May 14, 2024 - Written by: Nancy Pollard
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Che Si Mangia?*

One of my hobbies is cooking. The other is eating. I probably should take up  knitting again –  butholiday dinner at 323 Cameron St 2023 looking at compulsively bought skeins of yarn that need to be cast onto needles is somehow not as much fun as looking at restaurants and checking out their menus.  Crowd-sourced reviews on travel and dining platforms have rarely proved to be a reliable  measure of whether an eatery is Caminetto D'Oro outside seatingworth the price of a meal. In fact, some of the worst meals I have eaten anywhere were in restaurants that rated numerous stars from trusted members. Being somewhat mealy mouthed diners, we usually just quietly try to finish the meal, pay and leave. I think both my husband and I were raised in families in which you ate what you had before you and, if necessary, pushed the unwanted food around so it looked like it was at least somewhat eaten and then suffer in silence. 

Happily we  now live in the heart of an Italian city that has a vibrant food culture, with lots of choices. Chinese and Japanese restaurants abound, but alas not a decent bagel and lox can be had. Lebanese cuisine — yes —  but Pollo alla brasa with my husband’s favorite wimpy white sauce and my favorite spicy green one remains – at least for now – a wonderful memory. We are still always interested in trying places that are on social media and food-guide radar screens, but we  frequently return to a few that we value as hidden jewels with nary a social media splash. This is one of them.

 A Two For One Deal

 You’ll discover one small restaurant split into two lunch and dinner possibilities – so definitely put Caminetto D’Oro with its Twinside Bistrot half on your list of special places you should experience. I am pretty sure that after one meal in either,  you’ll go back for more. Located unobtrusively on the one-block long Via de’ Falegnami, both restaurants will host tables outsideTwinside in Bologna exterior seating in the street when the weather has even a whiff of being pleasant. The owner expanded the dining area of Caminetto and took an adjoining space to create Twinside – a more casual bistrot with a simpler and less expensive menu.  In the latter you have a choice of a communal table with what the RWM** refers to as highchairs and a series of smaller tables set against a wall of banquette seating. Caminetto has more intimate seating, softer lighting, better sound control.

Like so much else in Bologna, Caminetto D’Oro has a history. While the actual setting of the restaurant has been in existence since the 1920s, it was named Il Caminetto D’Oro  in the 1950s,  but was revamped in 1980 by new owners – Gino Carati, a native Bolognese, and his wife Maria Di Giandomenico, a native of Abruzzo,  I remember Maria as someone who clearly earned her cooking chops. She was a master pasta maker, and her interpretation of Bolognese ragù became famous among the city’s very exacting tagliatelle eaters. 

Now Caminetto is under the guidance of their son Paolo Carati, who has quietly and verycrescentine at Twinside successfully developed two restaurants operating out of one kitchen. I believe he tried two separate brigades but with the innovative chef, Andrea Serra (who has run the kitchen for over 16 years)  two different menus with daily specials are seamlessly created and served from one kitchen. One of the underlying aspects of this unusual and successful combo is that both menus offer  just a few starters, main courses and desserts.  You’ll have no more than three our four choices in each category. And seasonality reigns happily with top quality ingredients. Note to self: always order the crescentine at Twinside.

chicken liver mousse Caminetto d'oroI love that Twinside offers a superlative can of anchovies with some divine butter and bread. While at the same time in Caminetto D’Oro, you might order an ethereal chicken liver mousse  in a lightly scented tart shell with an onion reduction. A footnote should be added here – the RWM said that he had the best hamburger of his life at Twinside. Also, much to the almost delirious happiness of the RWM and hisBistecca alla fiorentina at Caminetto d'oro son-in-law, Paolo Carati has developed a first-rate beef selection for Bistecca alla Fiorentina – which you can order from either restaurant.  This is partially made possible by the Spanish grill/oven Josper, which in another life, I might have purchased in a home version. Do not, says the dessertatarian, leave without sharing at least one dessert. They are always small, restrained, and delicious. 

In The Church Of Wine

I think wine lists are difficult for restaurants now. Wine consultants for the global 1 percentrobert, wine and Caminetto d'Oro have now bought up vintages as they have antiques and paintings. But in confronting that, there are so many more vintners who are competitively creating a wide-ranging  palette of wines – well crafted and affordable. Paolo Carati has  developed a very seductive wine list that of course the RWM is happily lured into. As far as I can see from my nearsighted perspective, no American wines ever appear on EU wine lists, but to be fair, I never saw Italian wines on a French wine list. Not surprisingly, though, Paolo Carati has a discerning eye as well as an ecumenical palate and offers some good choices in his selections from France as well as introducing you to excellent Italian ones. 

 If you check both restaurants out on Instagram, you won’t see  photos of Kim Kardashian or Kylie Jenner here, but you will see that Keanu Reeves happily and quietly ate here, along with Martin Scorsese, Toni Servillo, and other self- possesssed Italian and American luminaries. Rest assured, you will have the same delightful meal that they did. 

 

*What Are You Eating is always a part of Italian conversations.

**Resident Wine Maniac (see this post for explanation)

 

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Nancy
12 days ago

Great story. You are missed in Old Town.