If we told you that tortellini with cream was invented by a cook in his own restaurant, you would have trouble believing it because this dish is part of tradition … it has always existed.
And yet the famous and even reviled tortellini with cream has a creator, one by the name of Cesarina Masi from Bologna.
The invention of tortellini with cream
La Cesarina, a required stop for all lovers of good food
For many years after the Second World War, Cesarina was a very popular person in Bologna.
The restaurant that bore her name, on Via Santo Stefano next to the church of the same name, was a required stop for all lovers of good food.
Cesarina started her activity in Bologna in the 1940s, managing a tavern with her mother Artemisia on Via degli Albari, right in the historical centre.
She was a powerful woman with such a strong personality that she personally threw bothersome customers or those who had drunk too much out of the place.
After the second world war
The move to Via de’ Fusari
At the end of the war, the two women moved their business to Via de’ Fusari and finally, in 1947, to its current location on Via Santo Stefano, which was baptised with the name of its owner, Cesarina, establishing her fame as a great cook and a true city figure on par with Mayor Dozza.
Cesarina’s most famous dish, tortellini with cream, had already been created. It was first prepared in 1940 and had become one of the most famous dishes after the war.
Cesarina, in the prime of her life, was a very beautiful woman but with a stern, scowling face, ready to defend herself against anyone who questioned the authorship of the restaurant’s most famous dish.
She wandered among the tables and dominated the room, which was long and narrow at the beginning and led into two other rooms with tables that were always full, both at lunch and at dinner.
Tortellini in broth, with cream, with truffle in autumn, tortelloni, lasagne, tagliolini, and passatelli, together with turkey cutlet alla Cesarina were some of the dishes that made the cuisine of Via Santo Stefano famous.
The restaurant seemed destined for success, and not only that. It was successful for years and years in Via Santo Stefano, where, just a hundred metres away, almost under the Two Towers, the doors opened to what would become another monument of Bolognese cuisine, the Pappagallo restaurant.
Il trasferimento a Roma
Fellini e la "dolce vita"
Her daughter’s marriage and move to Rome led the cook to close the restaurant in Bologna and open one in the capital, more precisely at Via Sicilia 209 near Via Veneto, the street that had recently featured in Federico Fellini’s film ‘La Dolce Vita’.
Fellini himself and the world of cinema were among her first clients, followed by politicians.
‘I am the queen of first courses,’ said Cesarina, and first courses, both dry and liquid, were the highlight of the restaurant in Rome, with tortellini with cream at the top of the list and a fried custard at the end that everyone ordered.
It was another Rome, another world, another Italian cuisine, and Cesarina Masi was its standard bearer for several decades.
The traditional restaurant in a unique location in Bologna
Da Cesarina is situated amid a characteristic view of the historical centre of Bologna.
Commonly considered a square, it is actually a widening on Via Santo Stefano that leads to the complex of the same name, also known as the ‘Seven Churches’.
Dominated by the Basilica of Santo Stefano, the square is surrounded by the porticoes of noble Gothic and Renaissance palaces.
Take a seat in our restaurant and fully immerse yourself in the informal atmosphere of the city, savouring the traditional dishes that have made Bologna a capital of taste.
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