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Venice, Florence, Rome, & Cinque Terre Restaurant Recommendations Needed

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Hello fellow chowhounders,

My wife and I will be in Italy in about a week and I was looking to finalize some of the restaurants that we were considering. We are looking for cheap eats and also mid priced places and snacks that are a must as well.

We are looking for restaurants with delicious, authentic, and honest food. We would prefer restaurants in the 30 to 40E range or about 80E for the two of us but if it is cheaper even better. I am not much of an alcohol drinker or a seafood eater. My wife loves both.

I know there are posts like this all time. I have done some research of Chowhound and the internet and came up with a few places. It seems as though there isn't much of a consensus on the restaurants that must be eaten while in these cities, making deciding all the more difficult. We would appreciate any suggestions or comments.

Venice - We will be staying in Venice for unfortunately only night. We just had to come see Venice, even if only for one day. We will be staying about 5 mins from St. Marks Square.

Il Refolo - for pizza
Il Ridotto
Da Fiore
La Zucca
Bancogiro
Vino Vino
Cantina Do Mori

Florence - We will be in Florence for 3 days and will be staying near Ponte Vecchio.

Teatro Del Sale
Osteria De Benci
Buca Lapi
Acqua Al 2
Vivoli or Bodiani or Grom- gelato

Rome - We will be in Rome for 3 days staying near the Villa Borghese

Al Ceppo
Antico Arco
Matricinella
Antico Forno Roscioli
Da I 2 Ciccioni
Hostaria Romana
Felice A Testaccio
Osteria Qui Se Magna
Il Gelato Di San Crispino or Giolitti or - gelato

Cinque Terre - Will be staying two days at Vernazza but would be down to eat in other areas.

Not quite sure where to eat yet

Right now these restaurants are just names and don't really mean much to me as for quality of food and prices. Would love some insight if any of these are worth going to or others that are.

Thank you for any comments or suggestions.

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  1. Instead of looking for consensus or quick recommendations, I would focus on what you would like to eat in each of city and try to find places that meet your expectation. One can certainly eat decently for 30-40E per person, but don’t expect the top restaurants since Venice, Florence and Rome are the three most expensive food cities in Italy.
    For Venice, that will definitely rule out Da Fiore, which is very expensive (at least 200E for two with very modest wine and seafood only). Il Ridotto is also out of your price range. Il Refolo has very good pizza, though expensive, and antipasti but with only one day in Venice, I would save pizza for Rome. Alla Zucca is good, does not serve seafood and some of the food is more international then Venetian. I recommended Bancogiro on one of your other posts. Vino Vino is a wine bar that has evolved into a trattoria in the evening. The food is decent and I like the cozy atmosphere. Cantina Do Mori is one of a numerous atmospheric bacari near the Rialto market that serves cicchetti and wine by the glass. It is stand up only (no table or seats) and closes by late afternoon. Nearby are the similar Arco and La Marca.
    As for Rome, Al Ceppo, where I did not have a very good meal last year, and Antico Arco, very good, are both out of your price range. Matricinella is a typical Roman trattoria serving up mostly good hearty food. Rome has great pizza: Monte Carlo, Da Francesco, Da Baffetto and Dar Poeta are just a few. Antico Forno Roscioli is a wonderful enoteca with excellent wines and product from their nearby deli (beautiful cheeses and cured meats) and bakery. The gelato at San Crispino and Giolitti are both good and preference would depends on the flavor and style. San Crispino is lighter, therefore, the fruit flavors come through better, though I prefer the rich creamy style of Giolitti. Since they are both in the center, no problem giving them multiple tries. I am not in Rome often, therefore, hope the Rome experts chime in.

    6 Replies
    1. re: PBSF

      Here is info I have posted in the past on places to eat in Florence. Since you have already decided to go to Teatro del Sale, I won't repeat on it, but you will find it meets your specifications for excellent food in great quantity at a reasomable price (you have to reserve for dinner, but not for lunch). Also bear in mind that wine and mineral water are provided at no extra charge and are self-serve as is the food.

