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My husband and I are traveling to Italy in the middle of June and we do not want to spend our time at touristy restaurants. Looking for good suggestions for local hot spots and hangouts in any of the three cities we will be visiting, (including bars and places we just need to see).
I already printed out the Chowhound Florence article on local spots.
Thanks for the advice.

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  1. Venice can be a tourist trap, so carefully plan where you are going to have lunch and dinner.
    I suggest you to avoid all the restaurants around Saint Mark and close to Rialto bridge.

    1 Reply
    1. re: gaia

      There are exceptions to this rule. Alla Madonna is near the Rialto bridge, and though it gets its share of tourists, it is also very popular with locals, and is a classic trattoria with excellent food at reasonable prices, in a bustling and pleasant atmosphere.

    2. Maybe I can suggest you my favorite "osteria": the name is "Al Timon", it's near the Ghetto in the "Fondamenta della Misericordia" in Cannaregio district. It's very very small and very often full, but the place is charming and the owner Alessandro very nice guy. They prepare by themselves all the food and the "cicchetti" are very good. I try to attach a picture.

      1 Reply
      1. re: gaia

        In Florence, try Il Santo Bevitore (I believe it is on the street of the same name)

      2. Pandemonio in Florence serves up a delicious meal in a comfortable setting. One thing to note is that it's called a trattoria, but the prices are more like a Ristorante.

        For the best gelato you've ever tasted (besides Kopa Kabana in Siena!), go to Gelateria dei Neri (Via dei Neri 26r Firenze 50122 Italy)

        1. in Florence try Pane e Vino, it's a 20 minute walk from Ponte Vecchio but on the other side of the river. Excellent and precisely cooked contemporary Italian food with an interesting wine list and knowledgeable staff.You can see the chefs at work on a couple of screens discretely placed around the walls, lots of plants and greenery make it a very
          pleasant dining room . The sardine brochette with liquorice served with blood orange and fennel salad was very good. My favourite place in Florence has got to be Teatro del Sale, here you will get to enjoy the real taste of Tuscany in an exciting setting.Read my blogs (salvos.co.uk/diary/blog) for in depth reviews of my favourite restaurants in Italy.

          'Ristoranti della Buona Accoglienza ' is an Association (currently 16 members) of restaurants in Venice that promise regional cooking, seasonal produce,local seafood from the lagoon and game and vegetables from the Po delta. They try to distance themselves from the plethora of establishments with 'International menus' and promote price transparency and a good price/quality balance. I ate at Osteria alle Testiere and Trattoria Antiche Carampane and they were both splendid. Venice is an expensive place of course so these places represent good value for money.they have a site (veneziaristoranti.it) in Italian with good info about the restaurants and also the cuisine and ingredients of the region. Another very good restaurant is Pane vino e San Daniele (get a good map!) run by a Sardinian chef. The desserts in particular were memorable when we visited with a creme caramel made with pumpkin which was outstanding.
          If you are driving along the Amalfi Coast and don't mind a longish drive (it is rather beautiful) you could try to make it to 'Pappacarbone' in Cava dei Tirreni near Salerno where one of the rising young stars of Modern Italian cooking, Rocco Iannone, is making his name. Besides working in a couple of starred restaurants in Italy (Don Alfonso and San Domenico) he has worked with Ducasse in France.
          Also on the Amalfi drive is "Acquapazza" in Cetara, a charming village that tumbles down to the seashore. We found exemplary service and great seafood, a dish of spelt was made with 'Colatura di alici' which is a speciality of the village and is a type of condiment similar to Garum or Thai fish sauce made from the 'drainings' of salted anchovies. An Excellent restaurant.

          2 Replies
          1. re: loudjazz

            You will find a good write-up here on Teatro del Sale and what to expect if you search this Board for "Florence Report December 2007 - long, but . . ." I didn't post it earlier in reply to your request because you implied that you have already collected posts on Florence.

            1. re: loudjazz

              Thank you so much for this very thorough response. I am going to print this out and take it with me. So helpful!

            2. On the Amalfi Coast, I would get out of Positano if you do not want to dine at touristy places! I wrote a report last month about eating in Amalfi, Atrani, and Cetara--there is wonderful eating in all three of those towns..you can easily take the SITA bus from Positano. Or go up to Pogerola where there is a SlowFood place (I did not have time to try it) or Agerola.

              1. Just back from Venice. We ate lunch at Alla Madonna one day but were disappointed. The ambiance, as someone else mentioned, was great, with men a table over sitting round peeling the day's shrimp. Our dishes left much to be desired though. My husband's spaghetti with black squid ink sauce left him later feeling nauseous, and my fish soup, venetian style, was pretty good but nothing to write home about. A bit overpriced for nothing more than mom & pop fare...at least with our dishes.

                1. in Firenze, don't miss Trattoria Cibreo, the less expensive side of the famed Cibreo. same menu, MUCH less expensive, and the polenta is simply one of a kind! DO NOT MISS the tratt cibreo (the fancier side will be much more expensive, same exact menu, with higher end service, but the tratt is spectacular!). also try Tratt Da Ruggerro for incredible Arrosta, Rare Roast Beef, amazing Ribollita, and a brilliant Papa Al Pomodoro. quite reasonable $$$wise too. and a personal favorite is Tratt Carmine in piazza del Carmine- perhaps the finest Bisteka alla Fiorentina i have ever had- the meat was marbled on the level of a peter luger and cooked to perfection- you will fight over the bone... everything at carmine is fantastic (incredible carbonara, all pastas great, great local spot with hilarious waiters). also enjoy fresh pizzas at Foccaceria Pugi near the train station- anchovy and capers and fresh bufala- unbelievable)! oh man i want to eat all this food right now... enjoy fb

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: frankbooth

                    If you go to Trattoria Cibreo, and I suggest you try it because the food comes from the same kitchen as the Ristorante Cibreo. But remember that they take no reservations, accept NO CREDIT CARDS, and that it is not a huge place. If you are on that street, try Teatro del Sale, which is also owned and and operated by Signor Picchi, owner of the Cibreo places. Teatro is by far the better food/price value, but you need to be there for the full lunch or full dinner, as everything is served from a buffet table, not by servers.

                  2. Positano

                    For Gelato...the best we had in Italy...on the beach facing the water turn left go all the way down in an arch way is a place that you pay first in the restaurant part then go to the gelato place to get your sevrice. The best!