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Trip Report (Rome, Tuscany, Venice)

c
catsluvcofffee Jun 23, 2009 06:36 AM

Hi, back from Italy and would like to give my 2 cents worth on certain "internet famous" restaurants I've eaten at since I have used this website extensively to select my chow places!

Overall experience:
Average. I had some really great food and some really bad food. Perhaps I left with over high expectations and did not attain the type of food epiphany I experienced when I was in Japan.

Rome:
Armando Al Pantheon: Easily the best of the lot in Rome.
Carbonara sauce was a little too salty but the ham was flavorful.
Grilled lamb was nicely done, crisp but tender. Again on the salty side. House white was great!

Matricianella: Not worth it!
Cacio e pepe was ordinary and too salty.
Grilled lamb was dry and way too salty.

Antico Arco: Overall, I didn't really think that Antico Arco was worth the price I paid for.
While the service was impeccable - they gave us a wrong dish and graciously placed it on the house, the food wasn't. We had the
Small anchovies and burrata cheese pie with zucchini flowers (wrong order but easily the most flavorful and most interesting dish!)
Small macaroni with amatriciana sauce (ordinary)
Crispy suckling pig in a sweet & sour sauce, fennel and citrus soufflé (3 small and tender medallions. While not bad, not worth the price)
“Milanese style” veal cutlet with stick potatoes and salty lemon sorbet (Sorry, just did not like the taste)

Da Baffeto:
Had the Quattro Formaggi and the Da Baffeto. Both great (I am still dreaming of the gorgonzola cheese dripping off the crust!) I understand that this may not be the best pizzeria but if this is representative of Roman pizza, it is easily the best I ever had in my life.

Pienza:
La Buca Di Enea:
This was recommended by my b&b host and it was great! We had the spinach tortellini with ricotta cheese and the crepes with quattro formaggi filling (both less than 10 euros). Delicious!

Latte Di Luna:
Not up to expectations. Suckling pig and truffle tagliatelle were delicious and worth every penny but Latte Di Luna has this godlike reputation online which led me to imagine earthshaking flavours! What did surprise me was the extremely sweet and fresh melon we had after dinner. We could NEVER get such sweet melon in Singapore.

Montepulciano:
Osteria Acquacheta (on recommendations by b&b host to only sample their meat dishes!)
We had the perfect lunch experience here in this osteria where we could watch the going ons in the kitchen. We tasted our first bistecca alla fiorentina and were amazed! We also had the mashed potato with truffle shavings and lava chocolate cake. All very nice. The owner was a colourful character and the waitresses were sweet.

Venice:
Da Rioba:
After Rome and Tuscany, I was frankly surprised to see fine dining style dishes at this moderately priced restaurant. To prove my point, I'm posting a pic of Da Rioba's starter fish dish (IMG 2194) and Anice Stellato's similarly priced fish cichetti (IMG 2243). I was really impressed by the presentation and freshness of the ingredients used at Da Rioba. Every dish we had were delicious. Anice Stellato, despite being on guidebook recommendations, was disappointing.

Ill Ridotto:
Here, dishes focuses on the texture and freshness of the ingredients. But I must say that his amuse bouches were the stars. We went twice and both times, we ended up wishing that the main dishes were as sublimal as his amuse-bouches. Otherwise, while every dish is good, just not as mind blowing as I imagined.

Nevertheless, I can understand the fuss over Il Ridotto which is why we bothered to go twice. Btw his version of Tiramisu was fantastic (cold, sweet and completely drenched in espresso), a standard sadly lacking in all the other restaurants we were at in Italy.

 
 
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    Indy 67 Jun 23, 2009 07:44 AM

    The question of cost, especially personal value, is such a subjective one that I doubt an impersonal food board like this is the best forum. I absolutely, completely believe your experience at Antico Arco was not worth the price for you. In contrast, my husband and I felt our recent dinner at Antico Arco was our best value meal in Rome in spite of its expensive price tag.

    In another thread, there's been some backing and forthing over the definition of "expensive." Some posters have placed restaurants like Antico Arco, Checchino, and Al Ceppo in the expensive category. Fodor's.com likewise puts these in the expensive category ($$$$). However, another poster only mentions La Pergola as an example of an expensive restaurant. (Frankly, I'd put La Pergola, Agata e Romeo, and Il Convivio in the super-expensive category, but Fodor's has no such group so this group is also in the same $$$$ category.)

    Depsite the obvious benefit of all the Chowhound boards and the generous wisdom of the collective Chowhound posters, it's apparent that there are limits to our utility.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Indy 67
      c
      catsluvcofffee Jun 23, 2009 07:58 AM

      I believe that as well! if my experience was outstanding, the price is a secondary issue. We went into the Antico Arco well expecting that type of pricing. Perhaps the dishes we ordered were not to our liking! After all we only went once.

      On the other hand, without Chowhound, I would not have discovered gems like Da Rioba or Il Ridotto.

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