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Recommendations - Whirlwind Rome / Florence / Venice Food Tour

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!

Apr 16, 2014
analogarsonist in Italy
1

Recommendations - Whirlwind Rome / Florence / Venice Food Tour

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!

Apr 04, 2014
analogarsonist in Italy

Recommendations - Whirlwind Rome / Florence / Venice Food Tour

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

Mar 28, 2014
analogarsonist in Italy

Recommendations - Whirlwind Rome / Florence / Venice Food Tour

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. :)

Mar 27, 2014
analogarsonist in Italy

Recommendations - Whirlwind Rome / Florence / Venice Food Tour

Great thanks for the pointers! Will report back :)

Mar 27, 2014
analogarsonist in Italy

Recommendations - Whirlwind Rome / Florence / Venice Food Tour

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.

Mar 27, 2014
analogarsonist in Italy

Recommendations - Whirlwind Rome / Florence / Venice Food Tour

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 :)

Mar 27, 2014
analogarsonist in Italy

Recommendations - Whirlwind Rome / Florence / Venice Food Tour

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 :)

Mar 27, 2014
analogarsonist in Italy

Recommendations - Whirlwind Rome / Florence / Venice Food Tour

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.

Mar 26, 2014
analogarsonist in Italy

Recommendations - Whirlwind Rome / Florence / Venice Food Tour

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 :)

Mar 26, 2014
analogarsonist in Italy

Recommendations - Whirlwind Rome / Florence / Venice Food Tour

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

Mar 26, 2014
analogarsonist in Italy

Recommendations - Whirlwind Rome / Florence / Venice Food Tour

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 :)

Mar 26, 2014
analogarsonist in Italy

Recommendations - Whirlwind Rome / Florence / Venice Food Tour

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!!

Mar 26, 2014
analogarsonist in Italy

Recommendations - Whirlwind Rome / Florence / Venice Food Tour

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.

Mar 25, 2014
analogarsonist in Italy

Recommendations - Whirlwind Rome / Florence / Venice Food Tour

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!

Mar 24, 2014
analogarsonist in Italy

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!!!

Mar 24, 2014
analogarsonist in Italy

Kitsuneya (きつねや) motsudon/gyudon, Tsukiji

Old thread - but just wanted to comment that the motsu don at the Tsukiji outer market was one of the best things that I ate in Tokyo. Incredibly rich flavour, perfectly cooked super tender offal, served by a grumpy old woman. Amazing.

Oct 22, 2013
analogarsonist in Japan
1

Kaiseki meal in Kyoto

I know this thread is 5 years old - but i just wanted to let you know that I decided to go to Kichisen because of your posts on this thread, and it was such a fantastic experience! Thank you so much :)

Oct 22, 2013
analogarsonist in Japan

Ramen in Tokyo - Introduction

Just got back from Tokyo, sooo much good ramen... Some of the messages on this thread came in while I was in Tokyo, so I didn't get a chance to read them.

We ended up getting ramen at the airport when we arrived cause we were starving :) It wasn't bad for airport food.

Then we went for breakfast ramen at Rokurinsha a couple days later, on our way to Kyoto... started lining up at 7:45AM and there was already a lineup! The broth is awesome, so flavourful. We ordered large bowls by accident, and were ridiculously full afterwards... The soup got a bit cold halfway through though (maybe cause there were so much noodles in the large portion), we added some extra soup but still didn't get it to a good temperature.

Went to Ikagura a couple days later. Oh man, that was by far the best ramen we've ever had. The soup base was ridiculously good, we were blown away. And I liked the thick curly noodles (I've always had tonkotsu with thin straight noodles, which I don't like as much).

Finally, we went to the ramen museum - definitely worth the pilgrimage... tried miso at Sumire - delicious, but really rich; shoyu at Shina Soba-ya - really nice clean soup; and tonkotsu at Komurasaki - also good. Nothing blew us away, but it was great to try so many different kinds of ramen in a fun environment.

Wish I had more meals in Tokyo to try more ramen... Oh well, next time :)

Again, thanks everyone for all of the incredible advice, you guys are awesome!

Oct 22, 2013
analogarsonist in Japan

High-End Sushi in Tokyo with easier reservations

Just got back from Tokyo...

We landed, checked into our hotel, then went straight to Sushi Taichi. Incredible meal, at that point it was the best sushi we had ever tasted - excellent quality fish, perfect rice, expertly prepared... And almost as important, the chef was super-friendly, was joking around with us all night, gave us detailed explainations for every piece of fish - where it was from, how it was prepared, when it's in season; we also had fun chatting with the other people at the table (we were a group of 4 english speakers, and there were 2 other patrons that were locals/regulars). Highly recommend this as an introduction to high-end sushi!

Then, we went to Hatsune a few days later, and in my very unexpert opinion, this place was just in a different league. It was the best meal of my life. The quality of ingredients was just remarkable, but the way that the flavours were elevated by the chef's precise preparation methods just absolutely blew me away. For example, the o-toro was submerged in soy sauce that was 2 degrees colder than the chu-toro to match the temperature of those parts when the fish is alive. And how the flavour of the o-toro changed dramatically before and after it was allowed to "breathe" for 30 minutes. Just could not believe that sushi could taste like this.

