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Mar 28, 2012 08:08 PM

Rome, Montalcino, Florence restaurants

This will be our first trip to Rome, based around the Rome Masters tennis tournament in mid-May. Stayng in the Monti district. In Rome, want to keep the meal prices reasonable (<50 euro/person?, except for Sat lunch). We're tying to focus on regional (Roman/Lazio or other Italian areas). I've looked at a few blogs and comments on this board to get a framework for places to eat. I'd love some comments/suggestions. Thanks in advance for any advice.

Our first night in town (a Monday) we are planning on dinner at Taverna dei
Fori Imperiali: seems to be varied views on this place. Any alternatives in the similar style and area?

next night wine/dinner at one or multiple places (Cavour 313 and/or Urbana 47).

Weds dinner maybe at Trat Monti or La Carbonara (would like to stay in walking
distance, but we could easily go to Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps or other areas).

Thursday all day at tennis

Fri and Sat we have eve tennis, so only lunches: Fri or maybe Weds, since
we'll be in the forum area, at Roscioli; Sat at Pipero al Rex (already have
reservations), decided on this over Il Pagliaccio (seemed pricey and some of the
menu items were a little too "nouvelle")

Sunday-Thurs, we will have a car, 3 nights in Montalcino and 2 outside
Buonconvento, any recommendations?

Fri and Sat in Florence: staying near Ponte Vecchio:
1 dinner I due G (more typical Tuscan fare) and one dinner at either Osteria
Personale or Ora d'Aria (which to chose?)

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  1. You really did do your homework!
    I'll try to answer your questions first: I love Taverna dei Fori Imperiali, so that's a great choice.

    Definitely Trattoria Monti over Carbonara. But I don't see L'Asino d'Oro here. So maybe that an even better altermanitive.

    Roscioli is not really in the Forum area.

    Osteria Personale much more low key (and less exp). Ora D'Aria more formal and creative. Very different places, both excellent. You'll have to choose!

    1. definitely ditch Taverna dei Fori, which has seen a tremendous decline in food quality over the past few years. I used to be a regular, as it was down the street from my apt, but it no longer lives up to the reputation or prices. you could certainly sub in L'Asino d'Oro, which is nearby. but don't skip Trattoria MOnti for L'asino...

      Definitely Cavour 313 over Urbana 47. La Barrique (a winebar also in Monti) is fantastic. Another alternative is Enoteca Provincia Romana, which recently started serving proper meals in addition to their excellent cold plates.

      As Elizabeth says, Roscioli isnt really near the forum, but is ~20 min walk away and worth the trip for some cured meats, cheese, and pasta. pipero is great. enjoy!

      6 Replies
      1. re: katieparla

        I'll have to differ with Katie about Taverna dei Fori Imperiali. I go there often, and the food is great. Also, I send a lot of friends and clients there, and not only do they love it, they often end up making reservations to return a second time during the week.

        La Barrique is closed for renovations, and won't be opened for at least another month. Maybe by the time you come.

        1. re: minchilli

          thanks katie and elizabeth I'll definitely work in L'Asino, either a lunch or dinner. Do you know what day they are closed? The "website" is only a cover page and I didn't get an e-mail response from the restaurant.

          1. re: LenAA

            They are closed sunday all day and monday lunch. Tuesday till saturday lunch is the 12 euro offer, evenings full menu.

            1. re: vinoroma

              We tried to go right after a wine tasting at Vinoroma on Monday night in Feb. and they were closed.

              1. re: tlubow

                In tne winterthey closed mondays compleyely, but they are open again now. But i will check again to make sure.

                1. re: vinoroma

                  ok, they are still closed mondays but will start opening monday evenings either from 23 or 30 on (not decided yet) - so by the time OP is here mid-may, they will def be open monday eves, too.

      2. Pipero is definitely a better choice than Pagliaccio--who we think tries too hard to be edgy with their food and sometimes then fall flat. In Montalcino, Osteria Osticcio is a must. The. Food is simple, but great quality and if you like wine, there is nobody more knowledgable or generous with info then the owner Tullio. Wineries Banfi and Poggio Antico both have terrific, though pricey, restaurants. In Buonconvento, go to La Bottega al 30. Tullio at Osticcio recommended it to us and we have had three fabulous meals there.

        17 Replies
        1. re: GeraldI

          @Geraldl I will have to differ from your statement about Pipero-Pagliaccio. It is not a matter of taste....when you go to Il Pagliaccio, you are there to experience something different, dishes and flavor combination you never encountered before. Il Pagliaccio has an incredible service and the ambience is elegant and distinctive. Their wine list is to die for and the desserts are out of this world.
          I'd rather think, as I stated in previous posts, that foreigners have an idea about Italian food which can be more easily associated with Pipero's or others instead of Il Pagliaccio's.

          1. re: cristinab

            As a winery owner I travel extensively, eat at some of the best restaurants in the world, and live part of each year in Rome; but maybe you are right and I just don't know what I am talking about. As I have said myself, everyone's palates are different. If you want to know what truly inventive food tastes like that is well executed, try Piazza Duomo in Alba. I know some people enjoy Pagliaccio; but I did not and I don't believe the failing was my poor undereducated palate. But, I could be wrong. Oh, and their wine list while extensive, was, in my (undereducated) opinion, ridiculously priced.

            1. re: GeraldI

              I have to disagree with that evaluation (my field of expertise is a bit different: chocolate, but the practical implications in terms of experience would be similar). My visit to Il Pagliaccio was utterly memorable and world-class. Nothing was less than good and some dishes were transcendent. However, like most top-rate restaurants, some will be disappointed and there are defensible reasons for this.

