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Florence, Siena, Bologna - Specific question

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Maya Oct 1, 2009 10:27 AM

We're looking for recs for a specific type of place in Florence, Siena and Bologna.

We will have our 7-month old with us and are also looking to keep the spending down. We're hoping to find unassuming little bistro-like places where we can order a single course and maybe a bowl of soup without offending.

Any recommendations are much appreciated!

  1. m
    MesaChow Oct 6, 2009 03:03 PM

    We visited Florence & Bologna in March of last year, so the prices may have changed since then, but I would recommend these two spots without hesitation as excellent values and great experiences.

    Florence:
    Nebrone (in Mercato Centrale - perfect for lunch). Communal tables.
    Pork sandwich 4 euro. Bowl of penne with ragu sauce 6 euro. Bowl of risotto of the day 9 euro. Bottle of water 1.50 euro. Tastes of delightful cheeses, sausages, and meats in the stalls around the market - FREE.

    Bologna:
    Trattoria Danio (50 Via San Felice). It's a charming, non-touristy family run spot with excellent food and a great value with their prix fixe lunch (11.50 euro for 2 courses, salad, bread, water and wine). I didn't notice if they had a high chair or anything of the like, but the family that runs the place were wonderful and charming, and I'm sure would treat you well with children. It's located a handful of blocks directly west of the Piazza Maggiore (Via Ugo Bassi becomes Via San Felice).

    Enjoy your trip!!

    1. l
      LotsC Oct 20, 2009 03:08 AM

      In Florence we went to Marione in the via della Spada near Via Tornabuoni and had a two course meal there which was cheap, basic service was abrupt but the food was good and ridiculously reasonable. I think it definitely cost c.15 euros per head.

      1 Reply
      1. re: LotsC
        c
        CJT Oct 20, 2009 07:41 AM

        For Florence, here are some reviews I wrote last time we were there. You can have good meals at these places for little money (prices are from December 2007, but will not be a lot more now if at all changed:

        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.
        This is a great restaurant to sample home cooking of good quality at a reasonable price. We would definitely go back for more.

        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. BEST PRICE/QUALITY VALUE IN FLORENCE

        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.

        First reply to your post spelled Nerbone wrong. But it is a good place for a really low-cost but satisfying meal. You can also have a few nibbles of cheese and meat at other stalls in the Mercato Centrale before or after you eat at Nerbone. If you get the hot sandwiches, you have to pay first, then keep your ticket/receipt and go to the end of the counter where they make them and show your ticket to get yours - always a line of people there.

      2. s
        sambamaster Oct 21, 2009 12:51 AM

        In Siena, I've always liked Trattoria La Torre. Very simple, house-made pastas, lots of roasted meats, etc. No soup that I can recall, maybe ribollita, but probably not. Get a couple orders of pasta (ravioli con burro e salvia, or tagliatelli con ragu di cinghiale or what ever you like) and the arista or one other meat, their great roasted patate. Nice. Not terribly expensive. It's just off the Campo, a couple doors down the street directly left of the Torre. They might have a printed menu, but I've never seen it. House wine is ok, nothing special. I'll be back in early November....

        Nerbone in Florence is a good option, don't be intimidated. Also Da Mario nearby. There are really lots of choices. Use the search function!

        Have fun.

        1. l
          LotsC Oct 21, 2009 03:33 AM

          Vini e Vecchi Sapori is excellent so second that one. I am a huge fan of the Osteria de Benci although the prices might be a little North of what you are hoping to pay. Prices in Siena are less. I have thoroughly enjoyed meals at L'Osteria and L'Aquila (unknown to these boards).
          Papei is sadly not as good as it used to be. Hope this helps

          1 Reply
          1. re: LotsC
            m
            mr99203 Nov 24, 2009 07:51 PM

            In Siena, Osteria Nonna Gina is a warm, small place that I would be very comfortable with a small child and ordering as you've described.

          2. sinjawns Nov 25, 2009 05:43 AM

            Hi Maya:
            In Bologna, try this place: http://www.osteriadellorsa.com/
            Super cheap place, zero attitude for small orders. A few small tables and two large communal ones. Very friendly but busy and student-y; aim to arrive just as they open at noon. We ate there a couple of times; not earth-shattering food, but a sustaining and pleasant experience.

            1. ellene Nov 25, 2009 10:57 PM

              In Florence there are lots of deals to be had - especially at lunch restaurants are offering specials everywhere.

              Try Osteria Caffe Italiano (on the corner just to the right of Vivoli) - they are offering a lunch for 5.90 a person, including a primo piatto (of usually soup or pasta) and water, house wine and a cup of coffee are also included in the price. It's a really nice restaurant and you would pay tons more for the same thing at dinner.

              Also a quick lunch at Bar Pazkawski (spelling help anyone?) on the northwest corner of Piazza Republica is only 5 euro a plate. There is usually a selection of about 4-5 pastas, a soup and a selection of about 6-8 vegetables...you can mix and match and get a plate half full of pasta with perhaps roasted asparagus and eggplant on the side. The trick is to not sit down at the restaurant tables where you will pay more than double - the way to do it is: go to the register and pay for your primo piatto. Take the receipt to the back of the bar where you will see your selection of dishes for that day, order a plate full of whatever you like, and go to sit outside (only the tables on the far right side of the terrace) or you can also sit up on the balcony inside for chillier days.... For the price, the food is delicious and the atmosphere is perfect for bringing kids along too.

              3 Replies
              1. re: ellene
                c
                CJT Nov 26, 2009 07:10 AM

                Osteria del Caffe Italiano has always been a good place to eat. Not sure if it is still there, but they used to have a smaller but related restaurant (also Caffe Italiano, same ownership and food from the same kitchens) on a side street - Via della Condotta - running off Calzaiuoli. Downstairs was a bar/cafe but there were tables and chairs upstairs. They served lunch only with a limited menu Monday to Saturday (everything was brought in from the main kitchens of the owners). We had an excellent lasagne there.
                Others worth trying are Le Mossacce (Via del Proconsolo 55 near Bargello) and Vini del Chianti - a panini and wine stand on the side of a building on the Via del Cimatori just off the Via dei Calzaiuoli opposite Orsanmichele. You order sandwiches and wine/drinks from the counter and stand in the little stret eating it along with plenty of other people.

                Correct speilling of the other place is Paczkowski.

                1. re: CJT
                  s
                  susanct Nov 27, 2009 03:34 AM

                  The sandwich/wine stand on Via dei Cimatore is called I Fratellini. Delicious small panini on warm rolls.

                  1. re: susanct
                    c
                    CJT Nov 27, 2009 11:33 AM

                    Thanks for the update. Must have changed hands since we last stopped there

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