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Piedmont: some places not mentioned often on CH (I don't think)

So will be heading to Piedmont early November and starting to give restaurants some thought. Have combed through the boards here but also got the name of some places from winemakers/friends that have visited. A bunch are places that I haven't seen show up on the boards here as much and would love to know if anyone has any experience/thoughts:

Il Centro. Priocca
Perbacco. La Morra (pizza)
Antine in Barbaresco.
Borgo Antico in Barolo
Osteria La Libero
Osteria dell'Arco
Piazza Duomo
Trattoria Dai Bercau
Profumo Divino
Ciau del Tornovento
Osteria Le Torre
Antica Corona Reale da Renzo
Osteria del Vignaiolo
Massimo Camia
More e Macine
Trattoria Da Guido

Sorry- I know it's a long list, but would love any help in narrowing it down if there's anything we should immediately cross off!


about 19 hours ago
jdream in Italy

Paris: ramen? pho? tofu stew? Or any other amazing soup! (for tonight!)

Perfect! Thank you so much.

about 20 hours ago
jdream in France

Paris: ramen? pho? tofu stew? Or any other amazing soup! (for tonight!)

Hello! We've just gotten to Paris a day ago and have already had two fantastic meals (Chez Denise & Le Servan). However, it seems the change in climate from very warm where we were to a bit chilly and rainy here has left us both with of a scratchy throat.

We are hoping for a suggestion for some amazing soup tonight. Looking for mellow & low-key. Would love great ramen or pho, Korean tofu stew or even great onion soup (which I know is a blasphemous topic around these parts). It's the kind of evening that if at home we would probably be cooking and instead would love a suggestion of a warming bowl of something delicious here in Paris.

We are staying on the border of the 1st and 2nd but have no problem traveling to get to our soup mecca. Thanks for the help!

about 21 hours ago
jdream in France

our list/your opinion-- we've done our homework (i think!)

Round two? After going through everyone's thoughtful responses and suggestions, this is where I am left. The plan at this point is to book whatever high-end lunch we decide to do and to maybe make a reservation for Friday and/or Saturday night. The one place I feel dead-set on going is Frenchie Wine Bar... and am otherwise so torn between many great looking spots. Other than these reservations, plan to just put a dot on the map where each of these is and see where we end up and choose accordingly...

Classic: Bistrot Paul Bert, Chez Denise, Le Comptoir de la Gastronomie, La Cloche D’Or, Le Petite Pascal

Modern: Verjus Bar a Vins, Pierre Sang Boyer, Frenchie Wine Bar, Bones (bar),
O Divin, Au Passage, Le Dauphin, Le Verre Vole (though leaning toward eliminating this), The Clown Bar, Chez Les Anges

High End: Carre des Feuillants, David Toutain, Guy Savoy, Taillivent

Ethnic/street food: Finkelsztajn, Angéla's Banh Mi, Urfa Dürum, Mi Va Mi, L'as du Falafel

Cocktails/drinks: Mary Celeste, Glass, Dirty Dick, Shery Butt, Candeleria, Septime
Pastry: Acide Macaron, Pierre Herme, Du Pan et des Idees
Markets: Marce d'Aligre, Marche d l'Alma, Bastille

Oct 14, 2014
jdream in France

our list/your opinion-- we've done our homework (i think!)

Thanks! That's great to know about Le Petit Celestin and Trumilou-- and also happy to add your suggestions to our (ever growing) list.

We are definitely into checking out the markets, it's been some of favorite time as we have been traveling. For at part of the time we are in Paris we have an apartment so we would love to do some cooking at night (lunch out, dinner in, drinks out).

We are staying for the first four nights in the 1st (at a hotel) and the last three nights at an apartment in the 10th. Looking at a map there seems to be a lot on our list that is quite near our apartment...

We're in the midst of negotiating our splurge meal. Will now comb through all the great intel we got from here and come back with a revised list.

Oct 14, 2014
jdream in France

our list/your opinion-- we've done our homework (i think!)

We are all about nose to tail! Bones bar sounds like a good option for sure...

Oct 13, 2014
jdream in France

our list/your opinion-- we've done our homework (i think!)

We had been thinking about going to Etxebarri, but decided that we would rather do our "splurge" meal somewhere in Paris. There seems to be so much great food, from high-end (Bodegon Alejandro) to pintxos at a more accessible price point.

Oct 13, 2014
jdream in France

our list/your opinion-- we've done our homework (i think!)

Precisely what I was trying to ask.

Oct 13, 2014
jdream in France

our list/your opinion-- we've done our homework (i think!)

Terrific-- best advice and you're totally right!

This lengthy "honeymoon"/research project came up a bit unexpectedly and with short lead time, so a little research on this next place while in another has been inevitable, but certainly not how we want to spend much of our day. Thus far (north to south in Italy and currently in Barcelona then San Sebastian), we've done well checking things out a week or so in advance and reserving as such. Glad to know we can continue the trend.

