One of my food goals in Bologna was to eat in an authentic, rustic trattoria or osteria. I made it a point to try local delicacies such as ragù bolognese and mortadella. After being overwhelmed with choices of places for this type of food, I settled on one that had high reviews, fair prices, and availability for the night we were in town. That being, Trattoria Casa Mia.
The idea behind Casa Mia was simple food comparable to your own home cooking (hence the name). I was intrigued when we were given hand-written menus and also noticed that the restaurant was full to capacity. In my experience at Italian restaurants, these are two very good signs. Sadly, as you will come to understand in the descriptions below, the food at Casa Mia did not live up to the hype.
All the restaurants we dined at in Bologna offered these sort of small plates as a way to keep you satisfied in between courses (perhaps Fourghetti started this trend). This sfizo was complimentary and to be honest I have no idea what it was. My best guess would be veal in some sort of cheese sauce. Whatever it was, it was delicious and the best thing I ate at Casa Mia.
This dish was accurately named “La Via di Mortadella.” It featured mortadella (i.e. Italian boloney) presented in several formats. I am not a huge fan of mortadella but I was extremely interested in trying spuma di mortadella, which is essentially mortadella in mousse form. While you can get mortadella pretty easily in the United States, you definitely cannot find spuma di mortadella. The spuma had a very particular flavor and texture and was much more complex and tasty than standalone mortadella. If given the option, I would have ordered the spuma by itself without the rest of the meat or the fried mortadella-filled pastry puffs.
This was perhaps the biggest let-down. When in Bologna, one must try ragù bolognese. I figured a traditional trattoria would be the best place to do so. While the tagliatelle pasta was homemade and perfectly cooked, the ragù lacked anything that would have made it memorable. The meat was not particularly tender or flavorful. Not to mention, the pasta-to-ragu ratio was completely off. This pasta dish was no better than something I could have gotten at a mid-grade Italian restaurant in the U.S.
Not pictured is Alessandro’s primo piatto, which was homemade cheese ravioli topped with rabbit meat. While he was not a huge fan of it, I tried a bite and thought it was phenomenal. The broth was mouth-watering; the pasta was fresh and delicious; the rabbit was tender and well-seasoned. (Note: my thoughts on Alessandro’s pasta contradicts what I’m about to say below.)
I let Alessandro choose the main dish which we shared, since I had already accomplished my goals of trying spuma di mortadella and ragù bolognese. This was a foolish decision, as he always tells me that I make better choices than him as far as what to order when we go out to eat. Per usual, he did not make the best choice (sorry, love).
This dish was a take on grandma’s Sunday gravy (my Italian-American readers will get what I’m talking about). It featured polpette (meatballs) of ground beef and peas, ground beef rolled in layers of zucchini, a hot sausage link, and fried polenta, all smothered in a tomato sauce with peas. The polenta, which was not meant to really enhance the dish in any way, was my favorite thing on the plate. The meat, vegetables, and sauce were nothing to write home about.
- fresh, high-quality meats and pastas
- affordable and filling
- nothing original or “wow” on the menu
- food is average; nothing was particularly tasty