Upcoming Trip ... Venice, Florence, Rome, Naples, Ravello
My wife and I will be traveling to Italy in May. We have come up with the following fairly ambitious eating agenda. We did our research on this board and would like to thank all the posters and commenters (Sid! Elizabeth! Katie! and many others!) for their great information! We would love your thoughts and perhaps criticisms … What do we have that is "can't miss" and what may be droppable?
“Sandwich Row” near San Marco (1st day upon arrival)
Busa alla Torre (Murano)
Various Chicchetti [a) Al Arco b) Vini Al Bottegon c) Ala Ciurma d) Sacro e Profano e) Cantina do Mori]
Osteria Alle Testiere
Trattoria La Casalinga
Osteria De' Benci
Buca dell' Orafo
Il Santo Bevitore
Armando al Pantheon
Pizzeria da Remo
Cesare al Casaletto
Cantina di Via Sapienza
Figli di Papa
Da Adolfo (Positano)
Il San Pietro (Positano – for drinks)
I can't speak to any of the venues specifically, because I don't remember the names of where we ate in Italy at all.
I will say the best lunch we had was a self catered picnic where we bought meats, bread, cheese, and the sweetest, juiciest peach ever, and had a picnic overlooking the Tuscan countryside in Volterra. We had great restaurant food, but enjoying the experience was pretty special too. Perhaps something from Florence's main market, taken up to the gardens of the Pitti Palace?
Enjoy your travels
Rome looks good. Just consider day of week and availability of the venue, and do not put armando or la campana as lunch on the day you will dine at cesare (ideally i'd have pizzarium that day for lunch).
Sora margarita: am not sure they are open for dinner, but even if they are, that is the place i'd drop. Bad bad food quality.
From Ravello drive to Cetara for dinner. Acquapzza is worth a detour for wonderful fresh seafood.
As I recall, the owner is supposed to be a John Denver look-alike. If you ask, he will tell you the menu is being printed; actually this character has probably never had a printed menu.
The food is excellent, so is the Greco di Tufo you should drink there, and the scene down the main street of this little old-time Italian port is unforgettable. So is the slapdash arrangement of the “dining room” on the street. I’d go again in a New York minute..
I highly agree with collioure's rec to go down to Acquapazza for dinner. It is actually owned by two cousins, both named Gennaro - one runs the front of the house and one runs the kitchen. My girlfriends and I decided Gennaro looks more like John Bon Jovi, so we nicknamed him JBJ. He is a wonderful character and the food is fantastic. A must-stop for me every time I am on the AC. Definitely make a reservation and sit outside if you can.
If you like mussels, be sure to have them at Da Adolfo - they are the best we have ever had and we live in Oregon where they are plentiful. The mussels, grilled mozzarella and a pitcher of white wine and peaches and my afternoon is complete.
The Bellini at ISP are also fabulous.
Some things to consider about dinner in Cetara if one is sleeping in Ravello and if anybody in the party has a sensitive stomach or you're traveling on a budget (or have mixed memories of John Denver and John Bon Jovi):
It is a 35 minute drive minimum each way, along very twisting roads, which some people find more nauseating at night than during the day and after eating and drinking (and the worst stretch would be the last returning from dinner). Cost of a taxi is likely to be more than 30e each way. If one is contemplating a rental car, it is good to remember that not only does Italy have strict laws regarding alcohol and driving, but that the hairpin Amalfi roads, in particular the ones connecting Ravello to the rest of the area, are challenging to say the least even before wine. Good Greco di Tufo wine is ubiquitous in that part of Italy.
Yes. The visits up and down the coast are definitely better at lunch time, Id say, both to see where you are travelling and availability of the public buses (or boats if they are running this year) that travel through this area. Its much preferable to schedule lunches away and dinners "at home" in this Coast, unless you can spring for a cab
The walks from Ravello are wonderful if you are relatively fit - check at the tourist office for maps or buy the Sunflower guide before you go - and I particularly recommend the walk down the hill to Atrani/Amalfi for a nice lunch. Check the search box above for restaurant recommendations in these two towns.
p.s. the place we enjoyed on our own spring visit several years ago was A'Paranza, in Atrani (slowfood).
re: jen kalb
Another reference of you wish to walk/hike along the coast.
