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Sep 25, 2007 11:25 AM

Top 5 places to eat in Rome, Florence and Venice

I did a search on these 3 cities earlier and I am just so overwhelmed by all the info. I simply do not have the time to go through the whole process of selecting. I am wondering if anyone can just come up with the top 5 places to eat in these cities as if you are entertaining families and friends from out of town. We are not interested in high end places, especially ones that would require 4 to 5 hours to consume a meal. So far, this is what I have:

Rome -- Armando Al Pantheon, La Campana, Antico Forno, Pierluigi, Ristorante del Pallaro.
Florence -- ViniE Vecchi Sapori, La Casalinga, Tattoria Garga, Le Fonticine
Venice -- Fiaschetteria Toscana, Osteria di Santa Marina, Da Fiore, La Zucca.

Thanks for all your inputs.

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  1. Rome--Armando is OK, Campana is tired, Antico Forno a bakery, not a restaurant. Pierluigi is popular but I've never been. Pallaro, forget.
    Florence--don't know your list exc Casalinga, which has many devotees but left me pretty cold
    Venice--Fiaschettria very good, upscale but not fancy-schmancy. Da Fiore is super but perhaps more than you want. Never been to the others.

    1. I think top 5 is highly subjective (totally different for different people) and tired too. Its about as easy to pick the top 5 in a city like Rome as it would be in NY, London or Chicago. Most people making those picks will pick the ritziest most ambitious and obvious places, because its too difficult to do otherwise - and I would venture to say that few of us have the depth of experience to even start making such a judgement from their own experience. If you dont want to just follow a US or UK foodguide - fodors, timeout, New York Times etc have perfectly respectful reccomendations these days - you can look to european review and rating sources such as Gambero Rosso, L'Espresso, MIchelin, Veronelli, Slowfood. you will start to get a little deeper into the local restaurant culture, which is a lot more extensive that the top group of foreign tourist picks.
      the link below takes you to a page where, at the bottom the top picks of some of the above rating sources are accumulated. Might give you some more ideas.
      Second, a map, like that in the Red Michelin, the RoughGuide plastic map, that actually shows the restaurants on a map is a good planner, since you may wind up in areas you didint expect to be at mealtime.

      I dont recognize your Florence picks - might be a good thing.
      For Venice, these places are all quite expensive - Da Fiore in particular is going to set you back well over 200 euros even if you order their cheapest bottle of wine; Alla Zucca probably the cheapest.
      Finally, if you want reccs from this board, think of what kind of cuisine you want (fish or meat, casual or dressy, homestyle or stylish and innovative), how much you want to pay and people can probably recommend better.

      1. dont miss..zibibbo in firenze its my fave

        1. In Venice, except for the luxury hotel dining rooms, Fiaschetteria Toscana and Da Fiore are as about as high end as one can get. I had some of the best meals at Fiachetteria Toscana. Am not so lucky with Da Fiore but probably dued to my own preference.

          7 Replies
          1. re: PBSF

            We had a great meal at Al Covo in Venice a little over a week ago... did the tasting menu, had 5 courses of fish. We really enjoyed it.

            1. re: firecooked

              i am not a big fan of al covo, it is recommended in many guides, magazines, websites etc..however it is just average food imho,it gets a lot of usa ink, owned by americans at one it still ??

              1. re: intrepid

                The co-owner and wife of the chef is Diane Benelli, Texan-born but very Venetian-ized (sorry). Her husband, Cesare Benelli, is one of the very few restaurateurs in Venice (along with Da Fiore) to go to the trouble and expense of procuring the best local seafood. His cooking style is very respectful of his fabulous ingredients, so it may sometimes seem simple. Diane makes the desserts and runs the dining room, and I think she's great. I haven't been to Venice for a few years, but it was always one of my favorites and indeed I am responsible for some of that ink. Fiaschetteria Toscana and Fiore are my other faves. I also like Osteria da Bacco, but as i said, it's been a while.

                1. re: mbfant

                  mbfant..i often have enjoyed your articles( nytimes, etc), had found them very useful, and on target.appreciate your work..thank you

                  1. re: mbfant

                    Agree they are getting the best seafood. The only problem with the American ink is the Americans who don't know to turn off their Blackberry's at dinner!

                  2. re: intrepid

                    I am also an Al Covo fan, have been going there since it opened. I think Americans are put off by other Americans in the dining rooms. But, we often visit in the off season and there are also plenty of Venetians, especially at Sunday lunch. I recommend going at lunch anyway because you get better attention without it being crowded. The fish is the finest you will find in Venice AND it is Venetian food, not always the case at Da Fiore. I think Da Fiore could be in almost any European capital. Al Covo has recently added more meat to the menu, large because the fish is becoming harder and too expensive to serve. Go while you can still get the good stuff. You'll never find any frozen food asterisks at Al Covo.

              2. Just returned and the charm of Pierluigi was missing due to the heavy road construction in front of it...forget sitting outside unless you have a penchant for construction workers and the deafening roar of heavy equipment.
                DO dine at La Fiammetta. Don't miss the eggplant parmiagiano...sublimely divine. I'm dreaming of it now. Great everything there! Love this place.
                The risotto w/zucchini flowers at Hosteria Costanza is addictive it's so fabulous. And, you dine among the ruins of some arches of Pompey's Theatre where Julius Ceasar met his demise. Too bad he didn't have the risotto first!
                Alla Rampa beside the Spanish Steps serves a lip-slurping-great spaghetti con vongole. Magnificent antipasti spread for lunch.
                Ditirambo gets best cacio e pepe for me! Don't miss their pear & gorgonzola appetizer souffle if it's on the menu. Ethereal!
                For Venice--love Da Ivo, particularly if you snag the table by the lagoon.
                I think there should be a list of signature dishes at the trattorias. I've started mine!