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Trip report (long): Bologna, Ravenna, Umbria, Rome

The class was about 3 hours, plus lunch afterwards. The sauces were very simple--a basic ragu (simpler than the recipe I usually make at home), a simple tomato sauce for the gnocchi, and butter and sage for the tortelloni. Most of the focus was on the pasta making. I wrote a more detailed review on Trip Advisor, if you're interested. I cook quite a bit at home, so I would say that the class is for entry- to mid-level cooks and not for sophisticated cooks. What was most useful for me was getting a feel for the consistency of the pasta and the experience of hand-rolled, rather than machine-made, pasta.

about 22 hours ago
lisaonthecape in Italy

Trip report (long): Bologna, Ravenna, Umbria, Rome

I promised a few folks a trip report, which I nearly completed a few days ago and lost the entire report just before posting. So this time, I’ll take the wiser option of writing in Word first. This was perhaps our 15th trip to Italy. We spent two-and-a-half weeks, dividing our time among hotels, rented apartments, and an agriturismo, so we cooked at “home” part of the time and dined out other days. This was a belated 50th birthday present for my husband—just the two of us while our teenaged sons were home with Grandma on Cape Cod, working their summer jobs.
We started in Piemonte, near Mondovi, where we mostly dined with friends. Next, we drove up to Costigliole d’Asti, where we visited the Boeri winery, then had a lovely, winey lunch at a nearby restaurant whose name I can’t remember (I’ll edit later if I find it).
On to Bologna. Our first night there, we dined at Serghei. We didn’t have the stellar experience with the pasta that madonnadelpiatto recently reported—I found the tagliatelle with ragu, as well as my secondo of rabbit, a bit dry, although my husband liked his gnocchi. The next day, we had lunch at Teresina: a plate of salumi and cheeses to start, followed by tortelloni with butter and sage for me and tagliatelle with ragu for Matt. Again, nothing transcendent, but a perfectly fine lunch on their pretty terrace. Our best meal in Bologna, though, was what we prepared in our cooking class at Il Salotto di Penelope: gnocchi, tagliatelle, and tortelloni, each with a different sauce. It was my first experience making hand-rolled pasta and Matt’s first ever cooking class. There were two teachers with only three of us in the class, making for lots of hands-on experience at a very reasonable price.
Next destination was Ravenna. My husband doesn’t like seafood, so that took a fair number of potential dining spots out of consideration. We had a very enjoyable lunch at Trattoria al Cerchio—simple, homey, very good food in a cozy setting. It was cooler that day, so I started with passatelli in brodo, then roasted rabbit, both of which were delicious. I didn’t keep notes, so I forget what Matt had, but I do remember that he was very happy with both his pasta and meat choices. We ate another meal at Ca’ de Ven, which is a cavernous space and always seems to be bustling. Our pastas were fine, but what I liked best there were the piadine. Our last night in Ravenna, however, was our favorite. We booked a dinner with one of the Cesarine from HomeFood in Santo Stefano, a few miles outside of Ravenna. This was our first HomeFood experience, and it turned out to be theirs as well, since their location makes a car a necessity. We had a salad, strozzapreti, piadine with various accompaniments, and a crostata with homemade jam. Everything was delicious, and we really enjoyed having dinner in a family setting. We knew enough Italian, and they knew enough English, to make for an excellent evening. Matt and I would definitely recommend trying a HomeFood experience if you have a chance.
The next day, we drove from Ravenna to Assisi and stopped in Urbino to break up the drive and also to visit the Galleria Nazionale. We had lunch at L’Angolo Divino on the pretty terrace outdoors. Matt and I shared a lovely plate of carpaccio, followed by pasta. Mine was pasta con sacco, which was cut into small cubes, cooked in a meat broth, and smothered with truffles.
