Meet Mama

 

Meet Mama.

 

Mama Annamaria is small in stature, with smooth skin and wide eyes that exude love and warmth. She tottles around her restaurant greeting and welcoming people one moment, and back in the kitchen chopping vegetables the next.

Mama just happens to own one of the most popular trattoria‘s in Bologna. She is a local celebrity and spends much of her day accepting respect and praise from all who enter.

She deserves every bit of it. With nothing more than a primary school education, she started out humbly, making sandwiches in a small cafe. Behind the scenes, she crafted her signature tagliatelle for herself to enjoy. One day a customer tasted it and declared that she was instead to make tagliatelle for them, and eat the sandwiches herself.

trattoria' in Bologna

Mama and Chef Simonetta, they have worked together for 30 years.

And such her restauranteur story soon began. Recipes were passed down from her grandmother to her, and then onto the pasta makers and chefs she personally trained as her dedicated clientele grew.  She rules the kitchen and restaurant with a firm but loving hand, and the familial atmosphere among the staff is strong. No one leaves without a hug or a peck on the cheek, and the smiles shared among them are genuine and infectious.

Mama is also a massive supporter of her community. She is a proponent of the slow food movement without officially proclaiming so. She has always been very strict about the ingredients in her food, and has never traveled farther then the outlying countryside to source her ingredients. In fact, she’s never traveled farther then that at all. Tied to her restaurant and this vocation that she loves, Mama disclosed to us the obvious secret to her success: passion.

In every bite, it shows. Her food is simple and exquisite. After an appetizer of mortadella and parmesan, we were brought samplers of three pasta dishes: lasagna, her signature tagliatelli with bolognese sauce, and a bowl of tortellini in broth. For dessert it was panacota, lingue de gatto (cat’s tongue) and zuppa inglese.

Easily the BEST pasta we’ve ever eaten.

We were stuffed, but found room for dessert!

All hand made, all authentic and traditional, we savored every bite, and were inspired. We asked Mama for some tips on how we could make good pasta ourselves.

Mama reached across the table, grabbed my hand and stroked my palm, “Si!” she said. Giving Pete’s right hand the same treatment she exclaimed, “No!” Apparently, the dryness of my palm would make me a good pasta maker, Pete’s moist skin means he would have difficulty. All else that is required are strong arm muscles to mix the two basic ingredients: eggs and flour. There are no secrets, she assured us. Somehow, I didn’t quite believe her.

As our three hour stay in the cozy corner of the restaurant came to a close, all was eaten despite the protest from our overstuffed stomachs.

Pete tried to leave one small bite of dessert, declaring defeat on the meal, and Mama caught him. “Mangiarlo ora! (Eat it now!)” she said, reminding us that there were small children in Africa that were dying from not having enough food to eat.

Pete and I turned to each other and smiled. It was just what our own mamas used to say to us.

 

**********

An excellent dining experience is made even better with great company. Much thanks to Laura and Giovanni Bizzari of the ARCA language school for their company and being wonderful translators. Piacere di conoscerti!

Click through for more insight into great restaurants in Bologna Italy.

0 Comments... Be the first to comment
  • December 19 2011

    What a fascinating person! Do you think she would like to follow me around the world and cook ever meal?? 🙂
    Turtle recently posted..On the hunt for turtles

    • Pete
      December 20 2011

      My guess would be….no. But I would steal her first anyways. 🙂

  • December 19 2011

    Fantastic portrait! Has me checking flights to meet her in person. *laugh*
    Maria recently posted..When a Stranger Calls

    • Pete
      December 20 2011

      She is worth a trip to Bologna all on her own!

  • December 19 2011

    Oh, I love Mama and want to meet her and eat her food!!
    DTravelsRound recently posted..A trip to a Thai elementary school: a photo essay

    • Pete
      December 20 2011

      After a month in Italy, I admittedly was a little sick of pasta by the end, but I’d take a plate of her food anyday, anytime!

  • December 19 2011

    Mama’s won me too- off to Bologna. The pasta looks fabulous but it’s Mama I’d like to meet. Restaurant’s such as this are what make travelling fun.
    jenny@atasteoftravel recently posted..Bali’s Galungan Festival- Just like Christmas

    • Pete
      December 20 2011

      That was easily the single best restaurant experience for us in Italy. To be able to sit with her and talk to her about her food was such a cool experience!

  • > Mama reached across the table, grabbed my hand and stroked my palm, “Si!” she said. Giving Pete’s right hand the same treatment she exclaimed, “No!”

    Maybe she was being sexist! I kid, of course.

    Looks like we have one more reason to make it back to Bologna (like we need one!).

