(Visited September 2012)
Continuing our ‘tour’ of Italian restaurants….
Once upon a time the Bolognesi used to go to Diana when they wanted a good traditional eat with that touch of elegance. Nowadays its reputation is a bit that of a tourist trap, banking on its past and its very central location.
The truth, we suspect, is that maybe Diana was never more than a perfectly decent restaurant, but the world has moved forward while they have remained exactly in the same spot. Neither the cuisine, nor the waiters in their demeanour and attire have adapted one bit to the times. Here you can touch the past, something that may have its charm and interest.
But… OK, this is one of the decayed Queens of the Bologna restaurant scene, but it ain’t so bad either.
We stuck with the classics, we had low expectations (that old trick for happiness), and were indeed quite happy. For example, pappardelle with porcini – right in season – were well made, eggy and generous.
And a bollito misto definitely will not attain Bottura’s heights in nearby Modena (go, go, go); but it was a very honest, varied bollito, neither dry not soggy, with a decent accompanying sauce.
A salad of ovoli (Caesar’s mushrooms) truffle and parmesan as was to be expected featured minuscule portions of the delicacies, but otherwise they would have cost a fortune. At least we got a hint of the flavour. Lacking a microscope, no picture.
A final dish of woodland strawberries (once upon a time there were wild strawberries) with homemade ice-cream was pleasant.
We saw some tortellini passing around and they looked a little sad, far too big to be real thing. Glad we didn’t order them.
The wine list is quite deficient (severe understatement), yet we managed to pick an acceptable and well priced Pinot Noir from Alto Adige.
Service was jovial, old fashioned and efficient. Prices are OK, (perhaps just slightly high) for quality quantity and location, look at around the 100 euro mark for two for three courses, without special ingredients.
All in all, not a destination restaurant, but a passable one if you are in the area. Believe it or not, Bologna is NOT a gastronomic spotlight. It’s hard for a gourmet to get some satisfaction here. In the end, the lukewarm and a bit rough embrace of Diana may not be the most uncomfortable place to have dinner in this city.