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Great food in a shack on the Rappahanock River - Topping Virginia - Middle Peninsula

it's called Merroir

Apr 12, 2012
shtinky in Mid-Atlantic

Venice Restaurant Recommendations.

Three great restaurant finds in Venice. People say you can't eat well here. If you do your homework you can. Here are three really good places.

La Piscine - Dorsoduro along the Canale della Giudecca - lunch. On a floating barge. Great views and decent food.

ai Gondolieri. Dorsoduro - Dinner. The restaurant is a Michelin rated place so not cheap. I got wild mushrooms. All sorts. Very good. One got prosciutto with melon - I loved the way they kind of shaved the melon. Very sweet. For an entrée I got the Veal bits in sauce with peppers. One got the pork ribs which looked excellent. One got the venison which also looked excellent. I can't remember the rest. We had Cordero Montezemolo Barolo. Very nice. The meal was A-One.

Ristorante Fiaschetteria Toscana- Cannaregio - a Buon Ricordo restaurant. We managed to get an outside table and the waiters were very nice and funny. We had some white and then a couple of red wines. Two got the tomato basil salad and one got the mixed salad. One got the melon and prosciutto. Two got the pasta fagioli. For entrees I got the Buon Ricordo signature dish of julienned vegetables and seafood lightly battered (like a tempura) and deep-fried. It was quite good and everyone got some tastes. One got the Chinina beef, two got pasta with tomato smoked cheese and basil. One had the pasta with white truffles. One got the duck. One had apple tart with vanilla ice cream and One got tiny wild strawberries for desserts. A great find.

Feb 27, 2012
shtinky in Italy

Trip Food Report - Umbria

Three couples spent a week in a farmhouse in Umbria in October 2011 (sorry to be tardy with report). We brought along a collapsible cooler on wheels. The plan was to go to a market in a town and buy the food we'd use to make our dinner (store in cooler). Sightsee. Then get lunch in a great place. I used a Locanda i Restaurante in Italia (Slow food publication) and Food in Italy (old publication but still relevant) to chose the place we ate each day. Dinner was prepared in the farmhouse.

Our first meal was in Montepulciano - lunch at La Grotta which was across the square from the church of San Biagio. Our table was outside on the really pretty patio. Brad was cranky and said he wasn't hungry. Bill had a hard time finding something he liked. Finally we all ordered. Luther started us with a bottle of very nice local white. Then a bottle of Vino Nobile de Montepulciano. I had the traditional Tuscan bread salad which was really nice and refreshing. Then I had the raviolis stuffed with ricotta in a tomato basil sauce. Very good. Others had the eggplant and zucchini tart the cheese tart, Bill had pasta with rabbit sauce. Luther got paparadelle with chicken ragu. Brad had a chocolate and pistachio ice cream dessert (and he said he wasn't hungry!). Everyone enjoyed the food and the day was beautiful. Perfect temperatures.

We spent 255 euro at the Coop for essentials (wine) for the house. Also some food basics.

Second day - Cortona. We found the Pane e Vino restaurant where we had a fine lunch. They had spectacular cured meats which they served like charcouterie. Luther had bruschetta with garlic and olive oil which was marvelous. I had an arugula salad and paparadelle with ragu of three meats. We had a local chardonnay and two local red wines and esspressi to wake us all up again.

Day three - Marsciano/Orvietto - Marsciano had a very nice outside market on Monday so we hit it for our dinner food. In Orvietto we chose Ristorante Palumbo for lunch. It was pretty small and was completely full by the time we left. I had an antipasti typico platte and tagliatelle with wild boar ragu. 4 others got the same pasta. Sophie got the arrabiata pasta. Most got bruschetta or the meat plates. We had a crisp Orvieto white to start and a red from the same producer. At the end the owner asked if we wanted grappa. He brought little shot glasses and limoncello and amaron (sic) both sweet liquors.

