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Florence & Rome area; chef & sommelier want to eat/drink right. (Jan 2012)

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I know that a lot has been written on Florence and Rome and I'm starting to comb through all of it. My boyfriend (a chef) and I (a sommelier) are from NYC will be spending a week in Italy in the beginning of January. I haven't been since I was a teenager and he's never been. Needless to say, food & wine are the focal point of this trip. I know that many people say that the best food in Italy isn't found in the cities. Nonetheless, we only have one week and neither of us drive so a week through the countryside didn't seem possible. I also remember passionately loving Rome when I was there 10+ years ago.

We're looking for suggestions of fancy, casual, hole in the wall, mom and pop-- you name it. We just want the most delicious food we can get while we're there. We're happy to spend money and also to slum it. We definitely want great pizza, gelato and pasta. Would love to find a place that specializes in offal. Also, if there are any restaurants that are outside of the city we're happy to go somewhere for a night for an awesome meal (assuming that it's reachable by train/taxi).

We would both really appreciate any suggestions or guidance... Thanks!!

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  1. Ciao fellow sommelier, you will have a good time, no worries! I just suggest really looking thru the italy board, as far back as 4-5 months and you will come up with a pretty good idea of Rome & Florence eating. Lately there have been some lovely trip reports. Come back with specific questions then, and we will all be able to help you better. Otherwise you will end up with everyone's favorite list and not one step further.

    6 Replies
    1. re: vinoroma

      Thanks for the suggestion. I'll do that and return. I guess the one specific question that I'm starting off with is: any meals outside Florence or Rome but accessible by train to stay for one night that would be a fantastic more "countryside" dining experience...? Otherwise, I'll gather some questions and return.

      1. re: jdream

        this, for example: http://www.salvatoretassa.it/Copertin... in Frosinone, where you can take the train. Not rustic, though, if that is what you wanted.

        1. re: vinoroma

          i dont know if there is a train station i acuto, where Colline Ciociare is located. the website doesnt even have the correct address, which you find out only after following the google maps directions there, then finidng you are in fact 3 miles away!

          1. re: katieparla

            yes, the website makes me crazy! how stupid is that. I was thinking they can take the train to frosinone and then taxi.

      2. re: vinoroma

        One of my current favourite threads was initiated by Tenortom, who much appreciated the food and wine in Rome. This thread includes advice prior to the trip, and Tenortom's lovely, detailed report on his experiences.
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/793982

        1. re: Silverwing

          Tenortom's report was amazingly detailed and is a very good resource. He also followed up with detailed reports on FB, with many photos, etc. (but not sure I can give out his FB name here)
          And I will chime in with Vinoroma and ask you to come back with a working short list, and specific questions. Then we will all be able to help you reach your nirvana.
          One more thing: when you do come back, start two different threads, one for Florence and one for Rome.

          www.elizabethminchilli.com

      3. While in Florence, a "must do" for a chef & sommelier duo is Le Volpi E L'uva (between Ponte Vecchio and Palazzo Pitti). The 4 volpi ("foxes") who own/run this tiny jewel are all sommeliers; the chef cooks the freshest & best 4 feet from you. Enjoy!

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        Le Volpi E L'uva
        Piazza dei Rossi, 1, Florence, Tuscany 50125, IT

        1. If were looking for an easy trip out of Rome for a different experience, I would go to Orvieto for the day. There are a number of good restaurants there and it's little more than an hour from Rome - no car needed. There's a thread right below that talks about Orvieto.

          1. The newest (it opened in mid-August) biggest thing for country (but not rustic) dining in the Italian food blogosphere is Niko Romito's Reale a Casadonna, somewhere in/near Castel di Sangro in Abruzzo. It's three hours or so by train or bus from Rome to Sulmona, then taxi from there. In its previous location in Rivosondoli, it had two Michelin stars. The hotel is supposed to open in December.

            1. Alright, so after combing through some fantastic blogs and older posts, this is the initial list that I've come up with to get things going:

              -Perilli
              -Checchino
              -La Gensola
              -Glass
              -Bir & Fud
              -Trattoria Cadorna
              -Roscioli
              -Pizzarium (lunch)
              -Sforno (lunch)
              -Colline Emiliane
              -Palatium
              -Da Danilo

              -Salvatore Tassa. Is this reachable from Rome and returnable that same evening? The website is very challenging to navigate?

              -Any favorite lunch spot in Orvieto?

              Is this a diverse enough bunch? Any other "favorite" trattoria's? Would any of other of these be good for lunch? Is there a particularly excellent place for a Sunday Roman lunch and/or dinner?

              A couple other questions:
              1) We'll be there in January. I know this is bean season, but we will be after truffles and before artichokes... anything else particularly good this time of year to look out for?

              2) If this focus of our trip is mostly food, what would be the best neighborhood to stay in that's still central enough to get around... I was thinking Trastevere? Any favorite markets or days for markets?

              3) What are some great bars (wine, beer, perfect Negroni) etc to hang out in after dinner? What time to places close on average?

              As far as Florence goes I think we've decided to just go for two days and one night. Will probably do (unless these aren't good choices...):
              -Nerbone
              -Le Volpi e l'uva
              -Due G
              -Zeb and/or Semel

              I know there are a lot of questions here. Hopefully I'm not pushing my luck. Thank you in advance for the help.

              1 Reply
              1. re: jdream

                To be honest if you say you want delicious food I would probably not think about Nerbone....it is fine for a snack and then I wonder whether fine is the best word,probably an experience comes to mind (will probably be shot by this board). Have a glass of wine at le Volpi e L'Uva not a whole evening. Re food - I get castigated for saying the same places over and over again but they are good, in terms of food and atmosphere and you will be able to soak in the atmosphere - Osteria de Benci, vini e Vecchi Sapori, al Buca d'orafo, Cambi, Trattoria della Carmine, 13 Gobbi. Have a super time. Also think about Hostaria Costanza in Rome, I was surprisingly impressed, and I thought that La Campana has never let me down, Roma Sparita was good too.

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                La Campana
                Vicolo della Campana, 18, Roma, IT 00186, IT

                Hostaria Costanza
                Piazza del Paradiso, 63, Rome, Lazio , IT