Eating in Emilia-Romagna is sampling the true soul of Italian cuisine with the four quintessential dishes of the region, creating an essential experience for any visit. The region continues to influence commercial kitchens, private kitchens, and celebrity chefs across Italy and around the world.
Whether visiting for the culinary history or eager to sample the traditional flavors of the markets, Emilia-Romagna is the perfect destination for finding the essential flavors of Italian cuisine.
A list of Emilia-Romagna dishes is practically a guide to the most iconic ingredients and plates of Italian cuisine. The simple geography instills in the region a perfect balance of fertile land and abundant water while the ingredients that shape the cuisine embody the eight centuries during which the region fell under the reign of warring noble families, Papal States, and distinct kingdoms.
The result is the unique make-up of hyper-local cooking traditions that still share common regional characteristics. The following are the most typical, and therefore popular, dishes you can find in Emilia-Romagna.
The classic savory pie of Emilia-Romagna has become a gastronomic legacy highlighting the delicious flavors of spinach, chard, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and pancetta. The pie is cooked with butter and lard, resulting in a rustic country-style tart. The dish is baked and traditionally served hot or warm so you can enjoy a golden, flaky pastry.
The original recipe was fried in pork lard until dark, but many recipes vary from customs based on the heritage of family recipes. The dish is more common in the Reggio Emilia province in Emilia-Romagna, and the provincial capital referred to locally as Reggio.
The popular first-course dish of tortellini consists of hand-crafted, ring-shaped pasta made with egg and stuffed with cheese, pork, or greens. The pasta is served in a clear chicken or beef broth topped with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and represents the traditional comfort food of Emilia-Romagna.
Making the pasta is a labor of love and dedication, resulting in a unique flavor typically served in the home around Christmas but available in restaurants year-round. Modena and Bologna are the most popular destinations for the traditional dish of Emilia-Romagna.
The hand-made and stuffed pumpkin ravioli of Emilia-Romagna is known in Italian as cappellacci. The pasta forms a dome over the pumpkin combining the savory flavors of butter, salt, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese with a semi-sweet taste of the pumpkin, as well as a touch of spice such as nutmeg. The traditional dish of Northern Italy dates back to a recipe from the 16th century and the culinary tradition of Ferrara.
The deep-fried bread is made with warm milk, fresh yeast, and flour. The dough is fried in lard or oil and often accompanied with cured meats like Prosciutto di Parma, types of salumi, and hard or soft cheeses. The bread is traditionally served as an appetizer rather than an entire meal meant to encourage your appetite and invite you to eat more. The traditional dish can also be flavored with garlic and rosemary. Customary crescentina is made in Modena.
Emilia-Romagna is famous for its entire food experience, from cultural history to flavor. The natural beauty and delicious cuisine create a unique involvement for all your senses. You can visit the Best Cities for Emilia-Romagna Cuisine or find more inspiration for a future trip with Zicasso’s Italy Travel Guide. Dreaming of an Italian food tour? You can speak with an Italy travel specialist by filling out a Trip Request or by calling our team at 1-888-265-9707.