Bologna has its own pizza district, and it’s all around Via Oberdan

Yes, another post about pizza. Sorry guys, I meant to cut on the carbs parade but I’m just back from the presentation to the local press of brand new Pizzium restaurant on Via Oberdan, and realized that the concentration of old and new pizzerie on that area created what can easily be described as Bologna’s new (and first) pizza district. So, whenever you have a pizza craving, you know where to go.

Photo from Facebook

Let us begin from the latest addition to the area and original inspiration for this post. Pizzium, that has just landed in old dear Bologna, is already an institution in Milan, where it originated, with quite a number of restaurants in the city as well as in other towns in Lombardy and Piedemont. So yes, we are technically talking mini-chain here, but not, as founder and co-owner Nanni Arbellini points out, Pizzium is not a franchising and has the aim of promoting traditional neapolitan pizza (thin but soft, with a lovely, high “cornice” crust and impeccably selected tomato sauce and mozzarella) in Northern Italy.

Photo from Facebook

Arbellini is a young and enthusiast (with reason, since his business is blooming) pizzaiolo extraordinaire from Naples, who only lunched Pizzium three years ago. The idea behind is as basic and fulfilling as a perfect pizza margherita: great ingredients, long leavening times and a passion for home cooking tradition (Nanni’s mother is quoted as the one behind their meatballs’ recipe). In addition. Pizzium’s trademark is the creation of as many pizzas as the Italian regions, each one of them based on iconic ingredients from the territory. The funny thing is that Emilia Romagna’s pizza – quite delicious – has both the very bolognese mortadella and stracciatella cheese, notably from Apulia: this is actually not a mistake, since Bologna is sort of an apulian colony, with apulian students floating each year to the University, many of them remaining here for life and gracing The Red with their lovely food. But I digress, as usual. At Pizzium I had pizza for lunch, which is something I usually try to avoid, but felt light and happy, and definitely enjoyed eating it. So yes, I’d recommend it. Pizzium is on Via Oberdan 30.

Pizzaiolo at work chez Da Michele. Photo from Facebook

But there’s another notable neapolitan round the corner, and we are talking a real institution: Da Michele, one of the iconic Big Names from Neaples, opened its bolognese branch on Piazza San Martino a few months ago, taking Bologna pizza lovers by storm. The original Da Michele was launched in 1930 in the neapolitan district of Forcella, on via Sersale, where the restaurant is still active and considered by many (along with other names such as Sorbillo and Starita) the place for real pizza, ,but this family of pizzaioli was already active in the pizza art and craft for decades. So you can imagine how precious this bolognese addition is. As for the previous restaurant, we are talking authentic, traditional neapolitan pizza here, something not really common in Bologna. So if you’re more inclined to the crunchier, drier type of mainstream, “blandly italian” pizza, perhaps this is not the place for you. Da Michele is on Piazza San Martino 3/b.

Photo from Facebook

Should you find it too busy at Da Michele or want to support a long time resident that has been suddenly startled by the arrival of quite an aggressive neighbour, you don’t need to leave Piazza San Martino: on the same square there’s Nicola’s, a classic “pizzeria and ristorante” where you can have both neapolitan and “italian” pizza, as well as traditional meals from Campania. This restaurant has been there for ages, I remember eating pizza there when I was still at university, and I really can’t say anything negative about it, both because I know the lovely pizzaiolo and because reviews keep praising both the food and personnel. So I hope that Nicola’s will resist the arrival of new competitors round the corner. Nicola’s is on Piazza San Martino 9.

Photo from Facebook

Again on Via Oberdan, but literally in front of Piazza San Martino, there’s another pizzeria I don’t have much information on and haven’t tasted yet, so I can only rely on web reviews (please appreciate the honesty). Zia Margherita promises, one more time, to offer the real neapolitan pizza experience to bolognese papillas. With another branch on Via Malcontenti, Zia Margherita belongs to the little Regina Margherita group, that has a handful of other neapolitan pizzerie around Emilia Romagna and is supposedly about to open a new restaurant on no less than Miami, Us. The reviews on Tripadvisor and Facebook seem more than promising, and “pizza fritta” (fried pizza, a street food delicacy from Naples that I haven’t have the chance to try yet and crave for) is mentioned more than once: one more reason to go and judge for myself. Zia Margherita is on Via Oberdan 24/2

So I guess you noticed that, if you’re looking for a neapolitan corner in town, you should look no further than the Oberdan/San Martino little area. At least as far as traditional pizza is concerned. Shame I cannot mention any similar area for enjoying neapolitan pastry-making: Bologna has a sad, structural lack of neapolitan bakeries and patisseries that urgently needs to be put remedy to. In the meantime, let’s console ourselves with pizza margherita.

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