Oh, the riches of Emilia-Romagna, Italy’s most expressive region for food. Parma. Bologna. Modena. These are the dots of the map—such delicious-sounding dots—we Italian-adoring Americans connect with the bounty of the Boot. Here’s what comes from this small region in the country’s northeast, wedged between Florence and Milan: mortadella and prosciutto di Parma, fresh pastas like tagliatelle, tortellini, and eggy pappardelle, sharp and salty Parmigiano-Reggiano, puffy gnocco fritto, the acidic harmony of balsamic vinegar, fizzy Lambrusco. Walking down the street in a town like Reggio Emilia is like playing the 1990s game show Supermarket Sweep, where the only countdown clock is to the time stamped on your plane ticket home. You want to fill your backpack with all the meats, all the cheeses, all the wines you can possibly sneak through customs.
Last fall I visited the region with some writer friends, some of whom have contributed to this special issue of TASTE that attempts to hit most of E-R’s major food groups. There’s a close look at the analog and near spiritual way one of the world’s finest cheeses is made, and a writer’s love letter to the mousse-like custard zabaione. We tackle Lambrusco (which btw is perhaps the finest pizza wine around) and gnocco fritto—and actor Eric Wareheim’s remembers filming his award-winning show Master of None in and around Modena. Naturally he hired a sandwich fixer for the several months of filming.
I hope this issue inspires you to cook some tortellini en brodo, buy a bottle of good balsamic (and not the fake shit—please read about the fake shit!), maybe even book a cheap flight to Bologna and have your own Emilia-Romagnan holiday. The Italians will welcome you with open arms and a plate packed with Parm chunks and salumi. It’s really not the worst. —Matt Rodbard, TASTE Editor-in-Chief
My Love for Gnocco Fritto
I miss gnocco fritto like an old friend. When we get together, the conversation comes so easy.
Pizza Pizza, Bubbles Bubbles
How a sparkling wine from Emilia-Romagna makes, basically, all slices taste better. Even the Papa John’s ones.
Welcome to Truffle Town
Amerigo dal 1934, a trattoria located outside Bologna, is home to a mushroom whisperer.
Eric Wareheim Loves Emilia-Romagna
The actor, director, and comic spent weeks filming his Netflix series in northern Italy. The food was pretty good.
Wheels of Fortune
There’s an analog, and spiritual, approach to making one of the world’s finest cheeses—one you may just take for granted.
The Truth About Balsamic Vinegar
A river of black gold flows from the cities of Modena and Reggio Emilia straight to your home kitchen.
In Emilia-Romagna, Zabaione Flows Like A River
Like many Bolognese classics, the foamy dessert is an appreciation of richness and simplicity.