We spent the next week at Brigolante, an agriturismo outside of Assisi, so we did much of our own cooking, with a few lunches out. One of our favorites was at Antica Hostaria delle Valle in Todi. I had a wonderful dish of tagliolini with gamberettini, zucchini and pomodorini. Matt had pasta cacio e pepe topped with truffles, which didn’t appeal to me, but he liked the combination. We shared a secondo of mixed grilled meats, also delicious. Another day, we had planned to have lunch at Locanda del Cantiniere in Gubbio, which was unexpectedly closed, so we ate at Ristorante del Taverna del Lupo instead. The food was fine, with a nice outdoor terrace and good service, but I think they were a touch more formal than we generally prefer. Another fun experience we had in Umbria was a day with Gusto Wine Tours. Mark, a transplanted Brit, picks you up mid-morning and drives you to several small wineries—places that you wouldn’t find on your own and more personal and intimate than the big, corporate producers. Pours were generous (and thankfully generally served with food), Mark was very informative and great company, and a stop for lunch was included. You can also purchase wine, which Mark and his wife Giselle will ship home for you.
Finally, we headed to the last stop on our trip—Rome. Unfortunately, we had only three full days there, but we managed to squeeze in some memorable food. This trip, we decided to branch out and try places new to us, starting with Beppe e I Suoi Formaggi. Although we just had a light lunch of prosciutto and melon, followed by a cheese plate, we really loved this place and the wide selection of cheeses. Matt used to work in Piemonte and was thrilled with the variety. That night, we had our first dinner at Cesare al Casaletto, which wasn’t difficult to reach at all. We started with the gnocchi fritti, then pasta cacio et pepe, and finally grilled veal. Really enjoyed the food here, except that it was just too much food for two. I think this place would be best with a group of 4-6 people so you could try a wider variety of dishes to share. The next day, for Sunday lunch, we splurged a little at Al Ceppo. (I had been looking for something a bit special for Matt’s birthday, but he is a fairly traditional eater, so most of the usual suspects on this board like Glass or Metamorfosi just didn’t appeal to him.) Al Ceppo was a perfect choice, with its lovely setting and service and wide selection of wines. I had a delicious tagliolini with mixed seafood, Matt had paccheri cacio e pepe (delicious sauce!) and we shared a secondo of tagliata di manzo from the grill. The meat was so good that I almost wish we had each ordered a full plate. After a large, leisurely lunch, we didn’t want a full meal that evening, so we did return to one old favorite—Al Vino al Vino—which was just down the street from our hotel. We shared a plate of mixed meats and cheeses, as well as the yummy caponata, over a bottle of wine. On our last full day in Rome, we stopped at Supplizio to sample the suppli (delicious!) and then to Pizzarium. There, I have to admit that my husband was the first person I ever heard of who didn’t care for the pizza. Matt makes his own pizzas at home in our small, wood-fired oven, and I think he just likes his own style better. I thought the pizza crust was excellent and, while I was disappointed that they didn’t have the potato topping available that day, happily settled for zucchini flowers instead. Our last dinner was at Sorpasso, where we started with a selection of prosciutto followed by plates of pasta—can’t remember exactly what we chose, but this was definitely someplace we would try again.
All in all, we had some excellent food and wine during this trip. There were, as always, so many places that we had hoped to try, but they will have to wait for our next trip. Special thanks to Vinoroma for her suggestions—Litro is definitely on our “next trip” list.

2 days ago
lisaonthecape in Italy

First timer to Rome & Greve - Family of 4 (boys ages 8 & 13)

Just ate at both Pizzarium and Sorpasso a couple of weeks ago in Rome and liked both. My only reservation about Pizzarium for lunch is that you might prefer someplace with indoor seating (and preferably air conditioning) during the mid-day August heat. Perhaps you could reverse and have lunch at Sorpasso? Both are very good choices to escape the Vatican crowds. A nice option for a quick and casual lunch might be Supplizio--you have to cross back over the Tiber, but it's not too far. Same owner as L'Arcangelo and delicious suppli.

