Great restaurants in Italy

Jan 27th, 2015, 09:50 AM
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Great restaurants in Italy

Doing some research for a friend's honeymoon -- I haven't been to certain parts of Italy in a while.

What are some favorite restaurants? Non-touristy, good homemade food. Maybe a little fancy, maybe not.
When I was there a few yrs ago we ate at some magnificant places, but of course idiot that I am i forgot to write them down.
jojoblais is offline  
Jan 27th, 2015, 10:00 AM
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Where are they going?
yorkshire is offline  
Jan 27th, 2015, 10:56 AM
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They're not entirely sure yet. Probably Venice, Rome, Florence,
Siena, maybe Verona, maybe Cinque Terre, Amalfi coast (probably Positano), maybe Sicily

So -- suggestions from anywhere are welcome.
jojoblais is offline  
Jan 27th, 2015, 11:00 AM
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There are several thousand---do you want them all?
bobthenavigator is offline  
Jan 27th, 2015, 11:05 AM
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I will share a few of my favorite resources:
(also has a guide to Rome)
The food bloggers Katie Parla and Elizabeth Minchilli both have great apps.
yorkshire is offline  
Jan 27th, 2015, 11:06 AM
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I was kind of hoping for some personal faves.
jojoblais is offline  
Jan 27th, 2015, 11:08 AM
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It's kind of like asking whether we can recommend some good restaurants in the USA. After your friends have decided where in Italy they want to go, you can get much better information by giving us their itinerary.
bvlenci is offline  
Jan 27th, 2015, 11:08 AM
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Perhaps it would be better to ask once they have narrowed down their exact itinerary. A lot of us like talking about food, but this is a bit like throwing darts.
yorkshire is offline  
Jan 27th, 2015, 11:12 AM
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If your friends are going to Florence, they should stop at Note di Vino! It's a great tiny wine shop with awesome little meals (mostly snacks, but you can get so full from those plates!).

And then a truffle meal at the local market is unbeatable.. although I'm not sure if it's relevant for a honeymoon.

I wrote about the two places here:
TravelGeekery is offline  
Jan 27th, 2015, 11:27 AM
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When are they going? It is just as important as where. Also, what do they like to eat?

The best Italian cooking is seasonal and local, and it varies profoundly from place to place. You are not going to find decent truffles in summertime, and you will have a very hard time finding great homemade pasta in either Florence or Venice. The home cooks on those places don't tradintionally make it.. The local cooking favors rice, polenta or soups instead of pasta.

Your friends will eat best not by being steered to restaurant addresses but by understaning the food traditions of where they are going, for the time of year they are going. It is not a great idea to eat tomatoes or eggplant in March in Venice, or meat and truffle dishes in le Cinque Terre in July (or any time of year).
sandralist is offline  
Jan 27th, 2015, 02:26 PM
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OK, peo, they aren't super-foodies. They will be going either in May or late Aug/Sept. They like both pasta & rice, polenta, veggies. He's a big meat eater, she isn't. They can easily read up on local food traditions. What I was hoping for were peo's personal favorites - not just perfect food but great ambiance, great peo, a particular specialty, a place where they make you feel at home, etc.
jojoblais is offline  
Jan 27th, 2015, 02:40 PM
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What you say you are looking for exists in every city and destination in Italy, so if they are not super-foodies, then all that is required is to know need to know where they decide to go. Once that is known, it is easy to make recommendations that fit your description.

If he is a big meat eater, he will find Venice, le Cinque Terre and the Amalfi coast a challenge because meat is not the norm there and where you find it, then it is for tourists, and it is not necessarily cooked well at all.

If she is not a big meat eater, she will find Tuscany and Verona a challenge, because meat is the norm in these places.

In the areas you have named, with the possible exception of le Cinque Terre, a traveler who likes vegetables needs to do some reading up on local food tratditions -- which you say they can easily do -- in order to figure out how to get interesting vegetable dishes in a restaurant, because although they are common in Italian home kitchens, restaurants seldom feature them.

Finally, once again, there are only a handful of tourist restaurants in Italy that have a "specialty" they serve year round. Everybody else has a "specialty" of the day, based on what was best in the market that day.

