Great "hiddn" restaurants

Old Mar 16th, 2006, 02:09 PM
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Great "hiddn" restaurants

I am looking for suggestions for great restaurants you may have discovered in Rome, Venice and Florence, Amalfi and Positano. I'd like to hear about the type of restaurants that you think had great food at reasonable prices in unusual or special settings. Something that you feel was non-touristy and a great find.
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Old Mar 16th, 2006, 02:15 PM
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There is a tunnel that goes through the hillside between Amalfi and Atrani, and hanging on the cliff *outside* that tunnel is a tiny unpretentious restaurant called Da Zaccaria and it has very good food. I also had a very good meal right in Atrani, whose name I don't remember (it seems to me it had the word "dreams" in it.) Sorry!

I don't think this is "hidden," but if you are in the neighborhood of Santa Maria Novello in Firenze, I ate more than once at Uva Fragola, a very unpretentious pizzeria that had good pastas as well. I suppose what makes it unusual is that the owners are Chinese-Italiians.


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Old Mar 16th, 2006, 02:26 PM
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Hi B,

You might wish to look up <Restaurants and "city name"> in the "search this forum" box.

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Old Mar 16th, 2006, 02:46 PM
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Venice is not exactly the place for "hidden" restaurants, as the general kitchen level is comparatively poor (i.e., compared to the mainland, just across the bridge from Venice - even in grim Mestre, you can eat by far better than in the historic city), and almost everything has already been discovered at least by SOME American, German or Japanese guidebook - that's true even for the few really good restaurants of Venice.
Maybe the only really unspoiled and still "hidden" place (and certainly REALLY hidden in the sense of its location far, far away from everywhere you will be going to visit in Venice) is Osteria al Bacco. Hearty, excellent food, comparatively low prices (remember, it's still Venice), and atmospherically a place of gorgeous simplicity and, yes I dare saying, authenticity. Believe it or not, they have NO website. The address is Cannaregio 3054 (Fondamenta delle Capucine).
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Old Mar 16th, 2006, 03:27 PM
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There is a great pizza place in Florence (if it's still there!) called I Tarrochi at Via de' Renai 12/14. That's a quick walk from Santa Croce on the other side of the river.

Also, maybe not so hidden anymore is Santo Spirito - Oltrarno (other side of the river) as well and less touristy, or used to be. Any restaurant in that piazza was good.

Hope this isn't TOO hopelessly outdated. I lived there ten years ago and can't believe it's been that long.
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Old Mar 16th, 2006, 03:29 PM
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You can find good food in Venice. They are there.

If you want a hidden gem, try Antica Besseta in Santa Croce district.

Salizada de Ca Zusto


Another hidden gem is Sempione, somewhere behind St. Mark's Square on the way towards the Rialto Bridge. We happened in there and found where all the gondeliers go to eat as 8 of them were in there. So good, we went back the next day for lunch.
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Old Mar 16th, 2006, 04:36 PM
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Venice- La Corte Sconta.

Just get the set dinner and go to town! The food is amazing, but it is almost all fish (except for some gnocchi that tastes like sauteed clouds!)
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Old Mar 16th, 2006, 05:46 PM
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I guess we lucked out in Venice...we just wandered around and ate at a pastry shop, a pizza stand and a gelato stand, and had GREAT food. (and not overpriced) The sandwich shop was just average...but way better than the pizza and pasta near the Vatican!
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Old Mar 16th, 2006, 05:50 PM
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Franco,

Do you know Do Farai in the Dorsoduro?
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Old Mar 16th, 2006, 05:59 PM
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I thought the food in Venice was great, although very pricey. One place I would have mentioned a few years ago is Anzolo Raffaele but I read on this boaard that even that fairly out-of-the-way place is packed with tourists. But taking a page from Franco, I think the short trip to Mestre might yield some good spots for you. I will certainly check it out next trip. In Florence I liked Il Guscio. I am not sure if you would call the place unusual, though. Just very good food in a pretty place where I did not see any other tourists in January. You can read the detailed, perhaps far too detailed, report on what I ate in Florence if you click on my name and find my report from January.
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Old Mar 16th, 2006, 06:36 PM
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In Rome

Il Ciak
Vicolo del Cinque 21
Trastevere
00153 Rome
06.589.4774

Opens at 8:30 pm for dinner only. You must have a reservation. No one speaks English. Best veal chops in the world. Lots of game, open fire grill right in the dining room. The real deal.
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Old Mar 16th, 2006, 06:50 PM
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We had very good meals in Venice by just walking away from the most tourist intense parts of the city. We did the same in Rome.

Quality improved and prices dropped. Get away from the Grand Canal, P. San Marco, the Rialto area and there are nice places to dine.

That's not to say that there aren't some good restaurants in the tourist areas, but they are unfortunately outnumbered by the mediocre and worse.

The last time we were there we walked way out along the Canale di Cannereggio around 8 p.m. Once we got away from the Lista di Spagna a bit, there were very few people around. We just kept walking along, and just as we about decided to turn back, we saw a pool of light ahead.

When we got there we found a small restaurant with outdoor seating as well as indoor. To make a long story short, other than the Flys, the rest of the customers were Venetians or Italian tourists--unless there were a lot of visitors from other countries who had taken a lot of Italian lessons.