2 days ago
lisaonthecape in Italy

Sandwich Area dining?

My vote is with the Belfry.

Jul 19, 2014
lisaonthecape in Southern New England

Lost post

Hi; I was just finishing a long trip report and it suddenly disappeared before I finished and posted it. Is it lost for good?? or can it be recovered? I was posting on the Italy board as lisaonthecape tonight (7/17), and the report was titled: Trip Report: Bologna, Ravenna, Umbria and Rome. I would be most grateful if the report could be salvaged so I can finish it.

Jul 17, 2014
lisaonthecape in Site Talk

Italy

I'm hoping to write the report this evening. Regrettably, we didn't get to Litro, but there's always the next trip....

Jul 15, 2014
lisaonthecape in Italy

Italy

We're just back from Rome, which included dinner at Cesare al Casaletto. My husband and I loved the food, and it's really not that far. The tram is right across from the restaurant. My only caveat is that I think it's perhaps best with a group, so you can share tastes of more items. My husband and I shared a plate of gnocchi fritti and each had a pasta and were stuffed to the proverbial gills.

Jul 14, 2014
lisaonthecape in Italy

Urbino: Lunch Recommendations?

We stopped in Urbino just a couple of weeks ago to break up the drive from Ravenna to an agriturismo just outside of Assisi. While we were there, we had lunch at L'Angolo Divino, which is on a side street about halfway up the hill to the town center. Nice service and outdoor seating. I wouldn't call it "great," but we shared carpaccio, then each had a plate of pasta.

Jul 14, 2014
lisaonthecape in Italy

Praiano

Amalfi Coast, between Amalfi and Positano.

Jul 12, 2014
lisaonthecape in Italy

Gelato in Firenze

My favorites (in this order) are: Carapina, Carabe, and Il Re del Gelato. Also, although I think Vivoli is past its prime, I still love their riso flavor.

Jul 12, 2014
lisaonthecape in Italy

Early dinners

I hate to repeat myself, but I always recommend having your main meal at lunch--it gives the kids a nice break between morning and afternoon activities and also a break from the heat of the day (when many things might be closed as well, although this is less true than in the past). As Jen said, takeout in the evening is a great option, or preparing simple meals if you have a kitchen. Takeout can include a wide variety of foods, even roast chicken from a rosticceria. I just returned from Italy and was reminded just how hot it can be mid-day, especially in cities like Rome. (Our kids are young adult now, and weren't on this trip, so I don't have any new info to offer.)

Jul 12, 2014
lisaonthecape in Italy

Florence with a baby

We've been travelling to Italy with my boys since they were toddlers ('though I must confess that I am in Italy right now, senza ragazzi). Some places in Florence that we always found family friendly are: Casalinga, Da Sergio, Alla Vecchia Bettola.

Jun 24, 2014
lisaonthecape in Italy

Florence Dinner help

Zeb is mostly a lunch place, although I think they are open occasionally for dinner, so that may help you narrow your choices. I think that either of the remaining choices would be fine, so you may want to pick based on location, since your stay in Florence is short.

Jun 17, 2014
lisaonthecape in Italy

Ideas for using up kirsch?

Kirsch is commonly used in fondue (although it's not really the season). Also, if I'm making a crostata filled with jam, I often stir a bit of liqueur into the jam--kirsch would work really well for this. Flavored buttercream is also a good use. Maybe preserving some cherries--with kirsch instead of brandy?

Jun 16, 2014
lisaonthecape in Home Cooking

Elizabeth David or Marcella Hazan for Italian cooking

Italian Country Table is a good book--I cook from it frequently--but it is much shorter and doesn't have the encyclopedic thrust of Splendid Table.

