Kosher in Italy
I am in the process of researching a trip to Italy for this spring. I wanted to see if anyone has any recommendations/suggestions about kosher food/restaurants in Italy. (I am hoping to subsist on more than tuna and crackers during my trip!) Any advice would be welcome. Thanks.
I went to italy for my honeymoon this past year and we had a great time and were totally well fed. We went to venice, florence and rome and all three cities has good food options.
Venice: Gam gam is ok but its a great resource to have for shabbos. The pizza place which is around the block from gam gam is also good and really hits the spot. There is a bakery in venice that is owned by non-jews and its open during the day but closes in the afternoon and it carries a number of delicious italian baked goods and kosher cheese/meat if you want to make sandwhiches. There is a kosher gelato store called il gelatone and you can eat the gelatoes that have a K next to the label. We asked the rabbi of venice where the store was and it was delicious. Additionally there is a kosher bed and breakfast there (Cafe Balthazar?) that also has a restraunt, very upscale and modern and the food is traditional italian and i think its worth trying.
Florence: The only restaurant is Ruths and you may need to make a reservation, not sure about that one. We had two very nice meals there and i would recommend the pesto which was delicious! The owners are also very nice and very accomodating. There are two kosher shops there so you can buy food but nothing amazing. You can get fresh kosher mozzerella in the supermarket but you have to ask the locals which one is acceptable, not sure if you are cholov yisrael. My wife and i had a picnic off of the hill that everyone goes for sunset and we made sandwhiches with tuscan bread (which you can buy at a store, ask the locals which one is good), tomatoes, basil, garlic, avocado and the fresh mozzerella drizzled with a little olive oil and some salt and it was delicious!
Rome: Has a lot of stuff, mainly in the ghetto. Two standouts were the pizza place that was off the beaten path and you can find it on shamash. You can take a subway train there and i have to say it is totally worth it because they had some delicious pizza and tiramisu! The other one was nonna betta which is outstanding! If there is one place you eat at in italy make sure it is this place. it is milchig and and everything was amazing. would recommend the fried artichoke, rissoto and fish baked in salt. Also, stock up on some kosher parmesean there, way cheaper there than in the states. Last but not least, the bakery in rome looks like it burns everything and it doesn't look so tasty, both my wife and were very surprised at how good the baked goods were! Its worth a shot.
Have a great time!
i was in Venice for over a week and spend each moment in a relaxing enjoyable settingat the Balthazar Kosher restaurant. Everything from the garden and the beautiful shabbat dinning outside, the food was unbelievable, service so pleasent and welcoming my husband and I relaxed and enjoyed from the moment we arrived. We stayed at the hotel above the restaurant Giardino Del Ghetto, in the heart of the Ghetto Square. -a special thanks to Carlo Minkowitz, and we will be seeing you again shortly. www.KosherInVenice.com, for all those who are looking for an experince of a lifetime
Is it possible to get kosher mozzarella di bufala at any of the dairy restaurants or supermarkets mentioned in this post? In any city? Is that something that is made and/or readily available in Italy? When I was in Rome years ago and used to eat out milchigs, I ate mozzarella di bufala & tomato salad or pizza made with mozzarella di bufala at every single meal and still drool thinking about it. Thanks.
We ate at Ruth's in Florence and it was okay; good portions but mainly vegetarian and the actual inventory is much less than what is on the menu. Around the corner they will make deli sandwiches at the small Kosher grocery.
Regarding Gam Gam in Venice if you go in the summer the place could be packed for Shabbat and the food portions are relatively small. The experience on eating on the Canal is wonderful. Try to make reservations in advance and pay to eat inside if you are picky. There is one place not far from Gam Gam that actually is a Kosher Ice Cream store and it is out of this world. I do not recall the name but ask at Gam Gam. There is a small Kosher supermarket (run by non-Jews so don't be suprised when you see open on Shabbat) and pizza near Gam Gam but neither is outstanding. Have fun.
Yotvata: the food is good but the service is Lousy!
I got up and took my own menu after walking over to the waiters and calling them a number of times! then we had to repeat this procedure so that we could order. Mind you this happened each of the three times we ate there.
But the bottom line is that the food was good.
YOU MUST ASK FOR THE MENU IN ITALIAN!
It has much more on it, especially the "local Italian Jewish specialties", while the English one does not. When we asked the waiter why they don't have certain dishes on the english menu he answered that: "the tourists don't want to eat those things."
Carciofi alla guidea (Jewish style Artichokes, although it is delicious it is a pathetically small portion)
Baccala alla guidea (Jewish style baccala, a fried salt-cod fish)
the ravioli and pizzas were good as well.