              Portion size is less than what you would get at a typical Roman restaurant, although not necessarily small relative to the size one tends to find at other top-end restaurants worldwide.

              Prices are extremely steep, and it is indisputably a fact that in other towns in the world you can have a meal of equal quality for much less. Top-end restaurants in Rome seem on the whole to come with an extreme price premium.

              There is a mix of more traditional and more adventurous choices on the menu. The more adventurous choices do come with a higher level of risk: the *conceptual success*, as opposed to the *execution* of some of them is marginal. Execution was always near-perfect, but some ideas work better than others. I think common sense is called for: each person knows what they like and would be advised to try things that to them sound like they'll work.

              As noted it's quite different from the typical Roman menu, so if you're looking for something traditional it won't be the best choice.

              Ultimately what it will probably come down to is the value-for-money proposition: at the prices you can expect to spend it's the kind of place from which you will expect nothing less than a revelation. And because tastes differ, this level of experience isn't something a restaurant can reliably achieve with a random customer. Too much will depend on personal preference. You'll either be transported (I was) and be thinking about when to go back again, or not, and be thinking never again.

              However I do maintain that the only way to find out is to try - as is the case with any truly top-end restaurant - so it's worth doing. Just think of it as something you budget for and don't come in with preconceived expectations.

              1. re: GeraldI

                Geraldl, did not think I doubted your expertise. I know Piazza Duomo and Crippa very well. He is a great, great chef, but this does not take away from Genovese at all. You made a statement about two different restaurants in two completely different categories, with two different styles and I just disagreed. Anyhow, considering that Luciano has staged for few months at Crippa's, does not surprise me you mentioned him: you probably like that style (the use of herbs, i.e.).

                1. re: cristinab

                  Thanks to all above for the discussion on the different styles and food expressions at Pipero and Pagliaccio. At Pagliaccio, does the "conceptual" reach on the food extend to the a la carte menu or is it mainly to the tasting menus.

                  1. re: LenAA

                    Yes it does. If you decide for his tasting menu, it is certainly more complete than it would be a la carte, but there are certain dishes (such as the oyster-camomille, or the tataki with sake) which can give you a lot about his cuisine.

            2. re: GeraldI

              Any recommendations on smaller top-notch wineries around Montalcino that we can visit. I'm looking for someone that would not be importing to the US market. A special treat to bring home.

              1. re: LenAA

                All of the smaller top notch wineries are being imported into The States. There are no secrets in Montalcino.

                We were there a few weeks ago to load up the car with 2006 Brunellos. Believe it or not, it is being given away (relatively). In contrast to two years ago when we loaded up the car with a lot of 2005 and 2006 Rossos, and not that many of the 2001 Brunellos because the Brunellos were so outrageously priced, the wines are cheap. That's because of the scandal as well as the severe cutback in buying by Americans.

                Over a period of time, the three places that have great inventories, including bottles from small producers and in all the right years are Enotecca Bruno Dalmazio which is on the hill (if coming from Siena) just before you get into town (; Enoteca Pierangioli (; and Osteria Osticcio which is a very good osteria as well as an enoteca and a block down from Pierangioli.

                BD is large and Pierangioli is much smaller. Both have very good and friendly service. We've found them both much better than the wine store in the Castello or any of the other numerous enotecche.

                1. re: LenAA

                  Try to go see Sesti di Sopra. An older couple own and run it and it is a wonderful experience (and they are virtually invisible in the States). Tullio Scrivani at Osteria Osticcio set us up with them.

                  1. re: GeraldI

                    Thanks. Sesta de Sopra looks like an interesting place. Did you need a GPS to get around Tuscany? We usually use maps and signs, but have read some comments suggesting a GPS. The enotecce all sound great. Can't wait.

                    1. re: LenAA

                      We use a GPS at times, but the map available of the wineries is pretty easy to follow. Again, Tullio at Osteria Osticcio can help with directions too. Sesta di Sopra is a real fun experience--winetasting at their dining room table. Enjoy.

                      1. re: LenAA


                        You really don't need GPS to get around in Tuscany. (Unless you can't read a map of course.)

                        Mrs T and I have driven extensively in Tuscany using only maps and signs. Never had any problems.

                      2. re: GeraldI

                        @allende/@geraldl: when buying wine in Montalcino area, is it less expensive at the winery or the enoteccas? If the winery charges for tasting, I feel I can purchase elsewhere if I like the wine. If the tasting is free and family run, I usually buy from the winery.

                        1. re: LenAA

                          It is always cheaper at the winery, but a lot of the time not by much. The wineries in the Montalcino area have a number of price points for selling. The cheapest price point is to the local retailers who buy year after year, good vintages and bad, and are their close friends and neighbors.

                          A much higher price point is for US importers.

                          Sort of like Venice restaurants which are notorious for this. Many, if not most, have prices for locals and then prices for non locals.

                    2. re: GeraldI

                      @Geraldl, I could not find La Bottega al 30 in Buonconvento but found one in Castelnuovo. Is that what you were thinking of? Is there another rec in Buonconvento? Thanks

                      1. re: LenAA

                        Sorry; my bad. I confused the two towns. I can't remember anyplace in Buonconvento.

                        1. re: GeraldI

                          No problem. If I find a good place in Buonconvento I'll post it. I'm sure the place we're staying will have some recs.