Places to eat Rome, Florence and Venice

Old Jun 17th, 2015, 11:34 AM
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Places to eat Rome, Florence and Venice

Please suggest good places to eat in Rome, Florence and Venice. I am making an itinerary and would like to add names to the same. We are traveling as a family in July (husband-wife and daughter - 8 years). We don't care about seafood much but love pizza and pasta. Looking for suggestions for lunch and dinner. Nothing fancy but something quick since there won't be that much time to sit and dine. Gelato place recommendations are also welcome. We love gelato The hotels we are staying at are all close to city attractions.

Thank you!
sajoshi is offline  
Old Jun 17th, 2015, 11:54 AM
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If you want to sit down and eat, it won't be speedy unless you stick to eating pizza (which is often only served in the evening in some places). Also, the dinner hour in Italy is after 7.30pm, and service is often slow. If you go to small sit-down restaurants, everyone is eating an antipasta at 7.30/8pm, then a pasta course follows, then the main course after that. Of course you can skip the first course, but the kitchen might not have the capacity to produce a pasta course until it is ready.

Finally, the places you are going have hundreds and hundreds of restaurants, and only a very small portion will be withing walking distance of your hotel for dinner, or for lunch during your sightseeing day.

If you let people know where you are staying in each city, they might be able to recommend the best of restaurants near there so you don't end up trying to half way across town just to eat a "recommended" place after a long day of sightseeing. For lunch, if you want something "quick", it is best to stick with panini (sandwiches) or market and bakery items for a picnic. In Italy, meals are not rushed.
sandralist is offline  
Old Jun 17th, 2015, 12:39 PM
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Those are big cities with thousands of restaurants. If you want something quick, you don't want our recommendations of restaurants that may be a mile from where you find yourself when hunger hits.

It's super easy to find restaurants that meet your requirements in all three cities. Venice tends to be on the expensive side, and I would venture, from my admittedly not vast experience, also on the mediocre side. All restaurants are required to post their prices on a menu outside the restaurant, so you can get an idea of the cost and what's on offer before you go in. I tend to follow my nose rather than restaurant recommendations, and I also have a look at the diners and what they're eating. I place a lot of stock in whether they look cheerful or disgruntled, and if most of them seem to be waiting to be served, I knock a few points off.

Pizza is a good, quick and inexpensive meal everywhere in Italy, but of the cities you're visiting, I find it best in Rome. In a regular pizza restaurant, the pizzas on the menu are single serving pizzas, and the toppings are much more varied than they are in the US. Many, maybe most, of them don't have tomato sauce and mozzarella, and the typical American pizza sauce, thick, sweet, and laden with oregano, just doesn't exist. The closest thing to an America pizza is probably the Pizza Margherita, which does have tomato and mozzarella.

You can buy also pizza by the slice at little street bars and restaurants, but you might have to pay extra to sit at a table. The same is true of gelaterie, or any other place that has both bar service and table service. The prices for both have to be posted at the bar (and these places don't have to have menus outside).

It would pay you to learn something about the regional cuisine of these cities, more so than getting the names of restaurants. All three cities have very distinct cuisines, and it can be a mistake to order something that isn't a specialty of the region you're in. (Unless, of course, you find a restaurant that specializes in the cuisine of a different region.)

In Italy, in a traditional restaurant, people usually eat a first course (primo), which can be a rice or pasta dish, or a soup. This is followed by the second course (secondo), which is usually meat or fish, or sometimes a hearty vegetarian plate. Usually there is no vegetable alongside the meat. You have to order a vegetable side dish (contorno) separately. You can also start off with an appetizer (antipasto), in which case you might want to skip the primo. I sometimes order an antipasto instead of the secondo, but you have to make sure the waiter understands that you want it to arrive after the primo (unless you don't care).

