Bologna – Centro Storico – deli heaven in the Quadrilatero

On the eastern side of Piazza Maggiori, a high archway admits you Via Clavature. Once the street of the lockmakers, it is now lined with greengrocers, delis and food vendors of all kinds.

Via Clavature is one of the central streets of the Quadrilatero, an ancient grid of streets first laid down by the Romans. The district is bordered by four roads: Via Rizzoli, Via dell’Archiginnasio, Via Farini e Via Castiglione.

My map here.

During the Middle Ages this was where the major craft and merchant guilds were located and today it is still where many locals come to do their grocery shopping. In fact it’s hard to think of anywhere in Italy with a greater concentration of food-related shops, so the Quadrilatero is a must visit for any serious foodie.

There are several butchers, including horse specialists.

As well as mongers of fish…

…and cheese.

And enotecas selling vinegar and wine.

However it’s the delis that have the most spectacular window displays. One of the most famous is Tamburini at 1 Via Caprarie.

These photos of Tamburini are from my visit in 2009. Sadly when I visited in November 2020, during the Covid lockdown, their display was much diminished. No doubt they’ll be back to normal when you go though.

Another great display can be seen in the window of Paolo Atti & Figli, a bakery next door to Tamburini at 6 Via Drapperie.

Atti also have another unit just around the corner at 7 Via Caparei.

Anticha Aguzzeria del Cavallo at 12 Via Drapperie has been equipping horsemen for fighting, hunting and feasting for over two hundred years, since 1783, making it the oldest shop in Bologna. Today you can still get your knives sharpened here and find hard-to-get culinary items such as cheese planes and pasta stamps.

Another display that caught my eye were the glaceed fruit for making Mostarda Bolognese in the window of Alimentari Melega at 14 Via Clavature. Mostarda is the traditional accompaniment for Bollito Misto, the typical Sunday lunch in Northern Italy (see my Turin post or my Parma post).

There are plenty more shops, but I think these are the most famous.

As you’d expect many of these places offer their wares for consumption on the premises so the Quadrilatero is a great place for lunch. In November 2020 I went to Simoni Laboratorio at 3/A Via Pescherie Vecchie (as opposed to their original shop Salumeria Simonidown the street at 5/2a Via Drapperie). Just for a change I didn’t go for local ingredients and chose their Porchetta plate instead, which was great (B+) but a lot for one person.

A friendly guy sitting at the next table chatting to the staff gave me some wine-matching advice which I’ve since forgotten but I later worked out that he was Davide Simoni, the owner. He comes from a family that have been butchers in the Quadrilatero for generations. I understand that, in non-Covid times, he leads food tours of the Quadrilatero. Next time I’ll ask about them at the Laboratorio.

In 2009 I ate next door at La Baita Vecchia Malga at 3/A Via Pescherie Vecchie.

You can sit down upstairs and choose from a menu of different cheese and ham selections from different regions of Italy. I had the ‘Emilia’ with Crudo di Parma, Salame Felino, Mortadella and two different types of cheese, washed down with a glass of Pignoletto, delicious fizzy white from a local DOC. Again it was too much for one and I got half of it to take away.

Or you could buy your food from the delis and take it to Osteria del Sole at 1 Vicolo Ranocchi where they will sell you some cheap wine to go with it. This local institution has been around since 1465 but sadly it was closed due to Covid regulations when I was last in town, so another place for next time.

Another option would be to eat at the Mercato di Mezzo at 12 Via Clavature: an ancient market that has been converted into a food court.

Incidentally while you’re walking on Via Caprarie, around Tamburini and Atti, you may notice some stars embedded in the pavement bearing the names of famous jazz musicians. Bologna is famous for jazz (cf its international jazz festival) and La Strada del Jazz commemorates the city’s love of the music. A famous jazz club was once located in the Quadrilatero.

Coffee and ice cream next!

Pictures uploaded September 2009 and May 2021.

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