Feedback on Rome, Florence, and Venice
I would appreciate any advice on the following dining choices I've made so far. I'll be in Rome for 3 days, Florence for 2, and Venice for 2 at the end of March. I want to make sure my choices are balanced and not at super "fancy" restaurants.
Day 1: Lunch at L'asino D'oro; Dinner at Trattoria Monti
Day 2: Lunch at Perillil; Dinner at ????
Day 3: Lunch at Pizzarium; Dinner at Taverna dei Fori Imperiali
Day 1: Dinner at Trattoria Sostanza
Day 2: Lunch at Cipolla Rossa; Dinner at Trattoria I Due G
Day 1: Dinner at Alle Testiere
Day 2: Al Covo
Also, as a New Yorker who's used to OPEN TABLE, how far in advance do I need to reserve? Do I call Italy and book them via phone?
For Alle Testiere, if you reserve soon, you should be able to get a table; they have email reservation form on their website. As the above recommended, telephone them if you don't get a reply within a few days. I would confirm the morning you get to Venice.
For Al Covo, by phone; a couple weeks in advance should do, even for a weekend. If it is a must, reserve earlier, can cancel if you change your mind.
I know you have Florence decided, but in case others are interested, we are currently in Italy visiting friends. This is our third trip here, so we have already done the major cities, but we stopped for lunch on the outskirts of Florence and had a really wonderful meal at Trattoria Donnini on Via Di Rimaggio 22. We knew it was special when we were greeted by the proprietor to take our coats and hang them up for us.
I had one of my favorites: pumpkin ravioli with sage and butter. These were made with homemade pasta and when I mentioned they had added a bit of crunchy topping, our friend told me the filling was mixed with amaretti cookies. No wonder it was so good! My husband had gnocchi with truffles and our friends had taglitelli with goose ragu. Accompanied of course with a lovely local Chianti.
We usually don't have room for a second course, but we noticed most of the locals were having either a fried seafood platter or Chiarinna, the local version of a T-bone steak, served rare and sliced at the table.
For dessert, my husband had cheesecake, which actually seemed to be a light mix of cheese and cake. But the rest of us, went for the panne cotta with mint sauce and chocolate. No words to describe this beyond ethereal! Our friends said it was the best they ever had.
The older couple who ran it waited on us and were very attentive and charming.
Of all our wonderful meals this trip, we agreed this was our favorite (although the pasta with fresh truffles in Gubbio was right up there).
Our friends snuck behind our back and paid the bill, but the prices seemed very reasonable.
Enjoy your trip...as if!
I love it when someone's done their homework so well! Great choices!
Rome, Day 2 dinner: Since you'll be having a big lunch that day at Perilli, maybe not a full on multi course meal for dinner? How about Beppe e i suoi Formaggi? You can have a plate of fabulous cheeses, accompanied by great wines? And they do also have at least one pasta dish so if you're still hungry there's that.
In terms of booking, a few days in advance should do fine. L'Asino d'oro definitely books up for lunch in advance and Taverna dei Fori Imperiali is always booked solid these days. Ditto for Sostanza and Testiere.
If, for some reason you can't get into Testiere (and it's so small, that that's a possiblity) I also love Carampane and Corte Sconta.
In Rome, you don't have any remotely fancy restaurants, so if you wanted something a little upscale, you need to go back to the drawing board. I would not plan dinner for a day I went to Perilli (or similar traditional restaurant). You might want to make that the dinner and have lunch on the fly.
As for reservations, e-mail is improving, but if you don't get an answer in a couple of days, phone or fax. A few days should be enough, especially during the week, though Monti gets filled up very quickly. I would reserve there as soon as you have your dates.