Restaurants in Venice, Rome and Florence with two teenagers
I will be travleing to Italy for the rfirst time with my wife and two teenage sons in a couple of weeks. I would greatly appreciate recommendations in these cities for reasonably-priced, fun places that two teenages with only moderately adventurosu paltes might enjoy. Also, any recommendiaotns for a bakery near the Borgi Pinti?
First, Id like to suggest the Sandra Gustafson Good Eats guidebook which covers all three cities and generally covers the moderate range. An additional advantage is that it has maps so you can spot convenent alternatives as you go. We used its predecessor, Cheap Eats effectively on one trip with our kids. Not every single place is a hit but in general its very good.
In Venice, try to avoid eating nr San Marco. important. there are some good pizzerias, a good bet if your kids are iffy on fish and seafood - if they are not, the sky is the limit. Some examples are Dai Tosi piccolo(Seco Marina, far out in Castello, definitely out of the way, have other dishes as well), Nono Resorto and Ae Oche (two locations). Other places we have liked that include both fish and non-fish dishes and that kids would also be likely to enjoy are Alla Frasca (Castello), San Barnaba (Da Sandro) on Calle Lunga San Barnaba - wine bar with a few tables in the back, good welcome, tasty food (mainly meat oriented), Anice Stellato in Cannaregio - Da Alberto is a trattoria we havent tried yet, but others have recommended and it looks attractive, warm and convenient - nr the Miracoli(calle largo Giacinta Gallina). If you take the boat to Murano, Busa del Torre da Lele on the main square is the best choice. Venice specific guides - Venice Eateries by Michela Scibilia (Venezia osterie e dintorni), available widely in Venice in English and Italian, with maps and a lot of great info - good investment if you are there for more than a couple of days and care about food - 15 Euros. The Rough Guide Map is the best Venice map (you definitely need a map) and the eateries marked on it, including many of the above) are reliable.
Gelato is also a good thing in Venice for kids - some examples are Causin in Dorsoduro and and La Boutique de Gelato in Castello. There are some good pastry shops - our fave by far was Tonolo in Dorsoduro, the little fritters, cream filled and not, are delicious; there are others, including one facing the church on Piazza San Barnaba,
I will post about Rome and Florence later.
First, Id say, do a search of the Board, there are many many posts on Rome (though they are getting harder to find - you may want to search "International" in addition to Italy, since the stuff prior to July is all on International.
Second, nothing I could say, that you could find in a search or guidebook is in any way definitive. Rome is a huge and lively city and there is always something new for you to find if you follow your own instincts.(the area around the railroad station is a BAD area for food though - there are lots of touts and bad restaurants there so stay away)
The following mostly reccs reflect my family's eating experience from our visits with a few wish list items.
Food Guide info Generally – in addition to Great Eats, check www.Slowfood.it for their Rome, Venice and Florence choices. In Italian but usable. Im not sure the detail is available on their English site currently.
Additional Guidebooks/Info re Rome – Roma del Gambero Rosso (updated annually, can buy in Rome) – probably not needed unless you are spending a lot of time, but interesting to see which places the Italians themselves think best and are eating – a good source for choices in areas outside the Centro. More upscale.
Ive not used the Maureen Fant guides.
Companion Guide to Rome – to my mind, the best Rome guidebook structured as walks, with lots of history and interesting anecdotes, available there in a lightweight edition (the version buyable here weighs a ton). You will need a street map to walk around – something with the bus/tram/metro routes is helpful
in Prati district, convenient to Vatican, especially for lunch after seeing the museums, which you will want to hit the first thing in the morning - Osteria dell' Angelo, Via G. Bettola 24 - a Slowfood spot - offer a very good fixed price lunch deal limited choices, roman food - they have an oven they fire up in the evenning but we were there at noon on Christmas Eve - patrons mostly local, groups of guys, families with strollers, all sorts - servers of character - supposedly ex-rugby players and looked it. Friendly and real.
Ditto L'Isola della Pizza at Via degli Scipioni, 43-47. Pizza at lunch is not all that common in Rome - this place offers fine wood oven pizzas along with a fine antipasti spread and I am sure other good things - Convivial good humored atmosphere, patrons from local business people to students - their pizzas were excellent. The owner/guy in front of the huge oven is reputed to be an avid hunter and game is featured in season - on a non-food note, funny sanitizing toilet is worth seeing - a new thing in Rome.
