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Inexpensive restaurants for dinner

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Hi,
We're taking a trip to Italy and Sicily and we need some suggestions for inexpensive restaurants in Rome, Venice, Florence, and Lake Como. We want to eat amazing food so if it's not delicious and inexpensive, that's ok. We'll spend more if we have to. I have read the recent posts on these but I can't decide on which restaurants to pick and if I should make reservations. From what I've read so far, I have these on the list to pick from. If you have been to them it would be helpful if you can you give some details on them. Also, if you have suggestions for the Palermo region that would be great.

Rome - 2 nights, no ideas yet.

Venice - 1 night

Trattoria Storica
Ostaria Da Rioba
Nono Resorto

Florence - 2 nights

Teatro Del Sale
Zibibbo
Trattoria Croce al Trebbio

Lake Como - 2 nights, no ideas yet

After this we'll be staying in Palermo for 10 nights. We'll spend one night in Taormina.

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  1. If you have not already done so, search this board for my post: "Florence Report December 2007" for a full write-up of several restaurants in Florence, which includes complete details on Teatro del Sale but not the others you mention. As for reservations, you must make them for Teatro dinner, but not needed for Teatro lunch (and lunch is 10 Euros per person less, but no showtime as in the evening). Also be sure to check on when places are closed (Teatro is closed Sunday and Monday, as far as I know).

    1 Reply
    1. re: CJT

      Thank you. I did read your post (that's where I got the idea). From what you said, it sounds wonderful. I think we'll pick Teatro for dinner one night.

    2. Where on Lake Como? Bellagio?

      For Taormina and Palermo, check the recent posts. There have been quite a few in the last couple of months.

      3 Replies
      1. re: MBlair

        We're staying at Barchetta Excelsior

        Nearby Points of Interest
        Como railway station – five minutes drive
        Como Cathedral (with fine tapestries and painting) - 150 meters
        San Fedele Church (dates from XIIIth century) – 300 meters Palazzo Terragni - nearby
        Volta Museum - nearby
        Swiss border – 10 minutes drive

        I think we're taking a day trip to Bellagio.

        1. re: valligirl20

          We stayed in Bellagio in 05 and only day-tripped to Como to see what turned out to be an impressive Picasso exhibit at the Villa Olmo. We had lunch at Locanda Barbarossa (just outside of Piazza San Fedele), which has pretty good pizza for the North.

          In Bellagio, Enoteca Cava Turacciolo is an excellent wine bar with a very gracious and knowledgable owner. It's perfect for a tasting and a plate of cured meats and cheeses. For a full meal, I would suggest going to Bacilus (and ordering the smoked lake fish), which is located in a beautiful garden and has a partial view of the lake.

          While I'm at it, I'm going to follow-up on my earlier reccomendations for Sicily. In Taormina, Nero D'Avola. Its location is very quiet and romantic at night, and the owner and staff are extremely friendly and informative. Most importantly, the seafood and pasta are as good as it gets. Try the raw fish or the Etna mushrooms if available, and make sure you finish with a glass of Passito di Pantelleria. In Palermo, Sant Andrea or I Grilli, which are both near Piazza San Domenico, just above the port.

          1. re: MBlair

            Thank you so much for your recommendations. It's very helpful. This will be our first trip to Italy and deciding on where to eat is suprisingly overwhelming!

      2. I just called Teatro Del Sale to make reservations and they're going to be closed when we're there (we're going in August). I was really excited about that place :(

        2 Replies
        1. re: valligirl20

          Bummer! That's one place you don't want to miss. But vacations in Europe are mostly in August. If you are in the vicinity of the Duomo at lunch time, try eating at Le Mossacce on the Via del Proconsolo on the opposite side of the street from the Bargello. Good local eating place.

          1. re: CJT

            I know! Oh well, hopefully some of the other restaurants will be just as good.

        2. Ok, I found some more ideas for dinner. Please tell me your opinions and if you know the price differences.

          Rome - Armando al Pantheon, La Piazetta, L'ANGOLETTO, Matricianella, Vladimiro/Marcello

          Florence - Trattoria Pallottino, Trattoria Croce al Trebbio,
          TRATTORIA IL CONTADINO and Sostanza will be closed while we're there..

