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Andy Whitman

Restaurant Recommendations for Rome, Venice, Florence

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Not sure if this belongs in the "Food" or "Travel" category ...

My wife and I will be celebrating our 25th anniversary in a few months, and we're planning on doing it in style with a trip to Italy. Given that, I'm looking for restaurant recommendations in or around Rome, Venice, and Florence. We've read the usual travel guides (Rick Steves, Frommer's, Lonely Planet), and have a list of recommendations from those sources, but we're really looking for undiscovered, out-of-the-way gems. And if it's listed in one of those sources, it's probably too publicized and touristy for what we're after.

So I thought I would solicit some recommendations. For those of you who have traveled in Italy, are there particular restaurants that stand out in your memory and that made for a magical dining experience? I'd like to say that price is no object, but since price is always an object, think "moderately-priced but fantastic places where only the locals eat." Sure, that should be easy. Anyone have any suggestions?

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I've eaten dinner in Rome twice. The first was some pizza joint, which was good. The second I had Pasta alla Carbonara followed by a whitefish filet--excellent. Even if I could figure out how to open up my 2005/2006 expense reports to find the name of the ristorantes, there's no way I could remember directions to them.

Now, if you were in Milan---I've got a great reco for you.

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Avoid Mexican restaurants.

Seriously, when are you going, Andy? We're looking at being in Italy the first week in October. Rome and Florence are my priorities.

Edited by mrmando

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Avoid Mexican restaurants.

Seriously, when are you going, Andy? We're looking at being in Italy the first week in October. Rome and Florence are my priorities.

Well, we'll be in Rome September 28th - 30th, in Venice from 10/1 - 10/4, in Vernazza (Italian Riviera) 10/5 - 10/6, in Florence 10/7 - 10/10, and back in Rome 10/11 and 10/12. We fly back home 10/13. If our families can rendezvous at some point, that would be a wondrous and most welcome thing.

Edited by Andy Whitman

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We'll work on that. Anybody else?

The remark about Mexican restaurants is at least somewhat serious. We made the mistake of going to one in Athens...

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We'll work on that. Anybody else?

The remark about Mexican restaurants is at least somewhat serious. We made the mistake of going to one in Athens...

I can vouch for that conclusion in other areas of Italy. Mexican is best left to the Italians for eating.

I don't know if you've been to Italy or not. And I don't know how late you normally eat, but one thing to keep in mind is no self respecting _restaurant_ serves dinner before 7pm. You are pretty much limited to pizza or a kabob before that. And most stores close for lunch for a couple of hours, so get your shopping in early and relax with the locals for lunch.

And the only way to keep to a "moderate" price is to only eat a first (usually the pastas) or second (the meats) course. I always found the pastas fairly filling anyway.

What I remember of Rome is being led around by our translator. We peformed at the Auditorium Via della Conciliazione when we were there. Next to the auditorium just past the arch in the wall between the Vatican and the Castle I remember a great pastery shop where I was introduced to the wonder that is Gnutella and a couple of nice restaurants, but I'll be darned if I can rememeber the names. Sorry, I can't be more help than that. I do remember the hotels being very helpful in this regard, though.

We only flew through Venice and I only made day trip to Florence (Firenza). If you were going to Udine, Rimini, Parma, or Forli I definitely remember some great food there.

If you want to bring home food, cheese comes back through customs easily. Prosciutto is another matter. I was able to get through with some because I was able to show that it was packed at an approved packing plant. I don't know how "nice" the agent was being, though. He was impressed that I knew this rule, but I'm still not sure it is supposed to apply to individuals.

And if your hotel serves blood orange juice for breakfast, be sure to partake! If you've never had it, it rocks the house.

Joe

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You got cheese through customs???

Heck, not even Lucille Ball could do that.

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You got cheese through customs???

Heck, not even Lucille Ball could do that.

Cheese is not a big deal. It may have been back in Lucy's day. One of our dancers is from Wisconsin. When we went thourgh Italy and Holland last year he brought back about 30 lbs of cheese! He had one suitcase dedicated to cheese. He's such a cheese head!

My big thing is coffee, though. I like to bring back about 5 or so lbs of coffee from where ever I go.

Oh, and the mention of "kabobs" earlier is not as in "shish". A Kabob (or kebob) is like a greasy gyro in a pita sans the sauce. Each region seems to put their own spin on them, too. One place (I can't remember where) puts french fries on theirs.

Fanta (as in the soft drink) is better in Europe. It doesn't taste like liquid hard candy. It taste like there is actually orange juice in it. And if you pronounce like "Santa" no one will know what you are saying. Well, most people anyway. You have to pronounce it like "wanta" like the commercial. It was like a Saturday Night Live skit in one store. The girl was right in front of the cooler and both were behind the counter. We kept pointing to it and she kept repeating us, "Fanta?" (like Santa) and shaking her head. Then someone finally got brave and grabbed one. She goes "Oh! Faaanta!". We died.

Water at a restaurant is always bottled, too. And usually more expensive than wine or bear. Get used to saying "frizzante" for carbonated or "naturale" for no bubbles. I asked for tap water _once_. You would have thought I shot their dog AND kissed the guy's wife.

Joe

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So I thought I would solicit some recommendations. For those of you who have traveled in Italy, are there particular restaurants that stand out in your memory and that made for a magical dining experience? I'd like to say that price is no object, but since price is always an object, think "moderately-priced but fantastic places where only the locals eat." Sure, that should be easy. Anyone have any suggestions?

I contacted our agent in Italy and here is what they suggest so far:

"Joe

hi! Roma offers all kind of good restaurants

It really depends on what they want to do: should it be elegant?

If they want a Roman Trattoria I suggest IL PALLARO near Campo dei Fiori or even the Restaurant in Campo dei Fiori is fantastic.

Firenze: near Piazza Santo Spirito there is one good restaurant... I cannot rememeber the name. Will tell you soon...

Hope this helps

ciao

Francesca Zitoli

ATER"

More as it comes in,

Joe

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Cheese is not a big deal.

Apparently, it depends on the type of cheese and where you get it. Soft, unpasteurized cheeses, i.e., many of the best French cheeses, are a no-no.

If you've never seen the I Love Lucy episode where she tries to smuggle a 25-lb. cheese home from Europe, I can't recommend it highly enough.

Edited by mrmando

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Apparently, it depends on the type of cheese and where you get it. Soft, unpasteurized cheeses, i.e., many of the best French cheeses, are a no-no.

If you've never seen the I Love Lucy episode where she tries to smuggle a 25-lb. cheese home from Europe, I can't recommend it highly enough.

Well, then it is a good thing I haven't toured France yet, because I sure would have attempted to bring home brie, which I am assuming is the kind of cheese that is verboten.

That episode sounds vaguely familiar.

Joe

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Well, we'll be in Rome September 28th - 30th, in Venice from 10/1 - 10/4, in Vernazza (Italian Riviera) 10/5 - 10/6, in Florence 10/7 - 10/10, and back in Rome 10/11 and 10/12. We fly back home 10/13. If our families can rendezvous at some point, that would be a wondrous and most welcome thing.

I guess if you're round-tripping it, this makes sense. We're just gonna fly out of Venice and skip that return trip to Rome.

It's looking likely that we'll be in Rome when you're in Venice and Venice when you're in Florence. But we might overlap either in Vernazza or on 10/7 in Florence. I'll see if we can make that happen.

Edited by mrmando

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