Day four - We drove to a little butcher recommended by our hosts. It was in a town called Collepepe. They had wonderful cured meats. We then went to Deruta to look at pottery and hit the farmers market there. Wonderful roma tomatoes, spinach and onions for dinner pasta. Then we went to Todi for lunch and sightseeing. Up at the top there's a really big square with a church on one side and the town hall etc., We walked to the Ristorante Umbria and BOOOOO it was closed. I forgot to look to see what day it was closed. So now we had to punt. We were directed to 4 small restaurants by a hotel lady. We chose Pane e Vino because Luther remembered it was in one of our books. We were seated in a back room (sad because it was beautiful outside) at a big table. It was very cluttered with wine on all surfaces. We got a nice Orvietto white and a Sagrantino de Monte Falco. The most fun thing was we ordered the typico platter which had about 15 things on it. We got two to split. Brad got his own. The first part was a plate of meats. Game, venison, duck, boar, pork cured meats. The second platter was small cheeses with a wine jelly to pair with it. The third one was melted Roquefort cheese and a half tomato on top. A bread with lardo on it. Chewy bacon like meat with balsamic glaze and a cabbage leaf stuffed with very pungent melted cheese. Whew! My main course was beef filet with balsamic glaze on arugula. It was of varying thicknesses so parts were rare and parts were well done. It tasted great.

Day five - we were meeting friends who had retired in Florence for lunch this day. Our restaurant was called Piazzetta del'Erba. We met up with Ron and Linda were in front of the restaurant. Our table was set on the terrace which was nice except for the construction noise. We figured they'd quit for lunch but they packed up all their cranes etc. and actually drove off. Then it was quiet. We had a really nice lunch and everyone enjoyed meeting Ron and Linda. There was lively conversation. I had what they called a tower of vegetables which I liked a lot. It had eggplant, mozzarella, tomato, and pesto. Very interesting. Then I had paparadelle with funghi. It was excellent. Others got the braised beef. Sophie got her whole grain fix with quinoa. Luther got caprese salad. We had two bottles of white and two of red. It was a very fun time. The food was wonderful.

Day six. Off to Montefalco. It is a tiny little place noted for it's olive oil and wine. It has a town gate that you walk through and then straight up the hill. This is the only street in town with any shops on it. When you reach the top there is a big empty piazza. There's a row of parking there and on one side two restaurants with outside tables. Across from the road that enters is an Enotecca with wine, olive oil and specialty grains etc. Next to it is a food specialty shop.

Our lunch spot today was L'Alchemista - highly recommended by Louie and Deborah (our hosts). We had called for reservations and they had a table outside ready for us. We sat down at about 12:30. As usual we were the first patrons.

I had carpacchio - marinated on a salad which was exquisite. My other course was strangiolli with fresh truffles. Also very good. Luther got a farro salad and pasta with sausage, Sophie got a melted cheese dish with ham that she put on bread and the farro salad. Bill got the carpacchio too and a gnocci dish in Sagrentino sauce. Cindy got the caprese salad and the truffle pasta like I got. Everyone loved everything and got very full as usual. We had a bottle of Fongoli white and two of Tenuta CastelBuono Sagrantino. All were perfect. A great meal.

Last day - Perugia - We went to the Piazza VI Novembre. There is the town hall there and facing it, the Duomo. In between is a 25-sided fountain of pink stone (left). Quite pretty. We spied our lunch restaurant and made a reservation.

We went and had a coffee or hot chocolate in my case (right) and people watched for a while. We headed to the west side of town. Great shopping along the streets. Down the tiny streets we went. There were arches and churches and Etruscan gates. All very cool. We went back to the Piazza and to our restaurant da Cesarina.

We had thought we had to sit inside because they were having an event but when we arrived they put us outside. So nice! There was a pretty good breeze and it was cool but not too cool. I split the Norcia ham plate with Luther and then Carpaccio again. It was covered with shaved parmesan and arugula. I drizzled olive oil over it and it was wonderful. We had Montefalco wines. Luther and Bill got the veal steak, Sophie got the arabicatta pasta, Brad got the Umbricelli pasta with truffles, Cindy got the spaghetti with olive oil, peppers, olives and anchovies. Everybody pronounced it one of the best lunches.