We also almost exclusively eat big lunches out and light dinners or pizza on the terrace for dinner. I find it much more relaxing.
Ferries will start running with increased times from this weekend and start on a full summer schedule from May.
re: jen kalb
here is the Sunflower guide I referenced
(much cheaper purchased from the UK site
)its also available for download from the publisher.
the ravello tourist office had very good free maps of the local footpaths if that is the only area you would be walking. I think walking around is the most wonderful thing to do in this area, especially if it is not too hot, - the sights and smells are amazing and will give you a good appetite!
I heartily endorse the idea of getting picnics and lighter meals into that agenda, which is more than a "fairly ambitious." If that list is just a sketch of possibilities, and you will be eating at only a fraction of those named, lots of appeal there. But if you actually contemplating eating at all these places, twice a day, lunch and dinner, there is a large risk that only a few days into your Italian sojourn you will have lost your appetite and dislike the sight of cooked food in Italy entirely.
You might want to watch this board in coming days for the reappearance of a poster styled steve h. who is just returning from a week or more in Napoli and has promised a trip report. Otherwise, for Napoli, I would definitely recommend having coffee at Caffe Mexico and tracking down exemplary sfogliatelle and baba au rhum and other excellent Neapolitan treats. (But NOT Sfogliatelle Mary.) You can see if you want to stand in line for Sorbillo but otherwise you can find exemplary pizza in lots of corners of Napoli and I would just go for what's convenient when you are hungry and looks good. Donna Teresa is a keeper for sure (and will not overfeed you) but I don't see a compelling reason for Cantina di via Sapienza unless you happen to walk by at lunch time. Fun, tasty and classic Neapolitan lunches with great local ambience abound in small places all over the center, and at fair prices. I highly recommend sampling the seafood and and unique pasta dishes of Naples and following your own nose.
Just as a spelling note, it is Da Salvatore in Ravello. It still might be too cool for dinner outside in May, so I would do them for lunch on a nice day if you can sit on the terrace and Cumpa Cosimo (which only has indoor space) for dinner. But really don't know anything about your other choices. Won't be too early for tourists though so you probably need reservations, in particular on weekends.
But overall I would plan to eat about a third of what you appear to be planning to eat. And if you are actually determined to go to all these places, then do some strategizing about where you are going skip pasta and where nights you will have light dinners if you've been eating substantial (cheesey or lardy) lunches and afternoon treats.
Yes to Da Adolfo! It is one of my favorite places in the world. Make sure to phone ahead as you will be visiting early in the season and they may not be open on weekdays yet.
Il San Pietro is a lovely, elegant drinks spot.
The champagne and oyster bar at Le Sirenuse in Positano is equally wonderful.
I found that on line a few years ago.
I will never forget his attempt to describe a seafood offering - something like a cuttlefish - but we were not understanding. So he brought out these old dog-eared pages of what once was a book with diagrams of sea creatures and opened to the correct one.
Just too funny!
Yet memorable for all the right reasons.
Thank you all for your thoughtful comments and suggestions. We appreciate them all. If anyone has any more comments, we would love to hear them.
See my post "Sid's short(er) list for Venice". I've starred these five fine dining places:
Fiachetteria Toscana (ask for the waiter Roberto) The dessert of the almond cake was baked in Heaven.
Anice Stellato – creative cooking (ask to sit outside)
Osteria alle Testiere – for fish (decide if you want the 1930hrs seating or the 2130)
Antiche Carampane -- for fish (ask to sit outside)
Reservations are essential for all these restaurants; go to their websites and reserve or retrieve their emails and email them. For Osteria all Testiere, do this weeks in advance.