Visit: 13 March 2024

Award: 1 Michelin Star

Price: ***

Website: https://www.iporticihotel.com/ristorante-i-portici-bologna/

The Review:

Opened on October 22nd, 2008, I Portici Restaurant is a one Michelin star restaurant and part of the luxury I Portici Hotel Bologna.  The restaurant is located in a hotel, on the ground floor, in the renovated Eden Theatre, a former cafe chantant (French-style cafe with live music).  The restaurant still has a stage, and there are beautiful Liberty-style frescoes.  It is the only Michelin starred restaurant in Bologna city (at the time of writing in 2024).  The Michelin star was awarded in 2012, and since 2023 the Executive chef is Nicola Annunziata.

There were a range of tasting menus of three, five, seven and nine courses (the latter a surprise menu), with wine pairings.  These were priced at €80, €110, €150 and €180 per person respectively.  Wine pairings were €28 for two glasses with the 3-course option, €60 for four glasses with the 5-course option, €90 for six glasses paired with the 7 and 9-course options.  We chose the seven-course menu.  There was an extensive wine list available with a large selection of Italian varieties.

We started with a series of canapes.  “Vesuvio” was sliced tomato skin wrapped around Mozzarella cheese, with basil pesto on top.  Then we were served a canape of mortadella with ricotta and lemon juice, another had fava beans with crunchy bacon, cream and onion, there was an amberjack tartare, and one with blue goats’ cheese with white vinegar jelly on top.  All of these were vibrantly fresh and full of flavour.

The bread we were served was very good.  There was a natural yeast bread, crackers with black seaweed and salt, and excellent breadsticks with rosemary.

The first course was baccala (dried and salted cod) in Savoy cabbage dashi, nduja oil (spicy, spreadable pork sausage from the region of Calabria), and borlotti beans.  In my opinion, this dish would have benefitted from a touch more salt.

Stuart Clarke Restaurant ReviewNext was a Romagnola tartare (a breed of cattle from the Emilia-Romagna region of Northern Italy), anchovy sauce, turnips cooked in Cervia salt (from the salt flats on the Adriatic in Emilia Romagna), Comacchio smoked eel, and a Dijon mustard ice cream.  Comacchio is a town and comune of Emilia Romagna famous for its eels.  This was a very good course, with lots of flavour from the beef and smoked eel.

The risotto course was made with Riserva San Massimo Carnaroli rice, Lambrusco Emiliano wine, 36-month Parmesan, demi-sel butter, red turnip jus, rooster combs, and a parsley powder.  This had great flavour and was my favourite course of the evening.

Next, we were served a 36-yolk tagliolini pasta, with friarelli (a broccoli-like vegetable marinated in oil with a little garlic and chilli), garlic oil, chilli pepper, lemon juice, and smoked caviar.  San Marzano tomato paste was served in a separate dish, and you mixed it into the tagliolini sauce.  Tomato brioche bread was served alongside so you could clean your plate.

The fish course was sea bass, that was precisely cooked but needed a touch more salt in my opinion, with escarole textures (a bitter tasting, leafy green vegetable), black chickpeas, served with foie gras and a salad.

Emilian lamb was served with pickled myagawa (a Japanese mandarin fruit), baked celeriac, pumpkin seeds, and a coffee and chocolate jus.  This was accompanied by a dish of thinly sliced celeriac folded around fresh herbs, which was superb, and focaccia bread.

Before we started desserts, we were offered cheese from a trolley.  There were a range of excellent Italian varieties.

The pre-dessert was a lemon sorbet topped with crispy apple, which was very tasty with great textures.  The main dessert was “Ph3” that refers to the acidity of the dish.  This was caramel, Chantilly chocolate cream, dark chocolate, cocoa sponge cake, Bavarian coffee mousse, salted caramel, and passion fruit.  This was excellent and one of the best courses of the evening.

We finished with three petit fours, orange, mandarin, and peanut.

Service throughout the meal was excellent, the staff were friendly and took time to explain the dishes to me.  Overall, this was a very enjoyable experience, and I will definitely return next time I am in Bologna.

The Menu:

The Food:

 

The People:

Executive Chef is Nicola Annunziata, from Sarno, Campania.

Nicola worked at 1 Michelin star Ristorante Il faro di Capo d’Orso di Maiori, in Salerno on the Amalfi coast, for five years.  In 2015 he moved to the Vistamare Restaurant at the Fogliano Hotel, in Latina, Lazio (Central Italy), as a Sous Chef, from 2015 to 2017.  Then to Rocco de Santis as Executive Chef, where he was awarded a Michelin Star Italy when he was only 25 years of age.  In 2020 he moved to the restaurant Prietramare Natural Food, of Praia Art Resort at Isola di Capo Rizzuto, in Calabria, and was awarded one Michelin star in 2022.

Nicola joined Ristorante I Portici in January 2023.

The Restaurant:

Inside the restaurant:

Tables are well spaced around the edge of the restaurant:

The stage, located in the restaurant:

The frescoes on the ceiling:

 

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