked pasta, tortellini, cheese and cold cuts. But, above all, as many tigelle and crescentine as you can eat. The fried version of the latter is typical of Bologna.

Teria Del Campanone

Piazzetta Grassi 8, Santarcangelo di Romagna (Rimini)

It is worth the trip to this “piadineria” under the bell tower in the center of Santarcangelo (where piadina is made Rimini- style, meaning thinner), run by Signor Massimo. Don’t bother to ask for a menu, because he’ll take care of surprising you with his delicious basket: classic piadina with squacquerone cheese and arugula, but also sausage and figs, scamorza and greens, and lard, orange and pistachios.

Ca’ De Ven

Via Corrado Ricci, 24
48121, Ravenna
Tel. +39 0544 30163 -

One of the most historic addresses for Ravenna-style piadina—which is thicker—is in a fifteenth-century building. Here it’s stuffed in the classic style or made simply with olive oil, Brisighella rosemary and pork rind, or accompanied with a huge platter of cold cuts and a vast variety of wines, local but also from other areas.

Trattoria La Morina

Corso Garibaldi, 24 D Reggio Emilia
Tel. +39 0522 431140

This family-run restaurant is named after the owner’s grandmother, who must have been a fabulous cook. The dishes are from the “slow food” tradition—so don’t even think about your diet here. A piece of advice? Just eat the appetizers: gnocco fritto, cold cuts, meatballs and typical “erbazzone”, a torte stuffed with Swiss chard and Parmigiano Reggiano.