Tourists with a taste for gourmet Italian food have always flocked to Emilia-Romagna, particularly to Bologna, with its signature meat sauce and cured meats, and Parma, famed for its ham and cheese. However, Rimini, in the south of Emilia-Romagna, has its own distinctive foods which will satisfy the most discerning palate. It is surprisingly easy to eat well in Rimini and the surrounding area.
Local Specialities of Rimini
Wherever you go you will find piadine. These are the flat circles of bread made from flour, water and lard that accompany every meal. They also appear in breakfast buffets and as part of a mixed starter, often rolled around a filling and sliced (a bit like a swiss roll). There are many specialist cafés (piadinerie) which serve piadine folded into four and wrapped around a variety of fillings (one café in nearby San Marino advertises 42 different fillings!).
There are many notable cheeses, including Fossa, which is matured for three months in sandstone ditches. Fossa is traditionally linked with the mediaeval village of Talamello where the ditches are opened each year in November, but it is now also produced elsewhere in the region. Other local cheeses include Pecorino (sometimes wrapped in walnut leaves) and soft cheeses such as Squacquerone and Raviggiolo.
Cakes and pastries feature on every menu. The breakfast at our hotel (the excellent Card International) included fruit cakes, tarts and chocolate cake and a range of savoury pastries as well as more traditional fare, and there are many cake shops to be found in the centre of Rimini.
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Look out too for dried meats and fresh fish, the local red wine (Sangiovese) and strozzapreti (the region’s own pasta, whose name literally means ‘priest choker’). Other local produce includes mushrooms, truffles, honey and chestnuts.
Restaurants in Rimini
Restaurants in Rimini tend to specialise in meat or fish. Vegetarians should choose the “meat” restaurants which usually include cheese and pasta dishes on their menus (the fish restaurants only serve fish).
There are a number of good restaurants in the old town and in the Fisherman’s Quarter (across the ancient Ponte di Tiberio). At the Tiresia (just outside the old town near the Arco d’Agosto) we sat in the flowered garden and watched the chef coming outside at intervals to gather fresh herbs. We started with olives and piadine, local cheese with honey, and parma ham. This was followed with roast rabbit and tortalloni. Our coffee was accompanied by complimentary cakes and liqueurs, including a particularly delicious liquorice concoction.
Another good find was the Osteria de Borg, tucked away in the Fisherman’s Quarter. Here the mixed cheeses came with an unusual selection of jams and the mixed meat starter was a feast in itself, including cured meats, melon and piadina wraps. We followed this with melanzane parmigiana and guinea fowl and, again, we were presented with complimentary cake and liqueur. This time the liqueur (quite possibly home produced) was of fennel. But, be warned, these are not meals for the calorie conscious, or for those with small appetites!
Visiting the Rimini Food Market
The covered market is an excellent place to find fresh local food. It is open all day but it is best to arrive early in the morning as many stallholders have packed up for the day by lunchtime.
As befits a seaside city there is a whole section of the market devoted to fish, including great piles of mussels and clams in their shells. Next door is the fruit and vegetable market with fresh figs and giant melons as well as all manner of Mediterranean vegetables. Around the edge are stalls selling local cheeses and dried meats, as well as bread and pastries.
If you look behind the stalls you can see people at work, baking cakes or carving ham. By the door are a number of small cafés where you can stop for coffee and a piadina while watching the locals doing their morning shop. And across the road from the market is a traditional Italian salumeria and grocery shop, the perfect place if you are looking for cheese or meats to take home.
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