HOME > Chowhound > Italy >

Discussion

Recommendations - Whirlwind Rome / Florence / Venice Food Tour

Hi everyone,

My wife and I are going for a short whirlwind tour in Italy that will be mostly centered around food. We'll have 3 nights in Rome, 2 nights in Florence, and 1 night in Venice.

I have been spending a lot of time researching restaurants, and I'm VERY overwhelmed by the options! It's my wife's first time in Italy and I really want to show her some of the best food that Italy has to offer.

Our focus is mainly on finding amazing food, we don't care much about atmosphere or service, and we're willing to travel out of the way for good food.

We're hoping to select a good "mix" of experiences: high-end restaurants, casual dining, standing, off-the-beaten-path. And we're especially interested in trying some "must-eat" options (e.g. don't leave Rome/Florence/Venice without trying this!).

Can anyone recommend their top choices for a short itinerary like ours?

I know there are a ton of similar posts, and I've honestly read through many of them, but I was hoping this post could trigger some advice for our specific scenario. And hopefully this could help others with similar scenarios.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!!!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
Posting Guidelines | FAQs | Feedback
Cancel
  1. Based on all the research that you’ve already done, which restaurants in Rome, Florence, and Venice do you find appealing?

    You’ll receive much more feedback if you broach the topic with specific questions about certain restaurants, rather then dealing with generalities such as “must eat” and “off the beaten path”. For example, in Rome, Mesob fits both criteria perfectly, but I doubt it’s what you seek.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Il Duomo

      Yes - definitely see your point. However, to be honest I don't exactly know what I'm looking for, and wouldn't want any pre-defined selections to limit my options.

      Although I should have clarified that I'm primarily looking for Italian options. Other than that, we're pretty open.

      In Bourdain's Layover Rome episode, I thought Beto e Mary looked good - looked like a nice unpretentious place, authentic Roman fare, great stuff like tripe and sweetbreads. Although, at the same time, we wouldn't really be hung up on eating "only" Roman food in Rome.

      Seems like we must try a cacio e pepe. Felice a Testaccio sounds pretty popular. We'd also want to find good porchetta (Panificio Bonci?), good gelato (San Crispino?)....

      We would also be interested in trying a couple michelin starred restaurants - Il Pagliaccio seems like a good choice. But I think in general we would be going to more affordable Trattoria's.

      We would probably be less inclined to go to really experimental / trendy restaurants, but would not be against it if there's a really amazing spot.

      In general, we're really open to suggestions. I think our lack of requirements has made it pretty difficult to filter through all of the options!

      1. re: analogarsonist

        I live here, but recently was absent for 2 months in a very different food culture, so upon my return my "3 days" (more or less) looked like this (a sort of short-list, if you will): metamorfosi for the fine-dining; cesare al casaletto for roman; pizzarium, tonda (my sit-down pizza favorite at the moment (the fritti, suppli and trapizzini are great, too), but it is not roman style pizza and out of the way), forno roscioli and panificio bonci, for various types of pizza (and porchetta, like you noted, at the latter); fata morgana and vice for gelato. If you are after a very good cacio e pepe (and ready for very al dente pasta), try roscioli. L'arcangelo is another very good "roman" option (suppli, gnocchi, amatriciana). Maybe by the time you are here he will have finally opened his informal suppli place (supplizio), which will be cheaper and done as a snack, maximizing your meal opportunities :). San crispino is not as bad as giolitti, but definitely not the "one" gelateria to try.

    2. For such a short "whirlwind" visit, a better approach is to a
      little research on the food of these cities. Focus what you want to eat, then look for restaurants that match that. For Rome, do you want to each classic Roman food, Jewish Roman, pizza; do you want to eat bisteca in Florence and is seafood a priority in Venice.
      For highend dining, Rome has the most choices, yet you want to decide if you want to eat more traditional or more modern. Venice not many. If you and your wife like seafood, eat it in Venice. Go to Antiche Carampane or Alle Testiere and ask the staff for recommendations. Skip the farmed seafood such as branzino and dorada. If moleche, canoce, tiny squids, crab, schie, goby are in season and available, order them because they are unique to the lagoon. If you have a lunch, go to the numerous bacari and eat cecchetti. There are bacari in every area of Venice.
      For two days here, a day there, you want to concentrate in the city center and not waste a lot of time for out of way places.
      What day of the week are you in each city is important since many places are closed Sundays, some Mondays. You don't have much flexibility, therefore, narrow you focus and skip the "best of what Italy has to offer" or "willing to travel far". Try not to put too much pressure on having the "best". A trattoria/osteria that delivers good food and an enjoyable evening is a win.