So that was our week in Umbria. If you want to see pictures of the food go to:

Feb 27, 2012
shtinky in Italy

Great food in a shack on the Rappahanock River - Topping Virginia - Middle Peninsula

It's open from noon to 8PM Wednesday and Thursday - Noon to 9PM Friday and Saturday and noon to 7 on sunday. Hope you enjoy it1

Feb 24, 2012
shtinky in Mid-Atlantic

Great food in a shack on the Rappahanock River - Topping Virginia - Middle Peninsula

The place has 8 barstools and 2 small tables, picnic tables outside and a porch. Situated in Topping Virginia at the junction of the Rappahannock River and the Chesapeake Bay at Locklies Marina. Worth a trip from anywhere. There is nary a vegetable in sight but what is on offer is sooo delectable. Good beers, well chosen, interesting wines. This restaurant is owned by the Rappahanock Oyster Company who grow the bivalve in three different places - upriver for an unsalty version, middle salinity version and ocean salty version. The name of the restaurant is a play on the french terroir and the word for sea - mer.

We started with a dozen raw oysters to get the taste of the three types and what a difference there was. There were four dipping sauces but I tasted them nude first. The menu had both seafood and meat. Crab cake has to top my list in my quest for the best. A North Carolina BBQ shank was to DIE for with a vinegary, spicy broth. Angels on horseback were oysters grilled outside with proscuitto on the half shell. Lamb and clam stew. Grilled rockfish is the best fish I've ever had. There were several other choices which I will go back to try. Most are small tapas style plates so you can taste several. A great, out of the way find. Don't tell anybody else.

Feb 18, 2012
shtinky in Mid-Atlantic

Trip Report: Campagna, Basilicata, Puglia

Hi Erica,
Yes, their latest album rocks! :-) My entire trip report is at:

There you can read all my comments and see all my pictures for the whole trip. The gargano was beautiful. We were there just after Sept and so much was closed up for the season already. But that was ok because the towns full of locals were more accessible.

Jan 22, 2011
shtinky in Italy

Trip Report: Campagna, Basilicata, Puglia

Hi Jen - yes that's the place. sorry I miss-typed!

Jan 22, 2011
shtinky in Italy

Trip Report: Campagna, Basilicata, Puglia

I thought I'd post my thoughts on this area of Italy. Our trip was late Sept 2010 - early Oct 2010. We flew into Rome and drove straight to our first destination, Calitri which is a hill town in the mountainous interior of Campagna. It took about 3 - 4 hours in the pouring rain. There is only one restaurant that I'd recommend in the town and it's called Gato di Cenerentola where we had lunch that day.

While in this area the best place we dined was Locanda di Bu in Norca. We opted for the tasting menu. We had veal Carpaccio with local black truffles - it was very briny and good. Next, fried ricotta on zucchini sauce with bits of salami - next a surprisingly good boiled potato with anchovies and egg sauce - very yellow - there was a garlicky fried porcini mushroom with it. Then spaghetti in zucchini sauce with truffles artfully served spun around a fork with sun dried tomatoes. Then soft homemade pasta in a pure very intense tomato sauce with soft cheese. Next lamb several ways - meatballs, chops, tenderloin and a soup with liver and sides of mashed potatoes and eggplant. The last course defeated me. Dessert was vanilla gelato with peach puree. For wines we had a nice Greco di Tuffo to start and a really nice Taurasi to finish. Expressi around. Yum.

We left Campagna and traveled to Mattera in Basilicata. Mattera was amazing with it's Stassi a World Heritage Site. We had decided to eat in a Locanda choice right in the Stassi called Le Botteghe. It was excellent. We ordered the antipasti tasting menu to share and 2 pastas. The tasting menu was pretty large and very good. We had capponata, a grilled bacon-y thing, mushrooms, what looked like meatballs in tomato sauce but they were really like very dense cornbread inside, fresh mozzarella with greens, a square of pizza or focaccia, some fried balls with maybe eggplant inside (?), a little bowl of greens with cooked black eyed peas and finally our primi. I had homemade pasta which was kind like penne but twisted with grilled veggies and my husband got orecchiette with tomatoes and cheese in a little brown pottery dish. We had glasses of white and a bottle of Falcone - red - and expressi. We were good and full.

