The Dish: Homemade tortelloni made at Osteria Philly from a centuries-old artform in Bologna, Italy

Alicia Vitarelli Image
Thursday, February 22, 2024
The Dish: Homemade tortelloni at Osteria, a centuries-old artform from Bologna
The ingredients are simple, but creating this Italian specialty from Bologna takes a certain precision that's been passed down for centuries.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Today, we're talking pasta.

A celebrated culinary family from Italy recently visited Philadelphia and cooked for diners at Osteria in the city's Spring Garden section.

Ahead of this big celebration, Mamma Anna Maria taught us how to make their family's famous tortelloni.

The ingredients are simple, but creating this Italian specialty from Bologna takes a certain precision that's been passed down for centuries.

"This is an art form in Bologna," says James Beard award-winning chef Jeff Michaud, the owner of Osteria. "It's been going on for hundreds and hundreds of years."

There is a size difference between the types.

"Tortelloni are big and tortellini are the little ones that you get in the broth," Michaud explains.

Michaud invited the storied culinary family behind La Bottega Del Macellaio, a butcher shop and restaurant in the hills of Bologna, to his restaurant on North Broad Street.

Anna Maria says the secret is the tradition.

"It comes from the grandparents, the grandmothers, using a rolling pin," Michaud translates.

The bigger the rolling pin, the better the tortelloni. There are no machines used and everything is done by hand.

"They stretch it out all by hand and create beautiful circles," Michaud explains.

The dough is also hand mixed and it's rich from whole eggs.

"This is 100% flour to 60% eggs," Michaud says.

There's no salt in the dough and no shortcuts.

"This is a labor of love," Anna Maria says.

She hand cuts the shapes and starts to fill.

"She uses three different types of ricotta cheese, salt, Parmesan cheese and parsley," Michaud says.

A dollop goes in the middle of each tortelloni and then it's time to wrap. Because this is fresh pasta, it gets a quick boil, so it's al dente.

"They like their extruded pasta very al dente," Michaud laughs. "My wife likes it to stick to her teeth."

Anna Maria tosses her tortelloni in an easy and light pomodoro sauce - and she does it her way.

"She likes sugar, so we do sugar," Michaud laughs, noting that they do not agree on this ingredient. "That's what they do in Sicily."

Toss the tortelloni in the sauce and plate gently so they don't break.

"On top, we're going to put a little bit of ricotta salata, which is ricotta that's been salted and aged," Michaud says.

Add a touch of basil and serve!

Mamma Anna Maria's Tortelloni Recipe from Bologna, Italy


Pasta Dough:

  • 4 whole eggs
  • 2 cups of flour


  • 1/2 cup Calabro ricotta
  • 1/2 cup Bufala milk ricotta
  • 1/2 cup Sheep's milk ricotta
  • 1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Pomodoro Sauce:

  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 5 fresh basil leaves, whole
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Ricotta Salata cheese (as needed)


1. Mix filling ingredients together and let rest overnight in the fridge

2. To make dough, mix flour and eggs together and knead by hand

3. Stretch dough and roll thin on floured surface with a large rolling pin

4. Hand cut squares from the dough

5. Spoon a dollop of filling into the center of each square and then wrap the pasta

6. To make sauce, heat the olive oil and chopped garlic in a pan until fragrant

7. Add in canned tomatoes, basil, sugar and salt and boil for 30-40 minutes

8. Boil the pasta quickly to keep it al dente

9. Toss tortelloni in pomodoro sauce

10. Plate and top with some more fresh basil and grated ricotta salata cheese as needed


Chef Michaud's Culinary Adventures

Homemade tortelloni made at Osteria Philly from a centuries-old artform in Bologna, Italy

Back in October, Michaud brought his culinary tour group, La Via Gaia, to visit the family in Bologna.

"We took the dogs out for truffle hunting and then we went back into the kitchen and we did a pasta class with Mamma Anna Maria. Guido, the father, came out and we did a sausage making class. Then, we went downstairs and had a four-course dinner in the restaurant that was built in the 1500s," he says.

La Via Gaia takes people on delicious adventures in regions across Italy.

"We do about eight trips a year," Michaud says. "We take small groups, about 14 to 16 people."

One tour is especially personal for Jeff and his family.

"On one of our trips, we do Bergamo," he says. "We go to my mother-in-law's house and we cook with her on the side of a mountain."

Jeff first opened Osteria in 2007 with Marc Vetri and Jeff Benjamin.

"When we opened this, there really wasn't anybody doing this style of food or this style of cooking in Philly. No one was extruding pasta back then, or making their own salami."

In 2021, Michaud regained ownership of Osteria.

"I just wanted to bring that heart and soul of what I felt when I lived in Italy, back to this restaurant," he says.

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