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Our trip to Milan, Parma, Bologna, Modena, Venice and Verona

My husband and I are driving a car from Germany to these cities for 10 days in Italy. Suggestions on trip itineary, must eats. What we are looking for are places that serve great wine, great food, have decent location/atmosphere and reasonable prices. I've noticed from reading so many posts, dinners for two can go up to as high as $200. We are trying to stay on a very limited budget for this trip (there are future travel plans to the country as well) so I would like to get budget friendly restaurants. Lunch= approximately $20- 30/two, Dinner= approximately $50- 75/two

We have breakfasts (coffee and pastries, mostly) covered in most of our hotels but I am looking to hear about lunch cafes that are great and reasonable. Same for Dinner. Of course we'd be willing to splurge on a dinner here and there but not every night.

I am a chef by profession and am currently not working because of my husband's work in Germany. So food, its origins, and its authenticity is very important to me but obviously being unemployed doesn't help when trying to eat like a king.

Our trip:

Saturday- Monday:

Leaving Germany on Saturday and driving to Milan.

Staying in Milan until Monday afternoon

Monday- Thursday:

Driving to hotel in Parma

Spending a day in Bologna

Spending a day in Parma

Spending a day in Modena

(since we will have a car, I would like to get recommenations for restaurants along the route or in between towns or countryside; we don't mind driving for food).

Thursday night (after dinner), driving to Venice

Spending Friday & Saturday in Venice

Saturday night (possibly after dinner) leaving for Verona

Sunday after lunch, heading home to Germany

I've read a lot about the bars in Venice that have the buffets that have good food. What are some good bars with a reputable wine list and decent food? (These are some ways, we don't mind saving).

Please do not suggest to search through the previous posts, I have done that already and compilied a list of 50+ restaurants. Although very helpful and I'll try to narrow it down in the next couple of days, I don't think we'd be able to go through that many restaurants. Any must haves in each or all of these cities?

I want to hear from the localers in Italy their top suggestions with taste and budget in mind.

Thank you so much for all suggestions.

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  1. Was this in lieu of the email you wanted to send direct to me?
    does $ 50-75/two mean a total of 50-75 for two? Sorry for being so dense but it can mean two different things.

    3 Replies
    1. re: allende

      Yes, as in response to previous request/email.

      50-75/two or 30/person.

      1. re: LiberalFoodie

        and your price ranges are in $ not Euros? That puts you in the Slowfood range for your dinners, and a lower range (pizza or fewer courses ordered) for your lunches. we usually prefer eating our larger meal at lunch when travelling, mainly because we usually have somewhere we would like to try the cooking in our daily destinations and a lighter meal at dinner. Gambero Rosso's inexpensive , slim new Mangiar Bene (lowcost) guide, which includes sit down restaurants, pizzerie, "pausa gourmet" and higher tier restaurants with budget eal offers, and a lot of overlap with the slowfood guide, might be a good investment for you.

        Also, in our Restaurant pages, if you search for your town name, i.e. Modena,IT, you will see the price ranges for the restaurants and can click for more detail. - you can search to give lists in the lower price categories by putting $ or $$ in the first search box. They are generally coded "$" for meal under 25E, "$$" for meals 25E - 35E (the Slowfood range), not including wine. Many of the Slowfood and GR Lowcost recommendations are indexed.

        As far as a strategy goes, in Emilia-Romagna, plates of cured meats with the local gnocco fritto (fried bread - different names in different towns) could make a good light meal. In the Bassa parmense, they are often served with pickled vegetables, and young people make a eal of them for lunch or in the evening. for example, you could go to Bussetto, a small town near Parma for the local specialty, culatello di zibello, and eat at Sapori di Bassa (lunch only) or Salsamentaria Storica e Verdiana

        In Parma, Trattoria del Tribunale (very good meat, prosciutto di parmigiano andother cured meats, good example of the local sweet slightly sparkly malvasia wine they drink with their cured meats, well made pasta and salads) is a good less-expensive choice.

        You might want to start a separate thread for Venice and Verona advice, and for Milan advice. different people respond in different areas, and the mapping of recommendations is more helpful.

