Porto Alegre, Brazil: Restaurante Bologna in Ipanema
AMAZING Congrio Rosa with Red Shrimp Sauce
Mystery, murder, and romantic tension in this page-turner!
Light and Tasty "Fish Balls"
Our Dinner Host (a Gentleman of Excellent Taste)
Wonderful Table Service
Doing Business for 55 Years!
In my humble opinion, a restaurant that has been successfully in business for over half a century is impressive. My mother-in-law's friend (the same one who introduced me to Dado Bier) took us out to Bologna. He loves to dine out and ever since I told him that I am writing about food, he wants me to review his favorite places. So far, he is proving himself to be a man of excellent taste.
Bologna is located in the neighborhood of Ipanema, which is about a 20 minute car ride from the center of Porto Alegre. The establishment is simple, clean and quite spacious, so it can easily accommodate large parties (or tour groups in the future when the World Cup is here). The waiters were friendly, polite and professional, offering wonderful table service. One of them brought over the wine list for me to browse and I was impressed by what I saw. Bologna offers a wide variety of wines from all over the world at reasonable prices.
The menu includes Italian classics like Spaghetti Carbonara and Lasagna, but they also make pizza. And not just any pizza- Tuscan pizza (my favorite). Apparently, the original owner was actually from Bologna and installed a wood burning oven in the restaurant. The waiter assured us that the pizzas were thin crust with minimal toppings, which is very different from Brazilian pizza. Here, they do not care too much about the quality of the crust or sauce, but rather, only the quantity of toppings. My philosophy on pizza is this: if the crust and the marinara are good, you don't need to mask them with too much stuff on top. But, to each his own, right? I almost ordered the pizza, but our host advised us to try the seafood instead. I'll have to go back there to taste the pizza and then add another hub about it.
For our appetizer, we ordered Bolinhos de Peixe (Boh-liñ-ohs dee Paysh-e), which are round croquets made of fish, potato and parslety that are breaded and fried. I am very finicky when it comes to croquets because they tend to be heavy (sometimes even greasy), but these were surprisingly light and tasty (and not overly fishy, either). Of course, they are not as good as my mother's, but since she is thousands of kilometers away, these will do very nicely.
My mother-in-law and her friend ordered the simple spaghetti with tomato sauce. I tasted it and it was fine, but then again, after living in Italy for so many years, it is difficult to impress me with Brazilian pasta dishes. What my husband and I ordered was the real culinary masterpiece of the evening: Congrio Rosa a Molho de Camarao (Khon-gree-oh Roza ah Moh-lee-oh dee Kah-mahr-ow). Congrio Rosa is a firm textured, white, flaky fish with a delicate flavor. Our waiter informed us that this fish is imported from Chile. The chef prepared a fragrant red sauce consisting of onion, garlic, green pepper, tomatoes, shrimp stock and of course, an abundance of large shrimp. This sauce was poured over the grilled fish and the dish comes with a side of white rice. I must confess that this was one of the best seafood dishes I have eaten in a long time. The portion was enormous! It was meant for two, but could easily have fed 3 people. My husband has a healthy appetite and I had two servings and it was still too much. The price was only R$54,00! In Italy or in the USA, a seafood dish of this quality and proportion would have cost a small fortune (for one person). Needless to say, we were amazed. We washed down our meal with one of our Brazilian favorites: Boscato Cabernet Sauvignon (this seafood dish can easily carry off a red wine).
If you are a REAL foodie like I am, you will appreciate this restauarant for its food, wine and service (also for its reasonable prices). It is not in an upscale part of town and there are no fancy trappings- just an excellent gastronomic experience.
NOTE: Dinner portions are enough for two people (even three), so keep this in mind when ordering! Also...My husband and I went to Restaurante Bologna to try the pizza shortly after I wrote the above article. We ordered the pizza and it was OK, but not what we expected. NOT a Tuscan pizza (not even close).
Check it out and let me know if you liked it. Thank you for reading!
Av. Cel. Marcos, 2539
Ipanema, Porto Alegre
Tel. 3246-8485 (they deliver!)
C. De Melo