The menu was Venetian--no spaghetti and meatballs at all. And it was excellent.

We've had similar expriences over the years in Dorsoduro and Castello. And as I mentioned above, in Rome.

No, we didn't write down names--I apologize. But we'll make a point of it on our next visit.
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Old Mar 16th, 2006, 07:18 PM
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One of the difficulties I have in recommending Venetian restaurants is that I don't always care for the food of the Veneto -- and, no, I'm not addicted to "spaghetti and meatballs" (which, by the way, I have never seen on an Italian menu anywhere in italy; meatballs are usually served without pasta).

I often enjoy risotto in Milan and the hearty stews of Piemonte. But the Veneto -- which is heavy on polenta, eels, liver, cuttlefish (and its ink) --is just not my favorite cuisine.

And to make matters worse, I actually do like liver, and have never been served a preparation of it in the Veneto that I liked.

My favorite dish of the Veneto is a whole wheat pasta with an anchovy sauce, and in Verona and elsewhere in the Veneto, duck is often prepared well.
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Old Mar 16th, 2006, 09:47 PM
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In Venice, try to the Ostaria Ale do Marie on Calle de L'Ogia. We loved the food and service and the only other tourists there were from Rome.

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Old Mar 16th, 2006, 10:05 PM
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With all these hidden gems coming up, we will be obliged to conclude that Venice is a worldclass place to eat...
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Old Mar 16th, 2006, 10:08 PM
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To add a little more praise to the Corte Sconta: My boss recommended it to me. According to her, it was the only restaurant that has ever really stuck out to her in Venice. So, we went.

Along with La Giostra in Florence (high end and a lot of pomp) and Bella Napoli in Verona (a local pizza place where you eat with your hands), it was my best Italy dining experience. I cannot recommend it enough. To the point where, if I knew you, I would take you by the hand, walk you to the door, and get you a table.
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Old Mar 17th, 2006, 03:57 AM
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baldrick--better to say, it CAN be a world class place to eat. One of the curses of Venice is the way the city is laid out and how the best known sights are situated in that layout.

As a result, the bulk of the daytripping hordes are funnelled along a relatively narrow strip of the city along the Grand Canal. Most of these folks don't have time to be picky about food, souvenir shops, etc.--so there's an inordinate number/ratio of less than stellar restaurants along this "Daytrippers' Alley" and nearby areas.

So finding the good places takes a bit of effort, but Venice does have them.

In addition, as nessundorma points out, many people don't care for the native dishes of this part of Italy, which are very different from the rest of the country's various cuisines.

We do like the cuisine of Venice--but both Mrs. Fly and I have been fortunate enough to be exposed to a wide variety of cuisines almost since birth, so we're pretty open to new flavors and ingredients. (Not to say there aren't limits and there aren't dishes one or the other of us doesn't like--I still can't hack the "aged" skate and "rotten" kimchi dish from southeastern Korea. No one is going to like every world cuisine.)

I do use spaghetti and meatballs as an example because that's what many non-Italians think of as the quintessential Italian dish--even though it isn't.

I also sometimes use the Chef Boyardee analogy--and then for some reason some people think that I seriously believe that Chef Boyardee canned spaghetti and meatballs are real Italian food. Let's think tongue-in-cheek, irony, exaggeration, metaphors satire, absurdism, etc. All acceptable forms of humor and making a point.
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Old Mar 17th, 2006, 04:23 AM
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Rufus,

My father worked as a publicist for 14 different restaurants when I was a kid, and I grew up eating Chinese food, several different kinds of Italian food, Kosher food, Turkish food, Indonesian food, French food, etc. etc.

It's not that you've got superior tastebuds or are more cultured than other people. It's that Venice doesn't have, per square foot, as many good restaurants as the average no-name Italian town.

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Old Mar 17th, 2006, 04:33 AM
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PS: People have experienced just as many bad meals in Canareggio, Castello and Burano, etc. as they have in San Marco. As Franco said before, you're luck will probably better heading off to Mestre if you want "great food at reasonable prices" -- although I would argue that high prices are no guarantee of a great meal in Venezia either.

About all you can do is gather up the restaurant reviews and hope whoever wrote them isn't jazzed on Venice they'll defend anything about it.
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Old Mar 17th, 2006, 04:38 AM
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ness-I didn't say I have superior tastebuds, and I wasn't referring to you personally, but there are people who have not been exposed to a variety of foods in their lifetimes, and it is often difficult for them to adjust to something different. Just because some people like a wider variety of foods than others doesn't mean their tastes are superior, only that they are broader.

And the cuisine of Venice is different for most people. So there will be a higher percent of folks who won't take to it as compared to the food in other regions of Italy.

I guess you missed the part where I said that not everyone is going to like every style of food in the world. And that includes both people who have had very limited food experiences and people who have had broader food experiences.

And the part where I said that the parts of Venice where most people end up do have a high proportion of not so great restaurants.

And the part where I agreed with you that many people won't put the particular cuisine of Venice at the top of their favorites list.

And the part where I said it takes more effort to find good restaurants in Venice than in other parts of Italy.
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