      Others to consider:
      - Vini e Vecchi Sapori Via dei Magazzini 3/R So small its not easy to find at the end of this small street, just before you go into the Piazza della Signoria. Seats no more than 16-18 people and you might have to share a table with others. Most of the clientele appear to be personal friends of the owners, so it is a very real Florentine place. If it’s full when you go there, come back in a half-hour and there might be seats for you.
      Our primi were: tagliatelle con anatra (freshly made flat noodles with duck meat) and bucatini con carciofi (pasta with chopped cooked artichoke – not chunks of artichoke but little pieces blended in the sauce). Both were priced at 8 Euros per plate, were sizable portions, and were very delicious and flavorful. For secondo, we shared puntarelle stuffed with ground meat (veal and pork with spices and tomato pieces) – like cabbage rolls – but more subtle in flavors and texture (puntarelle is a winter chicory). Price was 9 Euros and we had enough for two to eat and enjoy.
      - Trattoria Il Contadino Via Palazzuolo 69-71r An excellent bargain: low price, very good food! Fixed price menu is 11 Euros and includes a primo, a secondo, bread, wine or bottled water. We had: freshly made fettucini with fresh pesto (best plate of fettucini I ever ate!) and spinach-stuffed ravioli in a meat sauce. Secondi: grilled swordfish (fresh and nicely grilled) and veal stew with tiny peas and potatoes. Both secondi came with side orders of vegetables so we shared a plate of mixed cooked veggies (potatoes, carrots, artichokes, green beans) and a mixed grens salad with radicchio, fennel, chicory, and lettuce.
      - Trattoria Antico Fattore Via Lambertesca 1/3r We have been here 3 times and will always return for 2 special dishes they offer: gnocchi in black truffle sauce (8 Euros) and pici alla Senese (8 Euros). The truffle sauce is an absolutely great experience and should be tried. Pici is a very thick spaghetti common to the area of Siena (Senese refers to Siena) and at Antico Fattore, it is prepared in a light cream sauce with tiny walnut pieces – excellent as well. For secondo, we shared involtini (13 Euros) – veal slices wrapped around sage leaves with bacon wrapped around the veal. It was quite tasty but the portion of 2 involtini was rather small and not worth 13 Euros (approx $19). We were also disappointed that the bill included a 1.30 Euro per person cover and 4 Euro service fee.
      I always suggest that before going to this restaurant you go to their website (www.anticofattore.com) On the home page, click on “Uno Regalo per Voi” and print out the page which comes up. Take that page to the restaurant and when you present it they will give you both a small dish (useful for olives and as a souvenir of Florence) and a free bottle of Ruffino wine (white or red at your choosing) to take with you when you leave. The wine offsets the service fee and drinks well.
      - Il Pallotino Via della Stinche 1/r (across from small Ukrainian church on corner of Via Vigna Vecchia) Found this little place when others nearby were not open. They offer a “menu degustazione” at only 8.50 Euros and it was quite good: penne in a simple butter and black pepper preparation, followed by a grilled slice of pork with carrots and zucchini. Wife ordered risotto with speck and radicchio and found it a real delight. Rice turned red from being cooked with the radicchio and the speck gave it a nice extra flavor (8 Euros). Unpretentious good restaurant at a budget price. Mostly Italian families eating there.
      - Quick lunch places: Nerbone and Vini del Chianti
      - Nerbone is still going strong but I was disappointed not to find ribollita on the menu when we were there – theirs is one of the best I have had in Florence. Had to settle for pasta fagioli soup, which was good but not like the ribollita. Meat used in the panini sandwiches this visit was pork, not beef, as on last visits.
      - Vini del Chianti is a panini and wine stand on the side of a building on the Via del Cimatori just off the Via dei Calzaiuoli opposite Orsanmichele. Good quick sandwich and glass of wine for low price, stand in the street to eat and drink with everyone else. Still a good place for a quick bite.
      -Osteria de Caffè Italiano on the corner of Via Isola delle Stinche and Via della Vigna Vecchia is slightly upscale and belongs to the Alle Murate chain. This place was originally a wine bar and you can order wines by the glass. I think we ate a wonderful tortelloni (stuffed pasta similar to ravioli) there. Good meat dishes as well.
      - Le Mossacce is a small trattoria on the Via del Proconsolo just south of the Duomo but north of the Bargello on the west side of the street. Recommended for lunch. The place is busy and you sit at wooden tables. This is a good place to see the local people at lunch and not very expensive
      - Try Paoli on Via dei Tavolini. Very nice old atmosphere in what is the storeroom of an old palace. Food is good and the clientele is local, especially at Saturday lunch when people take a break from shopping.

      1. re: CJT

        PBSF - Thank you for your continued responses to my restaurant requests. Very thankful to you. The reason that I look for restaurants that are a consensus is because it gives me reassurance that these restaurants being recommended are indeed good. My thinking being that if they are enjoyed by a lot of people then better chance of me enjoying it as well. You seem to be very knowledgeable and I appreciate your advice and the way you addressed each of the restaurants. Thank you!!!

        CJT - I take it you enjoyed Teatro Del Sale and I looking forward to it. Thank you for the other rec's on restaurants in Florence. I wish I could stay here for a month to try all of these places out.

        1. re: CJT

          CJT - it's almost impossible to express how fun it was to read your reply about places in Florence, particularly cuz my wife and I are going there in May 2010. It'll be our 1st time too. We'll only be there 4 nights, but our stay will benefit from reading your views on where to eat and why. Thank you.

          1. re: CJT

            sept 22 ~heading to ilborro(arezzo) for 1 week and rome ,4 days...what are the best places for foodies, no limits on great food~~~~ manyy thx ltj, ohio..... qbncgrz@aol.com

            1. re: diamond46

              If you set this up as a new post seeking advice abour restaurants near Il Borro or Arezzo, you will get more info. There are some restaurants on the Restaurant page in nearby towns . For Rome, I would advise looking through the existing Rome posts then posting about specific areas, restaurants or types of restaurants that interest you.

            2. re: CJT

              Vini e Vecchi Sapori is pretty fab - do they still have all the Madonna posters there! Totally incongruous but the tagliatelle/papardelle con anantra was divine. Have you eaten at the restaurant of Osteria del Caffe Italiano for dinner? Its on my list of possibles to try in November. You've got some great choices although Paoli has a great atmosphere I always feel that the food isn't great

          2. Tony:
            We just got back from 2 weeks in Rome, Florence and Venice and here are my only additions to what PBSF and CJT said:
            Florence: I highly recommend gelato at Festival Del Gelato on Via Del Corso and the incredible pizzas at Il Pizzaiuolo (Via De Macci 113/r)
            Rome: La Trattoria (Via del Pozzo delle Cornacchie, 25) is wonderful. If you can, get a table next to the glass wall of the kitchen and watch them work their magic. We went to Matricinella, but didn't think it was worth all the hype (the food was average and the service was below).
            Wherever you go, you are bound to have a wonderful time.

            1 Reply
            1. re: dmp9454

              dmp9454 - Thanks for the tips on Rome and Florence. I will definitely be eating a lot of Gelato, so we'll try out Festival Del Gelato. Thanks for the tip on Trattoria as well.