Rome/Venice..need a REALLY special recommendation
Have arranged a surprise birthday trip for my boyfriend to Rome & Venice in June.
He's an absolute foodie...only problem is I'm not(according to his high standards anyway!!),also I don't speak a word of Italian and am allergic to seafood (don't I sound horrendously uncultured?!), so I was rather hoping some of you might be able to help me...
I'm sure he'll insist on picking the places we have dinner, but I'd love if I could find a little gem in Rome or Venice or both to knock his socks off!!
I know it's one of those elusive 'how long is a piece of string' questions, but if you had to chose one place to have dinner...where would it be??
You don't sound uncultured at all. Isn't the beginning of knowledge recognizing one's ignorance? :-)
But that question: where would you go for one dinner? It's too hard, too wrenching, too much responsibility. I can tell you any of the following would be fabulous for a birthday dinner: Agata e Romeo, Il Convivio, L'Altro Mastai, Il Pagliaccio. The last on the list is probably the closest to your little gem, though they are all small and creative with all the trimmings -- great wine lists, smooth service, gorgeous breads, amuse-bouches, and all that.
Against my better judgment (I don't like to give the locations of my favorite fishing holes, either) I will heartily recommend in Rome the ristorante Romolo, via di Porta Settimiana, 8. Tel. 5818284. It's on the edge of Trastevere right outside the Roman gate.
It's my favorite in Rome and sounds like something that will fit your request. In June you will certainly be able to eat in their outdoor garden - a delightful spot with ancient brick walls, grape vine, etc. So you will be dining outside but with no traffic or passersby. I cannot vouch for the gourmet status of the food - I am what is called a "buona forchetta" - but it's good eating, the service is calm, and the ambiente is charming. Again, when you book ask for a table "nel giardino."
In Venice, both La Zucca and Vini da Gigio are little gems that have lots of non-seafood options.
I'd go along with Shannon on those two and would add La Bitta. They don't "do" fish, have a changing menu and Deborah, the hostess/prop., loves to recommend a wine or two. Definitely reserve.