Appetizers from Emilia Romagna

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As a well-known proverb of Latin tradition goes "well begun is half done”: in Emilia-Romagna, this saying takes on a special meaning when one sits at a restaurant table.
The regional cuisine offers a rich variety of dishes to accompany aperitifs but also to precede the classic first and second courses.

At the top of the ranking, of course, there are traditional products - especially cured meats and cheeses - protected by DOP and IGP labels.

As a matter of fact, the region is renowned for its wide variety of cured meats and cheeses, such as Culatello di Zibello, Prosciutto di Parma, Mortadella di Bologna, Coppa Piacentina, Salame di Felino, but also Pecorino from the Reggio Apennines, Raviggiolo and Squacquerone di Romagna, Robiola, Formaggio di fossa from Sogliano and Talamello and so on.

Quick and easy to serve on the table but sure to impress, these products are usually accompanied by piadina, crescentine, gnocchi fritti and borlenghi.

Beyond these exceptional products, however, there are also many recipes that can turn the initial phase of lunch and dinner into unforgettable  moments.

Here are some examples.

Farini potato cake

This potato cake is a typical dish of the peasant tradition of the Piacenza area, born from the need to use potatoes which had somehow been ruined during the harvesting phase.

Its tasty and savory filling is obtained by combining the potatoes with sautéed lard, butter, onions and grated cheese, and it is then used to fill an oven-baked pastry, prepared with water, butter and flour.

Among the different existing versions, that of the municipality of Farini, in the upper Val Nure, has obtained the De.Co. recognition, that is a municipal denomination of origin.

Pistà ad gràss (Beaten lard)

Pistà ad gràss is a another product of the peasant tradition. The preparation is simple and consists in beating the pork lard with a large kitchen knife until a homogeneous paste is obtained, to which parsley and garlic are added.
It can be served in many ways, both as a filling for crescentine and as an aperitif with warmed croutons (such as bruschetta).


If you were to ask someone who lives in Reggio Emilia what chizze are, you would surely receive an enthusiastic answer. Derived from a traditional recipe, chizze look like savory pancakes (prepared with the same dough used for gnocco fritto), folded into a tortello shape and filled with flakes of Parmigiano Reggiano.

They are fried in abundant lard or boiling oil and usually served hot, but they can also be enjoyed cold. There is also a lighter version, made with puff pastry, which can be found in the bars and bakeries of the city.

Erbazzone of Reggio Emilia

Erbazzone is a typical product of the province of Reggio Emilia: prepared with simple ingredients, its recipe has remained unchanged over time.

It is a savory pie stuffed with a very tasty filling (spinach, onion, garlic, breadcrumbs and plenty of Parmigiano Reggiano) and topped with bits of lard before baking.


Born from the need to preserve vegetables for as long as possible, the Giardiniera is one of the typical preserves of the Emilian tradition, normally prepared using seasonal vegetables.

In the Parma area, the Giardiniera is often served as an appetizer before a meal or during typical aperitifs, enriching platters of cold cuts with its sweet and sour flavor.

Mortadella Foam

The mortadella foam is a typical preparation of Emilia Romagna, in particular of the Bologna area.

It is a mousse with a delicate flavor made with mortadella, ricotta, parmesan cheese and cream which can be served as an appetizer, spread on croutons, canapés and much more. 
Its original recipe was patented at the Bologna Chamber of Commerce in 2004 .

Sea snails

Sea snails are a delicacy of maritime culture. These shellfish, called lumachini, are typical of the Northern Adriatic Sea, and can also be found along the coasts of the Marche and Veneto regions. Due to how easy they are to come by, even in large quantities, they used to be served as a main dish with tasty sauces and croutons.

Nowadays, this dish can be found on the menus of restaurants along the coast, cooked as a stewed appetizer or served as a second course accompanied by polenta

Last update 11/01/2022

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