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Spot the tourist trap (or not) !

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I'm compiling a list of places to eat for an upcoming trip. Having read guidebooks, blogs, forums, and endless websites, I've come up with this list of potential places. Since we probably can't eat that much, I definitely need to narrow this list down. Can you help me by pointing out any tourist traps, or in contrast, any must-eats? I would really appreciate it. Thanks!

Bellagio (1 lunch)
• Bar Café Rossi
• picnic – Gilardoni Alimentari

Milan (1-2 lunches, 1 dinner)
• near train station - Brek, Via Vetruvio
• aperitivo - Gold Café, Bar Brera
• Luini
• Latteria
• gelato – RivaReno

Florence (1 lunch, 3 dinners)
• Il Latini
• Cantinetta dei Verrazzano
• I' Cche' c'è c'è
• Antico Noe
• Sostanza
• Quattro Leoni
• Osteria Antica Mescita San Niccolo
• Vini e Vecchi Sapori
• La Burrasca
• Osteria La Congrega
• L’Antico Trippaio
• gelato - Vivoli, Carabe, Carrozze

Venice (2 lunches, 2 dinners)
• Enoteca Cantinone Già Schiavi
• Cantina do Mori
• Bancogiro
• La Cantina
• Taverna del Campiello Remer
• Muro
• Trattoria Alle Due Gondolette
• Pronto Pesce
• Osteria al Portego
• Caffe del Doge
• gelato – Il Doge, Nico, Alaska, Boutique del Gelato

Naples (1 lunch, 2 dinners)
• Da Michele
• Gino Sorbillo
• Di Matteo
• La Cantina di Via Sapienza
• Scaturchio
• Caffe Mexico
• Caffe Gambrinus

Capri (1 lunch)
• picnic lunch?

Rome (3 lunches, 3 dinners)
• Da Baffetto
• Il Timoniere
• Filetti di Baccala
• Maccheroni
• Osteria de Memmo
• Old Bear
• Cul de Sac
• L’Antica Birreria Peroni
• Enoteca Corsi
• Le Mani in Pasta
• La Taverna dei Fori Imperiali
• Roma Sparita
• Trattoria Monti
• Antico Forno Roscioli
• Da Tonino
• gelato - San Crispino, Giolitti, Cremeria Monteforte, Gellateria alla Scala
• Tazzo d’Oro
• Caffe Sant’Eustachio

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  1. had you said you were on some kind of budgert?

    2 Replies
    1. re: jen kalb

      yup, from what i understand, most of these places are pretty reasonably priced, but still authentic

      1. re: krystle920

        I asked because I looked up one of your listed places I didnt know of (Taverna del Campiello Remer) and the review I saw said that the dinner for 2 was 85 euros. I wouldnt call that budget.

        Your Naples choices look good - bearing in mind that you have only one real restaurant on the list - the rest are pizzerias, coffee and pastry shops. Cantina di via Sapienza, which I like very much is open for lunch only. the pizzerias are mostly evening and sitdown. Food is a relative bargain in Naples compared to the north and its delicious too.

    2. For Venice: there will be tourists in just about every eating place in the center. Given that, none on your list would be consider "tourist traps". Most cafes in Venice serve a decent cup of coffee, therefore, I go for convenience. del Doge does serve very good coffee and if you are near the Rialto/San Polo and need a coffee fix, by all means head over to calle de Cinque. It happens to be our favorite for breakfast because it is near our apartment and we have become friends with the manager. Gelato places are everywhere, try different flavors at different places. There was a recent post on gelato in Venice. Like cafes, I never make a special trip to a particular gelateria. Both coffee(stand up) and gelato are inexpensive therefore, don't hold back; just stay away from the cafes on San Marco, the riva degli Schiavoni and those on the quai near the Rialto bridge
      As for real eating places for lunch/dinner. For sit down, the only place that I consider serving very good food is Bancogiro.
      The food at Trattoria alle due Gondolette and Osteria al Portego are decent but not much more. Gondolette, like similar places on the Fond. delle Cappuccine, serves lunch only. One will get most of the traditional Venetian cooking: fish saor, bacala, risi e bisi in the spring/summer, risotto with articokes, spaghetti with cuttlefish ink, bignoli, calves (more like beef) liver, etc. As for Taverna del Campiello Remer, famous for their early evening buffet, the most I can say is that quantity makes up for quality. I have never eaten from their regular menu.
      The rest on your lists are wine bars serving cicchetti and all are very good. Mori is atmospheric and stand up only. Muro (assume the original one on Cp Bella Vienna near the Rialto market as there are couple of others that are sit down) is mostly for drinking though they have a few little sandwiches and such. Same for La Merca on the same campo or the nearby L'Arco. These places have a very limited variety of cicchetti: small sandwiches, crostini, some room temperature seafood, maybe a few arancini. Also nearby is Pronto Pesce which is more like a high-end deli rather than a place to eat in. They will warm whatever you buy but the store has no tables or seats. They also have a hot daily lunch special serve on paper plates costing around 8E. This special is posted late morning and dish up around 12 noon. The food in the deli case is very good but expensive. On Saturday around noon, Muro also serves a daily plate. Frequently it is a risotto or fritto misto. First come first serve until they run out. Like most places around the Rialto market, Saturday is very lively whereas Sunday and Monday very quiet or closed. Enoteca Cantinone Già Schiavi and Cantina serve a wide selection of excellent cicchetti and good wine by the glass; Gia Schiavi stand up only where as La Cantina has tables and chairs.
      I don't know what your budget is or how you went about choosing places on your list. As a group, they don't represent variety or what I would want to eat on a short visit to Venice. I would go to Encoteca Cantinone Gia Schiavi and La Cantina for cicchetti. Bancogiro for a sit down meal; the rest I can skip. They may fit a particular budget but I don't consider them good value.

