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Any good mobile apps or e-food guidebook resourcesfor Italy?

Im making a decision in the next week on a new smartphone (my first, slow adapter) and wonder if anyone has a comment on good dining and food related apps available either for the i-phone or android . Language does not matter to me but I need more data to on the quality of the available apps to choose the phone.

Brownie points for apps which tell you good restaurants (not any restaurants but good ones) near where you are based on GPS and also give opening hours/holiday/closing day info. (this is what I had been hoping CH could be...sadly no, not at present)

Also, any e-books guidebooks to recommend? I was hoping not to have to carry heavy guidebooks along or copy them (such as Downie and Gambero Rosso Rome, for example) but it does not seem that publishers providing e-versions of other than the most commercial/massmarket books or updating their e-books as fast as print versions (Rome is out for 2012 but not 2013)

thanks for any help you can give!

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  1. Hi Jen: My fav app is Katie Parla's: Rome for Foodies. It's really up to date, and she doesn't play favorites...she tells it like it is.

    3 Replies
    1. re: sockster

      +1 for Katie Parla's: Rome for Foodies - she tells it as it is and the app has all the technical features you required above.

      1. re: vinoroma

        thanks! - but she says she is not going to update the Android version, I think....

        1. re: jen kalb

          True, android is not going to be updated to the new look & feel (but the data is there). But younwere asking for both systems, so...
          I do have some other apps but in the end never use them - mainly because i do not like the restaurants/ recs, (more than the technical aspects of the apps....). Did you try cibando? It is completely free of giving points etc, just describes each place, has pictures of the food, has the hard facts etc. No recs, but can be helpful when trying to decide.

    2. In addition to Rome Foodie, I also like Eat Rome by Elizabeth Minchilli. If only Fred Plotkin had an e-book!!

      1 Reply
      1. re: ekc

        seond Plotkin -his 2 lb books visits the xerox machine before I travel

      2. thanks, but c'mon, there has to be more than these chowhound faves - is anybody using apps for Gambero Rosso, Gola in Tasca , Slowfood ViaMichelin, etc?

        any good regional apps or guides other than the Minchelli, Parla and my fave, Micaela Scibilia (Venice) which is for i-phone?

        Im interested in which platform any apps are on and how useful the apps/products actually are in practice.

        9 Replies
        1. re: jen kalb

          Jen, I would use those other apps but I don't speak Italian (yet)!

          1. re: jen kalb

            I looked into the slowfood app for this summer, but I did not want to incur all the roaming and data charges using something like this would entail. I ended up lugging around the Osterie book with me... make sure you check out all the costs involved if you are using an american phone overseas. The year before was my first time with a smartphone and we gleefully plotted and mapped out restaurants while we were driving. That turned out to be a VERY expensive trip indeed....Verizon loved me.

            1. re: quentinC

              Verizon says they will unlock my new phone (whichever one) so that I can get a local sim for phone and data when I arrive - Im dont want their love . Hope this works - my prior global phone arrangements havent been so cool tho my work sponsored bbery has been a big held. Im over carrying fat books but even xeroxed pages are heavy...I looked again at Gambero Rosso and it seems like their apps are not currently available...

              1. re: jen kalb

                You could scan pages from guidebooks and have these on a kindle or similar. Not the best solution but an option...

                1. re: vinoroma

                  right, thats one thing I am considering since husband has one of those - its sort of discouraging that the best guides (which are not mass-market) arent being moved toward electronic versions - youd think it would be a more expanded distribution channel for them.

                  1. re: jen kalb

                    Authors are the losers when it comes to getting paid for electronic versions. The money just isn't there. Plus, I have a lot of sympathy for serious food and culture writers who don't want their books reduced to target-a-restaurant-near-me apps for mass tourism.

                    i realize I'm not being very helpful, but I've yet to take a trip where I wore all the clothes I packed. The trips I've taken where I packed plenty of good fat food books instead of unworn clothes were the better trips. (Alas, Northern Spain and Portugal are really underserved by good food writers -- although fortunately there is an abundance of wonderful food and wine to lower the risks of a bad meal.)

                    1. re: barberinibee

                      Author's are losers when it comes to getting paid for electronic versions? This couldn't be further from the truth when it comes to guide books. As the author of six books, and two apps, I can say 100% that the exact opposite is true.

                      I make a percentage every time my app is sold. The same can't be said for my books.


              2. re: quentinC

                I understand the fear of roaming charges. They can be deadly. But Katie's app, as well as mine, can be used offline. Just use your iPhone in airplane mode, and you should be fine.


