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Feb 10, 2012 06:39 AM

cheap eats in Venice, Tuscany and Rome


My wife and i will be driving with my parents from Venice to Tuscany and onto Rome. It will about a 3 week trip, about 8 days just in Tuscany. I would love some feedback on cheap (10-15 euros ea) places to eat along the way. I really like street food and small restaurants. The kind of places tourists don't know about. Italian cuisine is preferable but not essential. Also some places that make there own olive oil would be great.

Any help would be fantastic.

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  1. The question you are asking gets raised here several times each year. It would be worth your while to go to the upper right-hand corner of this page and search for both "cheap" and "bargain." You should be able to find many, many helpful suggestions already here for you to review.

    Here is a recent thread:

    I recommend taking a look at Fred Plotkin's book, "Italy for the Gourmet Traveler." You will find much helpful information there on markets & food shops, as well as dining establishments.

    I would also recommend visiting the tourist offices in the cities & towns you will be visiting. Ask if there is a schedule for when the weekly markets will be held in each town/city. You can usually purchase prepared foods inexpensively that will make a nice meal for you at these markets.

    3 Replies
    1. re: DavidT

      Here is an article about market days in Tuscany that lists the market days in a good number of Tuscan cities and towns:

      More helpful into:

      1. re: DavidT

        P.S. The markets are also a good place to interact with the locals and ask for their recommendation about where to dine, who makes good olive oil, etc.

      2. Im not sure how realistic meals for 10--15 E are these days - especially if you and your parents will want to sit down or eat a whole meal. Street food is not a customary way of eating in any of these places, although there are opportunities, such as the tripe vendors in Florence to do so. For example, in tuscany, you might just want to stop at a butcher or gastronomia and have some sandwiches made, and eat a picnic along with some fruit, etc. a sit down pizza meal is an inexpensive option, especially in the evening.
        I agree with the recommendation to put cheap and your destination locations into the search engine above..

        I also highly recommend picking up a copy of the Gambero Rosso Mangiar Bene 2011/12 guide, which offers over a 1000 low cost recommendations all over italy from 10-30 euros, including places for a "pausa gourmet", sit down meals and fancier restaurants with budget meals. its well worth the small investment in guiding you to better meals.
        Recommendations overlap substantially with the slowfood guide.

        Finally, hope you report back about what you find!

        2 Replies
        1. re: jen kalb

          Thanks for the suggestion Jen the book looks really good. Do you know if its published in an english version?

          1. re: suthobsk

            no its not, but its a small book and easy to use, will give you the relevant info so you are not at a loss wherever you are for an option. (if you have a smartphone for google places that will help you too. Since you will be functioning in an italian language environment, the book may help you learn a few words of Italian (days of the week, etc). it will give you type of restaurant and special dishes. Note not too much in Venice , but there is good advice on this board for Venice as well as Rome and Florence.

            ps, think about what you asked, wanting recommendations that "the tourists dont know about". A book with such recommendations will not normally be published in english - the only one of the type I can think of is Micaela Scibilia's Venice Osterie guide, which is sporadically published in an English version. If you are interested in that and are in Venice long enough to make it worthwhile you can pick that guide up there.

        2. For Venice, below is what I wrote to an earlier post about eating on a budget. The link is for the entire post.
          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.

          A couple of additions to your particular post: as for street food, except for takeaway pizza slices and panini, not much exists in Venice. There are only 'small restaurants' in Venice, therefore, small does not equate to being inexpensive. Depending on how long you are spending in a single place and if you like to cook, renting an apartment might be an option. Cooking one meal a day will be a saving and allow you to budget more for the other.
          For more discussions on cicchetti, just type in the word and you will find quite a few recent posts on it.

          3 Replies
          1. re: PBSF

            Two quick addendums, Ardidos has been closed for some time, and Pinto is now Chinese owned. :(. I think bàcaro food is the nearest equivalent to "street food" here: stand up for select assortments from fried bites to "mignon" sandwiches to a tris of bacalà mantecato, vicentina, e in tècia crostini. The rule is, if you don't recognize it, eat it! Best selections are before lunch and before dinner ("ape" hour). Just keep an eye out for locals ganged around a bar, chatting and munching and cin-cin-ing away.

            I still like the Rosticceria under the sotoportego passageway alla Bissa, just off the Campo San Bartolomeo on the San Marco side of the Rialto. You can stand up for your mozarella in carozza, or sit for a risotto that comes straight out of the kitchen every 7 minutes, about; eat your roast chicken or grilled fish at the bar or a proper table (turnover's quick, if you don't spot one right away, just keep scanning...)

            1. re: livingvenice

              Thanks for the update. We'll have to get out more often.

              1. re: PBSF

                I don't think anyone will have a problem finding more good choices in your ample list...!