Venice, Florence, Monterosso del Mare, Santa Margherita Ligure, Siena, and Rome review
First, thanks for all the help, it certainly made our two weeks in Italy more enjoyable. I've listed most prices - this is for two people eating well but not over the top, and we generally split a bottle of wine on the cheaper end of the spectrum. We've lived in Manhattan for the last eight years so I like to think we're decent judges of good food, although this is the first time trying to write a review. I'll review in chronological order, our thoughts below....
Al covo (dinner) - we had a personal recommendation to go here. Sat outside which was nice, but the food didn't stand out as memorable in a good or bad way, but for the price it should
Il ridotto (dinner) - some great ragu and ravioli, but was probably a little overly built up in my mind from other reviews on here. Nothing to complain about, but not a must eat place in my mind. Better than al covo. Interesting note, we saw the same couple at dinner the same time as us at both al covo and il ridotto.
Teatro de sale (dinner) - great, great, great. One of the top two meals of the trip. Loved the atmosphere, the endless courses, and they tasted great. Will absolutely go back next time in Florence. Great value and makes for a very fun night. Even more interesting, the same couple that was at dinner the first two nights in Venice showed up here. I'm thinking they read the plan I posted
Il Pizzaiuolo - pizza was 7 euro, + 2 euro cover - Best pizza of the trip. Great thin, crunchy crust. a little too big to be a personal pizza, but small enough that you want more if two people split it which is then compounded by the fact that it was so so good.
Guarnieri Laura - Via S. Maria 145 - great little deli we grabbed some food with on our walk from the tower to the train. 10 euros for a big salami and cheese sandwich made to order, two apples, and a bottle of water
Il Cilegio (dinner in Beo) - this was quite an experience before we even got there. We had reservations, but had not specifically arranged for the free shuttle to pick us up. We asked the woman running the place were staying and she told us where the shuttle picks people up and that it runs continuously. We checked it out beforehand and sure enough there was a van with "Il Cilegio" on the side. The time comes for us to go and we head up to the spot and it's pouring --- and of course there is still no driver there. We wait, nothing. We go back to our room and realized we can just barely see the area and end up running out to catch it before it leaves with another group about an hour later (in the meantime we called miky, but they were booked). Moral of the story: make sure they know u need the shuttle. The food wasn't worth the trek, but maybe at lunch you'd get a nice view, but we couldn't see anything at night.
Santa Margherita Ligure
Da U Batti (dinner) - one of the best two meals of the trip. The menu is not big, but someone on this site recommended exactly what to order and I'm so happy they did. I'll repeat it: pesto lasagna, seafood scampi, gavi house wine, and fresh berries for dessert. The gavi house wine is a great somewhat sweet white wine. The berries were okay. The pesto lasagna was very good and different from other lineages. But the seafood scampi was easily the best single dish of the entire trip, and up there as an all time favorite. Almost didn't order it due to cost, but thankfully we did (and got the local seafood). When it comes out, it doesn't look like much: just a bowl of prawns. But wow the flavor of them is indescribable --- absolutely amazing
One day cooking class at the language school - http://www.artandcooking.com/culinary... - good change of pace, but we didn't realize this was at the language school and they chef would speak mostly in Italian.
I Terzi - 61 euros - for 1 primi, 2 secondi (price includes 16 euro bottle of wine) - not memorable except for and amazing antipasti of carpaccio with melted gorgonzola
Grotta Santa Caterina - 38 euro for dinner including 2 glasses of wine - this was possibly the best value of the trip. Would definitely come back
Ivo - Excellent pizza. Almost as good as Il Pizzaiuolo in Florence, but both my wife and I agreed this was just slightly worse. That said, I'd wholeheartedly recommend this pie to anyone going to Rome and would eat there again the next time I'm there.
Marios - 37 euro for dinner, 1 glass of wine - standard good meal, nothing spectacular
Armando al Pantheon - 50 euros for dinner including 2 glasses of wine - highly praised on here, but wasn't anything special to us. Thought this was the worst service of the trip, but not horrible
la Campana - 39 euros for lunch (no wine) - some interesting and different selections. Didn't love the chicken dish I got
I'll have my wife chime in later if there's anything she'd like to add
I think lasagna noodles are absolutely the best with pesto. I think some people may not order it because they think they are going to get a layered, baked dish. But it is only the flat, postcard-shaped pasta, dressed with pesto. The local lasagna pasta is usually very good, just the right thickness and bite. The local pesto in Santa Margherita Ligure sometimes has a local curd cheese rather than parmagiano in it (which makes it a bit milder).
The local scampi are fantastic when in season. Berries this year suffered from unusually cool weather all year long.