Note relevant to the above: if you are Christian or interested in Church history, the vatican “scavi”, the excavations under the Vatican are absolutely riveting – an advance reservation is needed for a tour – there’s a website.
Volpetti Piu (related to and behind the Volpetti store on via Marmorata in Testaccio- a great cafeteria style place with a huge range of items from slices of pizza to composed salads, desserts, antipasti,pastas, etc. Our teens loved this – you can see before you order and choose what you like.
In Ghetto, Sora Margherita, 30 cinque sole in the Ghetto (lunch only, simple Roman food, great pasta, lamb, etc, well priced bustling, friendly, highly recommended. We also had a good lunch (fixed price meal) at Al Pompiere, nearby, second floor of old palace. Met dishes were especially good.
On our most recent trip, I really wanted to get to Tram Tram, in the San Lorenzo district and Osteria del Veledromo Vecchio, Via Genzano 139. The former has a lot of tram related décor I believe (trams are great travel options for kids of all ages, and the tram is a great way to get over to San Lorenzo – I believe they specialize in one of the So Italian cuisines – Puglia maybe? The San Lorenzo basilica is very special. (tram passes in front), not near the rest. I don’t think tho The second is a trattoria which has been in the slowfood guide forever – Roman specialties, and not that far by bus from San Giovanni Laterano- bus goes right past it.
I highly recommend a hike out the Appia Antica – it is closed to traffic at some times, which makes it better, but it is a super activity – it goes out of the city into beautiful countryside, and you go past the catacombs also worth visiting, weve actually walked all the way out from the Colosseum area before, if you use a good guidebook and are in decent shape it is very rewarding, There are a couple of very nice country restaurants on the Road – I am blanking on the names – there is one right along the road on the left side (heading south) with a fireplace, grilled stuff, etc.
Ostia Antica is another great excursion by train from Ostiense. It looks like there is a good rest. In the adjoining village but we were not able to get in there on our visit (Epiphany holiday, and too crowded with locals); the rest at the excavations looked like a joke with waiters done up in little roman outfits. I doubt your boys could deal. Alternatively you could travel back to eat in Testaccio at Volpetti Piu above, or other. There is also another bare bones lunch only place called, I think, Zampagna, on the Via Ostiense convenient to this excursion as well as St. Pauls outside the Walls , listed in slowfood which you might work in.
In town Trattorias
We all love tratt Armando al Pantheon, on via Crescenzi between Pantheon and Piazza Navona. , big menu but their lamb, pastas guinea hen, duck really everything but the veg soup and saffron scented pasta ...reasonalble in price, civilized but included all sorts from govmt officials to families when we were there. If you like bitter veg and garlic order their cicoria – magnificent. (Note if you are in this area, you have to get the granita di caffe con panna (whipped cream) at either Tazza d’Oro or Café San Eustachio (I thing latter is better) Other similar reccs of old school tratts La Campana (nearer to Spanish Steps), not as great but still nice, Nerone, on Via Terme del Tito, up the hill from the Forum, (if you are there for oxtail or gnocchi, go for it) near the Golden House (golden house NOT recommended to visit, our group found it very disappointing even after hard to get res) Others on wish list, Trattoria Monti in very nice Monti district, Matricianella, nr Spanish Steps.
Near Colosseum – Pizza Forum, Neapolitan Style Pizza (thicker crust than roman) on the same street fanning out from Forum as San Clemente (this is a great art and historical church, with three levels to climb down through, one of the best with kids, even a little creepy, with water dripping down at the Mithraic Level), Tratt Luzzi – on facing corner, very simple, pizzas, don’t order salad, good grilled fish, spaghetti vongole, look around and see what others are getting before deciding. (note, Pizza Forum and Luzzi are useful and acceptable if in the area - they are not in any way outstanding)
Pizza and other - the Forno (bakery) in Campo fiore for pizza bianca or rosso, great for snacks or as a basis for a sandwich – it was not as killer the last time I was there, but I think that was just a fluke
Search the board and you will see reccs for other Roman Pizza places, incl Bafetto in the Centro (near Pantheon) and Remi in Testaccio.
Gelato – San Crispino, Giolitti, etc. Do a search.