          Venice - Alla Madonna, OSTARIA DA RIOBA,

          Thoughts?

          1. None of the restaurants on your Venice list has amazing food, though all of them are reasonably priced for Venice. I think the food at Trattoria Storica is very good, a little better than Da Rioba. Both are small , traditional, well worn decor with personal service. Alla Madonna is a large bustling trattoria. The first time I ate there was 25 years ago and thought the food was tired and the service perfunctory. Decided to give it another try couple years ago; nothing has changed...the pasta with ink sauce came out two minutes after we put in our order and the vegetables were tire and limp. Al Nono Risorto is inexpensive because their speciality is pizza which are very good.

            2 Replies
            1. re: PBSF

              Thanks for your reply. I called Da Rioba and Alla Madonna and they will both be closed. Surprise, surprise. What about these? I still have to call and see if they're open though.

              Ai Tre Spiedi
              Trattoria da Remigio
              Al Promessi Sposi
              Osteria al Bomba

              1. re: valligirl20

                If I have only one day in Venice I would pick Trattoria da Remigio though I have not eaten there in a few years. It is a cut above the other three you mentioned in term of price and service. It is small, moderately priced with very good traditional Venetian seafood. Ai Tre Spiedi is no nonsense osteria serving food seafood with a no reservation policy. Al Promessi Sposi is similar but I think it takes reservations. Osteria al Bomba is crowded, lively and is best for ciccheti and pasta.
                Many of the places that have been mentioned on this board are small trattorias/osterias serving essential a similar Venetian menu. How great an experience one has sometimes depends on a bit of luck and expectation. Most of the time the food will be good and the service decent. If you are not looking for an expensive topnotch restaurant, I would just pick one that takes reservation, open when you’re there in August and enjoy your meal.

            2. My husband's from a place that's not too far from Como...so I checked thru his restaurant info and came across a business card for Scaldasole Trattoria on Via A. Volta, 41 tel. +39 031/263889. I have never eaten there, so can't vouch for the food. but i did check online & is still open...and found this sight which might be helpful in choosing a restaurant: www.comolake.com (it has an english option) in the area. I do know that the Cernobbio area of Como is really nice & upmarket - lots of villas on the lake (including george clooney's) and chic restaurants.

              Also, you might want to try having "apperitivi" while you're in the north of Italy. Around 7-7:30 pm most bars in the north of Italy will lay out a spread of finger food, which you can usually help yourself to once you order a drink. It's usually free...though in Milano you may have to pay 5-10 euros. A typical Italian apperitivo drink is the Negroni (gin, vermouth, campari, and orange slice) or Negroni Sbagliato (which replaces white bubbly for the gin). My husband & I used to make that our cheap friday night meal out.

              For Florence, I can recommend a really great place to eat in Fiesole (where all the tourists go up on the hill to watch the sunset). It's a tiny hole-in-the-wall place, maybe seats about 10 people...but has excellent food-and honest prices. They are involved in Slow Food, so you can expect really proper Italian specialties. It's called Vinandro, in Piazza Mino, 33 tel. +39 05559121 (open daily apart from Mondays - don't know about August). We were there for lunch in January of this year...and tucked into some of the best ribollita ever. I would expect the menu to be different for summer, though.

              Hope this helps!

              1 Reply
              1. re: msmarabini

                That is so helpful! Thank you so much. The fact that we're going in August is making it so difficult! I will definitely call and see if they're open.

                I appreciate everyone's help. :) Thanks.

              2. I go to Como twice a year for "work" and stay at the Grand Hotel di Como whose restaurant is very good. I do have two favorites above Cernobbio (about a 10 minute cab ride from Como) that rock.

                Trattoria del Glicine
                Via Carcano,1
                Piazza S.Stefano, Cernobbio 22012 Tel. +39-031-511332

                and

                Il Gatto Nero (the view is spectacular)
                Rovenna, Via Monte Santo,69
                22012 CERNOBBIO +39-031 512042
                This one is a favorite of George Clooney who's house is near our hotel
                http://www.clooneystudio.com/vanityfa...

