I am currently planning my honeymoon in Tusany, Umbria and Rome for this October and I was wondering if I need reservations for all of the restaurants I am planning on going to (and how much in advance I should make them).
These are currently the list of places I am planning on going to:
Orvieto - I Sette Consoli
Siena - Antica Trattoria Botteganova
Monteriggioni - Il Pozzo (for lunch)
Greve - Solociccia
Florence - Sostanza, Antico Fattore, & La Giostra
Perugia - Cafe Di Perugia & Ristorante Il Convento (not sure about these two)
Rome - L’Archeologia, Ditirambo, Colline Emilliane & Il Bacaro
Any advice would be appreciated. Also, if I am making a mistake with any of these restaurants please let me know. Thanks.
I would say get a pizza in Perugia. Mediteraneo is fantastic and no reservations needed, but get there early as there can be a line. If you have your back to Bar Centrale on the main drag (turn right and keep right, just a few hundred yards til you get to it.) Fantastic pizza--the best in Umbria. Umbria is so casual in its food, that the more sophisticated stuff tends to seem fabricated. Another good one is "da mi cocco" which has a fixed menu and all the classics in a great environment--loads of students in there, but very authentic and not expensive. Be sure to go to Bar Sandri for dessert and coffee right on the main drag across from the museum.
I would skip eating in Greve and go to Dario Cecchini in Panzano (five minutes away on the same road). He is a little over the top and sometimes not so friendly, but it's a real scene with plenty of tastings and opera in the Maccelleria (butcher shop) and his new restaurant directly across the street is fabulous. fayefood.com
I do not believe you will need reservations for Il Pozzo. You will need resers for SoloCiccia which is in Panzano. We went to the Sunday lunch at SoloCiccia and really enjoyed it. We sat at a table with all locals and they were very friendly to us. It was like eating at someone's house for Sunday dinner. We found Dario to be very friendly, he comes around to each table after dinner with his fiancee to make sure everything was ok. I did see him get irritated earlier in the macelleria, due to a tourist sticking a camera in his face and taking his picture while he was working, without first asking. I'd get irritated too.
As for the other places on your list, unfortunately, I'm not familiar with them.
Wondering about your choice for Orvieto.
In Rome, are you seeking Emilian food in particular? I liked my dinner there but might not include it if I had only 4 dinners in the city, unless specific I had an interest in that type of cuisine..or wanted a change from local food, which would be unlikely fter so short a time.. But that is me....
We ate at Sostanza (twice) in Florence last month. We made reservations both times for the 7:30 seating (there's another seating at 9:00). Both times the restaurant wasn't completely full, but I did observe that they turned people away between 8 - 9 who didn't have reservations for the 9:00 seating.
My recent experience in Italy is that reservations were greatly appreciated - even if the restaurant was not full. Italians like to eat at the same time; lunch begins at 1:00 p.m. In Orvieto, we were turned away at 12:50 p.m.:) So - with everyone eating at the same time, you wll need reservations. If you haven't already see it, I recommend the Food Lover's Guide to Florence - which also has great recommendations for Tuscany.
Great topic. My wife and I are planning a visit to Tuscany this summer. Very few of the restaurants recommended on this board do on-line reservations and I must say I am a little intimidated at the prospect of having to call to make reservations over the phone. How much was language a problem when making your reservations?
I just returned from a week in Rome and Positano and I called ahead or emailed to reserve for each day -- no problem at all. Get a phrase book and find out how to say "I would like a reservation for 2 on 14 April" and they will ask what "ora" (time) and you can say either 1 pm or 8 pm -- I only used those two times! (I like to keep things simple!!) There were a number of places that were full and would not have let us in without a reservation!! Do reserve -- you don't want to go all that way, and not try these great restaurants!!
I can reassure you that Italians are charming and accepting of the most rudimentary Italian.
The most obvious strategy is to have the staff at your hotel make your reservations, even in advance of your arrival.
If you have to make your own reservations, try calling during the food service hours of the restaurant. Sure the restaurant may be busy, but that's the time when it's most likely that an English-speaking employee will be there. You might begin your conversation with the question "Parla Inglese?" Now, that's not good Italian for "Do you speak English?" Grammatically, you should say "Parla lei Inglese?" But if you're not sure how "lei" is pronounced or if you want to keep it simple, the first version will work. As I said, the Italians are forgiving and used to coping with tourists.
You'll be amazed at how few words you actually have to know to make a reservation. Buy a small phrase book and practice some useful words or phrases before your trip. Figure out what you can comfortably say. For example, I sometimes get tripped up saying the Italian word for the noun "reservation," but I'm fine with the verb "to reserve." So, I've become quite fluent in the Italian phrase "Please reserve a table for two persons"
Finally, an extra effort to use gracious language -- "per favore" and "grazie" at a minimum -- will go a long way.