Seriously, if they are not super foodies, and are not going to be planning their trip around destination eating, there is no point in having a list of social media generated "great" restaurants that may not be near where they will actually be for lunch and dinner -- and in places like Positano or even Rome, a traveler most wants to know where is the nearest best restaurant, not a great restaurant they need to spend a lot of time and legwork getting to for lunch or reserving ahead of time.
sandralist is offline  
Jan 28th, 2015, 04:30 AM
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Antica Bottega del Vino in Verona - lovely place and I would travel all the way there tomorrow if I could just for their risotto with Amarone
littlejane is offline  
Jan 28th, 2015, 04:37 AM
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I don't kow where you live but they have a sister restaurant in New York.
sandralist is offline  
Jan 28th, 2015, 05:20 AM
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Seems like they need to sign up for Fodor's and ask this question and fill in the blanks.
Bitter is offline  
Jan 28th, 2015, 07:34 AM
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La Rucola in Sirmione on Lake Garda
Rubicund is offline  
Jan 28th, 2015, 08:36 AM
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Well, I'm not a big foodie either. But I know the difference bet the very generic meal we had someplace in Rome & the amazing lunch we had in Taormina.

Taormina was a happy accident, just like Rome & Venice (the restaurants, I mean) were disappointing ones. If I were smart I would have notated them. duh.
jojoblais is offline  
Jan 28th, 2015, 08:57 AM
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You are a good friend to want to do this, but it isn't easy for a number of reasons.

I agree with Sandralist again because she is spot on. Vegetables, for example, almost never come as part of a main course but appear as "contorni" elsewhere on the menu as in steakhouses at home.

But that said, I will give you a recommendation of the kind of place I think you are looking for.

In Verona, Osteria Giulietta e Romeo. Small, near the central square but not on it, warm decor, warm reception from staff, informal so you won't feel out of place as a tourist, full of locals but staff can handle tourist Italian and have some English. Well known for local cuisine.

But their specialties are donkey and horse meat. The donkey stew may be the best your friends ever eat, but do they want to eat donkey stew? See the problem? I had better donkey stew in a little hole-in-the-wall on the other side of the river, but no English spoken at all, and I probably couldn't find it again anyway.

One of the problems is that our expectations of Italian food are often set by immigrants from Southern Italy or Sicily. The rest of Italy doesn't much eat big plates of pasta with tomato sauce any more than most Americans eat bowls of collards with cornbread. The classic pasta in Rome is spaghetti cacio e pepe, spaghetti with butter, grated cheese, and pepper. No sauce. My favorite Roman foods are deep fried baby artichokes and deep fried salt cod. Would your friends like that?

That's why it is important to know where they are going because food is so different in different places. You don't have to spend a lot of money; the two best meals I have eaten in the Veneto were at Da Fiore (€€€) in Venice and in a truck stop between Ferrara and Venice.

But you have to have the right expectations.
Ackislander is offline  
Jan 28th, 2015, 09:21 AM
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In Siena, my favs were Antica Osteria da Divo and La Taverna di San Giuseppe.

In Rome, Colline Emiliane and Tullio

In Florence, Leo's in S. Croce and Cinghale Bianco
joannyc is online now  
Jan 28th, 2015, 09:30 AM
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You got the responses you did because you didn't specify where the people are going, whether it is Rome or Taormina. Had you asked for recommendations for people's favorite restaurants in Rome or Taormina you would have gotten dozens of names of restaurants. But only a handful of people are going to bother to play this guessing game of where your friends might be sometime in the future and feel like eating.

Also, as you yourself pointed out, your amazing lunch in Italy was "a happy accident." There can be lots of explanations for that which don't have anything to do with that restaurant being a better restaurant than the ones you ate in Rome or Venice. It is highly plausible that you went to the best restaurants in Venice and Rome and ordered food out of season, food that isn't typical of the region, or that you don't like Venetian or Roman cuisine period (I don't like Thai or American bar-bq, no matter how well it is cooked. I would gag on horse meat or donkey meat. Never tried it).

So you are deriding people for trying to teach you something that would spare your friends the disappointments you experienced. Presumably you chose restaurants in Rome and Venice on the basis of recommendations. People here are trying to explain to you that a recommendation is worthless in Italy if you don't understand Italian food going in.
sandralist is offline  

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