        -----
        Trattoria del Tribunale
        Vicolo Politi, 5, Parma, PR 43100, IT

        Salsamenteria Storica e Verdiana Baratta
        Via Roma, 76, Busseto, Emilia-Romagna 43011, IT

        Sapori di Bassa
        via Pietro Balestra 3, Busseto, Emilia-Romagna , IT

        1. re: jen kalb

          You said: "What we are looking for are places that serve great wine, great food, have decent location/atmosphere and reasonable prices."

          I dislike being the bearer of bad news, but IMO, I think it is impossible to have great wine and great food in your price range. You can get decent food (and with perhaps decent wine), but not great food and wine. The mathematics just don't add up.

          Let's use the high end of your dinner number, 50 Euros, 25 per person. Let's assume you have only three things between you (that's a no no in most good trattorie/ristoranti, but I'll get to that some other day in another post and tell you what many of my Italian restauateur friends think of Americans and Brits doing that ). So for 50 Euros, you have three dishes. Let's assume there is a coperto of three Euros each and let's assume you want just a glass of wine each for 6 Euros each (and you won't get anywhere near a "great" wine) That leaves you 33 Euros for 3 dishes. It is extremely difficult to get a dish in restaurant (at least the restaurants and trattorias that we recommend) that would fit your thought of "great food" for 11 Euros a dish. Impossible as far as I'm concerned. It also means no dessert and no bottled water.

          As Jen pointed out, there are places that would fit your budget. That is no problem, but they are not going to offer great food and great wine. Furthermore, that means little or no seafood and/or fish because if you can get it at that price, it will not be of first rate quality.

          I'm not the one to ask about Parma, Bologna or Modena, because over a long period of time, we have failed to find outstanding restaurants in all three cities. We prefer the countryside in the triangle of Parma, Cremona and Mantova and one restaurant, Da Amerigo, outside of Bologna. All of them will cost (much) more than 11 Euros per dish. Here is a link discussing some of the places, but it is just one link among many.

          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/777446

    2. I am currently in Bologna, and have been for nearly a month (and usually spend a lot of time here when I am not near Genova). Given your price range, I can't think of any restaurants where you and your husband can eat delicious food typical of the region. Were it me, I would put the emphasis on tasting the best by purchasing food in markets. Or, since you have a car, I would do some research to see if I could find agriturismi that serve dinner to their guests. These are often extremely good food bargains.

      In Bologna, you can shop in the markets and then take your food to Osteria del Sole, and for the price of a glass of wine (4 euros last time I was there), you can sit down and eat the food you brought with you. For Parma, I wouldn't leave the city without purchasing the finest quality ham and cheese from a highy reputable market. Eat what you buy on a bench in Parma's very lovely park. Pack a corkscrew so you can buy wine in bottles.

      Milan, Bologna, Verona and Venice all have significant bar scenes, where for the (inflated) price of a cocktail, you can eat all you want from a buffet between 6-8pm. Some are better than others, and none are gastronomic destinations, but if you make your major meal of the day lunch, especially lunch from the markets, you might actually prefer the wine bars and their conviviality.

      You might put up a separate post asking for recommendations for Venice bars. For Milan, check out the website "Spotted by Locals" for tips on where to find the best buffets.

      If you are in Bologna for dinner, heading for the student quarter around the via delle Belle Arti and via Borgo San Pietro will land you in the area where free eats abound. Or consider joining Bologna's talkative students (and occasional faculty member) for pizza at Belle Arti, which is in the 2011 Gambero Rosso. I ate dinner there this evening and not only was much of the food tasty (and spicy -- the owners are Calabrese), but the enjoyable ambience was very typical of the city, and not in a touristy way. My huge antipasto (easy to split), pizza, wine and water came to 26 euros. It's not "authentic" local fare -- for that, you'll need to go to the markets or go to Napoli or up your budget -- but it is a great example of how Bologna, Europe's oldest university town, feeds one quarter of its population -- students -- many of whom don't have kitchens.

      A budget lunch recommendation I can make for Milano is Alla Vecchia Latteria in via dell'Unione, a very charming place with satisfying, "authentic" food. For Bologna, I noticed today on my way into Teresina (on via Oberdan) that it operates a tiny place practically next door called "Teresina Spazio". It serves an 11 euro lunch -- one plate plus a glass of wine. They appear to offer only 4 items per day. One of today's offerings was hand-made rough-cut pasta with lentils which, had it been on the menu at the main restaurant, I probably would have ordered.