      2 Replies
      1. re: PBSF

        Thanks for your feedback on my choices for Venice. I have to admit that a lot of the choices were made based on their cost-value proposition. I agree with what you're saying though that most of them are quick-service, cicchetti-type food. Do you have any recommendations that would allow us to have a more diverse experience of Venetian food? We can spend up to around 15-20 Euros per person for entrees if it's worth it.

        1. re: krystle920

          Is it 'worth it" depends on individuals. Traditional Venetian cooking is fairly simple: good ingredients and proper execution are the two main criteria that separates good places from the ordinary. Inexpensive to moderately sit down places that I like: da Alberto, alla Frasca, La Zucca, Osteria de Garanghelo in Castello, Antica Bassetta. Less expensive are la Bomba, Al Bacco, Ai Sposi Promessi. All these are not fancy and are not 'wow' me places but the food is good for the value. Except for La Zucca, stay away from non Venetian dishes such as lasagna, carbonara, veal Milanese, etc and go for the Venetian items. To keep within budget, split an antipasto or a primo; skip dessert as it is an after thought in most places and go for gelato after. The house wine is always inexpensive. Do cicchetti for lunch. If you are in Venice Sunday/Monday, many places are closed for one or both.

      2. For Florence:
        top gelato:
        Perchè No, right in the center near via calzaioli

        luch:
        very nice one at the top of terrace on the rinascente mall, (you can see a photo of what you see from there);
        absolutely tipycal to Nerbone:inside the
        Mercato Centrale (central market) in San Lorenzo since 1874; you take a
        fast full immersion in the Florentinity trend, you can try trippa alla fiorentina,
        pappa al pomodoro, or a plate piled with boiled potatoes and a single
        fat sausage. But the mainstay here is a panino with lampredotto, a boiled
        beef sandwich that's bagnato (dipped in the meat juices), my absolute favourite,
        ask for it with salt, pepper and green souce.

        for dinner:
        Sostanza (but don't call him that way, use Troia, his nickname) it's the best choice for a top bistecca alla fiorentina, remember to call before and bring cash with you

        Il Latini is a good one but i prefer Sostanza, and if you want to move a little bit i reccomend Da Padellina, just out of the town in the sud-chianti direction, very nice place for a tuscan dinner with his pasta sul gallo, and fettine di fegato alla griglia.

        last but not the least: Da Marione, in the centre too, if it’s possible for your lunch choose the room with the vaulted ceiling and exposed brickwork. At Marione you will find good food, simplicity and happiness and perhaps also a character from the world of Florentine showbiz.

        The Florentine
        http://www.weekend-in-florence.com

         
        2 Replies
        1. re: The Florentine

          Is Nerbone open on Sundays? Unfortunately, that is our only lunch day in Florence, which also ruled out Mario and I Fratellini. Maybe a similar back up option could be L’Antico Trippaio?

          How much are meals at Da Marione? We want to spend a max of 10 Euros a person for lunch and around 15-20 for dinner. Thanks.

          1. re: The Florentine

            The bolito misto at the Mercato Centrale! I've dreamed of it for 7 years now. Next week, my dreams will come true.

          2. Il Latini
            ding, ding, ding, ding...tourist trap!!!!

            Rachel Ray went here on one of her shows; that should say enough! lol

            1 Reply
            1. re: ttoommyy

              lol, the reviews were definitely mixed, and i wasn't sure. but i think this would be a no now.

            2. BELLAGIO

              I do not know the two places you quote...
              Please be aware that Bellagio IS a tourist trap even for Italian natives...