            2. Just came across this e-book about Rome (including restaurants) It looks delightful. I am downloading it now.



              1. jen,

                I am in the midst of an extended trip to Portugal and Northern Spain, and I have to say my frustration with guidebooks and restaurant recommendations is at an all-time-high. There really is almost no real solution for the cultural traveler who likes to eat well while traveling mainly for culture and education, and even when you can get your hands on restaurant recommendations from knowledgeable people (i.e., not travel guidebooks), that too is really no guarantee of a satisfying experience. Knowing why that place was recommended is often not given, and it may not be a reason that appeals to you.

                We felt as if the chains had fallen from us when we finally were able to spend an evening in Ourense strolling among tapas bars, eating what looked and smelled good without any pre-planning.

                I cannot imagine adding to my woes as a traveler to be thumbing "apps" (the word alone gives me hives) while hungry. Fred Plotkin's fundamental inclination to direct you to kind people who cook well and dote on their guests has yet to be surpassed in my experience. Apart from that, I'd rather follow my own nose (literally).

                2 Replies
                1. re: barberinibee

                  PS jen,

                  A working Italian cell phone is a better investment than an "up-to-date app", because no matter where you go, the chances that some restaurant is going to close for repairs or whatever that day is always high. I no longer head in the direction of any restaurant thinking it is going to be open without calling first.

                2. Hi jen,
                  I carry an iPhone but I don't sweat the app stuff. ATT is my stateside carrier and I generally negotiate an international data plan so I can just query the interwebs on the fly. iPhone/Android it doesn't matter. ATT pro-rates my data usage and refunds when appropriate. It was never always this easy but it is now.

                  15 Replies
                  1. re: steve h.

                    I didnt mean to take this offtopic for CH, just wanted to know what apps and resources there were there was that I might not know about already. All I REALLY want that I cant get with my computer back in my hotel room and my internet incompetent blackberry is the GPS/googlemaps type capability. There are books like the Companion Guide, Downies Books and Plotkiin that Id love to have along electronically to ease the load.There is an electronic version of the Oxford Archeological Guide to Rome - but its not of the most recent edition and not exactly cheap.
                    And I was hoping there were uniquely italian resources - for example I keep hearing about Gola in Tasca but I ve never actually seen it that might be helpful. Everytime Ive travelled to Italy just about the tech situation has been slightly different. I used to have this thing for internet to clamp onto the phone handset for example (didnt work too well), a SIM and a cheap phone purchased on line (never got it working) a mobal phone (ditto); the last time we were in Rome there wasnt really any wifi available and the stone wall of my apartment were too thick for the phone signal to penentrate.. Ive dragged old heavy laptops along and just about broken my arm with the weight of baggage (especially on the return trip with oil, wine and such). So I am waiting for the time when theseinformational resources will be available with little stress - the promise is great but it doesnt seem like the time has arrive yet.

                    1. re: jen kalb

                      Re: gola in tasca - i have it and it is just a compendium of the other guidebooks that rate (gambero rosso, epresso, etc) and the hard data. Not what you want, in my opinion. If something like that, I'd really rather cibando: as i wrote above, no rating, but descriptions, pictures and the hard facts, usually enough to help make a decision.

                      1. re: vinoroma

                        thanks I forgot that i looked at the gola interface last week - it wasnt very helpful or essy to use either
                        cibando does look better - thanks for that one.

                      2. re: jen kalb

                        If you've got an internet connection via phone or Kindle, you can look up Gola reviews on-line. I don't know if they have an "app." I've yet to find them a very reliable indicator of good food.


                        Did someone already give you these slow food links?


                        1. re: barberinibee

                          yet another apple-compatible only app. grr.

                          1. re: jen kalb

                            Have a look at this post: http://www.puntarellarossa.it/2012/09.... The emphasis is on booking a table, but it seems the second and the third (which is also available for Android) have reviews by people who have actually eaten at the places. How much of Italy is covered, how good or how reliable the apps are, I evidently can't say.

                            1. re: Octavian

                              thanks much for the link, love puntarellarossa

                            2. re: jen kalb


                              Would it make sense to invest in an i-pad? Could you scan pages of valuable guidebooks onto the i-pad, plus have apple-app access?

                              Last time I was in NYC, I looked into buying an I-pad, and wasn't satisfied with map features (which i hear are now improved) and thought that for my purposes, buying a later iteration in Italy would be better.

                              But maybe it would work for you for this trip. Can't tell. Were it me, I would live out of the take-away shop of Luchin in Chiavari.

                              1. re: barberinibee

                                well thats part of what Im planning (re chiavari, but Ill be going up to San Rocco from there and Ne, if Im lucky too). which items other than the farinata do you particularly recommend?

