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Italy for the first time - Rome, Florence and Venice


I will be in Italy for the first time in early September. I am staying near St Peter's Basilica in Rome, and near Rialto bridge in Venice.

I just want some recommendations for reasonably priced, Italian restaurants. I would like a mix of pizza, pasta and enoteca, so I can have some places in my pocket in case I am at a loose end, I don't want to easte a meal in Italy in a tourist trap.


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  1. My suggestion is to search this board as there are more posts on these three cities than anywhere else in Italy. You will find recommendations for all types of restaurants as well as pizzarias and enoteca/bacari. There has been a recent post on eating in Venice. Venice proper is compact, therefore, where you are staying will have very little impact on choosing places to eat. If you can be more specific on budget (what is reasonable is very subjective), ambience, day of the week, etc, you will get some good specific recommendations.

    1. relax, Italians are by and large outgoing and friendly. avoid places that cater to early dinners. directly South of Vatican City (maybe a nice 20 minute stroll along the Tiber) is Trastevere, a small laid-back neighborhood with a variety of cafes and enotecas.

      frankly I just wandered around Italy, followed my instincts and only found myself in a tourist trap once in Florence (avoid anything in the main Piazza across from the Duomo and the Palazzo Medici, duck down a side street behind them)

      1 Reply
      1. re: hill food

        I agree. The two best meals we had on our recent trip were places I found by following my chow-radar.

      2. For Rome:

        Also, search Katie's site for other gems and great info.

        1. the Restaurants page contains a group of non-tourist trap places for each of these cities.
          while its a bit buggy, if you put in your address,cityname,IT it will give you some nearby possibilities.

          There are not really "pasta" restaurants in Italy, it is generally one course in a meal, though you can eat just one or two courses in most places.

          7 Replies
          1. re: jen kalb

            (Not to be technical, jen, but you still can find a spaghetteria in Italy, with little else being served but pasta.)

            1. re: barberinibee

              thanks for the clarification- what I would call "pastarias" are very common types of cheap italian eating places here in the US - not anything Id seek out as an eater in Italy and not something I remember seeing on my travels - do any of them have decent food in your estimation?

              1. re: jen kalb

                I've located spaghetterie that consistently turned out some of the best cooked pasta in town. It was all they did, so they had a good feel for it. So the dining was certainly decent, especially if you were seeking to avoid the pressure of a restaurant menu but didn't want pizza. I don't always have the appetite or mood for two restaurant experiences per day when I'm traveling in Italy. But I can always eat pasta!

                1. re: barberinibee

                  thats good to know - two large meals is unmanageable for us, too, even though we are very active. can you recommend some such places?

                    1. re: barberinibee

                      its rare that I dont hit at least one of rome, venice or naples on a visit tho honestly I cant see the utility of such a specialist place to us in naples with all of the exceptionally inexpensive and good trattorias with fine veg dishes and pastas already.Mostly just curious about whether there are some truly good options of this sort.

                      1. re: jen kalb

                        "Truly good"? I wouldn't stake my reputation on that! For me, pleasantly surprised is more like it, since I've only gone in to avoid going to a restaurant!

                        I've never tried one in Venice or Naples (Napoli is actually the inventor of the spaghetteria), and in Rome most of these places don't have names other than "Spaghetteria" -- you look, you go in, you eat (or at least I don't remember the names). There is one in Rome near the Trevi fountain that pops up in guidebooks -- Spaghetteria l'Archetto in the via dell'Archetto, I've not been there, but I see somebody posted about it favorably on Chowhound in 2006, and noted the same people run a second spaghetteria in Trastevere (I tracked it down on google: via A. Bertani at piazza s. Cosimato)


          2. I'm surprised we took the effort to generate 13 replies so far when (1) OP doesn't want to do a little homework and search the board him/herself and (2) OP hasn't even replied to this post for two weeks.

            12 Replies
            1. re: hong_kong_foodie

              Well, 8 of the replies were just me and jenkalb talking spaghetti plus one ad. So some fun was had by a few.

              1. re: barberinibee

                HKF does have a good point, but hey no harm was done and I got to relive a few nice memories

                1. re: hill food

                  I have been looking at the posts, and since I had nothing to add, I didn't post unnecessarily.

                  And I have been doing homework, including looking at Katie Parla's sites and I've made up a shortlist:

                  Teatro del Sale

                  vino Vino
                  Canitno di Mori
                  Anice Stellato

                  roma Sparita
                  Da Remo
                  La Mani in Pasta

                  I wasn't replying because I was busy doing my homework, on here and on other sites.

                  1. re: yvonnez

                    you weren't being seriously dinged or anything.

                    and to clarify my post earlier, go ahead and have a few glasses in the major Piazzas, but eat somewhere else. in Rome the one in front of the Pantheon at sunset is gorgeous and not silly expensive, same for the Piazza Navona. the Piazza di Spagna does have some places you can skip, BUT the McD's should not be missed. the fillet of fish is, well, the queen of fast junk food. it's actually really good. seriously. plus the room is over the top for McD.

                    without a specific recommendation, just avoid anyplace that is directly across from a major tourist destination.

                    1. re: yvonnez

                      For your choices in Venice, Anice Stellato is very good. Cantina di Mori is an old atmospheric bacaro near the Rialto market. Open for lunch only with good wines, very simple room temperature cicchetti (no hot food), stand up only. Don't be offended if the owners give more attention to his local regulars then to visitors. Vino Vino is more of an osteria than a wine bar, lively with decent food but not inexpensive.

                      1. re: PBSF

                        thanks for the tips.

                        i'm looking for inexpensive but plentiful food that locals eat, nothing too fancy. where can i get good cicchetti in venice? and is cicchetti like tapas, where you hop from one place to another?

                        1. re: yvonnez

                          Cicchetti are similar to tapas but there is less of a variety than Spain. The popular time to eat them are during lunch and late afternoon/early evening with a glass of wine. It is not usually eaten as an evening meal. Generally Venetians do not hop from one to another, a la tapas crawl of Spain but it doesn't mean one can't do it. One limitation is the distance between places; there are clusters of places around the Rialto market that are opened during the day only: the above mentioned do Mori, L'Arco, do Spada, La Merca, Muro. Also some good ones around the Strada Nuova: al Bomba, La Cantina, Botte, alla Vedova, DaLuca e Fred. San Marco have some good places but they are scattered too far apart (amidst too many bad ones) to hop from one to another.
                          Cicchetti are a good inexpensive way to eat in Venice. It is an expensive city to eat for a good sit down mean. Since much of the food is seafood base and good seafood is expensive, there is no getting around it. Cannaregio have some good inexpensive/moderate places for a sit down meal: the above mentioned Osteria al Bomba, Al Promessi Sposi, Ai Tre Spiedi, a Bocco, alla Frasca. Keep in mind, many places close on Mondays and some Sundays.

                          1. re: yvonnez

                            I hope you won't eat at MacDonald's!

                            Here are some articles on Venice that might help you out



                            1. re: barberinibee

                              Thanks for the links - Venice has such a reputation as an expensive city and I appreciate it.

                        2. re: yvonnez

                          It's just nice to check in and say "thanks" after a few post or days, even if you have "nothing to add."

                          1. re: yvonnez

                            Also, below is the link to an earlier post on affordable eating in Venice.

                    2. I lived in Venice 6 years, stay away from the main tourist places and get lost in the calle streets, you will find authentic food jewels and authentic people! :)