Ristorante Iacobucci elevates the fine-dining scene in Bologna with a modern cuisine that looks to the past
After years of culinary exploration and experimentation, Agostino Iacobucci opened his debut restaurant at Villa Zarri in Bologna. The Italian chef discovered the joys of cooking from an early age at his aunt’s restaurant and has honed his craft since then, gaining a Michelin star in 2010 as head chef at La Cantinella in Naples, and then consolidating his reputation with another in Bologna, I Portici.
With his new venture, Iacobucci brings a refined cuisine that the capital of Emilia Romagna is missing, a cuisine that diners usually need to find in cities nearby – particularly Modena. His style and ambition are those of international chefs, such as his friends Mauro Colagreco and Virgilio Martinez.
The restaurant is located within an elegant villa in Castel Maggiore, on the outskirts of the city. The decor is elegant and refined, featuring a spacious dining room complete with beautiful ceiling frescoes, large tables and fine white tablecloths. This grand room seats 40, and with only nine tables, offers a cosy yet pampering fine-dining experience, with both a tasting menu and a la carte options. The villa itself is famous for its brandy distillery, so expect the quality to reach beyond the dishes and wine list.
When it comes to food, the concept is modern cuisine that looks to the past, which shines through in creations such as Napoli Meets Emilia – where the chef plays on the two regions’ shared passion for ragù, combining a Neapolitan ragù within an Emilian tortello pasta, layed on delicious Parmesan fondue. With every plate Iacobucci offers intelligent pairings, great produce and advanced techniques: the chef honed his skills and overall approach at Mirazur with Colagreco, and come to understand the value of respecting the produce, treating it carefully so as not to lose any of the taste. From Mirazur, he also brought a kitchen culture in which every member of the team is treated like family.
Iacobucci’s cuisine is also inspired by Spanish chefs: while style-wise it can be reminiscent of Basque legend Pedro Subijana, the Neapolitan chef spent time learning cutting-edge techniques at Quique Dacosta.
We loved the squid and potato dumplings – served in a show-stopping clear seafood broth – as well as the pigeon with quinoa and turnips: visually impeccable and cooked as little as possible to fully appreciate the taste of the meat. These came after a six-piece starter, with little snacks ranging from raw prawns to seared tuna and a puffy meringue with yuzu powder topped with an anchovy fillet.
One of the restaurant’s signature dishes is the enchanting babà, a dessert which is considered easy to prepare but which took the chef years to make so light an airy, without being overly soaked with rum. From the starter to the puddings, wine pairings are looked after by a promising sommelier, Iacopo Gerussi; the young talent actually takes the time to go out and meet producers in order to understand what they do, which he brilliantly communicates to the customers.
For those wanting a mixture of comfort and class, tradition and innovation – all within the most striking of settings – Ristorante Iacobucci should be firmly on your radar.
Filippo L’Astorina and Rosamund Kelby
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina
To book a table at Ristorante Iacobucci, Via Ronco 1 40013 Castel Maggiore (BO) Italy, call +39 051 4599887 or visit their website here.