      2 Replies
      1. re: PBSF

        Took your advice to heart and started with the "types" of food first. :) And requested a reservation for Antiche Carampane...

        1. re: analogarsonist

          Make sure to ask your hotel staff for a very precise direction to Anttiche Carampane. It is difficult to find, hidden in a maze of tiny calle.

      2. If I have one thing to recommend it would be to try to experience italian eating culture which is mostly very relaxed and not about rushing or collecting iconic meals.. Have your cornetti and coffee at a a bar for breakfast. Plan your lunch locations around your touring schedule - but make sure to have some relaxed lunches in trattorias with wine. Have pizza one evening. Have a seafood meal (or two) in venice at one of the places that will offer a variety of the unique local lagoon specialties. Dont worry about Michelin, its not very reliable in Italy.

        There are plenty of reccs here for these types of meals as well as more deluxe establishements as well as in and Elizabeth Minchelli's and Katie Parla's apps and Maureen Fant's website which are well worth consulting.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jen kalb

          Thanks! Yep we're always pretty relaxed and definitely never rushed on our 'gastro-tours', we prepare the restaurant itinerary ahead of time and we don't really worry much about missing any iconic sights. We just take our time travelling to each restaurant and exploring the neighbourhood or any sights that happen to be nearby... I'm definitely downloading those apps, and have referenced Maureen Fant's website extensively :)

        2. Thanks very much for all of the suggestions so far.

          Here's what I'm thinking for Rome, any feedback would be greatly appreciated!

          - Dinner at a traditional trattoria: Felice a Testaccio - Will look at specific menu recommendations for each, but hoping to try some classic Roman dishes.
          - High-End Dinner: Pipero - to try some more modern high-end cuisine
          - Pizza Dinner: Dar Poeta - seemed like a popular option
          - Lunch: Roscioli - looks like an interesting option for cured meats, cheese, pastas (target to get there early)
          - Lunch: Testaccio Market - hoping to find some good food (porchetta, etc.) while wandering the market.

          Still need to figure out Florence and Venice. And thinking of stopping in Bologna for lunch.

          12 Replies
          1. re: analogarsonist

            felice al testaccio is not what it used to be. On a recent visit almost all dishes were very lacking, esp the pastas and secondi.
            Pipero al rex is a great fine dining option with its roots in roman dishes, you can have a very very very good carbonara there.
            Dar poeta is terrible pizza, it is very popular with tourists, especially american style pizza lovers. It is neither roman style, nor naples style, nor one of the new "long leavening, all organic toppings" style. There really is no attraction in eating your one pizza there. I already listed my top choices above, will add da remo for roman style.
            Roscioli: wrote above; make a reservation.
            Testaccio market is not that interesting and pretty run over by huge tour groups. The only two good food options in there are mordi e vai (sandwiches with very roman dishes as fillings), and a stand where there is very good panelle (a sicilian specialty, chickpea flour fritters).

            1. re: vinoroma

              Thanks! I am truly suffering from information overload :)

              Lots of mixed reviews on Felice. I was debating between that an Cesare al Casaletto which you recommended for typical Roman fare, I think I chose Felice because it was highly recommended on Maureen Fant's blog. Although if it has gone downhill then perhaps Cesare al Casaletto is a better option (Parla calls it the perfect Roman trattoria).

              Re: Dar Poeta, yes I came to that conclusion after more reading last night. I did look up Pizzarium, but I think I read somewhere that it's very good, but it's a bit of a modern twist on Roman pizza. I'm leaning towards Da Remo right now since I just wanted to try the classic Roman style pizza.

              Roscioli: Yep, requested a reservation.

              Re: Market - what do you think of the market on Via San Teodoro? Good food options? Or is there another market you could recommend? (especially if there is good porchetta)

              Thanks again for the help!!