    • December 20 2011

      It is such a GREAT city…now if we woulda co-ordinated better with you, we could have all ate with Mama together! 🙂

  • December 20 2011

    I should not have read this post before breakfast — it’s making my stomach growl!

    • December 20 2011

      Sorry! The post should have come with a warning! 🙂

  • December 20 2011

    i’m taking this post as a sign that next time I’m in Italy, I really need to go to Bologna. Fabulous.
    Margo recently posted..The Greek food experience in the hands of a monk

    • Pete
      December 21 2011

      Cheers Margo, it was indeed fabulous. Highly recommended to go and meet Mama in person 🙂

  • December 20 2011

    Delicious! I want to reach right into the screen and eat all of that RIGHT NOW.
    Camels & Chocolate recently posted..Meet the M/V Explorer

    • Pete
      December 21 2011

      I know. Each time I go back and read this post, I CRAVE this food.

  • December 20 2011

    I was in Bologna for one night in 2009. Unfortunately, the only hostel was located outside the city center and was not easily accessible by foot and buses stopped running very early. My cousin was in Bologna a few years earlier and told me I had to stop by a specific restaurant and they were only open for dinner. I ended up eating delivered pizza alone at the hostel. Be sure to stay in the city center at a B&B so you can experience the local cuisines.

    • Pete
      December 21 2011

      Excellent advice Mike, grazie mille!

  • December 20 2011

    Nice. I am jealous as I would love to eat some of that food right now. Glad you had such a good experience!
    cheryl recently posted..An Abundance Of Street Art in Amsterdam.

    • Pete
      December 21 2011

      Cheers Cheryl, I know exactly what you mean. Those pics bring back some great memories (and hunger along with them)

  • December 20 2011

    Reading your article reminds me of the first time I tasted homemade tagliatelle in Italy. It was nothing like the instant pastas in the box I made at home. I think what makes Italian food so wonderful is all the love and passion that goes into each and every bite- Mama’s secret formula 🙂
    Mary @ Green Global Travel recently posted..How I Fell In Love With Travel (aka That Time I Sang For Pope John Paul II In The Vatican)

    • Pete
      December 21 2011

      Exactly 🙂 Passion (in anything) we think is the key to making it so much better.

  • December 21 2011

    Brilliant read and the food looks amazing.
    Bobbi Lee Hitchon recently posted..Countdown until my dad arrives: one month

    • Pete
      December 21 2011

      Thanks Bobbi Lee. Believe me, it was some of the best food we have ever tasted 😉

  • December 21 2011

    Mmmm delicious! And a great read.
    Natasha @ Wandering Kiwi recently posted..Australia’s Great Ocean Road: Sunset at the 12 Apostles

    • Pete
      December 21 2011

      Cheers Natasha!

  • December 21 2011

    The best pasta you’ve ever had?!! I must make my way to Bologna and fast!
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..A Million Penguins… And I Took a Photo of Each One!

    • December 22 2011

      Agreed! EASILY the best pasta we’d ever had. I thought I would be sick of pasta, but it’s impossible there.

  • jan
    December 21 2011

    The perfect post. I guess it is pasta for dinner after reading this. Oh Mama!

    • December 22 2011

      I want Mama’s pasta!! Must. Go. Back.

  • December 23 2011

    Wow! The best pasta. I even enjoy mediocre pasta 😛
    Nomadic Samuel recently posted..Thai One On – My experience learning to make Thai food

    • Pete
      December 24 2011

      🙂 me too, so this was heaven.

  • Laura
    December 29 2011

    I would love her to be here for the holidays…

    • December 30 2011

      I think most of us would… 🙂

  • January 3 2012

    Oh man. I’m in the middle of a detox diet at the moment and I’ve been catching up on the blog reading I missed in December. This is absolute food porn and it’s killing me! You’ve definitely convinced me to add Bologna to my must visit list! Yum!
    Alison recently posted..Happy Holidays from CheeseWeb.eu

    • January 5 2012

      SORRY! 🙂 But think of how good it will all taste when you get out of your detox!

  • Heather
    January 20 2012

    Jikes, we are on our way to Bologna in May and after reading this post, I can’t wait. We are staying at a B&B in the city centre just so that we can enjoy the evenings eating out. Can’t wait : )

    • January 21 2012

      OH, please go to Trattoria Annamaria – you won’t be disappointed!! And if you get a chance to talk to Mama, tell her we sent you. 🙂 Enjoy Bologna!

  • February 15 2012

    The food looks absolutely delicious! I hope to get the honor of meeting Mama someday if I get to travel to Bologna. Thank you for posting!
    Alexa Meisler recently posted..Estiatorio Milos & Knave: A 5 Star Evening in New York

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