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Jan 1, 2002 10:15 AM

Spots in Florence & Rome

  • c

Could some well-travelled hounds give us their spots in Florence (and environs) and Rome . . . headed there in March. Thanks alot from Tempe, Arizona.

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  1. Yor request for restaurant recommendations brought back a flood of wonderful memories of both cities--Here are some culinary highlights of Florence (I'll take on Rome in a subsequent post when time permits!):
    I Bambino--A newer resaurant, Bambino offers earthy Tuscan cooking and handles seafood wonderfully well. My diary entries tell me my companion and I enjoyed a risotto with pumpkin, giant prawns with white beans, St Peter's fish with artichokes, olives, and tomatoes, and without a doubt, the BEST creamed spinach I've ever eaten!
    Cibreo---If tripe, sweetbreads, and cockscombs are among your passions, this is the place for you! Located in a hard-to-find part of Florence, Cibreo's is noted for its emphasis on gourmet specialties like wild boar and other game. All the service is provided by young women casually dressed, fully informed and opinionated! And be sure to have the yellow pepper soup if it's on the menu! Delicious!
    Dinner at Il Latini is a necessary ritual in Firenze. Diners queue up to an hour before the restaurant opens (reservations not accepted)to get a seat at this authentic trattoria beneath the assortment of ham hocks, sausages, and the like that hang suspended from the ceiling. Dining is communal and brings together an international clientele which can make for fascinating global small talk. Though there is a menu offering classic fare, it's best to put yourself in the hands of your server who will happily order for you. Their intolerance for indecision explains why they are able to seat and serve 200 people in 3 dining rooms within five minutes of opening. A real experience.
    Buca dell'orafo sits at the foot of the Ponte Vecchio. This inexpenive hole-in-the-wall is traditional all the way, down to its red-and-white checkered tablecloths. Pastas and staples like bistecca or shrimp with artichokes are satisfying and delicious.
    Cavolo Nero is situated "altr'arno" on a dimly-lit side street. The menu offers inventive dishes such as cauliflower souffle alongside favorites like spaghetti al vongole.
    (One caveat--- I have found that non-italians tend to be "Balkanized" when it comes to being seated in restaurants. If your fluent in the language, flaunt it, baby!)
    Finally, after a long day of sightseeing, there are few things more pleasurable than enjoying your cocktail hour at the Donatello Bar in the Hotel Excelsior. Deluxe surroundings,splendid service and potent drinks make for a very civilized experence.
    Hope this helps!!!

    1. There are ample recent prior postings on Florence/Rome restaurants on this site. I suggest you do a search. I would also reiterate my prior posting to consult Fred Plotkin's book "Italy For The Gourmet Traveler" and Faith H. Willinger's "Eating In Italy." You will not go wrong with any of their recommendations. You might also try to get a hold of a copy of the Slow Food guide to the Osterias of Italy. I believe you can buy it at the Slow Fodd website. Even though it is written in Italian, you will find plenty of useful information.

      1. Do not miss these 3 in Florence:
        *La Vecchia Bettola.. on Viale Aristo 32/34 Small cafe run by two friendly brothers. Incredible Tuscan Steak and porcini mushrooms! Tel 055 224 158
        *Omero.. on via Pian dei Giullari 11/12 This is a 5 minute cab from Florence in the hills. The town where Galileo was exiled. The pounded half chicken was memorable. Lovely view Tel 055 220 053
        *Belle Donne..on via delle Belle Donne 16/1. Hard to find, no sign, very small and intimate yet lively and lovely. Mario is owner. Tel 055 238 2609
        Good luck and happy eating!