There are other dishes like Spaghetti alla bottarga (which doesnt appear on the english menu) which is spaghetti with Boutargue (AKA Adam Hout in Tunisian and Arabic), which is dried salted fish eggs, essentially a dried caviar, very salty. If you like Boutargue you will probably enjoy this dish.
Tunisian Jews (as well as some Algerian and Libyan Jews) love to eat Boutargue by its self accompanied by a shot of Boukha Bokobsa, fig brandy.
will post more reccomendations soon
Yotvata in Rome was good. The semi freddo (it's like ice cream, but not) was delicious. Near Rome, there is a quaint little town called Orvieto. In Venice, Gam Gam was great. We had been there a few years ago and the food was fine, but this time was so good, we ate there four times during the week. We didn't really have a high budget, so it worked out well because the prices were pretty decent. The chef came out to talk to us. He was nice, he said he just came this year. They invited us to stay for Shabbat meals which had to be the highlight of our trip. Singing, dancing and amazing food. They didn't say there was a cost, but it's obvious to leave a nice donation. I miss Venice, I would love to live there.
My wife and I were in Rome and Florence this summer. Rome, as noted, has several kosher places near the synagogue, in the area where the ghetto used to be. the Ghetto Tavern had good meat dishes. Yotvata was acceptable dairy, a bit hard to find because it was a few blocks from the others, and the service was pretty bad. They were good at Roman Jewish specialties like fried cod. We stayed in a kosher B&B in the Trastevere neighborhood. It's called Locanda Carmel. The kosher part was disappointing -- it was just a continental breakfast consisting of prepackaged, chewy cakes. But there was a kosher bakery a few blocks away that was pretty good -- the folks at Carmel can direct you to it (And the B&B itself was a pretty nice place to stay).
In Florence, the kosher dairy place is called Ruth's. We did not go, but heard mixed reports -- adults claim it's not good food, but some kids we met were impressed with the size of the portions. There is a kosher store right near the restaurant (which is next to the synagogue). Not far from these two were couple of bakeries that were supposed to be kosher -- one was closed for the holidays, the other, on a piazza, I think had some items that made us suspect it wasn't kosher, but I can't remember for sure. There was also a store called Giovannino -- it's a pet food store with a kosher human section at the back! Our hosts didn't like it much, but I did get some nice cured meats there.
In Venice, Gam Gam (fleishig; Chabad or Rabbinate supervision) is located at the entrance to the Jewish Ghetto; one may eat there Friday night either with pre-paid reservations (family-first come seating) or by the "honor system" (promising to make a donation after Shabbos). The operators are very nice; food is okay. (note: many students and visitors flock there for seder).
In Florence, there is a kosher dairy place adjacent to the main synagogue. I think the name is "Rebeccas" or "Rachels". It is quaint, the food is good, anf the owner had a great wine list. The locals eat there.
In Rome, there is a pizza shop within a block or so of the Great Synagogue (I got directions at the Synagogue). Other cafes serve "Jewish" food (e.g., fried artichokes), but check out whether they actually have supervision. We had a disappointing meal at another place (can't recall name or area).
In Rome, I suggest you call the Great Synagogue for info; there are tours and it was easy to find English speaking guides. In Venice, Chabad has a storefront in the Ghetto plaza; English speakers present.
There's a sweet Tunisian lady in Rome that offers meals to go and home cooked Shabbat meals in her fab apt. The food is excellent and is under Chabbad supervision. The prices are decent. It's also a good oppertunity to meet other travelers. I hope she's still ther, I'll look for the link.
There's also a meat restaurant near the shul that has amazing fried artichoke. I'll look for that link as well.
Gam Gam may be a terrific boon to kosher-keepers (we are not) in Venice, but we found the food disappointing and downhill from a previous experience in a visit last year.
Main cooking fats in Venice are olive oil, and butter - main protein is overwhelmingly fish and seafood, very little meat on offer. Charcoal grilled fish is a mainstay of the good restaurants, and wonderful. There are only a handful of restaurants that specialize in meat dishes, and maybe 2-3 egyptian/middle eastern restaurants in the City.
re: Susan H
I find the assertion 'service is lousy', referred to kosher restaurants in Rome, false and insulting. Go to Yodvata restaurant in the Ghetto, for example, or to the restaurants near Piazza Bologna, and you'll find cleanliness, kasheruth, selection and variety. The service is probably 'familiar' and not always 'stylish' and refined, but certainly not lousy.
Try also the more 'stylish' service at the Jewish Community Restaurant in Venice (not the Lubavitchers').