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Dec 5, 2012 06:36 AM

Florence, Positano & Rome report

My husband and I went to Florence, Positano & Rome over Thanksgiving. We had some great eats and disappointments so thought I'd share our experience. I kept our dinner budgets to under 50 euros per meal. I had the house wine by the quarter litre as my husband doesn't drink. Our order was usually either a shared appetizer or secondi, our own primi and a side. Though we were kind of worried that this would be frowned upon, sharing & not ordering the full three course, we noticed a lot of customers doing similar things or only ordering either the primi or secondi. All in all it was more than enough food for us. For lunch, we grabbed panninis, pizza by the kg, & gelato as we were busy heading from one attraction to another.

We stayed in Oltarno on via Santo Spirito down the street from Santo Bevitore but we didn't get around to trying it. We were told that the average meal would be around 50 euro per person so we left it to the last night which then ended up being too late.

Trattoria del Carmine: We had the parpardelle al sugo & penne amatriciana and shared the osso bucco. The amatriciana reminds me how we can't get that light and fresh of a tomato sauce in the US. The osso bucco was satisfying but suprisingly light.

All ' Antico Ristoro di Cambi - We had florentine steak here with sides of white beans & green beans saute in tomatoes, pappa al pomodoro and ribollita. The steak was tender not too fatty, all around a very tasty steak. It makes me think of ribeyes in the US but again, some how lighter. the restaurant accommodated us by giving us a steak that was under 1 kg. We could have gotten steak florentine for cheaper at Trattoria del Carmine but was very happy with our experience at Cambi.

Carapina - The gelato here was in its own class. You could taste a refined difference in texture & temperature. although we don't know enough to really say if this is how gelato should be. The flavors are very creative & unique.

Gelateria la Carraia - if you're looking for value for money, you can't beat this place, the scoops are huge for 1.5 euro.

We tried to go to Trattoria Sostanza but didn't realize that they only had 2 seatings, 7 or 7:30 pm and 9pm and we missed both.

There were only 3-4 restaurants opened as it is the slow season. We only had 2 nights there. While some might say there's nothing to see here in the slow season, I'd disagree and think that the locals actually come out in the slow season and you can see life as it should be in Positano.

Meditteraneo - I'd skip and go to Chez Black. ok food.

Chez Black - Doesn't really compare to the good eats in Florence & Rome but pretty good for the options available. We got complementary bruschetta to start & also lemon sorbet at the end of our meal. We ordered the marinated white anchovies, shrimp & arrugula pizza, cuttle fish ink pasta. The portions were enormous and we could have shared either the pizza or pasta and gotten another appetizer or side dish.

There is a great latteria next to Hotel Poseidon where you can get an enormous panini for 3.5 - 5 euro. They're very generous with the mozzarella & proscuitto.


La Taverna dei Fori Imperiali - a disappointment although the carbonara was great. I think what really put it off for me with this place is the over seasoning. Everything that came out of the kitchen was overly salty to the point that you couldn't taste much else. I'm a bit sensitive to salt, usually break out in sweat and get really itchy and the meal here set it off big time. We ordered porchetta, carbonara, cacio e pepe w/ truffles & insalata mista. The cacio e pepe was a sore disappointment. It was pasty and didn't really get the taste of the truffles. I had my first cadio e pepe at ristorante sul lago pagnanelli and again at Mani in Pasta and I couldn't stop eating it. If I had it for the first time here, I'd probably not eat it again.

La Scala (60) in Piazza Scala (Trastevere): My favorite meal. We had ravioli w/ truffles, risotto with honey mushroom, sausage & salted cheese and braised oxtail. We used the bread to scrape up every drop of sauce possible on the pasta & risotto plate. The braised oxtail again was very satisfying and light.

Taverna Romana in Monti: I was looking forward to this as it was packed the might we passed by it on our way to Imperiali. It underwhelms. We had artichokes w/ offal, cacio e pepe, tripe & saltimbocca. The saltimbocca was nice and only thing memorable. I've had better tripe in the US unfortunately....not meant as an insult.

Gigliotti(gelato) : again, great value for money & an experience but i don't think this is what gelato is supposed to be like.

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  1. thanks so much for your report! Its good to se input on so many places that are not often commented on here. I remember Trattoria del Carmine from our first visit to Florence in the late 70s - it sounds like its the same unpretentious traditional parish trattoria now as then - good!

    We liked the Amalfi coast offseason though there is more limited dining. glad you found at least one good meal.

    5 Replies
    1. re: jen kalb

      Thanks jen kalb. We ate well but on a budget so our report is probably not as exciting. We didn't time our stay in Rome very well as some places we wanted to try were closed on Sunday or Monday and we went to Imperiali on Saturday as Monti was close to our hotel. Trattoria del Carmine was the recommendation from our Airbnb host. She used to work there. I wish I knew about their fagioli al fiasco and the specials menu.

      Hopefully our report is helpful for those on a budget.

      Our stay in Positano was without a car and quite short so we didn't venture out to any of the other towns.

      1. re: foodlores

        if you get back to Amalfi coast, know you can easily take local buses to the nearby towns and villages - a car is a liability.

        Budget recommendations are a good thing - while we dont travel on a budget per se, we always prefer (for most of our meals) eating good food for a moderate amount of money. and I am sure many of the people who read and post here are happy to receive your reports A recommendation of a good trattoria at a moderate price is a jewel to be treasured, so glad you enjoyed your eating and visit.

        1. re: jen kalb

          I wouldn't describe those Amalfi bus trips as "easy" on a full stomach (maybe "queasy"--?) or in the tourist season.


          On this board, a great many of recommendations deserve to be on every visitor's list, regardless of income , and have what anybody would call budget prices. While I've never eaten at the highest priced restaurants in Rome, I have paid some large tabs for food there that I enjoyed less that what I ate at other places in Rome for a third the cost. So don't regret you weren't spending more. In some Italian cities (and even rural regions popular with tourists), price often has no relationship to quality or enjoyability whatsoever. So this board is a most valuable for people who are looking for enjoyable eating in Italy, and a tight budget is no obstacle to finding that in Italy in my experience (and the unfortunate mistakes or bum steers are a lot easier to shrug off when the tab is a few euros rather than hundreds).

          1. re: barberinibee

            there have been times when i wished I had reached a little higher for a better meal quality meal - even as simple a matter as ordering a more expensive specialty or wine - but more times when I was disappointed by expensive meals that did not satisfy.

          2. re: jen kalb

            Another thing to keep in mind for those going to Positano is most of the restaurants up the hill have a van service that will come and pick you up at your hotel and bring you back after dinner when you're done. Da Constantino has one for sure, and La Tagliata, which is very touristy but has excellent grilled meats and a view that is to die for. I'm sure these van services only run in high season, of course.

      2. With respect to your Rome experience, I thank you for your report. I've never eaten in any of the restaurants you mentioned, so it was good to read your views. I too have had on occasion food too salty in Rome; Rome was founded on the salt route 27 centuries ago, and the tradition abides.

        Do you mean Giolitti? For gelato in Rome Chowhounders are passionate about their favorite, willing to defend their choice local with verbally brandished broadswords. I follow in suit. Giolitti is simply the Mecca, the El Dorado, the Holy Grail of gelato on the Italian mainland. Period. Full stop. You may not like the service; you can't complain about the gelato.