      Anyway, your destinations all have marvelous atmosphere and can be extremely convivial and charming in the budget range. As Shakespeare once more or less wrote "... eat the air, promise-crammed." I would focus on that and otherwise prowl the markets and pounce on local specialties there, where they will be much cheaper. And don't forget to ASK THE MARKET VENDORS AND FOOD STORE OWNERS WHERE THE BEST BUDGET EATS ARE. Explain your plight and your desire, as a chef, to taste Italy's unique products and produce and homiest cooking. You might get some good steers.

      Good luck!

      -----
      Teresina
      Via Guglielmo Oberdan, 4, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna 40126, IT

      1. Can't add anymore to the above posts about eating delicious food/wine on a very tight budget.
        For Venice: I am not a local though I'll put in my couple of comments and recommendations. Venice is very expensive for several reasons, one being that much of it's cooking is seafood base and quality wild seafood has gotten very expensive regardless where one is.
        Besides the above mentioned of shopping for cheese, cured meat and deli items for a 'picnic', might consider:
        1. Taking your main meal at lunch where commuting Venetians and locals eat. Most of the better ones are in Cannairegio on the Fondamenta Cappuccine to Misericordia (this long fondamenta changes names four times). Most are open for midday meal only. Try Bea Vita, Antica Mola, due Gondolette or Al Timon (open evenings). A two course set lunch (usually no choices) for around 13 euros will get you a primo, a secondo, a glass of house wine, coffee and no coperato. Deluca e Fred on the main route toward the train station offers a good two course, no beverages, for about the same. Also Oniga with outdoor tables on Cp San Barnabas has a 12euro two course lunch. For that, you might get a primo of risotto with squid and a casserole of mussel or fegato or some braised beef over polenta.
        2. There are happy hour all one can eat buffets (usually around 6 to 8pm); the buffet at Taverna del Campiello Remer is free when one buys a drink at around 5euro. Also Ardidos in Cannairegio and Orange in Cp Santa Margherita. Don't expect great food but at least hope for copious amount and good ambience. You will not find the best gorgonzola or prosciutto di San Daniele but maybe some good local montasio, baked ham, grilled vegetables, some decent inexpensive seafood such as squid, cuttlefish, sardines, bacala. There are others but I haven't search them out much since eating buffet is not my favorite. Hope others might offer more or better suggestions.
        3. Eat cicchetti at the numerous bacari. Local wines starts at 2.5 euro a glass and most have an excellent selection at higher prices. Much of the food are quite good. Some simple barcaro such as Mori only serves a few things on bread while others such as alle Vedova has more variety. Some are stand up only while some have a few tables. Many osterias/trattorias also have a front bar that serves them. One of the link below is a post on this topic.
        4. Some decent osterias that you might consider are: da Pinto, Al Botte, Al Portego. These are probably the least expensive where the food is decent. Antipasti/primi will be around 7euro, secondi around 10 to 12 euros. Stretching a bit are Alla Frasca and ai Promessi Sposi. To stay within budget at better places, share an antipasto (some of the best and can be almost expensive as a secondo) or a primi; skip dessert and go out for gelato as many gelaterias open late.
        Below are some recent links that might be helpful. Many of the recommendations are not budget oriented but it offers some good info on Venice dining scene.
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/806577
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/796244
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/778455
        It is somewhat of a misconception that locals knows the inexpensive places that serve delicious food. There are very few places in Venice are kept as a secret. Most locals rather cook than eat the ordinary food that are served in many inexpensive trattorias and osterias.

        -----
        Bea Vita
        Cannaregio 3082, Venice, Veneto , IT

        da Pinto
        Sestiere San Polo,367, Venice, Veneto 30125, IT

        1 Reply
        1. re: PBSF

          With so many responses, we have decided to up the budget range for dinners. I realize that after reading so many previous responses for dinner options in many cities, it may be impossible to get dinner for two with wine in 50- 75, so I think we're safely increasing it to 100- 125. I hope that will be a safer range to have on dinner budget.

          Thank you so much for the responses, everyone. I will research all the restaurants and make my final list tonight. Repost and ask for your opinion.

          Thank you again

        2. From Milan to Parma/Bologna/Modena

          Possible stop in Bussetto for lunch at Sapori di Bassa or Salsamentaria Storica e Verdiana

          We still have to narrow our list from so many options. We are commuting from Bologna to Parma one day, and to Modena on 2nd day so we may be able to fit in one more dinner from this list if I don't find something in Modena.

