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Most Italians agree that Emilia Romagna is the epicenter for some of the finest foods in Italy. In fact, in Bologna, the largest city in the region, it’s hard to find a bad meal. However, most traditional dishes feature pastas, cheeses and meats so it’s common to find very similar menus in almost every restaurant in the city.

When we finally decided to take a break from the very wonderful, but ubiquitous, Bolognese specialties of the region—which include tagliatelle with ragu, tortelloni and lasagna—we dropped into Scalinatella, a pizza restaurant located in a narrow alley off Via Rizzoli not far from the Towers of Bologna and Piazza Maggiore.

Invented in Naples, pizza isn’t indigenous to Bologna. But over the past few centuries, in the same way that pizza has migrated to other cities across Italy and all over the world, it has made its way here. (Neapolitan immigrants brought the uber-popular dish to the U.S. during the late nineteenth century.)

The setting

Scalinatella is located inside an ancient stone-walled building within the historical center of the city but the interior has been totally renovated.

Diners can eat inside or al fresco at tables set up in the alley. There are also additional tables upstairs, presumably for larger parties. The atmosphere is casual and relaxed.

The menu

We are always in search of a good thin-crust pizza at home and immediately fell in love with the Neapolitan-style pizzas at Scalinatella, which surpassed any others we had tried at home.

More than 17 varieties were on the menu, enough choices to please the palate of any pizza lover. At lunch with our friends we were able to sample three kinds: traditional margherita (with tomato, mozzarella and basil), pizza with roasted eggplant, and pizza with funghi (local mushrooms).

Baked in a wood-burning oven, the thin crust was exquisite and the toppings were fresh and flavorful. The extensive menu also offered meats, pastas, fish and salads and many beverage and dessert options.

Our friendly, efficient and exuberant waiter, Vito, was also a transplant from Naples. We ordered a carafe of local sparkling wine to complement our meal and enjoyed the sinfully delicious homemade tiramisu after we couldn’t eat one more bite of pizza (We took leftovers back to our apartment) .

The pizza was so yummy and so reasonably priced that we plan to return again before we leave.

Bottom line

What makes pizza in Bologna taste so good?

No two people have the same tastes in pizza. Some like the crust thin and others prefer it to be thick. Tastes also vary relative to the proportion of cheese to sauce.

But the secret to pizza in Bologna is this: Like the other foods we had eaten here, Bolognese pizza is made with the same fresh, local, high-quality ingredients along with an unabashed commitment to time-honored regional cooking techniques.

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