Dal Bolognese: chic crowd, delicious food in Rome

Romans have two great pasttimes: eating good food and watching people. If you want to see a truly Roman social scene at full throttle and enjoy one of the best meals you’ll ever have in the city, Dal Bolognese is the place.

Ristorante Dal Bolognese Roma

Located right on the Piazza del Popolo, it is extremely popular with politicians, actors, designers and everyone else who thinks they should be seen in public wearing the latest Max Mara fur jackets and Prada boots. Needless to say, reservations are necessary. Don’t expect to get the best seats in the house, notably, the tables outside, as they are “reserved” for the regulars.

We went to Dal Bolognese at 9:30 in the evening, which is the perfect time to have dinner in Rome. The restaurant was packed with men in elegant suits and women in gorgeous silk and cashmere ensembles.

Dal Bolognese serves food from Emilia-Romagna, which is best known for Parma ham, parmigiano reggiano cheese, and balsamic vinegar (from Modena). So, of course, for the antipasti, we ordered Parma ham. There were other antipasti that looked tempting: culatello di parma, bresaola di chianina, coppa di testa (wild boar salami), to name but a few.

For my main course, I had to try the tagliatelle alla bolognese which was piquant and not at all heavy as I had imagined. My dining companion had the nodino di vitalla con carciofi (veal chops with artichokes) and it was exceptionally delicious — tender slices of veal, artichokes filled with delicate herbs, in a rich sauce.

Prices are on the high side: €13 to €20 for antipasti; €16 to €18 for pasta dishes; €19 to €26 for meat dishes; €17 to €30 for fish courses.

For wine we tried the Barbera d’Alba Paiagal 2006 (Antichi Poderi dei Marchesi di Barolo). This Barbera was quite rich in flavor (it tasted of currants) and the price was reasonable (34 EUR). This is another reason I love eating out in Italy: the price of good wine is not astronomical and restaurants don’t make this pretentious song-and-dance about wine.

What I also noticed was this: people sitting at the tables next to us had been there for quite a while before we arrived and they lingered on, having dessert and grappa, engaged long discussions and lively debates. The restaurant staff did not try to rush them out and they were in no hurry to leave. They simply sat there enjoying each other’s company, and I thought, how sad it is that in many cities around the world, very few people truly socialize in this manner, conversing with one another, oblivious to time, over good food and a bottle of wine.

We had our dessert and our grappa, like the others, and when it came time for us to leave, we decided to walk home and enjoy the crisp autumn air. On the way, we stopped to take one more look at the Pantheon, which is lit up at night and looks eerie amidst the lively crowds of the Piazza della Rotonda.

Dal Bolognese
Piazza del Popolo, 1
Rome, Italy
+39 06 361 1426

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About Esme Vos

Esme Vos is the founder of Mapplr, a travel site featuring boutique hotels, luxury resorts, travel guides and restaurant reviews. You can find her on and Twitter.