          Bologna:

          1. Trattoria del Rosso- Quick lunch, more sit down dinner

          2. Caminetto d'Oro

          3. Al Cavallino Bianco, Via Andrea Costa, 124 40065 Pianoro Bologna, Italy- a definite must

          4. All'Osteria Bottega, 51 Via Santa Caterina, 40123 Bologna, Italy 39 051 585 111- also a must

          6. Teresina- this is pretty good but not the best. Worth the try if we’re around and need a reasonably priced meal

          Also, shop at the market in Bologna (especially Tamburini, a store in the market) and get food for Osteria del Sole. I read somewhere that for the price of a glass of wine, we can sit and eat the food we brought.

          Il Gelatauro- Gelato

          Parma

          1. Locanda Mariella, Localita' Fragno, 59 – Fragnolo 43030 Calestano Parma, Italia- a must

          2. Trattoria del Tribunale (very good meat, prosciutto di parmigiano andother cured meats, good example of the local sweet slightly sparkly malvasia wine they drink with their cured meats, well made pasta and salads) is a good less-expensive choice.

          3. Ristorante Cocchi (16 Via Gramsci), adjacent to Hotel Daniel.

          So far for Milan:

          Alla Vecchia Latteria in via dell'Unione, a very charming place with satisfying, "authentic" food, budget friendly

          (Fred P. pick) Latteria San Marco, closed Sat, Mon and in August. Latteria means dairy and this little spot was where people bought their milk, butter and cheese. It is now a cozy restaurant very popular with people in the area for its typical Milanese cuisine (including risotto and cotoletta alla milanese) and its neighborhood feel in this large city

          Verona:
          Osteria La Fontanina is a Michelin starred restaurant
          Muramare
          Al DuomoBottega del Vino is the most famous wine bar in Verona and one of the best known in Italy.

          Venice:

          La Cantina, Bancogiro, Alla Vedova, Alla Frasca for lunch or before dinner cicchetti. Hoping to go the former two.

          Dinner- Boccadoro, Al Botte, da Pinto, Alle Testiere or Antiche Carampane.

          We'll be in Venice Friday and Saturday nights so we may try a wine bar or two after dinner.

          Right now Milan and Verano aren't finalized because I haven't done the research on those cities yet.

          What do you think of the other options I've listed? Any that aren't worth the trip or too expensive?

          Thanks

          If we end up in Burano for half a day then

          Burano:

          Da Romano or Gato Nero on Burano or Osteria da Alberto in Cannaregio

          -----
          Trattoria del Tribunale
          Vicolo Politi, 5, Parma, PR 43100, IT

          Ristorante Cocchi
          Via Gramsci, 16a, Parma 43100, IT

          Sapori di Bassa
          via Pietro Balestra 3, Busseto, Emilia-Romagna , IT

          Al Cavallino Bianco
          Via Sbrisi, 2, Polesine Parmense, Emilia-Romagna 43010, IT

          Antiche Carampane
          Calle de la Carampane, 1911,San Polo, Venice, Veneto 30125, IT

          Bancogiro
          Campo San Giacomo di Rialto, San Polo 122,, Venice, Veneto 30125, IT

          Caminetto d'Oro
          Via de' Falegnami, 4, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna 40121, IT

          Trattoria del Rosso
          Via Righi 30, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna 40126, IT

          Teresina
          Via Guglielmo Oberdan, 4, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna 40126, IT

          Da Romano
          Burano,Via Baldassare Galuppi,221, Venice, Veneto , IT

          Italia
          fraz. San Rocco Seno d'Elvio.6, Alba, Piedmont 12051, IT

          Boccadoro
          Campiello Widmann,Cannaregio 5405a, Venice, Veneto , IT

          La Cantina
          Campo San Felice, Cannaregio 3689, Venice, Veneto , IT

          La Fontanina
          loc. Santo Stefano,Via Portichetti Fontanelle,3a, Verona, Veneto , IT

          Latteria San Marco
          Via San Marco 24, Milan, Lombardia , IT

          All'Osteria Bottega
          Via Santa Caterina, 51, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna , IT

          Locanda Mariella
          localita Fragnolo,Strada Provinciale 61, Calestano, Emilia-Romagna 43030, IT

