Osteria Marsalino – everyone needs their own space

I chose the restaurant business at age 22 when I opened my first pub. I took over a small herbal tea shop and with the help of my staff, we transformed it into a place where people could eat, drink, and get together with friends. Even today, it is highly appreciated locally: Osteria Marsalino.
I concentrating the kitchen’s offering on genuine local cuisine as it was historically served in the Bolognese osterie (pubs), with old style crostoni rustici, traditional pasta dishes like pasta alla gricia, spaghettoni with fresh tomoto sauce, and the famous emiliano romagnoli local dishes like lasagne, tagliatelle and tortellini.

In 2000 I decided to add a new service to the classic proposal of Bolognese osterie:  I set aside the late afternoon and early evening (from 5:30 to 9:00pm) to a sort of happy hour or “aperitivo”. At the time it was not a well established habit as it is now. The idea of having before-dinner drinks (or fare l’aperitivo) was limited to a drink with some potato chips or peanuts and we were the first in the city to offer a complete buffet with fried foods, breads, and various finger foods in a simple and traditional style. Today, 16 years later Bologna, like Milan before it, has become a capital of the aperitivo buffet. Marsalino is still a historical establishment: everyone knows it is the place for traditional aperitivo.

I still wanted to incorporate my experience in the entertainment business into my activities , so I decided to begin organizing standup comedy shows on Thursday nights after dinner, giving an opportunity to young emerging comedians to break their chops in an intimate venue. Even experienced comedians came to try out new routines and characters on our small audience. This made the osteria even more unique, and the shows went on for ten years and involved more than 100 comedians, who used the space to develop their performance talents. Such unusual entertainment in such an unusual venue caught the attention of the press who mentioned us and wrote about us on many occasions. A culminating moment was when the journalist Stefano Curone included Marsalino in his special on Comedy Clubs included us among the seven top comedy clubs in Italy. I’ve included two videos here to better describe the activity and show how special the space was for this kind of entertainment.

To this day, Marsalino is active and every time I walk past it on Via Marsala, my heart skips a beat remembering those happy times 🙂

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