Food & Drink Magazine

Places i Love – the Caffè Del Collegio

By Reasonstodress

For todays’ Thursday’s Things I really wanted to talk about one of my favorite places in Modena, the Caffè del Collegio, a bar located in the city centre in close proximity to the Piazza.


In a lot of my photos you’ll see bits and pieces of Caffè del Collegio, we go there on Saturdays, and this picture from Christmas, and I went there on New Year’s Eve when my Canadian/Roman friends were visiting.  What I’m trying to say is, that I will never get tired of this place, it is small, it is beautiful and the gnocco fritto and semi-sweet mini panini with mortadella are amazing. Caffè del Collegio Modena Caffè del Collegio Modena Caffè del Collegio Modena Caffè del Collegio Modena Caffè del Collegio Modena Caffè del Collegio Modena Caffè del Collegio Modena Caffè del Collegio Modena

DSC00249 Caffè del Collegio Modena Caffè del Collegio Modena


 Gnocco Fritto

You’ve probably never heard of gnocco fritto…unless you’ve live in the “Emilia” half of the Emilia Romagna Italian province. Or you’ve visited with a very considered local showing you around!

Gnocco fritto is as traditional for people from Modena (“Modenese”) as parmigiano reggiano cheese or traditional balsamic vinegar (I’ve written a bit about balsamic vinegar here).

Gnocco Fritto is a savory fried dough that Modenese eat at breakfast dipped in their cappuccino, and at lunch and  paired with deli meats like prosciutto crudo and mortadella. Caffè del Collegio Modena Gnocco Fritto

If you are a vegetarian this is NOT the food for you, since in Modena the “impasto” (dough mixture) contains “strutto” (pig lard) AND it is fried in strutto as well….so yeah not for vegetarians OR people on a diet.


Italy is very segregated when it comes to food, with every town creating their own version of the same dish, so in Bologna the recipe changes and doesn’t contain pig lard but I’m not sure what’s it’s fried in though.


Now I’m not much for gnocco fritto myself, but my son LOVES IT.  He is so much like his dad it is crazy. This kid is the pickiest eater, put a gnocco fritto infront of him and just watch it disappear. gnocco fritto


Gnocco Fritto has a flaky, buttery, crispy crunchy melty taste that is actually pretty irresistible if you’re into that kind of thing.


The reason I’m talking about gnocco fritto is because the Caffè del Collegio (i.m.h.o.) is easily in the Top 4 of Best Gnocco in Modena.   The other three places being La Barracchina, L’insolito Bar and the Pasticceria Dondi.

Another thing to remember is that in Italy every local area has a different name for the same thing!  For example “gnocco fritto” in Modena becomes:

“Torta Fritto” (fried cake) in Parma, “Pinzino” in Ferrara, “Crescentina Fritta” in Bologna and “Chisolino” in Piacenza. And these places aren’t exactly FAR from each other.  We’re not talking about places that are 5 hours away,  we’re talking about places that are half an hour away from each other, but I guess in an Italy with no roads and no cars they were pretty far.


I hope I’ve inspired you to try some the next time you are in Emilia! Gnocco Fritto


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