          Alla Vedova
          Ramo del Ca' d'Oro, Venice, Veneto 30121, IT

          da Pinto
          Sestiere San Polo,367, Venice, Veneto 30125, IT

          Alle Testiere
          Calle del Mondo Novo,Sestiere Castello,5801, Venice, Veneto 30122, IT

          4 Replies
          1. re: LiberalFoodie

            For Venice:
            Dinner: Boccadoro, Al Botte, da Pinto, Alle Testiere or Antiche Carampane.
            Al Botte and da Pinto are very different from the other three (like apples and oranges): basic traditional Venetian osterias, very moderate by Venice prices. Don't expect great food; I would go often if I eat out on a budget.
            The other three are all seafood:
            A recent thread by a knowledgeable poster on Alle Testiere with cost:
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/809134
            The osteria is very small seating about 25 with very closely packed tables. Two seatings at around 7:15 and 9:30, therefore, if things get behind, might be a bit rush on the early seating. Daily changing menus with a good variety of antipasti and primi; three daily secondi plus some simply grilled fish and shellfish. Excellent desserts.
            Antiche Carampane prices are about the same. A bit larger, a little less cramp, a few outside tables on a quiet calle. Good size menu with a few extras if there is some high quality available on a particular day. Food is more traditional than Alle Testiere. Desserts are simpler. Warmer staff.
            Bococador: a little less expensive, smaller menu. Simple modern decor.
            Take your pick.
            Hope the above also answer some of your posts on other threads.

            -----
            Antiche Carampane
            Calle de la Carampane, 1911,San Polo, Venice, Veneto 30125, IT

            Boccadoro
            Campiello Widmann,Cannaregio 5405a, Venice, Veneto , IT

            da Pinto
            Sestiere San Polo,367, Venice, Veneto 30125, IT

            Alle Testiere
            Calle del Mondo Novo,Sestiere Castello,5801, Venice, Veneto 30122, IT

            1. re: LiberalFoodie

              Regarding Al Cavallino Bianco:

              There is an extremely well-regarded restaurant by that name in Polinese Parmense, near Parma. There is a pizzeria with the same name in Pianoro Bologna. I've never eaten at either. I just want to make sure you know which one is a "must" for you.

              http://www.ristorantealcavallinobianc...

              Regarding Bologna, I think the food is better at shops other than Tamburini. Not far (up the street from Teresina) on the via Oberdan is Bruno e Franco, which I think is much better, but there are shops all around Tamburini, practically adjacent, which you should browse before deciding what to buy.

              Both Caminetto d'Oro and Teresina serve genteel upmarket food in quite pleasant surroundings, but unless you are determined to taste Caminetto d'Oro's stellar tagliatelle al ragu, you might have more of an understanding of the classic Bolognese meal by eating at Serghei, Da Gianni or Ciccio e Giampi (all at a lower price). Trattoria Anna Maria is slightly touristy, but its pasta classics are models of their kind.

              I'm not sure I would eat a whole meal again at Bottega del Vino in Verona. I would go for a glass of wine and their nibbles and to see the historic space. I had a fascinating classic meal at Trattoria al Bersegliare some years ago, but that is the extent of my knowledge.

              http://www.trattoriaalbersagliere.it/

              -----
              Al Cavallino Bianco
              Via Sbrisi, 2, Polesine Parmense, Emilia-Romagna 43010, IT

              Caminetto d'Oro
              Via de' Falegnami, 4, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna 40121, IT

              Serghei
              Via Piella, 12, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna 40126, IT

              Teresina
              Via Guglielmo Oberdan, 4, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna 40126, IT

              Trattoria Anna Maria
              Via delle Belle Arti, 17, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna 40126, IT

              Bottega del Vino
              Vicolo Scudo di Francia, 3, Verona, Veneto 37121, IT

              1. re: barberinibee

                I was speaking of the well regarded restaurant near Parma. I hope we don't go to the wrong one, as in the Pizzeria.

                1. re: LiberalFoodie

                  the link your post creates (on the right) has the correct address and other info for Al Cavallino Bianco in Polesine Parmense, a fave of ours; your post had the wrong address and that created the confusion.

                  -----
                  Al Cavallino Bianco
                  Via Sbrisi, 2, Polesine Parmense, Emilia-Romagna 43010, IT