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May 12, 2010 01:11 AM

Venice, Florence & Rome oh my!

I'm taking my mom to europe in July (I'm in my 20's, she's in her 50's). We'll be in italy for 10 days - 3 days in venice & florence, and 4 in rome. I'm mostly worried about venice, as I remember it being fairly expensive / having bad experiences.

The only place where I had memorable meals was in Florence - il latini and osteria del porcellino, and this one other place in a hotel that i can't remember but was oh so delicious! We just kept asking the waiters at each restaurant where to eat next. Last time in venice we got caught in all the freakin tourist traps, especially at the restaurants along the grand canal with the waiters trying to drag you in. In Rome we had a lot of pizza and pasta, but nothing special.

Seeing that we'll be spending a month abroad, we're going to be on a budget. I've been looking on the boards, and everyone says "make lunch your main meal, and graze for dinner".

My mom is NOT a big seafood eater. She'll eat fish like sea bass, and shrimp, but won't touch squid or muscles. I personally love seafood, and will try anything once.

So I'm looking for recommendations on places for lunch and dinner, and specifically what dishes to try. Budget let's say 15-20Euros PP for lunch (no wine), and 30Euros PP for dinner (no wine). Is this reasonable?? I was able to splurge more when I went to italy a few years ago since it was for a shorter period of time, so we never looked at the prices even though we didn't go to super high-end places. We don't want anything fancy, just good food and decent portions- pizza, pasta, seafood, risotto, salads. Family run places are great too, my mom likes warm and cozy. We can definitely do panini/salads for lunch, and can grab gelato for dessert to save. Please remember to include what dishes to try, and what the experience was like. Do we need reservations, if so, how far in advance?

Thanks in advance loves!

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  1. In Venice, which can be a tourist trap, it would be wise to do some research, and this thread from the forum has a lot of recommendations:

    You seem to have found a good way to find great meals in Florence. We had a good lucnh at Ristorante Bibo when we were there in 2008. I have only been to Florence on day trips so I'm not too familiar with the dining scene there.

    Here is a link to 3 recommended restaurants:

    For Rome, which is a bigger city, where you have your lunch is often decided by in which area you have planned to stay and explore that day. These threads have a lot of recommendations:

    You can usually reserve a table the same day, but for the more popular ones like Armando A Pantheon you might have to book a day in advance to be sure.

    If you want to explore f.ex. 4 different areas on your trip to Rome these could be som suggestions:

    Pantheon - Armando A Pantheon
    San Lorenzo - Trattoria Monti
    Trastevere - La Scala
    Campo Di Fiori - Ar Galletto

    4 Replies
    1. re: jostber

      Trattoria Monti is in Monti, southwest of Termini and near Santa Maria Maggiore. San Lorenzo is an area east of Termini.

      1. re: zerlina

        Sorry, for that. Of course it is in Monti.

      2. re: jostber

        Thanks for the links, but they tend to go towards the higher end places, especially the great binge of 2009.

        are your 4 rome suggestions in my budget?? If so, which meals do you recommend?

        1. re: DaisyDaisy

          If you go for one of the pasta dishes at these 4 places, you should be within your lunch budget I believe. For the dinner budget others here might give more specific information. I was in Rome again now in January, so I am not sure if prices are higher in the summer.

          Example of a menu:

          All places except Trattoria Monti(Marche) have Roman dishes.

          If you search for these specific restaurants in the forum you should also get some recommendations for dishes.

      3. Hi! I usually don't put in my two cents cos other chows who live over there have a lot more breadth of experience, but I think I know what kind of places you're looking for- I travel with my mom to italy (me late 20s, her 50's too) and I eat seafood and she doesn't. She likes to eat well but isn't into super expensive restaurants or michelin-style food. So here are some places that are tasty, reasonable, with good options for your mom.


        Taverna San Trovaso
        Tel: +39 041 5203 703
        Address: Fondamenta Priuli, Dorsoduro 1016
        Notes: Closed Monday
        Vaporetto Stop: Accademia, Zattere

        It is in the awesome neighborhood of Dorsoduro. If you haven't already picked a hotel, I also highly recommend staying in this area. It's peaceful, way less touristy, and an easy ten minute walk to the saint mark's square. My visit where I stayed in Dorsoduro was by far my best to Venice. The prices are very reasonable, not like the tourist traps near the square (where it seems any decent looking plate of food is over 20 euro) I recommend their pizza and their tiramisu, though it was all good. People line up to eat here when it opens (at 5?) but its two stories, bigger than it looks from the outside, so the wait goes faster than it looks. Been there twice in one trip and I don't usually do that!


