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A Restaurant with a View
You should see Enzo carve and serve a whole turbot. He makes it look as easy as cutting butter. When Sharmi Singh took over Ristorante Re Enzo in 2008, he brought this seasoned waiter with him because he makes people feel like they’re in good hands. Despite his skill, Enzo is not the restaurant’s namesake. That would be an incarcerated king who lived the rest of his days in Bologna in a stately prison. Re Enzo was an illegitmate son of Frederick II and was captured by Bolognese troops in 1249 while fighting for the Emperor’s Guelph supporters. Enzo was never released, although his father demanded it. The jail eventually took his name, becoming Palazzo Re Enzo in the city’s main square, Piazza Maggiore.
Piazzetta della Pioggia, where Ristorante Re Enzo is located, is a quieter, more intimate piazza. What strikes you about this eatery when walking by is the cozy covered patio spilling out onto the street. And the invitation is hard to refuse.
You might be tempted to turn up your nose at a restaurant that serves a little bit of everything from a thick menu of choices, wanting what you believe is a more “authentic local experience.” But if you happen to be dining with kids or friends, who always seem to have varied tastes, and who are inevitably starving, you might want to think otherwise. That’s when a place like Re Enzo proves what a godsend it is. It’s where pescatarians can eat lovely fish, where meat-lovers find a formidable spaghetti alla carbonara, and where children and teens can feast on a favorite pizza or pasta. You’ll almost always find a free table in its accommodating interior, or, when the weather is fine, a spot outdoors where you can catch a glimpse of the setting sun as it melts out of view beyond Via Riva Reno.
No doubt about it, Ristorante Re Enzo in Bologna does have quite an ample selection, from pasta to pizza, from the holy trinity of Bolognese primi (tagliatelle, tortellini and lasagne) to other regional Italian dishes, from seafood to meat to vegetarian fare. Its variety of decent dishes with reasonable prices is why we as a family choose to dine here. Often. Luckily, in Italy it’s never a problem having children at restaurants, and Re Enzo is no exception. Our seven-year-old is already on a first-name basis with the staff. The friendliness and variety also make it our go-to place for many last-minute dinners with friends and their offspring.
You’re In Good Hands
Sharmi and chef Lakhbir have developed their menu based on their experience in different restaurant kitchens around Bologna, notably Circolo Bononia. Our order might include a carbonara, oven roasted turbot, spaghetti alle vongole, artichoke salad, octopus with potatoes and sausage pizza. And we’re never disappointed. Most dolci are reliable spoon desserts like tiramisù, mascarpone and creme caramel. Sometimes Enzo even has a special selection of digestivi including a prickly pear liqueur from his native Sicily.
They are open every day for both lunch and dinner unlike most other restaurants that close at least once a week. Planning on being in Bologna on Easter or Christmas and don’t want to cook? Rest assured your holiday meal will be a happy one at Re Enzo’s.
Ristorante Re Enzo – Via Riva di Reno, 79, 40121 Bologna – Tel. +39 051 234803
Juggling nuance between Italian and English, Tatiana lights up her five-burner kitchen top with nostalgia for American food, Bologna-inspired fare and cross-cultural inventions. She and her husband endlessly debate on cooking with or without a recipe. Their son just hopes that dinner will either be plain or have chocolate in it.