Help me choose restaurants - Rome/Florence/Venice!
i could definitely use some help in choosing restaurants for rome (3 nights), florence (2 nights) and venice (2 nights). i have several places that i am leaning towards but not enough for each night.
Rome - I really am lost when it comes to rome, i need some places to have lunch (pizza, sandwiches, picnic items). i was thinking antico forno one day, and possibly picnic items from testacchio market another day. are those good choices? then i will need one more place for lunch.
Dinner - i was thinking armando al pantheon but not sure if it is a good choice. also, need some more recommendations for restaurants for dinner.
Florence - for lunch - one day will be in tuscany and will have lunch during a cooking class. the other day i was thinking about going to pegna for lunch items but would like some other recommendations for lunch (great pizza? - how about bussola?).
Dinner - high on our list is sostanza. other recommendations for the second night are vini e vecchi sapori or teatro del sale - are these worth a visit and was is the price range for two people? can someone explain what teatro del sale is like - it seems that it is not a sit down dinner? any other better recommendations?
Venice - for lunch - choices right now are il refolo for pizza and items from rialto market another day?
Dinner - il ridotto is a definite - what is the price range and do they offer a fixed menu (price?)
was thinking that the second night we would do cicchetti - any recommendations for the best place and time for this?
i would appreciate any feedback on the above or better recommendations. i don't want over the top expensive meals but want nice dinners. probably about $100 for two people but willing to check out some that may be less or a little more! thanks in advance for your help!
As an above poster stated, it is true that Venice does not have much in terms of parks and greenery but it does have many quaint campos with benches as good places for an informal picnic type of lunch. The greenery in Sant Elena in eastern Castello and the Zattere are good spots; also the outer islands, especially Torcello, can be wonderful.
there is sort of a green area in Santa Elena (by the way, this is a LONG was from normal visitors haunts) where people walk their dogs but it was not very attractive the last time we were there. Id rather sit in that nice parish trattoria on the square for an hour or so than hunch on a bench over a sandwich, wouldnt you? they offered nice fish and pasta the last time we visited. Yes the Zattere is a really nice place to sit on a fine day.
re: jen kalb
Some people love trattorias for lunch, others like a sandwich or prosciutto, cheeses and fresh strawberries sitting in a campo; no big deal if you like fish and pasta for lunch. Some have no problem eating in a cafe/restaurant three meals a day, other maybe not. With only two days in Venice, some may want to use the time for sightseeing and wandering about the canals. It might be a money saving reason or may not. It's just an option; we don't have to decide for the OP.
Youre right PBSP. , Im sort of assuming that people who look for advice in this forum, are interested in more of the food experience than just collecting a couple of restaurant tips. Im suggesting that experiencing italian eating patterns can be an enjoyable part of the experience in itself, and possibly turn out to work better than doing what we might do in the US (a quick sandwich or pizza lunch). At least thats what Ive come to learn over the years, but everyone is different. An example - in Rome in midsummer, there are not many indoor venues open to tourists at noontime and walking or sitting around in the blazing sun is not that fun. Better to sit under an umbrella and eat a leisurely lunch (I have fond memories of these very pleasant meals), saving the walking and touring for the cooler late afternoon and evening hours.
Husband and I cant eat two full italian restaurant meals a day as we once could, but we deal with it by cutting back on the size of the meals, mostly and a lot of vigorous walking!
thank you for your replies! i do like the idea of eating fresh meat and cheese out in the fresh air rather than sitting in a restaurant for both lunch and dinner but i am willing to try anything good and will eat somewhere if it is the only way to fit in a place that i really want to try.
here is a dilemna i am having and maybe you can help. i was thinking of il ridotto as a definite but also came across great reviews for alle testiere. if i want to eat here, i have to do it on a monday as they are closed on sunday (there are our only two nights). so the pub crawl for cichetti cannot be done on sunday b/c most of the places are closed. can i do cicchetti on monday for lunch - is this something that is done for lunch? if so, anywhere great you recommend and then do i eat at il ridotto on sunday night or somewhere else? thanks!
Because so much of Venice's food is seafood base, it is probably more difficult to find good eating places opened on Mondays. (Rialto closed Sun and Mon and no fresh seafood since Saturday morning). Cichetti places more often close on Sundays.
Alle Testiere is probably my favorite restaurant in Venice. I have not been to Il Ridotto but from reading various posts, the two restaurants couldn't be more different (not in any negative way). If you have gotten a good impression on both places , pick the one that fit what you are looking for and don't worry about reviews. jen kalb is right that you will not be able to eat at Ridotto on $100 for two. My impression is that it will be at least 50-60E before any wine or drinks. Hope someone who have eaten there recently can chime in. Still, I think it is worth splurging if it is what you are looking for. Just couple of comments: don't set your expectation to a level that a restaurant cannot meet. Italian food is very regional; eat what Venetians cook best and I would stay from most pasta unless it is with some sort of seafood. The strength of Venetian cooking is seafood simply prepared. There is no rule that one has to order a three course meal; share antipasto, skip dessert since it is not great at most places; alle Testiere being an exception. Instead of dessert, eat gelato as there a tons of places in the center and most open late.