                Steve

                Here is a link that has a few places in Como and Cernobbio http://chiodofamily.org/como.aspx

                7 Replies
                1. re: backdoc

                  Thanks, I will give them a call and see if they're open. Does anyone know how long the ferry ride is from Lake Como to Bellagio? I think we'll be taking a day trip there.

                  1. re: valligirl20

                    There's a fast (35-40 minutes) and a slow (2 hours). The schedule is probably online if you search "Lake Como ferry." If you have the time, taking the slow ferry from Como to Bellagio is worth it because of the views you can get on deck. The fast ferry is like being in an airplane, so your view is through a small porthole.

                    1. re: MBlair

                      Thanks.

                      1. re: valligirl20

                        If you're going to take the ferry ride, then I can suggest two very good restaurants in Tremezzo, across the lake from Bellagio. Al-Valuu is on the hill above the town and the food and the atmosphere were really great there, not to mention the view. The owners are some of the nicest people we met on our trip. Also in Tremezzo, right on the lake is La Darsena. Again, we had a very good meal there, emphasis on fish, and the waitstaff and owner were very, very friendly. We were expecting mediocre dining experiences on the lake but we were really surprised by how good and enjoyable they ended up being. The two restaurants I mentioned are not overly touristy and are fairly reasonable. Have a wonderful trip.

                      2. re: MBlair

                        Here is the link to the schedules in english: http://www.navigazionelaghi.it/eng/co...

                        1. re: backdoc

                          Thanks.
                          I'm trying to decide if we should even go to Bellagio. I'm worried that we'll have too many things crammed in since we're only in each city for 2 nights. Is it really worth going?

                          1. re: valligirl20

                            The boat ride on the lake is really nice, and it really isn't that time-consuming. Also, we found that the areas further up the lake (such as Bellagio, Mennagio, Varenna and Tremezzo) were really much more charming than Como, so you may really enjoy. Bellagio is the most touristy stop on the boat, but you really don't need to spend that long there. By the way, the restaurant I mentioned, La Darsena, across from Bellagio in Tremezzo is also open for lunch.

                  2. Try D'Augusto in Trastevere while in Rome. You might have to queue outside, but it's a classic trattoria and dinner for two won't put you over €50 including a first, a second, and dessert, plus a liter of their house vino, maybe even an antipasti to share. You'll find they have a special every night, i.e. gnocchi always on Thursdays, cod on Saturdays, etc. Afterwards, they add up your bill on the paper tablecloth. Also, I've heard Osteria Rouge in the Piazza San Lorenzo is excellent; it's the sort of place where there aren't any menus and everything is scribbled on a chalkboard. In fact, if you're looking to get away from touristy areas, the Piazza San Lorenzo is where you will find all the locals.

                    Some other suggestions: Pasta a Mani on the less travelled side of Viale Trastevere, but a bit more expensive, and Pirelli's in Testaccio

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: BourgeoisBoheme

                      Thanks, those sound great!
                      I have made some reservations. Tell me what you think of these. We want to eat delicious food so if you think I should make some changes let me know. As far as price goes, we're trying to pick places with entrees no more than 30 (dollars) give or take.

                      Rome:
                      La Piazetta
                      L' Angoletto

                      Florence:
                      La Giostra
                      Quattro Leoni

                      Venice:
                      Trattoria da Remigio

                      Lake Como:
                      Il Gatto Nero

                      1. re: BourgeoisBoheme

                        Hmmm, I just replied but it did not show up for some reason.

                        Ok, I made some reservations. Please tell me what you think. We want to eat delicious food and would like to keep the entree prices at no more than 30 (dollars) give or take.

                        Rome:
                        La Piazetta
                        L' Angoletto

                        Florence:
                        La Giostra
                        Quattro Leoni

                        Venice:
                        Trattoria da Remigio

                        Lake Como:
                        Il Gatto Nero

                        1. re: valligirl20

                          We're going to the Lakes in Sept. 09 and were thinking of Bellagio. I had the impression it was the least touristy/most charming of the towns... not the case? We do not do well with crowds lined up for sightseeing, etc.

                          Also one comment: in Florence, don't miss the Bargello Museum. It is quiet, uncrowded and lovely, with a beautiful courtyard. I go back every visit. Grazie.