Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Bring your own...food at Osteria del Sole

top: the unpreposessing entrance
below: bring your own food

Bring your own for us denotes a restaurant without a licence to sell alcohol. Osteria del Sole, a rough around the edges hostelry in Bologna’s market streets area, is the opposite. You bring the food and they provide the drink. Opened in the 1940s by the family who still run it, you would be hard pressed to say whether it had been redecorated since its first day of trade. Slightly dark and dank, definitely scruffy, Osteria del Sole is also friendly and incredibly appealing.

Entering through an anonymous doorway on Viccolo Ranocchi, Frog Street, your first sight is of a cluster of people around the bar. Behind the bar is a rough and ready but wide selection of wine and prosecco by the bottle or glass (from €2 per glass), grappa, port and beer – the only things served. You won’t get a glass of water, a vodka and tonic, a coffee or a bowl of nuts and that is what makes the osteria such a treat.

Every afternoon and evening the assortment of visibly mended and actively wobbly chairs fill up with people of all ages, in couples, small family groups and big voluble office parties. The long scrubbed wooden tables are quickly covered with bags of bread sticks and wax paper parcels from nearby food shops: pizzette from Atti, or culatello slices and grilled artichokes from Tamborini. You can bring in a Tupperware box of homemade pasta, as long as you don’t forget the cutlery, or a pot of chow mein from the Chinese restaurant further down the street. The atmosphere is convivial; people shuffle up and down the benches to make room for each other or drift outside onto the street for a cigarette.

With the nearby food shops providing an irresistible temptation for a visiting foodie with no access to a kitchen, del Sole provides an equally irresistible solution. Open every day until 10pm, no trip to Bologna should be considered complete without an afternoon or evening whiled away picnicking at one of its long tables, supping from the bar and soaking up some very Bolognese joie de vivre.

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