I’m lucky enough to have a close Italian friend that went to university in the foodie heaven that is Bologna (which also happens to be the oldest continually operating university in the world), so when I knew we would be going there on our Italian summer road trip, I had to ask for recommendations. Sfoglina Rina was one of those that we managed to visit – so thank you Silvia!!
Reading up on it beforehand I was aware that it can get very busy, and doesn’t accept reservations, so we needed to be prepared to wait (not something the husband is particularly good at, or me for that matter!). More of a relaxed deli/cafe set up than a restaurant, there is a counter at the front selling an array of fresh pasta that you can purchase to cook at home, along with cakes and sweet treats. Closing at eight pm daily, as we’d been eating usually around the 9pm mark we decided to go for lunch.
In case you’re wondering, ‘sfoglina’ has a double meaning – firstly, it’s literally large (huge) sheets of pasta that can then be cut and made into other types of pasta be it your tagliatelle, spaghetti etc… Secondly it refers to a female who makes pasta, a pasta matriarch if you will. In this case, ‘Sfoglina Rina’ refers to the Nonna (grandmother) of current owner Lorenzo, named Rina, who opened her own fresh pasta shop in 1963 and from which the current business grew.
We found our place in the queue, aware that we could have a wait on our hands, but as promised by some online, the line actually moved pretty quickly. I would say we didn’t wait any longer than ten minutes to be taken through. We were seated in the largest dining room, where there was a large central table seating customers on four sides, in a relaxed communal dining style although the chairs were far enough apart that I didn’t feel my personal space was encroached on.This was also great as it was easier to have a nose at what others were eating! We were given a blackboard to look at, and a notepad to write our names and our orders on.
The staff were really friendly even though it was pretty busy. They brought us over an English menu and free drinking water without us asking, and they took the time to explain how everything worked, answering our questions (we were surprised that all the wines cost the same at €14 a bottle, bargainous) and having a little joke with us as we made our decisions. It was also nice that there was a window into the kitchen, so you could even have a sneaky peak at the fresh pasta being made!
A little ‘naughty’ being lunch time, but as the sparkling was so reasonably priced we decided to go for the bottle! To accompany our fizz, we ordered the tortellini filled with ricotta and parsley in a tomato sauce (tortellini originated in Bologna according to residents, so we had to!) from the ‘Traditional’ menu, and the ravioli filled with chicken and coriander accompanied with dried onions and carrots from the ‘Weekly’ menu.
The dishes came out on little wooden boards, with the pasta and their accompaniments. Those who read my ramblings may have noticed I am all about the carbs, and Sfoglina Rina thrilled me, with my first observation being the pasta came with bread and potatoes!?!?! Random, but brilliant. We had decided we were going to split and swop, and I ate the tortellini to start.
I’m not always the biggest ricotta fan (I particularly am not a fan of it on pizza) as I don’t always feel it adds anything, but these were delightful little parcels of creamy heaven. The pasta was some of the best we’ve ever eaten, so incredibly fresh, and the tomato sauce had just the right level of ‘tang’ (bad tomato sauce is another of my pet hates). I thought these were really delicious and was beginning to regret agreeing to swap half way through as I thought maybe the ravioli didn’t look as appetising… I needn’t have worried!
The pasta again was incredibly fresh, but what struck me more was the chicken filling and the buttery broth it came in. Literally salivating at the thought. The presentation may not have been as expected but these were huge on flavour, absolutely scrumptious!
The sight of the bread/potato accompaniments did initially get me very excited, but in all honesty, while I scoffed them pretty quick they weren’t necessary in the slightest. Particularly the potato – which was served cold with helpings of (I’m guessing) pepperonata and (possibly) creme fraiche or similar, it didn’t really add anything apart from satisfying my inner greedy beast. A bonus with the bread though, was that while one was a simple bread roll, it was a ‘tigelle’ that was served with the tortellini – a thin round bread local to the area which was on my list of things I had to try!
Bologna isn’t overly touristy, and while we did spot a couple of tourists in Sfoglina Rina (they’d obviously seen all of the rave reviews online!) it was lovely that the majority of those around us were Italians, enjoying truly some of the best pasta to be had in Italy. The food was great, it was fab for people watching, it was very reasonably priced (just over €30 for lunch for two including a bottle of fizz) and I’d definitely recommend a lunch there if you happen to be in Bologna.
Where: Via Castiglione, 5/b, 40124 Bologna BO, Italy
Thanks for reading.