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.
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.
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.
What a fascinating person! Do you think she would like to follow me around the world and cook ever meal?? 🙂
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My guess would be….no. But I would steal her first anyways. 🙂
Fantastic portrait! Has me checking flights to meet her in person. *laugh*
Maria recently posted..When a Stranger Calls
She is worth a trip to Bologna all on her own!
Oh, I love Mama and want to meet her and eat her food!!
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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!
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
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!).
It is such a GREAT city…now if we woulda co-ordinated better with you, we could have all ate with Mama together! 🙂
i’m taking this post as a sign that next time I’m in Italy, I really need to go to Bologna. Fabulous.
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Cheers Margo, it was indeed fabulous. Highly recommended to go and meet Mama in person 🙂
Delicious! I want to reach right into the screen and eat all of that RIGHT NOW.
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I know. Each time I go back and read this post, I CRAVE this food.
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.
Excellent advice Mike, grazie mille!
Nice. I am jealous as I would love to eat some of that food right now. Glad you had such a good experience!
Cheers Cheryl, I know exactly what you mean. Those pics bring back some great memories (and hunger along with them)
I should not have read this post before breakfast — it’s making my stomach growl!
Sorry! The post should have come with a warning! 🙂
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)
Exactly 🙂 Passion (in anything) we think is the key to making it so much better.
Brilliant read and the food looks amazing.
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Thanks Bobbi Lee. Believe me, it was some of the best food we have ever tasted 😉
Mmmm delicious! And a great read.
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The best pasta you’ve ever had?!! I must make my way to Bologna and fast!
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Agreed! EASILY the best pasta we’d ever had. I thought I would be sick of pasta, but it’s impossible there.
The perfect post. I guess it is pasta for dinner after reading this. Oh Mama!
I want Mama’s pasta!! Must. Go. Back.
Wow! The best pasta. I even enjoy mediocre pasta 😛
Nomadic Samuel recently posted..Thai One On – My experience learning to make Thai food
🙂 me too, so this was heaven.
I would love her to be here for the holidays…
I think most of us would… 🙂
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!
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SORRY! 🙂 But think of how good it will all taste when you get out of your detox!
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 : )
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!
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!
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