Falling in love (with Pasta con le sarde) at Trattoria Da Maro

No, I’m not a food critic. And I wouldn’t call myself a “foodie”, but mostly because I hate trendy words. I do enjoy food though, a lot. And I am quite selective. And I love to keep my senses open. And to experience bliss in a bite.

So, despite not being a foodie or a food critic, I like to talk about food, restaurants and gastronomic experiences. The latest was last night at Trattoria Da Maro, a classic in Bologna. I used to go there in the glorious Nineties with my first boyfriend: it was famous for serving excellent fish and tasty cuisine from Southern Italy at a fair price, and we loved to feel adults at dinner while we were still students, with students’ money. Then it changed owners and chefs, I changed Country and boyfriend(s), two decades passed and I found myself coming back to live in Bologna, just upstairs Maro.

And like you do with things that are too close, I ignored it for quite a while. And looked up and down at the endless couples and groups of customers eating there every day (the place is still hugely popular, among locals and foreigners alike, and the prices are still affordable): «I used to go twenty years ago, so don’t you look so smug now» was more or less my though while I was marching towards something farther and more exotic.

Lately though I became occasionally lazy, reconsidered places that are nearby and so I went there once, twice, another time, and once again last night… And yes, I do, I do advice you to go as well.

(Forewords are my thing, in case you were wondering)

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I tried some of the few, carefully assembled items on the menu, almost entirely based of fish and seafood, and I can say with full conviction that what I like most, and strongly recommend, is the amazing Pasta con le sarde. A specialty of Sicialian cooking, pasta con le sarde mixes the vivacious flavor  of sardines with the rounder taste of pistachios, all topped by the fresh, elegant touch of wild fennel. And of course there’s the pasta, which at Da Maro is a home-made, bucatini-like, thick and robust noodle, richly topped with the above-mentioned sauce of sardines-pistachio-fennel, where the diversity of textures makes it taste even stronger and frankly delicious. A joy for the palate and quite a filling portion, too, so much so that having it after the entrée of marinated shrimps and sardines (really nice, flavored with mint with the addition of a sweet n’ spicy sauce on the side) made me feel so full that I couldn’t eat dessert. Shame, but I had tasted it – and it was delicious – the previous time, when I celebrated at Da Maro a “We didn’t break up after all!” special evening with current boyfriend. Hum… now that I think of it, my link with Da Maro is a constant story of love and passion. Which is what Italian food is made of, after all.

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