              1. re: analogarsonist

                I haven't turned against Felice -- I ate just fine last time I went -- but the two seatings and sort of frenetic atmosphere and perfunctory service are getting to be a bore. I wouldn't recommend it as your one foray into old Rome. In Testaccio I always favor Checchino. Next week I have to go to lunch in the area on Monday, when it's closed, and will probably go to Pecorino, which is very old fashioned and right across from the market. Another good trattoria I'm going to add to my list is called Piatto Romano. In the market, which is as Vinoroma says but it's my market and I shop there, I like Mordi e Vai. Despite the indisputably superior ingredients, I have never warmed to Roscioli. I have been to Cesare once and am not hurrying back. Nothing against it -- we would go there with other people who wanted to, but for ourselves we'd see no reason to go there in preference to Nerone. I like Pipero (bring money). I like Agata e Romeo (less money needed than formerly). Our anniversary dinner at Il Pagliaccio almost a year ago was an expensive disappointment (previous visits had been great). Go early to S. Teodoro, or else maybe after everyone has left to have lunch. The mid-late-morning chaos factor definitely keeps me away. There is porchetta. Metamorfosi is very good but a bit outré for a first visit to Italy. I'd go to Il Convivio (or Pipero).

                As someone else has suggested, read up on the local cuisines where you're going. The fact that you even use the word "Italian" in connection with your food expectations tells me you still have some boning up to do before you'll truly enjoy your trip. But you're on the right track, and you'll definitely have a ball.

                1. re: mbfant

                  Lol - I would definitely have the same comment if someone asked me for recommendations for "chinese food" options when visiting a specific city in China :)

                  What I meant to say is that I'm not that fussed about eating food from the specific region that I'm visiting (i.e. I don't necessarily need to eat Roman food in Rome if there are amazing non-Roman options). But, I'd like to limit my search to Italian options (i.e. I'm not looking for Chinese, Japanese, French, ...).

                  That being said, I now realize that I should not have cast such a wide net, and should have started with more specific requirements. (I just didn't want to 'miss' any good recommendations by narrowing down the requirements)

                  Thanks very much for your recommendations, more reading to do :)

                  1. re: mbfant

                    mbfant - any recommendations on what to order at Pecorino? Can't seen to find reviews online, probably because of the name of the restaurant :)

                    1. re: analogarsonist

                      The menu is the standard Roman. It seems to me they have the very traditional but hard to find "frittata" of potato and tomato, no egg. I'll let you know after my lunch there. I've only been once. As I said, I always go to Checchino except that it's closed on Sunday and Monday.
                      The website is www.ristorantepecorino.it.

                      www.maureenbfant.com

                      1. re: mbfant

                        (responded using my wife's account by accident)

                        From analogarsonist - Thanks! We're heading on a Sunday.

                        1. re: mbfant

                          Hi mbfant - did you get a chance to eat lunch at Pecorino? Any stand-out dishes you would recommend? We're headed there on Sunday.

                          Thanks!

                          1. re: analogarsonist

                            No, I wound up not going that day when I had planned to. The other time I went, I recall everything being pretty good, very traditional (and in such cases, i.e., really traditional places, it's risky to order dishes that suggest someone in the kitchen is getting fancy ideas; order conservatively). I recall they had the elusive eggless frittata of potato and tomato. That's tasty and worth trying, probably to share as a little goes a long way.

                2. re: analogarsonist

                  Nothing against Bologna, why add another city when you only have 6 day for three of the great cities of the world. As it is, you will only get a glance of each. Get an early start from Florence to Venice and spent the morning visiting the Rialto market. The market is closed Sundays and the pescheria also Mondays.

                  1. re: PBSF

                    I have to agree with PBSF - as it is you are cramming a lot of content into a trip where you will be spending at least a day travelling city to city already - and each of the places you are visiting has enormous attractions other than food. Dont stint on Venice, when you are already spending only a tiny bit of time there, for a bowl of tortellini.Besides, some of our posters dont think the emilian food in the city of Bologna is all that. Sacrilege maybe on a food board, but I mean it! You and your wife have many years to revisit and explore the whole country.