Jun 08, 2014
lisaonthecape in Home Cooking

Elizabeth David or Marcella Hazan for Italian cooking

I agree with bcc. Their recipe styles are very different--Elizabeth David's is very blithe and assumes a certain amount of cooking knowledge, while Marcella is very detailed. Elizabeth David is a better read, whether you like to cook or not. Another book you might like, although it is specific to the Emilia-Romagna region, is Lynne Rossetto Kasper's The Splendid Table.

Jun 08, 2014
lisaonthecape in Home Cooking

Rome itinerary--husband's 50th birthday

Thanks for the suggestion; this is a neighborhood we haven't explored at all. I will check out Litro.

May 30, 2014
lisaonthecape in Italy

Rome itinerary--husband's 50th birthday

We're finally celebrating my husband's 50th--nearly 10 months late--and will be concluding our trip with a few days in Rome (Saturday afternoon through Tuesday morning in early July). This is our seventh visit in Rome, so we can plan what we want to see and do around the food. Here's the catch: my husband, while not a picky eater, is not a serious foodie and likes his food very straightforward--no fusion, no deconstructed this-or-that, nothing he would consider too weird. Also no seafood. Regrettably for me, that means no Metamorfosi, no Glass, etc. Here's my plan so far:

Sat.: arrival time uncertain, so no formal lunch plans. I'm thinking Beppe e I suoi Formag)gi, since my husband used to work in Piemonte and would love the cheeses. Dinner @ Cesare al Casaletto.

Sun. lunch @ Al Ceppo. No fixed dinner plan; probably a light snack at Al Vino al Vino, although we might also need to check out the craft beers @ no.au.

Mon. lunch @ Pizzarium (and probably suppli @ Supplizio) Dinner ?? possibly Sorpasso, although we could substitute Trattoria Monti on Saturday and go to Cesare al Casaletto for our last night in Rome.

Any thoughts or ideas? We'll be staying in Monti but willing to explore the city. Thanks in advance.

May 28, 2014
lisaonthecape in Italy

First trip to Cape Cod

Brown Jug is great, as phelana said. If you're in East Sandwich, Barnstable Market in Barnstable Village is not far and has great meats, good produce. Also in the village is Nirvana for coffee. Cape Cod Organic Farms is opening soon for the season (I know that their first CSA pickup is May 28th). Fromage a Trois in Marstons Mills looks about ready to open--fresh pasta, burrata, and other treats.

May 17, 2014
lisaonthecape in Southern New England

Pina Colada curd (recipe ideas?)

I would use it as a filling with a white layer cake, then frost the cake with coconut frosting. I'm also wondering if you could substitute the pina colada curd for lemon curd in any lemon square recipe, but I'm thinking it might be too sweet. It would probably also be good sandwiched between two sugar cookies.

May 07, 2014
lisaonthecape in Home Cooking

Ricotta Salata (what to do with...)

On a similar note, saute the garlic and sausage removed from the casings in olive oil. Steam rapini or broccoli, add the sausage mixture and rapini to the pasta (you will probably need more oil as well as the pasta water), then toss with ricotta salata.

May 07, 2014
lisaonthecape in Cheese

Cape Cod Restaurant Week

We'll be in Italy from June 20-July 8th; no significant summer plans after that. I'm taking a pasta class in Bologna, so maybe I can practice some new skills. BTW, my son was just in Cuba, too, and loved it.

May 06, 2014
lisaonthecape in Southern New England

Cape Cod Restaurant Week

Thanks for posting--I never see any publicity on this. Unfortunately, Vers is too early for me, though I am having lunch there next week for a Smith Club event. Must check this out--and we should get together soon.

May 06, 2014
lisaonthecape in Southern New England

Two quick questions on Rome restaurants

Perfect; thank you! (BTW, loved your winetasting class--can't believe it was already two years ago. I'll be following RomeDigest for any interesting events while I'm in Rome.)

