Sfoglia Rina - a Review

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Sfoglia Rina - A review

Back in 1963, Rina de Franceschi opened a small pasta shop in Casalecchio di Reno, on the outskirts of Bologna. Today, her nephew, inspired by Rina's vision, runs one of the finest pasta restaurants in Bologna. Their two-dimensional menu celebrates the tradition instilled by Rina, combined with innovative modern dishes. Unpacking could wait, and within an hour of touching down in Bologna, I entered pasta heaven.

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‘Sfoglia’ translates in English to 'working through dough, and it is fair to say that upon entering Sfoglia Rina there is an immediate sense that quite a lot of pasta-making has been going on. Before joining the ever-growing queue, I am totally in awe at Sfoglia Rina’s colourful artisan pasta shop. A gallery of the region’s beloved tortellini, the love and precision that has gone into the crafting of each little parcel is remarkable; from tortellini stuffed with pumpkin, to the more indulgent fillings of ricotta and mortadella or sausage and artichoke – choice is in abundance. Already excitable enough, this first impression of Sfoglia Rina only made me more eager for what was about to come.

Sfoglia Rina’s dining room is overwhelmed by the most fantastic pinewood communal table that appears to seat around fifteen people. From holidaymakers to local workers that are fortunate enough to have this as their lunchtime spot, the table is surrounded by a diverse mix of people. But they all have one thing in common – they all seem to be very happy. In front of me there is a wicker basket full of books containing tantalising recipes, the perfect tease while awaiting my lunch.

Sfoglia Rina   ’s rich ragù

Sfoglia Rina’s rich ragù

A rather unconventional way of ordering, customers write down on paper what they want from the huge selection on Sfoglia Rina’s prominent blackboard. Then comes that marvellous moment when your name is called out... As I could not pick between tradition and modernity, I greedily go for both. Firstly, the classic Bolognese dish – tagliatelle (not spaghetti) ragù. Deliciously rich with red wine, thankfully Mary Berry is nowhere to be seen - nor is the white wine and double cream that, in my view, rather intrusively finds itself in her account. As well as this, I try another pasta home to the region: passatelli, which is made by using breadcrumbs. Traditionally served in broth, Sfoglia Rina demonstrates innovation by instead combining it with parmigiano fondue, lime, broccoli puree and a wonderful finish of salty, dried crumbled olives. Both dishes are served with bread to mop up the sauce, accompanied by a refreshing palate cleanser of butternut squash puree, black cabbage and almonds. While these dishes are so far apart, both reflect dedication to the finest ingredients from the Emilia Romagna.

Pasta dishes seem to peak at around 12 euros here, which is not unreasonable considering the quality and ambience but nonetheless expensive for Bologna. Rather cleverly, paying at the table is not an option. Instead customers must go to the shop floor and pay in front of the wonderful pasta counter. I wonder how many people have given into temptation at this point. For those that really want to take a taste of Sfoglia Rina home with them, fresh pasta courses are also on offer for children and adults wishing to continue Rina’s legacy.

Learn about the classic Emilia Romagna dish, Tortellini in brodo', here

For the best gastronomical shopping experience ever, visit Bologna’s Quadrilatero