We traveled to Puglia next. I was ready for some seafood now! The best meal there was in a town called Lecce. The restaurant was called il Due Corte from our Slow Food book coupled with our tour guide. The food was good and not too much. We both had pasta with tomato sauce - they were big, wide noodles. Then I had octopus cooked in a pot and my husband had sausages.

We traveled the eastern coast along the Adriatic heading for the Gargano Peninsula. We stopped in Manfredonia - a coastal town. We ate at Trattoria Il Baracchio and we shared a seafood antipasti - it had everything! Sardines, snails, octopus, cockles, anchovies, a mussel cooked in its shell surrounded by cornbread like polenta and other things that were unknown. It was excellent. Then we both had grilled seafood which consisted of 2 little fishes, a giant prawn and what may have been cuttlefish. It was great too.

We stayed in Monte Sant' Angelo but were unsuccessful in finding decent places to eat in this town. Two days later we traveled around the peninsula and stopped for lunch in a town called Peschi. We were headed for Porto di Basso which was supposed to have great food and views but, alas, it was closed. So we just winged it and were very lucky to find Restaurante Fra' Stephano. The people were so welcoming there. I was still on my seafood bent (it's just so good there!) They brought us bread and anchovies while we looked at the menu. My husband ordered a red wine. I ordered Carpaccio of seafood and orecchiette with vongole - little sweet clams. My husband got a big bowl of mussels and then spaghetti with mussels. When I ordered the Carpaccio the chef brought out a beautiful fresh fish for me to see what my lunch was coming from. He also suggested I get half fish and half octopus which I happily did.

The Carpaccio was served on a long white rectangular plate. The seafood lined up along it with a drizzle of olive oil and a lemon wedge. It was exquisite. Before we left they brought out what looked like donuts but were very hard and crisp. Then we had expressi and they brought some sweet wine to finish. It was VERY nice. I dream of it often.

Our final stop was Orvietto. We drove straight there - about 5 1/2 hours. We stopped once for lunch at the Autogrill. We had great paninis with mozarella, arugula and proscuitto - Now that's my idea of fast food!

In our one day in Orvietto we had a nice lunch. We chose Da Maurizio just randomly. It looked nice with pretty white linens in a vaulted space. Lunch consisted of antipasti plate for my husband (huge!) and Prosciutto with melon for me (4 huge pieces of melon). Then agnolotti for my husband with truffles and I had taglietella with pesto and tomatoes - the pasta was heaven.

So that's the trip. The food is on the whole really good, presented nicely and a LOT less expensive that northern Italy. I'll go back again, especially to Puglia. There is still a lot to explore there and a lot of seafood to sample. Oh and the local wines were divine! you just need to educate yourself a little on them before you go.

See the food pictures at

Jan 21, 2011
shtinky in Italy

Emilia Romagna - Ferrara trip report

Hi iamq - I hope you check back to read this reply. I chose Ferrara because it is smaller and less frenetic than Bologna. It is also the bicycle capital of italy an I thought that would also make it quieter and more walkable. It is also central to so many cities - Modena, Parma, Mantua, Verona, Bologna, Venice, Ravenna, etc. It's on the train line so easy to take day trips. It is a really beautiful city as well. So those were my main reasons. I wasn't disappointed except for one thing - I am an avid cook and would have liked to see more food markets, farmers markets in the city. I may have just not found out about them though. Bologna, if you read my trip report, has a wonderful little warren of twisty streets which are all specialized food shops. One could find anything there! I did like that and wished it was in Ferrara. Good luck on your planning!

