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Florence, no touristy spots please

Grazie Allende. My (Florentne) husband and I have also enjoyed Alla Vecchia Bettola in the past, but have been a bit disappointed the last few times we were there (last summer). It seems there was not the same care taken with the food, but I'm sure we will try again.

By the way, we are in Forte dei Marmi now and looking forward to another memorable dinner at Lorenzo tomorrow night. We were there last summer based on your recommendation and couldn't wait to return. If you're around we would love to meet you and your wife for an aperitif. We've followed your invaluable advice so many times we feel as if we know you already.

Aug 04, 2014
pastahound in Italy

Florence, no touristy spots please

Allende, what is your other favorite in Florence? Always enjoy your recs.

Jul 16, 2014
pastahound in Italy

Vecia Cavana - Venice, Feedback?

I agree. Missing Alle Testiere is most definitely NOT the end of the world. It used to be one of our favorite restaurants in Venice, but sadly, we were very disappointed on a return trip about a week ago. Maybe it was just an off night, but we found the quality of the food and the preparation not what it used to be (my sole, in fact, was downright awful. Dry, overcooked and tasteless). Nothing (other than our razor clam antipasto) justified the high prices. I believe I have seen this sentiment echoed elsewhere on this board as well. Too bad as it really was wonderful once. Now it seems you can do much better elsewhere.

Jul 06, 2013
pastahound in Italy

Amalfi coast and Capri

No, but have friends who raved about it -- and also Da Adolfo. We stayed in Amalfi and loved Da Gemma (ate there twice), and also the restaurant in Hotel Santa Catarina (most gorgeous view ever).

We also really liked Da Teresa on a beach near Amalfi (they send a little boat to pick you up and bring you back). Very casual beach place, but the pasta al limone was to die for.

May 02, 2013
pastahound in Italy

Help, please! Modena, Ferrara, Castell' Arquato

We actually like all kinds of places -- rustic (or not) trattorie, food carts -- you name it (LOVE the bollito misto at Nerbonne at Mercato Centrale in Florence!). It's just that we have more specific needs for this trip (see OP). Anyway, Tubino looks great and I hope we're able to try!

May 02, 2013
pastahound in Italy

Help, please! Modena, Ferrara, Castell' Arquato

Thanks, barberinibee -- we have all the books and my husband is Italian so no problem with them not being in English. Unlike you, though, we have been disappointed by Osterie d'Italia more than once. However, will definitely still consult (has been great on other occasions). I, personally, have found Chowhounder's personal experiences the most reliable (and up to date) resource of all. Most of the "hidden gems" we've enjoyed have been thanks only to this website.

So -- if anyone can chime in, please, on Modena and Ferrara (for dinner; we may be able to hit Trattoria Tubino for lunch)??? Grazie!

May 01, 2013
pastahound in Italy

Help, please! Modena, Ferrara, Castell' Arquato

Thanks, Jen -- it looks good! Unfortunately, the restaurants in Zibello, Busseto and Polesine Parmense (ah, Pallavicina...) are too far away from Castell' Arquato for dinner (at least on this trip). What do you like in Soranga?

May 01, 2013
pastahound in Italy

Emilia-Romagna Antica Corte Pallavicina

We took a pasta-making class that came with lunch at Antica Corte a year ago and it was outstanding. Some of the best food I've ever had in Italy (or elsewhere). Massimo also showed us the culatello cellar which blew us away. Many famous restaurants/chefs from all around the world have their culatelli aging there (this can also be seen on Anthony Bourdain's Emilia Romagna episode). The place is also just incredibly beautiful.

May 01, 2013
pastahound in Italy

Dinner in Bologna and Modena

Sybarite -- thanks for your very helpful post. However, I am in desperate need of a great dinner in Modena's center (but not Francescana). Would you be so kind as to at least give a hint as to the one you found? Or better yet, email me privately at zephyr222@yahoo.com? I would be most grateful and promise not to post on it.

PS: I am also a huge fan of Da Amerigo and Giusti. I just wish the latter was open for dinner.

May 01, 2013
pastahound in Italy

Help, please! Modena, Ferrara, Castell' Arquato

We're looking for an upscale (or semi-upscale) memorable dinner spot in Modena (not Francescana), a great lunch spot in or around Modena (open on Sunday so not Giusti, unfortunately -- near Villa San Donnino or somewhere enroute from Modena a plus). Not finding too much on the boards here for Modena so if anyone has any updated info we'd be very grateful.