                    1. re: PBSF

                      Yeah I'm reaching that conclusion as well. My wife just really wanted to try a tagliatelle al ragu from Bologna since it was her favourite dish growing up (well, the australian bastardized version of it anyway)

                      And yeah, we're not really expecting to really experience any of the 3 cities, just catching a glimpse. We really just meant for this to be a gastronimic side-trip from a business trip in France.

                  2. I second the recommendation for Antiche Carampane in Venice. It is one of our "go-to" places there. For lunch, I would certainly have a cicchetti crawl - Al Arco and Vini Al Bottegon being our 2 favorites.

                    Sostanza in Florence is certainly one of our favorites - we have made a day trip to Florence from Rome just to have lunch there. We also love stopping for a snack or aperitivo at Procacci.

                    Roscioli, Piperno and Pizzarium are some of our faves in Rome.

                    I can highly recommend the Eat Rome, Eat Florence and Eat Venice apps by Elizabeth Minchilli and the Katie Parla's Rome app by (uh) Katie Parla. Great to have not only for planning and mapping, but also for on-the-go decisions.

                    1. On a recent very quick trip to Venice we took a Cichetti tour with Monica Cesarato. It was so wonderful to not have to think about where to go, what to order and how to find it, for a few hours. I highly recommend it.

                      www.gillianslists.com

                      1. see my posts "Sid's short list Rome"
                        "Sid's short(er) list Venice

                        1. Thanks again for all of the suggestions!

                          Updated Itinerary:

                          Rome:
                          - Roscioli (lunch)
                          - Market on Via San Teodoro (lunch)
                          - Pecorino (dinner)
                          - Pizzeria Da Remo (dinner)
                          - Pipero (dinner)

                          Florence:
                          - San Lorenzo Market (lunch)
                          - Trattoria Mario (lunch)
                          - Ristorante Buca Dell'Orafo (dinner)
                          - Trattoria Sostanza (dinner)

                          Venice:
                          - Cicchetti Tour (lunch)
                          - Alla Testiere (lunch)
                          - Trattoria Antiche Carampane (dinner)

                          Hopefully that works out well :)

                          17 Replies
                          1. re: analogarsonist

                            For alle Testiere an Antiche Carampane, be sure to go out to the websites for these two restaurants and make your reservation at least two weeks ahead of time. For alle Testiere there are two sittings one at 730pm and the other at 930pm. I took the latter sitting, so as not to be rushed out the door. In fact, I saw no one from the earlier sitting being so rushed. The man who runs the show is named Luca.

                            Remember to tell me how you found the service at Roscioli. I had found it wanting.

                            1. re: sidcundiff

                              Thanks - I have reservations for all of the restaurants on my list except Alle Testiere (working on that now). Thanks for the suggestion re: times, but I'll be heading there for lunch.

                              Will let you know about Roscioli, and all the other meals :)

                            2. re: analogarsonist

                              For your only day in Venice, are you planning to do any sightseeing? For any good osteria/trattoria, it is a leisurely meal even for lunch. The service is in that mode. Are you taking a cicchetti tour or by yourself. Depending on the tour, it is usually 4 or 5 different places and at least a couple of hours. You will be too full to even consider lunch. A cicchetti tour, lunch at alle Testiere and Antiche Carampane for dinner is a lot of eating and very little time for anything else.

                              1. re: PBSF

                                We'll do a bit of sight-seeing, but I'm more interested in just walking around the city and absorbing the culture. We're planning to get to Venice pretty early on a Wednesday, and then fly out late evening on the Thursday, so we'll have two lunches and one dinner there. The cicchetti tour would be one of the two lunches, thinking of going with gmcguireinrome's suggestion of Monica Cesarato.

                                1. re: analogarsonist

                                  Sorry about the overloading. You should be fine. Reservations for lunch at Alle Testiere is not as difficult as dinner. Should be able to get a table. One seating at lunch; it has only 24 seats. Neither Alle Testiere nor Antiche Carampane has any non-seafood items.
                                  I have never taken a cicchetti tour, therefore, not much help there. Strolling in Venice is sightseeing.