Jan 20, 2010
shtinky in Italy

Emilia Romagna - Ferrara trip report

Hi all,
Just back from a trip to Italy mostly to eat and I thought I'd share what we found. Using internet research and two books, Slow Food Locande et Osteria d'Italia and the venerable Eating in Italy we tried to eat well and mostly succeeded. We drove from Switzerland to Ferrara, stopping in Bergamo, Sotto de Monte, and Mantua on the way.

We stayed at Casa Clelia ( in Sotto de Monte which is an agriturismo. We had a wonderful meal in their restaurant. We chose the tasting menu and started with antipasti plates - half cold and half warm. There was salumi, parma ham, rolls of meat with cheese inside, bread with lard and veggies, something called oranges which was breaded fried rice or risotto and pieces of goat cheese (local of course) with jam. For our primi there was a lovely risotto with apples (!) and a ravioli which was sweetened with amaretti and had bits of salumi in it. For our secundi there was Pecora (sheep) with polenta and rabbit with
pine nuts and veggies. We had a half-liter of white wine (chardonnay, muscat and sauvignon blanc) it was dark yellow and sherry-like. The red was cabinet sauvignon and merlot with something local. It was very dry. Both were produced on the farm.

We toured Mantua on our way to Ferrara and dined at Trattoria Giai which is on the P482 - a small road between the two cities. This one came from Eating in Italy. We had big fat macaroni with boar ragu and goose in balsamic vinegar and tagliatelle with pigeon and morels (which are called little sponges in Italian) and carpaccio with arugula and cheese. All of it was
very good. We decided to drink a Ripasso di Valpolicela. Espresso followed and one of us had a grappa of teroldega.

We rented an apartment for week through Home Away - they represent private owners. The apartment was the best we've ever rented. It was right in the center of Ferrara but very quiet.

We ate in several good places here. Enotecca al Brindisi is the oldest wine bar in Italy and we had the torttole de zucca (Ferrara specialty stuffed with sweet pumpkin) in a butter sage sauce.

Our best dinner was at L'Oca Giuliva (Slow Food recommendation). Really nice outside tables under the Portico. They brought sparkling wine right away and some bread and toasted almonds. One of us ordered local specialties. First a pasta almost like really long skinny stuffed
ravioli with ragu. Very good. For the secundi there was mashed potatoes topped with
spicy sausage which was surprisingly good. The other had macaroni for his primi and capon with veggies for a secundi. For a dolce we had a spongy cake surrounding a ball of gelato with dried bananas. We had a red Nadel wine - also local.

We had a dinner at La Provvidenza and the food was good - but I would not recommend it. They ruined it for us by pointedly mentioning the "service was not included" when they brought the check. I know from both reading and traveling that the service IS included in all Italian restaurants. This was a blatant attempt to cheat the tourist.

The only other notable restaurant on our trip to Emilia Romagna was in Bologna and I got the tip from Chowhound I think. Excellent Trattoria Gianni in the midst of the old market streets down an alley a little hard to find. We had the antipasti mista to share and then we just had to have tagliatelle with Bolognese sauce of course! All excellent. The antipasti mista had mortadella mousse, sliced mortadella, parmesan cheese drizzled with balsamico, bruschetta, fried polenta
with fresh soft white cheese melted on, gelatinzed balsamico, a little pastry with
truffle cream inside. I know I missed something. We had a sangiovese wine with lunch.

I hope this helps someone traveling in this area on a future trip. Happy eating!
Read entire trip report with pictures -

Oct 19, 2009
shtinky in Italy

Eating in Venice

I have two favorites in Venice, both in the Dorsoduro district.

The first is Avogaria. It has 2 rooms and there are twinkle lights strung between them. I had a mixed antipasti. It was mostly seafood stuffed peppers, sun dried tomatoes etc. and some cheese. The peppers were surprisingly spicy. My partner had orchiette to start and beef in almond sauce. Interesting food.