        Acqua Al Due
        Via Della Vigna Vecchia 40R
        Florence, 50122
        Tel: 055-284-170
        They have a pasta tasting course, they bring you like 6 kinds of pasta
        to try, absolutely delicious! A couple on their honeymoon told me this was their favorite of the places I recommended. It's kind of modern, for Florence, and popular so best to reserve. But it's not real expensive.


        Enoteca Corsi
        >Lunch Only M-F
        >Enoteca Corsi
        >Via del Gesu 87/88
        >Rome, 00186
        >Tel: 39 06-679-0821

        Been a few times now--will never come to Rome without a lunch here! I specifically ask for the carbonara (best I've ever had) which they will make for me kindly even if its not on their menu (they have a few items a day on a chalkboard instead of a real menu) It's super cheap!!! This is not a fancy sit down place, almost a culinary hole in the wall and a little tricky to find but so worth it and amazing value.

        another great lunch was had at

        La Taverna Degli Amici
        Piazza Margana, 37
        00186 Roma (RM), Italy
        06 69920637

        At lunch they had an amazing antipasto buffet that we looooved. Also the best tiramisu I have ever ever tasted, still dream of it. Went for dinner on another trip, preferred lunch cos of that awesome antipasto buffet.

        On my list for this year's trip to rome (leaving in 41 days, yay!!!) After extensive research!!

        Armando al Pantheon (popular trattoria near pantheon
        Taverna dei Fiori Imperali (soooo popular right now with romans and tourists alike, reserve
        ) La Campana (old classic place, open on sundays which is a big deal in rome)
        Antico Arco  (our splurge, somewhat romantic and fancy)
        Enoteca Cosi  (above)
        Pizza Da Remo ( extensive pizza research indicates this is the one to try)
        Da Cesare (near Vatican, often recommended)
        Colline emilaine (food from Bologna area, everyone on chow seems to adore it and since that area produces a lot of creamy/hearty stuff, I know I will!)
        Checcino dal 1887 - an legendary establishment of roman/jewish roman fare that is literally the one restaurant in Rome that is unanimously adored
        La Piazzetta - nearish forum, very popular as well

        Please report back! : )

        1 Reply
        1. re: sarahbeths

          Regarding Florence, I would avoid Enoteca Pinchiorri due to extraordinary price (referred to in jostber's attachment above). Also suggest you stay away from I Latini and Acqua al Due, as both cater more to tourists. That's not to say their food is not good, but that's the environment.
          To meet your needs, see my post from December 2007 on restaurants we ate in and what prices your will find. Since we did not go to Sostanza on that trip, I did not report on it, but I DO recommend you go there and order 1 bistecca fiorentina and 1 pollo en burro (search for reviews on Sostanza and especially mentions of this chicken in butter sauce dish). You will both eat well at a reasonable cost. As for big meals at low prices, I recommend Teatro del Sale for lunch (20 Euros, plus membership fee) for quality, quantity, and overall value (meal includes wine, water, coffee, tea).
          My 2007 post is

        2. Because much of Venetian cooking is seafood based, eating out in Venice is expensive. Given that, there are still many good moderately price trattoria and osteria that are within your budget. Eating light lunches of pannini and cicchetti will definitely keep the cost down and there is never a problem order a simple plate of pasta or risotto. The idea of gelato for dessert is a good one. They are all over Venice and most open late, perfect for after dinner strolling. Antipasti are usually excellent but tend to be expensive, therefore, order just one to share. For light lunch try:
          San Marco: da Asciugheta (mentioned previous, same owner as Il Ridotto), La Mascareta (open only evenings)
          Cannaregio: al Bomba, alla Vedova, La Cantina all near the busy Strada Nova.
          Santa Croce: al Proscecco with outdoor seating at the beautiful Campo San Giacomo d’Orio
          Dorsoduro: ai Feri, Cantine Del Vino Gia Schiavi
          For moderate price dinner:
          Cannaregio: da Alberto, alla Frasca, alle Botte
          San Polo: Antico Dolo, a la Ponte (there are many a la Ponte but this one also know as La Palatinia),
          Osteria Vivaldi
          Dorosoduro: Dona Onesta
          Santa Croce: da Pinta, alla Zucca (no seafood, pasta, meat and great vegetables, many dishes have more of an international bent)
          Couple of comments: Il Refelo has good pizza (also good expensive antipasti and secondi) but it a few dollars more than every other good places. Since Rome has some of the best pizzeria and is on your agenda, you might consider having pizza then.
          Try to order dishes that is Venetian and stay away from dishes such as spaghetti carbonara, lasagna, veal Milanese. These are rarely done well, even at good places, because they cater to a low common denominator.
          Have a great time in Venice and stroll away from the center to get away from the crowd.