                                  1. re: PBSF

                                    Definitely not overloading, I really appreciate the advice! Alle Testiere just responded confirming my lunch reservation, so looks like I'm all set... And we're very happy with only no non-seafood items. :)

                              2. re: analogarsonist

                                Looks good. St. Teodoro market is great, there are three porchetta makers/vendors, go to the second one on the left (massimo nesta). You can also get many cheeses etc and have a picnic outside (out the back) on benches. Of your dinner choices, only pecorino is open sunday, so plan accordingly. At da remo, definitely have fried things before the pizza (pizze are very thin). Beer and wine are both terrible, as it is in many old style pizzerie :).at pipero do try the carbonara. At roscioli the burrata, cured meats and cacio e pepe.

                                1. re: vinoroma

                                  Great thanks for the pointers! Will report back :)

                                  1. re: analogarsonist

                                    I think this is moeche season. not to be missed!

                                    1. re: jangita

                                      It is moleche season in Venice, possibly until end of April. We arrived in Venice last week; been sporadic in the Rialto market. Lots of canoce right now.

                                      1. re: PBSF

                                        PBSF, we'll be in Venice for 3 weeks in an apartment, arriving the middle of April. I will not attempt to fry moleche (going to Antiche Carampane instead), but could I sauté canoce? Thanks for the help.

                                        1. re: alohatoall

                                          Canoce is great saute in the shell with olive oil and lots of parsley. The shell is very hard and is a bite messy to eat. I've found the easiest is to use a small scissor and cut the shell through the belly lengthwise. Don't go too deep and cut into the meat, then pull off the tail and push into it. The meat should pop out.
                                          If you shopping for parsley at the Rialto, just ask any of the produce vendor to sell you some. It is rarely on display.

                                          1. re: PBSF

                                            Thanks for the tips, PBSF. Is there any other typically Venetian seafood that would be easy for me to cook "at home"?

                                            1. re: alohatoall

                                              There is so much seafood available in the Rialto. Besides moleche and canoce, the tiny gray shrimp call schile, tiny squid and cuttlefish, thumb size scallops with roe, latticini, large crab are all from the lagoon and very seasonal and availability, mostly early Spring and Fall. They are easy to miss at the Rialto because they packed in small boxes. More common and always available but not any less desirably are cuttlefish, vongole verace, scallops and roe in their shell; and the fish such as monkfish tail, monkfish cheek, San Pietro, sole, red mullet, swordfish, sardine. If you have a big enough pan, wild strip bass which are larger than the farmed, at least 1.5 kilo. One can tell if the dorada and branzino are farmed by the large display of uniformed size of about .7 kg in weight, always available and relatively inexpensive. If you buy any fish whole, the fish mongol will clean and fillet it at no extra charge if you ask. Don't ask them to fillet sardines (will give you a big no no with their fingers and branded forever as a tourist) which one can buy already cleaned with backbones removed, great for pan searing or for saor preparation. Actually, much of the seafood sold at the Rialto are no longer from the lagoon. Most of the fish, except for the tiny ones, are from the deeper Mediterranean and the Atlantic. The the scampi are mostly from the from the North Atlantic but still pretty good. And I have never found good mussels at the Rialto, not plump and way too salty and briny.

                                              1. re: PBSF

                                                Thanks again, PBSF. I especially appreciate the info on how to tell the farmed branzino and dorada, fish which we love -- not the farmed kind, though. And I promise not to ask the fishmonger to fillet sardines!

                                                1. re: PBSF

                                                  What restaurant do you think would have a lot of these seafood items on their menu..we go to the market to look but then can't seem to find them on menus.

                                                  1. re: ncara

                                                    Sorry didn't reply earlier; just returned from 6 weeks in Venice. Moleche and canoce, tiny scallops and baby squids were available at Antiche Carampane the 3 times we ate there. As part of a mixed seafood antipasto at Boccadoro and Vini da Gigio. L'Orto dei Mori had moleche, tiny scallops and squids in their fritto misto. Except for Antiche Carampane, they were not listed on the menu. Didn't make it to Fiaschetteria Toscana but if moleche, tiny scallops, crab are available, it will be on the menu or part of their seafood fritto misto.

                                2. Just got back from a wonderful trip through Italy, wanted to thank everyone again for the suggestions, and give an update on the food!