To get the actual slowfood recommendations from their guide, you have to go into the italian website - the link below should take you there. select region lazio than roma on the next menu - it will give you a list of restaurants and winebars in and near Rome - click on the name and a description address and opening days will pop up. Even if you cant really read italian, you can note the addresses and the days and scan to get an impression. The best dishes are noted. the slowfood recommended places are all moderately priced and the organization's goal is to identify restaurants that serve traditional characteristic "slow" food. Good luck parsing this (in the past I have copied the descriptions into a word document to take along - maybe I shouldnt say this!!)
You shouldnt be dismayed by the back and forth on the website - there are a few places where chowhounds have had bad experiences recently that may have actually gone downhill recently(i.e. )Orso 88) and some that people really differ on (Gusto) but thats just a couple out of a whole universe of good choices. Not everybody is going to have the same taste. And expensive restaurants (some of the ones being argued about) are particularly difficult because people feel more angry when theyve spent a lot of money. No reason to spend a lot to eat well in Rome! Hope you relax, enjoy your choices and report back!
Florence - Theres a lot on the Board and I dont have much to add - the food on offer in Florence is extremely simple - roasted and grilled meats (pork and beef), beans and vegetable soups are typical tuscan dishes. Wild boar ragu (a meat-tomato pasta sauce and strozzopreti (here, ricotta and spinach gnocchi, pillowy and excellent) are frequently found, also mushroom dishes, including risotto.
Simple restaurants we enjoyed very much on our last visit (2000) were Trattoria Mario, nr the San Lorenzo market, Via rosina 2r (red), great ribollita soup, excellent ragu, meats.
Also Ristorante della Fagioli, Corso del Tintori, 47r, near Santa Croce, good soups (especially the tomato and bread soup, wonderful) and meats. Sostanza, a well known but simple steak place, would probably be great with your kids, assuming they are meat-eaters. Check out posts on the place in San Lorenzo (Nerbone) which offers dripping tasty meat sandwiches and get there early.
re: Jim Zurer
Read about our unhappy ordeal at the same place - we got a recommendation about Il Fagioli via our hotel owner. We went there on Saturday April 11, 2009 and it was closed, no sign detailing opening days and hours. Went back on Sunday April 12 and it was still closed (gone out of business? off for Easter?). Then went again on Tuesday April 14 and it was open. It was 8:30pm and we were a family with two kids, exhausted after a day of walking. We had a peek inside and it was packed and busy. A peek at the kitchen was very promising and we expected an exquisite dinner, especially as the kids were very hungry. We saw some four people waiting outside.
After waiting in the entrance for some ten minutes the head waiter said that it'll be some 15 minutes. OK, we said, worth the wait especially as we had recommendations and we didn't want to go and look for somewhere else with the hungry kids. Some 30 minutes passed and the head waiter quipped "a table is just paying". They "paid" for some 15 more minutes, total 45 minutes since we came and were promised 15 minutes. Then we were seated and I said that I'm unhappy as if we had known it will be that long we wouldn't have waited there. The response was "you could see that we didn't rest for a second" (true, but it's not a surprise for a successful business) and then saying aloud (!) "I DON'T WANT TO SERVE YOU, GET OUT OF HERE" (caps indicate a louder voice !). We stood up and went out with red faces while the entire patronage were looking at us. The kids were crying aloud. In my fifty years nothing like that happened to me nor my spouse. Took me a day to calm down and but I get mad again over three months later while putting it in writing. We went to neat and cheerful place nearby but this is another story.
With a hindsight we should have left without saying a word after 20-25 minutes, but it's not easy with two hungry kids, especially as we were concerned that we'll hit another wait elsewhere. In my book a correct approach was to apologize, explaining they didn't even realize we were waiting or some white lie like that, perhaps offer some freebie. Throwing out a family should be reserved to extreme cases, e.g. a guest is drunk and harassing other guests and such.
And yes, the place looks nice and the food smells tasty and a feast for the eyes. We had 45 minutes to get an impression that it's a happy place, albeit not for us.
Go to La Goistra (on Borgo Pinti). It is WONDERFUL. Not cheap, but not so expensive, either. Family-owned. Which family? Hapsburg. A Hapsburg prince opened this restaurant a while back and he and his kids run it. It is SO romantic (but not in a sense that would be inappropriate for a family -- I mean it is so quintessential Italy and inviting). The menu is long and you needn't be adventurous to find something to your liking. The wine list and service is excellent. Really, I can't say enough good things about the place. Here is the website in English: http://www.ristorantelagiostra.com/in...