The other recommendation and our favorite of the two is Al Gondolieri They are extremely welcoming and the room is comfortable and not stuffy. There were four of us and we had some wonderful things. Fried artichoke hearts, a seasonal specialty. Thin slices of rare veal over veggies molded in a round. One of us had a wonderful thing. It was veggies and greens in a terrine under ricotta browned and smoked somehow. Very unusual.

For main courses - liver and onions on polenta, a Venetian specialty. Nicely rare lamb with potatoes. Filet steak with a Barolo reduction sauce, lovely. And a white ravioli to DIE for.
We had, glasses of prosecco, a nice white and a nice Valpolicella (local) and an Amarone. All wonderful. Then we splurged and had another Valpolicella with our cheese course. For dessert one of us got the ice cream with balsamico. Ah...

Mar 07, 2007
shtinky in Italy

Dining in and about Sicily

We had a two week vacation in Sicily last October. It was great fun. The eating was good almost everywhere. I had done searches on this site last year and there was a poster who really knew her stuff. She recommended a couple of really great although out of the way spots. We tried two of them and they were great. We also seemed to meet the nicest people when we got away from the tourist areas. The particulars on the restaurants and what we ate are on my website if you'd care to read my trip report. The URL is - the names of the two we liked a lot were
Nargalarruni in Castelbuono (up above Cefalu - nice mountain town) and Antica Stazione Feroviaria in Ficuzza (up in the mountains above Palermo). The later had outside dining on the old train platform. The pork ragu was to DIE for (picture on my site). (we did a nice hike in the forest here too


Also loved the restaurant mentioned above in Paolo Porto - Da Vittorio

Salivating in Virginia...

Mar 07, 2007
shtinky in Italy

food-obsessed moving to DC (orig. from NYC & currently in CA)

I agree with all the posts so far but I am assuming that the OP means the DC metro area. This would include Alexandria VA - old town which hasn't been mentioned. It is not at all the same as DC but has a LOT to recommend it.

This area is lovely to live in. completely walkable and it's finally (finally) becoming more of a food destination. It has lots of music of all kinds from piano bars to irish to bluegrass, to jazz. And the good restaurants keep increasing. Eve is getting national acclaim, and they are re-opening Majestic which recently closed. They also own a very posh cocktail bar on King st and an Irish pub type of place under it. 100 King Street is very nice. And then the newest ones Bastille and Farah Olivia. Both very good. For very good unpretentious italian there is A la Lucia. Soon to open is Overgrill which will be like Woodgrill in Arlington.

All this along with being directly riverside, very historic and only 5 minutes from DC. I recommend you look into this area before you move.

Special Birthday Dinner for Five

Oh! Definitely go to Obelisk. It's wonderful. But you need to call NOW for reservations. They book up fast on weekends. I just love it. Been going since it opened.

Restaurant in Trastevere

We went to Spirito di Vino in October this year. The walls are indeed bright yellow with white edging and ceiling. I loved it... but I love yellow :-)

I loved the staff. The food was good but not great. Wines were excellent. We visited the cellar.

The only thing that I didn't really like is that EVERYONE eating there was American...

Nov 29, 2006
shtinky in Italy

JoeH or JenKalb: Help with Venice Recommendations

I second the rec for Avogoria (website is
)Very interesting modern food. And you are right, hard to find as most places in Dorsoduro area.

I also love Al Gondolierie in the Dorsoduro district also not far from the Academia bridge. Excellent service, food. Interesting seasonal venician specialities.

Nov 29, 2006
shtinky in Italy

Most romantic dinner in Venice Italy for 25th Wedding Anniversary

Congratulations! My husband and I spend our 25th anniversary in Venice too. I will make 2 recommendations.

For us foodies the place to dine in Venice is Al Gondolieri in the Dorsoduro district of Venice near the Academia bridge. Wonderful place. Service superb. Food spectacular. Nice decor. no view of course.

The most romantic IMO - food good but not memorable but the setting is splendid. That would be the Cippriano Hotel restaurant. They have their own boat that ferries you across the grand canal. You catch it at the pier at Piazza San Marco. their website is

Nov 29, 2006
shtinky in Italy