Barcelona, Venice, Bologna, Milan
My girlfriend and I will be spending a week in Italy, with a one-day stopover in Barcelona on the way over. We'd love recommendations for great food in any of these cities. We're plan on having one or two "splurge" dinners, but are most interested in more casual, mid-priced places that showcase the local cuisine well.
A few things we're particularly interested in:
* Tapas in Barcelona.
* Seafood and cicheti in Venice. (We're staying in Dorsoduro but will happily travel for great eats.) We'll also likely do one splurge dinner here -- any thoughts? (We live in NYC and eat well, so something that we couldn't find there would be ideal.)
* We're lucky enough to have a local friend with great taste taking us around Bologna; last time I was there, he led me to two of the best meals of my life. But any can't-misses I should mention to him?
* We'll likely do another splurge dinner in Milan.
In Barcelona I highly recommend trying to get into "Tickets" by Albert Adria. Basically many carry-overs from elBulli with lots of new creations. Probably the best restaurant in the city in my opinion. Reasonably priced too for what it is.
Also, Tapac24 by Carlos Abellan is great too.
I'm going back to Venice for the first time in a long time in 3 weeks. So maybe I'll have more to contribute then.
Tickets looks amazing. I'm a big fan of molecular gastronomy, so I'd love the chance to eat at one of the Adria's restaurants.
Unfortunately, we're leaving for Europe in a bit over a week, so reservations are impossible. Is it worth showing up at 7 pm on a Tuesday night and hoping for a cancellation?
Yes. Totally worth showing up to try and get in.
When we were there people got in that way. But that was only like 2 months after it opened so I don't know how it is now.
You could also try for Bar 41 connected to it. Sounds like early evening they have a big tasting event going that's hard to get into. But late night it's a bar with elBulli snacks. When we were there Ferran walked through.
Have fun in Barcelona. I've never eaten so well in all my life as when we were there.
In Venice make sure to go by Trattoria Ca D'Oro and have one of their polpette and a glass of wine.
Sounds like a great time.
If Tickets doesn't pan out you can look around for another place in the same area.
Or if you don't mind heading back near the center of the city I really do recommend tapac24.
And you can't leave Barcelona without eating at one of the stalls in the Boqueria market.
Look at Pinotxo or El Quim.
In Venice we plan to eat at Anice Stellato and Alle Testiere.
Looks like you are also in bologna.
All'Osteria Bottega is very popular with posters here.
Second the recommendation for Tapac24. Interestingly, they only have menus in Catalan and English, not Castilian.
However it should be noted that Barcelona is less tapas-focussed than many other Spanish cites. So here's a few other places worth considering:
Cheap and cheerful: Mam i Teca, C/Lluna, 4. VERY dodgy neighbourhood (watch your wallet - pickpocketing is rife in Barcelona) but great food at a reasonable price. Zero atmosphere, though, and only a few tables.
Mid-range: Cafe de L'Academia, C/Lledo, 1. Probably *the* most romantic restaurant in Barcelona (and a contender for world champion). Impossibly atmospheric location in the centre of the Barri Gotic. Food is all exceptional. It does get busy; book.
High-end: Comerc 24, C/Comerc, 24. Carles Abellan's more formal restaurant in the city. Classy atmosphere. Excellent and expert service. The food is world-class, with prices to match: expect to spend over €100 a head. Booking advisable.
I would probably do the splurge dinner in Barcelona rather than Venice; although I've not been to Venice, all reports suggest that the majority of restaurants are indifferent and that true excellence is rare. Definitely not so in Barcelona; there are many excellent choices. I'd say therefore go for Comerc 24.
Also, for ice cream while in Barcelona, go to Tomo II. C/Argenteria, 61 is the most central but C/Vic, 2 is the original. They are much better than the competition.
Speaking of which, that's one of my can't miss places in Bologna: Sorbetteria Castiglione, Via Castiglione, 44. Awe-inspiring ice cream. But your friend probably knows that already.
Just a suggestion in case you are interested... I don't know if you have extra time when you are around the Milan area - but if you can take a train up to Como and from there take a boat ride to Bellagio, Italy. It is the most beautiful place in Italy and in my opinion in the world. Great food, great gelato, great mint slush and absolutely beautiful small town (the boat ride there is amazing as well)... and on the way back you can go to the salami shop and buy rolls, salami, wine and have a picnic on the boat ride back.