My husband and I usually can't eat both a primo and a secondo, because the quantities are more than what we eat at home. Sometimes we each get a primo and then split a secondo and a contorno. A lot of less formal restaurants now offer main dish salads (insalatoni) which can substitute for both courses. My husband almost always orders an insalatone for lunch in the summer if he can find one.

Some things, mostly steaks and whole fish, are sold by the hectogram (about 1/4 pound). The price will be listed on the menu with the notation "/hg" next to it. This causes lots of misunderstanding and complaints, because a 1-pound fish (before cleaning) would be about four times the price you saw on the menu. I wouldn't recommend getting a steak anywhere in Italy, anyway, not even in Florence (which is famous for its steaks). Unless it's a very good restaurant, it will be a big disappointment, and usually big enough to feed a regiment.

Very few restaurants in Italy have a "kids menu", but they will almost always prepare a simple dish for a child, such as a smaller pizza, or a simple spaghetti with tomato sauce (spaghetti col sugo rosso). They will also be understanding if you want to share one of your courses with the child.

Many restaurants have a charge for "pane e coperto" (bread and tablecloth), which must be on the menu. In Rome, this charge is illegal, but they will still bring bread automatically, and charge you for it unless you tell the waiter immediately that you don't want it. If he walks away, it's yours.

There is also usually a service charge (servizio), also supposed to be on the menu. Look for these things on the menu outside before entering the restaurant. In general, you shouldn't order anything off menu, and if the waiter brings something you didn't order, you can't assume it's free. Sometimes it is, but do ask how much it costs before he moves away.

Tipping isn't necessary in Italy. If you insist on tipping, just round the bill up to the nearest five euros.
bvlenci is offline  
Old Jun 17th, 2015, 12:51 PM
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If you want any kind of cheap food, drink, gelato in Venice just walk along the Lista di Spagna/Strada Nova.

Famous Gelateria: Grom

You can find decent pizza at Ae Oche on the Zattere.

Pepper_von_snoot is online now  
Old Jun 17th, 2015, 06:08 PM
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In the spirit of trying not to over-repeat the good advice above me (really, they take many of the words right out of my mouth, you should read it),

I too would ask where you're staying so I recommend areas, but I would agree with it being easier to find a sit-down pizza dinner in the evening, as most places don't turn their pizza ovens on before late afternoon. The farther you are from the center, of any city, the less the cover charges tend to be, thought they're seldom much more than a few euros; if a place asks for a ridiculous per/head amount, they are trying to take advantage of you in most cases (simple places I mean).

In all 3 cities, wonderful gelato, nice pastries, pizza by the slice, a nice pasta dish for not too much in a casual setting are easy to find.

In Rome, I LOVE Alice Pizza (they are a pizza by the slice franchise that just seems to keep growing with a LOT of variety and locations all over the city), and you really can't go wrong with them for lunch or a snack. Gelato that you can't miss there in the center can be had many places, but this is very near the Pantheon: Giolitti:

As a general thing, I can say a nice, pizza or pasta, fairly reasonable dinner can be found in many restaurants for a low price in the Trastevere area, and it's also very safe for families. No lack of gelato here as well! I like this area a bit better than some of the other tourist trap-areas, and there are a few more peaceful, winding alley ways and green areas for such a central area there. I also liked the Parioli area very much.

Some of my BEST meals I've had in the small towns outside/on the outskirts of major cities as well, and some are very easy to get to on public transportation, depending on what one has time for. More info is always helpful!
TravelJunkie888 is offline  
Old Jun 17th, 2015, 06:17 PM
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You should check out Elizabeth Minchilli's restaurant apps. I think she has one for all the cities you listed. Eat Rome is the one for Zrome. In Rome, two spots in Campo die Fiori for pizza...Forno ( just the plain Pizza Bianca) and Roscioli where I love the pomodoro.
denisea is offline  
Old Jun 19th, 2015, 12:33 PM
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First, let me confess that I didn't read all the replies that you received so I may be repeating.