Lunch is a great time to eat cichetti and you'll be eating among mostly locals. As I stated on an earlier post, unlike tapas in Spain, cichetti are not usually eaten for dinner and "pub crawl" is not part of Venetian life. Just be aware that most are stand-up (Vino Vino being an exception; counter order and they will bring it to your table) and can get crowded. Also, some have only a small simple selection. I've listed some of my favorites (some more for ambience though the food is at least acceptable). Some will have a small bar for cichetti and a back room for regular sit down meals. I wrote down if any are closed Sun or Mon but my notes are not always up to date and hope you are not there in August as a few might be closed. Many of the atmospheric bacari around the Rialto are closed Sun and Mon.
San Marco: Cavatappi (closed Sun night/ Mon), Osteria a Bacareto (closed Sun), Vini da Arturo (closed Sun)
Canneregio: Alla Vedova, Le Cantina (closed Sun) (both great cichetti selection), Alla Botte (closed Sun night), Ai Promessi Sposi (closed Sun)
San Polo: Bancogiro (closed Mon, wonderful outside canal seating), Osteria Vivaldi
Santa Croce:Al Prosecco (tramezzini and panini only, closed Sun, outside table on a beautiful camp)
Dorosduro: Ai Vini Padovani (closed Sun), Cantinone Gia Schiavi (closed Sun night; closed early the other nights)
First of all, pizza is mainly an evening meal choice in Italy. these are mostly personal size pizzas, and eaten with a knife and fork. A lot of pizzerias are not open at lunch time. Second, after a morning on your feet touring, You may not want to mill around and eat takeout pizza or panini - you are likely to want to sit down in a restaurant or cafe- also many churches, museums and most shops are closed in the early afternoon - that gap , especially in the summer, makes lunch a good time for a sitdown meal, even just a light one (say a salad and pasta dish). Italians often go home for lunch or go out to lunch with workmates or friends- they dont scarf quick takeout lunches like americans do. One of the most relaxing aspects of an italian trip is those lunchtime carafes of wine during a leisurely lunch (you dont need to buy a bottle, the house wines are usually fine and inexpensive, cheaper than beer.) Finally, Venice is not really a place for picnicking - there are not really parks to spread out on, benches along canals for the view, etc. I dont mean to be discouraging just to give you some thoughts.
I cant quite tell from your initial post what kind of eating you are looking for. I believe from the reports that Il Ridotto is upscale, not particularly Venetian and might be more expensive than the $100 per person budget, but it might be special enough to warrant it.
There are lots of recommendations on this board for meals in these cities - you can also look at slowfood for some less expensive restaurants where you will have good characteristic meals.
Here is some additional Venice advice I gave a couple of years ago - still good, The Gustafson book is particularly useful because it covers all of your destination cities and helps you find places near where you happen to be.
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/348305 We only got one real doggy recommendation (in Prati, a difficult neighborhood) on the trip when we used it.
Just know that the closer you eat to the big tourist draws (San Marco, the Vatican, Piazza Navona/Pantheon, the Uffizzi, routes between them, or near Railway stations the less likely that you are going to find good non-touristic food easily.
From sound of your post, you are making dinner your main meal which means lunch is probably an informal affair. Any lunch recommendation would depend on what part of the city you will be at during lunch hours and how much time you want to spend eating. For example, in Venice, it would be pointless to recommend a place in Dorsoduro if you are visiting the Doges Palace in San Marco, Your idea of places like al Forno and picnics are always appropriate and will save expense. As for dinner recommendations, there are tons posts on the three cities you are visiting. You current lists are some of the "favorites" on this board, therefore, it is sort of redundant to ask if they are worth a visit.
I know Venice pretty well and my advice are: save pizza for an evening in Rome. Il Refolo is good but only if you haven't had your fill of pizza by then. The Rialto itself is not for prepared food (fresh fruits, vegetables and seafood). One would have to go to several shops that border the market to pick up assorted provisions for a picnic. It is not a problem if you have time to stroll the area nearby. If you want specific places for cheeses, cured meat, bread, etc, let me know and I can post some. Unlike tapas in Spain, cicchetti are generally not eaten at dinner time. They are often very simple places for a couple glasses of wine and snack; most are standup. Lunch, late afternoon and early evenings are the popular times. Search for cicchetti and you'll find many recommendations for Venice; same for restaurants. If you can be specific on what types of restaurants you are looking for in terms of food and ambience, you'll get many response and recommendations.