                                  The trip was slow, relaxed and stress-free - wandering around around, getting lost, and absorbing the culture while heading in the general direction of our next eating or drinking stop. We plotted out all of the restaurants, cafes, wine shops, snacks and sights using google maps and exported into Galileo, which works very well offline - so no matter where we were we could always find something nearby to eat or drink or see.

                                  Anyway, onto the food. Clearly, I have very little experience with the food from these regions, so I have very little "authority" with these reviews. I'm just reviewing them based on the amount of enjoyment I got from the meal :)

                                  Rome:

                                  - Roscioli: One of our favourite meals! The Burrata was so incredibly creamy and delicious, cacio e pepe and bucatini all'amatrciana were amazing, cooked to perfection, house-made mortadella with parmesan was very good but did not stand out like the others. The wine selection was great too!

                                  - Pipero: Another favourite! We had the tasting menu, excellent all around. The pasta with broccoli and sausage may have been the best pasta we had all trip (Mr. Pipero also said this is his favourite dish), the carbonara was excellent (I make carbonara all the time, and now have a new standard to reach for), and the rendered crispy pork fat was absolute genious. Wine pairings were great, and Mr. Pipero and staff were really friendly. We had a wonderful time!

                                  - Pizzarium: Another favourite. When I first saw this on The Layover I thought the pizza looked too bready and was a bit turned off by their whole "let's put all sorts of crazy stuff on our pizza" deal. But the crust turned out to be so incredible (slightly crispy, airy, and so flavourful) and all of the topping combinations that we tried were all wonderful, really good ingredients. Won't bother recommending toppings since they change every 15 min...

                                  - Massimo Nesta: Porchetta was great! Great seasoning, great quality pork, thick pieces of fat that just melted in your mouth.

                                  - Da Remo: This was quite good, but was not blown away. We had a couple fried items - rice and tomato, zucchini flowers. They were not bad, but not really flavourful. We had the margherita with buffalo mozzarella and the da remo pizza, both were quite good, but I think I prefer the doughier Neopolitan style or al taglio style.

                                  - Antico Arco: Made a last minute decision on this one after chatting with some fellow tourists, and was quite disappointed. The egg with truffles, and the risotto with nebbiolo sauce were pretty good. The duck and artichokes was dry and flavourless, the carbonara with truffles was basically inedible - the sauce was a really thick paste that was so heavy and rich, and the truffles and cheese were so overwhelming. Both the duck and the carbonara were on the tasting menu. Maybe we just had bad luck on that day with whoever was cooking.

                                  - Claudio Torce: Excellent gelato. But we get pretty comparable gelato in Vancouver, so it wasn't mindblowing. But still excellent.

                                  - Cafes: Tazza d'Oro had the best coffee we tried all trip. Eustaccio was not bad. Didn't really like Cafe Greco, I guess you pay for the atmosphere.

                                  - Wine Bars: Il Goccetto was our favourite wine bar of the trip, loved the atmosphere, great selection of wines by the glass. Vino al Vino was nice, but did not have as good of a selection of wines by the glass.

                                  Montalcino:

                                  - Osteria Osticcio: Another favourite. Prosciutto di Maiale Grigio Toscano was some of the best ham I've ever eaten, the Tuscan sausage and egg was incredible - the sausage was cooked rare, and was packed full of flavour. Excellent atmosphere, friendly staff, and great views. Really wonderful lunch.

                                  - Wineries: Fuglini and Costanti - highly recommend both of them. Amazing wines, friendly and informative tours, and beautiful wineries.

                                  Florence:

                                  - Buca dell'Orafo: Another favourite meal. The artichoke omelette was one of the best things I've eaten in my life! Spaghetti with peas was absolutely incredible. The pasta with meat sauce and the sliced beef were excellent as well. And make sure you leave room for the poached pear!

                                  Del Fagioli - Another favourite, although slightly overshadowed by Buca dell'Orafo. Everything was really tasty - beans on toast and chicken liver on toast were both excellent, artichokes were delicious, deep-fried meatballs were packed with flavour. The pastas - potato ravioli and spaghetti with meat sauce - were also good, but did not stand out as much as the others. Ricotta cake was incredible.