              Trattoria Baita Belvede - Bellagio - Località Chevrio - is not bad and reasonably priced - around 30/35 Euro.
              It is a simple but romantic place. Try to book a table on the terrace: the view over Menaggio, Bellagio and Varenna is beautiful. Rustic, regional cooking, don't miss their cheeses.

              MILAN
              near the Central Railway Station
              Trattoria Sabbioneda da Romolo
              Via Tadino, 32
              lunch/dinner
              booking advised - 02 29 52 10 14
              Simple ambiance, good traditional "home cooking", NO tourist trap, around 15 Euro.

              Let me know if you need other suggestions for dinner.

              BREK - what do you mean, the self-service chain? In Via Vitruvio?

              LUINI - If you mean Luini in Via S. Radegonda, near Duomo, their "PANZEROTTI" are a Milan myth, of course you know it is a take away.

              LATTERIA - if you mean LATTERIA SAN MARCO in Via San Marco, Brera.
              Getting worst: food quality and price and be aware it is very touristy...

              GELATO RIVARENO excellent!

              Choosing a place for an "aperitivo" or happy hour in Milan depends on many factors...
              Around Brera you'll have plenty of choice.

              Ciao
              Irene

              P.S.

              Da Michele - Naples
              Yes, yes, yes!
              Prepare to queue up for the best and cheapest Margherita or Marinara pizza you have ever tasted.
              You'll be in Quartieri Spagnoli... careful!!!!
              It is very very very simple, plastic tables and paper table-cloth.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Irene65

                Thanks, we are actually in Bellagio just for lunch so it would either be a simple lunch-type meal or a picnic. We weren't sure if lunch prices for normal restaurants would be lower than dinner prices, and if so, how much less.

                Do you have a recommendation for a quick lunch, near the train station or between that and the Four Points Milan where we are staying? I received suggestions on the doner kebab places on Via Vetruvio, and a place called Pizzeria Gaffurio. We were considering Brek on Via Vetruvio, but not sure if it's good. It reminds me of delis in NY which I have to admit aren't that good.

                We are considering either Bar Brera or Gold Cafe for aperitivo in Milan.

                1. re: krystle920

                  Ciao Krystle.

                  Trattoria Sabbioneda da Romolo is fine for a quick lunch - 15 minutes walking distance from your Sheraton.

                  If you are for pizza, another budget suggestion could be:
                  Dal Baffo - Via Lecco n.3
                  Again around 15 min walking distance from Four Points.

                  Bar Brera vs Gold Café
                  Bar Brera: expect lunch leftovers on the buffet...
                  Gold Café is better.

                  For aperitivo have a look at
                  http://www.milanodabere.it/milano/ape...
                  with the help of Google translator :-
                  )and pay attention to the week day
                  "tutte le domeniche" = "on all the Sundays"

                  Ciao
                  Irene

                  1. re: Irene65

                    Thanks for the suggestions. Are there places that are a bit closer to the hotel or train station (5 minutes walk?) We are planning to catch a train after we check in from our hotel so our schedule is pretty tight.

                  2. re: krystle920

                    http://www.milanodabere.it/milano/ape...

                    1. re: krystle920

                      /aperitivi !!!!

                  3. Re Florence - Vini e Vecchi Sapori is definitely open for lunch on Sunday but it is a tiny restaurant so if there are a large group of you that might cause problems! Osteria Antica Mescita San Niccolo quite good, and a colleague who has similar tastes to me loves it. I always find Quattre Leone overrated (as do several friends) and likewise the Cantinetta de Verazzano. Re Gelati - I've never been to Grom, Perche Noi is not briliant but have always loved Vivoli and also the Gelateria de Neri. Maccheroni in Rome is pretty patchy, although I hear really good things about Roma Sparita (also look at La Campana).....

                    1. In Florence, the three best (value for money) budget places were probably:

                      - Vini e Vecchi Sapori
                      - Trattoria Il Contadino
                      - Trattoria La Casalinga (on Via de Michelozzi)

                      The last two had set lunches for about 10 euros. For an extra euro, if I recall, you get a carafe of wine. As for touristy-ness, at La Casalinga it was pretty much us and a bunch of construction workers who gave us the eye now and then. Similarly at Il Contadino. This was this past April.

                      Walked by Il Latini and it just screamed tourist trap. Sostanza, which we didn't get to go to, looked like a great choice, though.

                      Antico Noe is ok, nothing special. Food was only slightly better than the three I mentioned above but quite a bit pricier - so not as good value for money.

                      Nerbone is fun but hectic, especially trying to find a table to sit. Sometimes, after a day of walking in Florence, however, all you want to do is sit down and have a pleasant 3-course meal and wine.