Also, looking for one delicious dinner in Ferrara, preferably with a good wine list (Allende cautions one must drive to the countryside which we would gladly do but not sure if it will be possible on this trip so something either in the center or not too far away, please).

And finally, ANY dinner recs for Castell' Arquato or surrounding area (up to a twenty minute or so drive away) would be very much appreciated. We will be there four nights (long story). Grazie mille!

Apr 28, 2013
pastahound in Italy

Piemonte 2013

Allende. Sir, you are a Godsend. My husband (a Florentine) and I have followed your advice in the past with excellent (an understatement) results. But our trip to the Piedmont region in January topped all (thus far). Being devout Allende followers at this point, our 3 night/4 day feeding frenzy was designed to sample as many of your favorites as possible. We hit Il Centro, Da Bardon (for lunch), Il Cascinale Nuovo and Da Renzo. All, of course, were spectacular, with our favorites being Il Casinale Nuovo (in addition to the amazing food and atmosphere, really loved Chef Walter Ferretto, a lovely and charming man who chatted with us at length after dinner), and Da Bardon (which we would never have discovered on our own!). Grazie ancora, Allende, for taking the time to write all of your immensely helpful posts.

Apr 27, 2013
pastahound in Italy

Favourite trattoria in Emilia-Romagna?

All of the places mentioned are wonderful, but absolutely do not miss Ai Due Platani just outside of Parma. Everything is incredible but the tortellini are among the best I've had in E-R --or anywhere, for that matter (and I've tried plenty over the course of several trips to this region). They are closed on Monday and Tuesday and to avoid disappointment make sure and reserve.

Jan 03, 2013
pastahound in Italy

Dining recs in Trentino/Alto Adige?

Ahh... Pre de Costa. You turned us on to this last summer, allende, and I still dream of it. I would kill for the recipe to their spatzle with speck and -- some kind of cheese? Can't remember. But came back and had it again it was so delicious. Allende, since you're there so much -- lucky you -- any chance of getting the "ricetta" out of them? I would be forever grateful! :)

Aug 26, 2012
pastahound in Italy

Lunch stop on drive from Bologna to Brescello?

Thanks, Jen, but Viadana is also too far away. At this point I'm considering Ristorante Locanda Stendhal just north of Colorno. Looks promising and may be our only real option (not wanting to stop in Parma proper on this day). As for Due Platani, it seems it used to be open on Monday, lunch only, but now sadly is not (I called).

May 27, 2012
pastahound in Italy

Lunch stop on drive from Bologna to Brescello?

Allende, thank you so much for your very prompt response (and I apologize for my tardy one). I had actually already thought of these places (having read the wonderful reviews by you and others on this board) but unfortunately, they are too far out of our way for our purposes (and the latter closed on Monday which is when we will be there). That said, however, we have revised our bike ride. We are now driving from Bologna to Colorno and riding from there to (roughly) Coenzo. Al Vedal in Colorno looked good for lunch but, alas, they too are closed on Monday. Even my first choice for lunch (and only a LITTLE out of the way), the wonderful Ai Due Platani, is closed for lunch on Mondays now! If you or anyone have any ideas for a place open Monday lunch in the area of Colorno (or anywhere on the way from Bologna) would very much appreciate it.

May 27, 2012
pastahound in Italy

Lunch stop on drive from Bologna to Brescello?

We'll be driving from Bologna to Brescello (for a bike ride along the Po) and would love to find a great stop for lunch, either along the way or in or around Brescello. One of those wonderful E-R countryside trattorias (simple is fine) would be perfect, but can't seem to find anything that isn't totally out of the way. Hope you chime in, Allende. After taking your advise on the "hidden gem," Pre de Costa, in the Dolomites last year, and thoroughly enjoying it, I would be most grateful for your recommendations (if you have any). Grazie mille!

May 22, 2012
pastahound in Italy

Mozza Cookbook's Ragu Bolognese

Yes, Jen -- you caramelize the soffritto for this recipe, and then use only SOME of the finished product (which is almost like a marmalade when done correctly) in the Bolognese recipe (you can freeze the leftovers for next time or for other dishes in Nancy's book), so you definitely don't have 2 cups of olive oil in the recipe (or even 1 if doing half recipe). The second time I attempted it (successfully, watching veggies carefully near the end), the result was AMAZING (I knew Nancy couldn't go that far wrong). Though this, of course, is not the traditional way of making the soffritto for ragu alla Bolognese, it added an incredible layer of flavor -- both rich and delicate at the same time (as Nancy says), and SLIGHTLY sweet. Time-consuming, yes, but it ended up being one of the best and most satifying ragus I've ever made. (Did not use canned tomato paste: "Amore" in the tube, though Nancy recommends Mutti [also in a tube]).