May 06, 2014
lisaonthecape in Italy

Two quick questions on Rome restaurants

I will be back in Italy in six weeks and had two quick questions: first, I thought I read somewhere that it was possible to have gnocchi at L'Arcangelo other than a Thursday, by advance request. Is this true, or just wishful thinking on my part? (Our stay in Rome is brief and not on a Thursday.)

Second, how far in advance do you need to reserve for Cesare al Casaletto on a Saturday night--is a day or two sufficient, or longer?

Thanks.

May 05, 2014
lisaonthecape in Italy

Sunday night in Rome, Republic day's eve...

This query is a bit too general to generate much response. Neighborhood? Price range? Where else are you eating?

Sunday nights can be a bit limited, so try a search on the board to narrow things down a bit, see what interests you, then write with a more directed question.

May 05, 2014
lisaonthecape in Italy

Staying in Hostels, Eating Inexpensively-Florence and Rome

Thinking back about the quantity of food at L'Asino D'Oro, you're quite right. That was perhaps the only lunch I had in Rome where I was pleasantly satisfied but not stuffed to the gills. It would never be enough food for my sons, who have been known to have two plates of pasta at lunch, much to the amusement of the servers.

May 02, 2014
lisaonthecape in Italy

Staying in Hostels, Eating Inexpensively-Florence and Rome

I should probably give you some context: I have never lived in Italy, but have travelled there for 25 years, so I would certainly defer to the experts on the board living in either city. For a budget (and assuming no cooking facilities), I would recommend at least 75 Euro per day for food. I have two teenaged boys, now 16 & 19, so I am quite familiar with how boys that age can eat. You can certainly balance the budget, saving sometimes with street food and fresh fruit from the markets in exchange for a more expensive dinner, and you may find it easier to have a larger lunch with pizza in the evening (certainly in Rome, not so much in Florence). Breakfasts are pretty easy--typically espresso or cappuccino and a cornetto, maybe buy a piece of fruit or two. Lunches and dinners can vary widely.

In Florence, look at the following (in no particular order): Il Due Frattelini, , All'Antico Vinaio, Trattoria da Mario, da Sergio (Trattoria Sergio Gozzi), Casalinga, Nerbone @ Mercato Centrale, Cantinetta Verrazano, 'Ino, Zeb, Il Tranvai, Il Santo Bevitore, Osteria Vini e Vecchi Sapori, Trattoria Ruggero, Coquinarius. None of these will break the bank.

In Rome: certainly not fine dining, but how can you beat 4 Euro for lunch at Pastificio or 13 Euro at L'Asino D'oro? Also I Porchettoni, Osteria Bonelli, the newly-opened Supplizio, Pizzarium (depending on your choice of toppings), Panificio Bonci, the Trionfale Market.

I would highly recommend some research on Katie Parla's website, www.parlafood.com (look for budget dining in Rome), Elizabeth Minchilli's apps for both Florence and Rome, Rome Digest as good sources for ideas.

This should get you started, at least.

May 01, 2014
lisaonthecape in Italy

Staying in Hostels, Eating Inexpensively-Florence and Rome

Approximate budget? and will there be any cooking facilities at the hostels?

Apr 30, 2014
lisaonthecape in Italy
1

4 nights in Rome itinerary, a few questions

I haven't been to Antico Arco or Marzapane and have never heard of Papa Bacchus, so I can't comment on those. If you're in Rome on a Thursday, l'arcangelo has absolutely sublime gnocchi, so I would keep that in consideration.

Roscioli gets mixed opinions. I've only been once, and the burrata is wonderful. I loved the creamy sauce and the chunks of guanciale in the carbonara, but found the pasta overly al dente, almost crunchy.

I would consider Cesare al casaletto for dinner, rather than lunch--that makes the distance less of an issue. (Haven't been there yet, but I am planning to go this summer).

I haven't been to Armando al pantheon recently, but they're always a solid choice and seem to be at the top of their game since the recent renovation. It's on my short list for this summer's trip.

Apr 29, 2014
lisaonthecape in Italy