                                Im sort of allergic to apple - I will have my laptop and husband will have his e-reader but I also want a locally functional smartphone with GPS etc. Doubt very much that a premium priced ipad is in my future, but ive been mulling over other e-readers with wifi for this. My prior experience in Italy leads me to believe that I need a phone to get the geographical functionality I want (will I get a wifi signal on Monte Portofino?) Im having the same hard time resolving the phone issue as I have deciding between restaurants - no list for me!

                                1. re: jen kalb

                                  Are you staying in San Rocco and Ne?

                                  Other than farinata, I definitely recommend cima alla genovese from the gastronomia at Luchin. I'd probably take a flyer on anything else they've got in the store that day. There are other gastronomia in the general vicinity -- I'm sorry, I know them by sight and use, but not by name or address -- that offer thin sliced octopus carpaccio and other treats that make for a great dinner. (Curiously, I've yet to find a good roasted chicken in Chiavari, but I've never asked around. Ask your landlord. The Mercato Orientale in Genova has good roast chickens.).

                                  You might also find it worthwhile to visit the Bisson wine store in Chiavari to check out their oils as well as wines. It's near the train station. Downie's book has the address.

                                  One thing I would also recommend is to follow Downie's recommendations for plain foccacia. Certainly don't judge Ligurian foccacia by what you pick up in any old bakery. Not all foccacia is equal.

                                  Can't offer any comment on apple vs other stuff. I'm a tech minimalist -- which is way I originally recommended you forget this "app" stuff and pack your Plotkin + Downie and buy some Slow Food guides when you get here, and otherwise follow your nose and raid the gastronomie and fresh pasta shops.

                                  1. re: barberinibee

                                    PS jen,

                                    This afternoon I ate lunch at a Michelin-starred restaurant near A Coruna in Spain and for dinner, we picked a tapas crawl of dives in a somewhat touristy town, followed by an all-clam dinner at a parrillada on a sandy beach. My husband and I spent part of dinner talking about "fine dining" when traveling and "fun dining" when traveling. Sestri Levante in Liguria has "fun dining" (octopus at Polpo Mario). Chiavari has fun dining as well and fine dining. I like crepes with smoked tuna or baby octopus (or just poached egg and tomatoes) along the waterfront in Camogli as much as I like ravioli stuffed with branzino in Nonna Nina in Camogli.

                                    By the way, if you are staying in San Rocco, the bar Pippi very close to Nonna Nina serves wonderful bruschetta and stuffed foccacie panini. The butcher shop under Nonna Nina has great stuff (it's in Downie's book). Local San Rocco bakery has good pesto to take away, wonderful handmade breadsticks and lovely fresh fruit pies.

                                    I know you don't like to waste a meal, and there is a lot of dreary food along the waterfront of every town in Liguria, but seeking out some informal eats in a relaxed setting is part of the heart of enjoying the Riviera.

                                    1. re: barberinibee

                                      sorry I should have clarified - we are staying (in a hotel so less convenient to buy foodstuffs) in chiavari and daytripping in the area, then moving on up to Genova where we have an apartment for 4 nights. .
                                      this is definitely the wrong thread to talk about Ligurian regional food on, but I really appreciate all your great tips and counsel

                                      1. re: jen kalb

                                        One more and I'll quit for this thread:

                                        If you haven't already got this on your radar, La Marinella in Nervi is a great place to sample focaccia col formaggio combined with a view and within walking distance of 2 of Liguria's more interesting museums, the Wolfsoniana and the Galleria d'Arte Moderna in Nervi.

                                        1. re: barberinibee

                                          will definitely check this out, thanks - Ive sort of been shorting the cultural end of this phase of the trip -hoping to pick up some good info when we get to Genoa - most of the guidebooks ive seen are pretty broadbrush.

                                          do you think of the focaccia col formaggio as a snack or pretty much a meal? (guess it depends on quantity!)

                                          1. re: jen kalb

                                            If you sit down and order it at a foccaceria, it is about the size of a tricycle tire. So I can share one and make a meal of it at some place like La Marinara. It is also sold in slices in selected bakeries for a take-away snack -- but you do have to be very careful where you get it or else you will end up with a greasy mound of congealing fat. I hear that the Chiavari branch of Da O Vittorio (which is based in Recco) does a good fresh baked version during the afternoons. I also like Tossini (both in Recco and Rapallo). Die-hard cheese foodies make a pilgrimage to the Moltedo branch in Recco (under the viaduct; Downie has the address).

                                            Tripadvisor message boards for the Italian Riviera have some culture-vulture posters who might be able to help with a cultural itinerary if you pinpoint your interests -- literary, crafts, painting, architecture, historic food traditions, various historic strains in the region, etc. Otherwise, the local tourist offices are hit or miss. The regional one in Genova (in piazza Ferrari) is great, but most everything is in Italian.