                                  Sostanza - Pretty good meal, not as good as the other two Florence meals though. Artichoke omelette was good but not nearly as good as Buca dell'Orafo. Pasta with house sauce was pretty good. Bistecca was a good steak, but didn't really stand out. The butter chicken was the best thing we ate, it was pretty delicious even though I usually hate chicken breast! And pretty ingenious cooking method. Was very touristy even though we took the 9:30PM seating.

                                  - Cafe Giacosa: Thought the coffee was just ok, negroni was nice but pretty standard, poor selection of wines by the glass.

                                  Bologna:

                                  - Pappagallo: Made a last minute decision to stop over cause we were hungry :) And just had to try a bolognese ragu in Bologna. It was pretty good, but was glad that the sauce I make at home is comparable.

                                  Venice:

                                  - Antiche Carampane: Another favourite. Seafood heaven! Delicious scallops, shrimp scampi was the best I've ever had, squid ink pasta was excellent, moeches were delicious as well. Delicious food, really friendly staff, really enjoyable meal.

                                  - Alle Testiere: Was good, but had a much better time at Antiche Carampane. The Venice seafood platter was good, but was disappointed that they left the spider crab off our plate even though the waiter said it would be on there, and the table next to us had it on their platter. We ended up also ordering a spider crab, which was good. The vongole was probably the best we've had. Desserts were great too, amazing panna cotta. Was turned off by the service, they actually told us that the kitchen was too busy when I tried to order more food.

                                  Cicchetti: Just went to Do Mori and All' Arco, both were great!! It was awesome eating and drinking with locals at 9AM :) Do Mori had a better wine list, but All' Arco had friendlier staff, better atmosphere, and better food. Baby octopus at All' Arco was amazing

                                  Cafe Del Doge in venice had great coffee, and probably the friendliest staff we've seen at a cafe. Coffee was still no match for Tazza d'Oro though.

                                  Anyways, guess that's about it - also went on a bit of an eating frenzy in Paris, but that's for another forum :)

                                  Thanks again to everyone for all the help!

                                  1. I want to thank analogarsonist for the excellent and detailed trip report. We had two of our favorite meals based on the recommendation:
                                    - Buca Dell’Orafo (Florence) – The artichoke omelette does live up to the hype. The best omelette I’ve had in my opinion. We had fish lasagna and a pappadelle with meat sauce for our mains, both delicious. We also had the groppa con pecorino (sliced steak) topped with sautéed herb and a lot of olive oil, very delicious. Make a reservation or call ahead – our reservation for another place fell through, we called this place and were told they only have 9pm reservation left.
                                    - Pizzarium (Rome) – Everything looks and tastes delicious. Don’t forget to order based on weight or you can show how big of a slice you want instead of ordering one (in which case you’ll get one big slice that will fill you up). We came by at 11:30am when they first opened and they had about 8 different topping selections, mostly veggies. They brought out more pizzas (with meat options) around 12, so be sure to plan to stop in at the appropriate time.

                                    I really wanted to try other highly recommended restaurants on this site in Rome and Florence but couldn’t make it due to timing issues with some sites we want to see. We also came in during a local holiday so every place we want to go to is fully booked! I have to say that I probably only had one bad meal in my whole trip in Italy, it was such a delicious trip and hard to go wrong. Our lack of plans results in some pretty good meals/snacks:
                                    - Life (Rome) – Probably the best carbonara I’ve ever had. The black truffles topping did not overwhelm the dish.
                                    - Trattoria Nella (Florence) – Great steak, lasagna and panna cotta at a great price
                                    - Venchi (Everywhere) – This gelato chain (yes, a chain) serves some of the best gelato (I loved the consistency and flavors)
                                    - Santa Trinita gelateria (Florence)
                                    - San Lorenzo market (Florence) – Delicious bakery on the top floor with cherry and strawberry donut-like pastry
                                    - Many places in Cinque Terre – Very bright flavors and cheap too! I can only remember a place near our hotel, Da Eraldo, that serves beautiful charcuterie plate with such delicious bread (tigelle) and pasta.

                                    I can’t remember the name of some other places we visited and now kicking myself for not taking pictures of the names. Happy eating to those traveling to Italy!

                                    1. That was fun reading from your your initial question, the excellent suggestions, and finally to your wonderful reviews. Thank you. This is Chowhound at its best.