          1. Thanks guys! I'm definitely going to start looking into these recs. We just cut our stay in italy from 10 to 7 days, so less $ spent on hotels = a little more leniency to eat, but can't do il ridotto 2x or anything.

            Is il ridotto really worth the price if my mom doesn't eat much seafood? Is it worth skimping on other meals? I mean is it really delicious to the point that you're going to request it as your last meal? The reviews make me want to go... ahhh but I don't know if I can really afford 175E+ + wine? so confused!

            I've been to il latini before, and i loved it. There were a lot of americans, and study abroad students as well, but the owner (? man in his 50s probably who wrote the bill at the end) came and sat with me and my friend with a bottle of prosecco and a platter of dessert. I loved the experience of the old lady picking who gets to come in, i thought the food was delicious, and sitting at the communal tables was fun. I'd love to share it with my mom.

            Thanks loves!

            4 Replies
            1. re: DaisyDaisy

              I have never been to Il Ridotto but I have spent quite a bite of time in Venice. There are some wonderful simply prepared seafood in Venice but for me, it has no "must", "ultimate", 'my last meal' restaurant. That is just not the nature of Venetian cooking. Given the cost of a meal in Il Ridotto (expensive but by no mean compare to the cost of some of the best restaurants), should not expect it to be the greatest meal. Of course it really depends what one is looking for and ones expectation. One you can decide if a restaurant is worth the cost.

              1. re: DaisyDaisy

                If you particularly enjoyed Il Latini, you may find Il Ridotto disappointing. It's a very different kind of atmosphere (formal rather than informal) and a very different kind of food (not only because it's Venetian and not Tuscan but also because it's creative rather than traditional). There's really nothing like Il Latini in Venice, and even in Florence it's the only restaurant of its kind that I know of.

                If your mother doesn't like seafood, consider a place like Vini da Gigio that is more traditional, less formal and has a menu more evenly divided between meat and seafood dishes.

                1. re: zerlina

                  Im thinking that Il ridotto, vini da gigio, il refolo are all going to be outside the budget Daisy Daisy has stated. some of the places PBSF mentioned are going to be more appropriate to the price range as are some of the very good pizzerias of Venice. Al Patatina is bustling and informal and relatively cheap, with a venice slice of life (I remember firemen cheek on jowl with academics and office workers) so it might please, we thought Dona Onesta was lackluster..

                  My husband and I found Il Latini to be undistinguished food wise and a bit of a gross out in terms of the volume of food 30 years ago (it has been doing its shtick for tourists for a long time, since the $5 a day days) but it has the advantage of allowing the tourist to sit there and be fed a lot a food without having to make many choices for not too much money. Its also bustling and friendly. HOwever its great that you like the very simple Florentine food. I recommend Da Mario on via Rosina, near the San Lorenzo market which is a bustling cafe with very good pasta and soups, and folks like the steaks as well - inexpensive and friendly. We also very much liked Il Fagioli, a little quieter and more upscale but still a friendly, local place on Via dei Tintori, down toward the river from the Santa Croce piazza. There are also a lot of small local restaurants in the Oltrarno, in the little streets around Piazza San Spirito which might be good for Florence lunches.

                2. re: DaisyDaisy

                  You can do Il Ridotto & Il Refolo for under 100E for 2; our bill came out to about that and we ordered wine and ate very well. If you eat lighter, then I see no problem for a less expensive meal.

                  Below is my fairly recent review w/pics:
         | Review: Il Refolo, Fiaschetteria Toscana & Il Ridotto | Venice

                  And here is my review on Florence:
         | Review: Sostanza, Grom, Borgo Antico, Gilli, Cibreo Trattoria, Golden View | Florence

                  Any the request for suggestions that started it all for me:
         | Florence & Venice Food-tinerary

                3. just booked our hotels... now i gotta map out restaurants and a site seeing itinerary...
                  venice: hotel antiche figure
                  florence: hotel delgi orafi
                  rome: hotel artemide

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: DaisyDaisy

                    PS - In which sestiere (neighborhood) is your hotel in Venice?

                    1. re: DaisyDaisy

                      Hi Daisy, Try all'Anfora near you for wonderful pizza in a lively atmosphere (they have a garden too). Even in San Marco, you can find great sandwiches for lunch at the Bar all'Angolo on the corner of Campo Santo Stefano. I sound like a broken record recommending the Promessi Sposi just off Campo Santi Apostoli on Calle de la Oca, both for quality of the meals and reasonable price.

                      On a nice night, hang out at El Refolo (in Castello on via Garibaldi this one) noshing on excellent sliced meats, cheeses, and wines by the glass, while enjoying the local atmosphere (all outdoor).

                      Enjoy Venice!