But the atmosphere at Hatsune just took it over the top for me. As SilverJay mentioned, the chef goes into teaching mode, and really gets into some passionate explanations about the ingredients and the preparations. And we were joking around all night, he was presenting all of the fish on plates and posing for the camera (apparently pictures are usually not allowed). We sat next to a couple regulars who have been to Hatsune many times, and they say they've never seen the chef have so much fun before - he gave us big hugs when we left. Such a great time.

Anyways, thanks again for the amazing advice, I'm really really fortunate to have gotten such great recommendations from all of you, I never would have found these places on my own... Can't thank you guys enough!

Oct 22, 2013
analogarsonist in Japan
1

Affordable Kyoto Options

Just realized that 1 of the 2 days we're in Kyoto is a public holiday - Oct. 14 Health and Sports Day! I tried to make a reservation at Kashin but they're closed on the holiday. Is it only the bigger or more touristy places that will be open during a public holiday?

Also, I've read a few good things about Okariba. Pretty intriguing, might try to make a reservation there!

Sep 29, 2013
analogarsonist in Japan

Affordable Kyoto Options

Thanks! Actually Omen was already on our list for dinner, my wife really wanted to find an udon place... Glad that we're making a good choice :)

Sep 28, 2013
analogarsonist in Japan

Affordable Kyoto Options

Hi everyone,

I've spent hours reading up on Kyoto restaurants, and can't seem to decide on what to do. I've gotten so much amazing help from this forum that I thought I'd push my luck again!

I'll be spending 2 days in Kyoto (first-time), and I'm looking for some more affordable options (i.e. < 10,000 yen, or ideally < 5,000 yen)

Seems like Kaiseki is a must, but it also looks like I have many options: inexpensive bentos, mini kaiseki lunches at fancier places, full kaiseki dinners at more affordable places. I assume that for my budget, I can forget about the nice private-room experience; besides, we care a lot more about the food :)

And it seems like Tofu is a must - we'll try to make a reservation at Shoraian, but a bit scared - our last reservation attempt was horrible, and we've used up all of our help from friends for Tokyo :) Also, it's a bit expensive... Sounds like there many other good options

We'll also go to Nishiki Market and sample random stuff...

Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated!

Sep 28, 2013
analogarsonist in Japan

Ramen in Tokyo - Introduction

Just looked up Ikaruga, looks amazing!!! Adding to the list...

And yep, ramen museum is on the itinerary!

Sep 12, 2013
analogarsonist in Japan

Ramen in Tokyo - Introduction

Yeah of course, not trying to reasonably represent all of japan with 3 styles of ramen :) Just trying to choose 3 for a decent introduction...

Thanks for the links!

Sep 12, 2013
analogarsonist in Japan

Ramen in Tokyo - Introduction

Thanks!

We actually don't really have any sight-seeing plans, we were just planning to wander the neighbourhoods around the restaurants we're seeing :) But I get your point - sounds like there is an abundance of good ramen without having to go out of our way...

Always wanted to try Rokurinsha after seeing it on Mind of a Chef, and it's certainly mentioned a lot on this board...

I was also thinking that shio ramen might be a good option, since it's a clean and simple representation. I've heard Hajime mentioned a lot.

I've been to the Ippudo in NYC, not sure how similar that would be to tonkotsu in Tokyo... My wife's a fan of miso, and I'm thinking it's probably not common to find good miso ramen outside of Japan...

Maybe we should put more emphasis on planning some sight-seeing, and then seeing what ramen shops are nearby :)

Sep 12, 2013
analogarsonist in Japan

Ramen in Tokyo - Introduction

Hi everyone,

I'm trying to choose 3 ramen shops in Tokyo that will give us a great introduction to ramen in Japan!

I have read through almost all of the chowhound posts about ramen in Tokyo, and it's pretty clear to me that there is no such thing as "best ramen in Tokyo" - there are so many different styles, so many different personal preferences, and constantly changing trends!

So I guess I'm looking for recommendations for 3 different styles that would provide a good representation of ramen in Japan, and then recommendations for ramen shops that highlight each style...

We don't mind travelling out of the way to hard-to-find places with long line-ups. And since this would be an 'introduction', we don't care about trends :)

As always, any help greatly appreciated!

Sep 12, 2013
analogarsonist in Japan

High-End Sushi in Tokyo with easier reservations

I'm extremely grateful for all of your thoughtful recommendations, thank you so much!!!

Decided to go to Taichi, Hatsunezushi, and Dai - seems like it will be a good variety of experiences :)

We successfully made reservations at Taichi, could not get through to Hatsunezushi yet - will try again tonight. If Hatsunezushi is full, Iwa is our next choice...

Thanks again for all of your help, will definitely provide an update once I get back!

Sep 11, 2013
analogarsonist in Japan

High-End Sushi in Tokyo with easier reservations

Cool, I think we're in similar situations! I'm trying to book for 4 people as well - which is more than half the seats at many of these restaurants...

Other problem is that we're staying at a cheap hotel, the concierge won't help us with reservations! And it seems that there are some places (at least Sawada, anyway) that will only take reservations from the concierge (we've had our Japanese friends call with no luck).

I guess I'm at a point where I'm giving up on Saito and Sawada, will try Taichi, Sho and Daisan Harumi next :)

Thanks for the advice!

Sep 09, 2013
analogarsonist in Japan
1

High-End Sushi in Tokyo with easier reservations

Thanks, that's very helpful! Pics look awesome :) I guess my only thing is, it might be a while before we return to tokyo to try the 'next level'

Well, definitely some food for thought...

Sep 06, 2013
analogarsonist in Japan