Apr 10, 2012
pastahound in Home Cooking

Parma = Foodie Paradise

Another vote for Ai due Platani. We had tortelli all over Emilia Romagna and theirs was by far the best (which is saying quite a lot). Simply amazing.

Apr 10, 2012
pastahound in Italy

Mozza Cookbook's Ragu Bolognese

Beignets, I was very excited about making this ragu (hadn't seen your post yet but love Mozza and recently got the cookbook; the Bolognese recipe sounded amazing). I decided to do just the soffritto tonight since, as you know, that's quite a project. I followed the recipe to the letter (not difficult) except reduced it by half. I wasn't ready to risk 2 cups of my good extra virgin olive oil on the untried. And thank God! Round about 1.5 hour point, my veggies VERY suddenly went from deeply carmelized with ALMOST but not quite the "melted" look she (Nancy) describes in the recipe, to black, crispy and utterly burnt-looking!! Heartbroken and in shock I tasted nevertheless and of course it's not good. And, in fact, I would definitely describe the taste as slightly bitter. So -- not sure if your soffritto got "overdone" like mine (or even just slightly), but if so, perhaps this is where the bitter flavor came from? Can't imagine where else.

Anyway, can't tell you all how bummed I am to have blown it with this recipe so quickly (and at great time and expense). Do you think I should have reduced the cooking time by half since I was only making a half recipe? I did make sure to keep the heat no higher (and often less) than medium per the recipe, and used a heavy-weight All-Clad saute pan. If anyone else has any insight, thoughts or has made this recipe (with or without success) I would so appreciate hearing from you.

Feb 29, 2012
pastahound in Home Cooking

looking for an old fashioned tomato soup recipe-- like Clementine serves

Agree! This is the best tomato soup EVER. Would love the recipe!

Oct 07, 2011
pastahound in Home Cooking

Dining recs in Trentino/Alto Adige?

Allende, lunch the other day at Pre de Costa was our best meal of the trip so far. Absolutely amazing. Can't thank you enough!

Jul 13, 2011
pastahound in Italy

Dining recs in Trentino/Alto Adige?

Thank you, good to know! I hate that. Any experience with the restaurant at Hotel Cornelio?

Jul 03, 2011
pastahound in Italy

Dining recs in Trentino/Alto Adige?

Thank you! Will avoid those places. Tivoli sounds wonderful but is probably more than we want to spend on this trip. Will definitely check out Baita Fraina, though. Have also heard good things about Al Camin (for trattoria fare). Have you been?

Jul 03, 2011
pastahound in Italy

Dining recs in Trentino/Alto Adige?

Allende, grazie mille! Thank you for taking the time to check for me on the Tuesday thing (yay! open!) then writing such a wonderfully helpful post (which made me hungry). Can't wait to be there! Any dining recs for Cortina (not TOO pricey)? Enjoy the rest of your time in this gorgeous area!

Jul 02, 2011
pastahound in Italy

Dining recs in Trentino/Alto Adige?

Allende, we will be in the area of Pre de Costa Tuesday, July 12 - lunch time. I believe I read in another post that it's closed on Tuesdays. Please tell me not so!

Also, if you or anyone has any recs for dinner around Castelrotto would very much appreciate.

Jul 01, 2011
pastahound in Italy

Dining recs in Trentino/Alto Adige?

I can highly recommend Il Libertino. We had lunch there and loved it.

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Il Libertino
Piazza Piedicastello,4, Trent, Trentino-Alto Adige/S├╝dtirol , IT

Jun 30, 2011
pastahound in Italy

Booking a Reservation for Ludobites 6.0

Strange how all these "record numbers" were able to get through and secure every last open table in spite of all the "technical difficulty" messages so many others (myself included) kept getting in over an hour of trying...

Oct 12, 2010
pastahound in Los Angeles Area

Booking a Reservation for Ludobites 6.0

And Open Table promised things would work "flawlessly" this time. Right.

Oct 12, 2010
pastahound in Los Angeles Area

Booking a Reservation for Ludobites 6.0

I'm having the same problem. Wish they'd find a better system for taking reservations.

Oct 12, 2010
pastahound in Los Angeles Area

Santorini & Mykonos - suggestions?

I second the votoe for Red Bicycle in Oia. It was so good we ate there three times in the four days we were on the island. And the view from the terrace is heart-stopping.

Oct 31, 2009
pastahound in Europe