And let me disagree with Pepper Von Snoot (great screen name) I avoided the Strada Nova like the plague - there's a McDonald's there for crying out loud! I found that area to be very touristy and annoying. Venice is harder to find good, easy non-touristy places, so write down several places in advance and keep it handy. I found the rest of Italy to be a little easier to "accidentally" find a great place to eat.

I've been to Venice 3 times and love it - my best advice there is to get lost! Wander around - pick a street and see how far you can go. Farther away from St. Mark's the less touristy it is. Great food is harder to find here than the rest of Italy. Some of my favorites:

Ae Sconte

Rosa Rossa

We also took a great food tour during our last tour that I would highly recommend. She showed us some great restaurants that we returned to in following days:
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Old Jun 19th, 2015, 01:00 PM
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I second the suggestion for Elizabeth Minchilli's app.

I'd also encourage you to allow some time for a more leisurely meal. For one thing, the food and atmosphere is so enjoyable; you may want to soak that in. For another, touring is exhausting, especially in the heat. You may find that you really need that time to decompress a bit. We were in Rome in May and by one o'clock, I was really ready for a restful lunch hour.
indyhiker is online now  
Old Jun 19th, 2015, 01:20 PM
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>I disagree with Pepper von Snoot<

I wrote that you find CHEAP food, drink, gelato along Lista di Spagna/Strada Nova.

I never commented on quality nor did I recommend any establishment but Grom, which is one of the most famous gelaterias in Venice.

So, there is a McDonald's on the Strada Nova?

Did anyone point a gun at your head and force you to dine there?

You may not like McDonald's but BILLIONS of others like the restaurant and their clean toilets.

McDonald's is also one of the few places in Italy where one can find takeaway coffee!

Sweetie, I can send you to A Beccafico in the Campo San Stefano, where your lunch check will hover around €150 but the OP asked for cheap pizza and gelato.

Pepper_von_snoot is online now  
Old Jun 21st, 2015, 01:46 AM
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I agree with the post saying Venice is the most touristy of all but the best way is to have a wander and make a discovery. I found no lack of good gelato there at least and enough good pizza by the slice to sustain myself.

Rome and Florence are also always full of good gelato and many good pizza by the slice places, which is always a good cheap option for families (and it allows you to try more different types of pizza!). A Tavola Calda could be a good option for lunches or earlier dinners. It's kind of like a cafeteria that serves a variety of warm dishes, some cold, and sometimes things like pizza by the slice. You're pretty much guaranteed a few kinds of pasta dishes at one of these places and they're very casual (in fact, this link might be helpful for different kinds of eateries you'll find:

A few of my personal favorite spots for dinner in Florence are:

Ristorante La Spada:

Trattoria 4 Leoni: Via de'Vellutini, 1r | Piazza della Passera, 50125 Florence, Italy

In Rome, I absolutely love Ivo A Trastevere: Via di San Francesco a Ripa 158, 00153, and I think it could be a great option for a family. They're relatively inexpensive, have a large, varied menu available in English and Italian, English speaking staff, and serve a dizzying array of pizza, and yes, pasta dishes as well.

Make sure to take your family for the best gelato I've had in Rome:

I could keep going, but the others on this thread have covered anything else I would've said, and my food recommendations could keep you busy for years!
LeilaMD is offline  
Old Jun 22nd, 2015, 12:50 AM
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One of the most important food that you have to try when in Italy is gelatos. They are the perfect remedy for the summer heat. You can check out my blog for recommendations on the best gelato places to eat in rome

Since you are travelling with your young daughter, I think you can check this guide on the list of activities that you can do in Rome with a kid which includes a treasure hunt in the vatican.
SJesN is offline  
Old Jun 22nd, 2015, 03:16 AM
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Yeah Grom is really good even though it's a chain store. But better still is Gelateria Al Teatro - Not a big store it's more or less a "hole in the wall". I had the white flavoured one - Latte something, can't remember now. It was creamy and mind blowing!
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