Oct 13, 2014
jdream in France

our list/your opinion-- we've done our homework (i think!)

Just to throw one other question out there-- that should have been there to begin.... if we were to do one super high end/multi Michelin * meal (lunch), along the lines of Guy Savoy, Taillevent, etc are there some consistent favorites out there? Doesn't need to have Michelin stars, as that's a whole mess of a conversation... but just thinking "fancy" meal with fine dining service and all the classics of French haute cuisine. Given that we're in the business and exploring Paris for the first time, I think it would be good for us to experience, even if it's not our favorite style of food/dining...

Oct 13, 2014
jdream in France

our list/your opinion-- we've done our homework (i think!)

I'll report back on our meals regardless, but particularly Trumilou if we end up going...

Oct 13, 2014
jdream in France

our list/your opinion-- we've done our homework (i think!)

PhilD-- so I just went on the Spring website and see reservations available for every night at relatively "prime time"... 9 or 10pm. I'm not saying this to be contrary, but rather I'm VERY surprised.

Is this a reflection of something going on at restaurant that it is no longer that popular? Or is there a glitch in the system that allows quite literally shows every night as having available bookings?

Oct 13, 2014
jdream in France

our list/your opinion-- we've done our homework (i think!)

I had heard good things about David Toutain... seemed ultra modern, in a way that to me at times make foods unrecognizable (not something I'm a fan of). Did you find it that way?

Oct 13, 2014
jdream in France

our list/your opinion-- we've done our homework (i think!)

Good to know about Septime.

Is it the food you don't like at Le Verre Vole or something else...?

Thanks for the alterna-falafel suggestion. Do you have other pastry spots in particular that you recommend that aren't Pierre Herme?

Oct 13, 2014
jdream in France

our list/your opinion-- we've done our homework (i think!)

Hey! You are correct that I spelled Le Beratin wrong, however the Trumilou was actually what I intended to write. A chef friend that lived in Paris for a while (about five years ago) loved this as just a great classic spot. Certainly didn't see much about it on CH and if Ptipois is saying it sucked, might just have to get swapped for a different classic instead (which we have plenty to choose from).

I guess the category could have more accurately been described as "wine focused, not prix-fixe and maybe a bit hipster". :)

Oct 13, 2014
jdream in France

our list/your opinion-- we've done our homework (i think!)

Thanks for the thoughtful feedback and the many additions-- now I just need to look them up, comb through and figure out how to narrow it down. Are your feelings about Spring the same as about Bones?

Given that we will be in Paris a week from today, are we really late on the bandwagon to get reservations? Or are usually just a few days in advance alright?

Oct 13, 2014
jdream in France

our list/your opinion-- we've done our homework (i think!)

Thanks for the insight about Le Beratin and the addition of some other classics. I know that "l'as du falafel" is apparently not as good as the hype. However, we have a friend who will kill us if we don't try it. But it's good to know that when it disappoints that we'll have some good backups right across the street. Also, a good banh mi (and for that matter, kebab) is a great thing to know how to locate-- thank you!

Oct 13, 2014
jdream in France

our list/your opinion-- we've done our homework (i think!)

Alright, a little background. My husband and I are recently married and on an extended honeymoon traveling through Italy, France and Spain; eating/drinking/learning/exploring. He is a chef and I work in restaurants as well (sommelier). We have a week in Paris and are having a difficult time narrowing down where to go. We don't have an endless budget, but are happy to have a splurge meal and are thinking of doing it at Spring...

However, we would prefer to keep the majority of meals in the more affordable category. We are particularly interested in the current restaurant scene, classic bistros and maybe would be open to a more traditional fine dining experience (done at lunch time when it seems the menus are more affordable). Here is what we've got going so far. Would appreciate any help in narrowing it down or adding anything that is missing. Thank you much in advance!

(Apologies in advance if the categories I've created aren't the most accurate-- was just trying to organize a bit):

Cool/Wine Bar, a la carte:
-Le Verre Vole
-Frenchie Wine Bar
-O Divin
-Au Passage
-Clamato or Septime Cave
-Le Dauphin
-The Clown Bar
-Le Servan (where we have a meeting booked- so this one stays put)

Mondern tasting menu:

-Bistrot Paul Bert
-Le Petite Celestin
-Le Trumilou
-Le Beratin

Misc/Street food:
-L'as Du Falafel

Beverages (coffee, wine, cocktails, etc):

-Pierre Herme
-Du pan et des Idees

Oct 12, 2014
jdream in France

(absurdly?) long Rome report

Renella definitely wasn't a place I would recommend going out of the way for, but was more a decent spot that was only a block away. Gighetto I can sort of understand thinking is horrible... just that one dish was so good. Honestly, I wanted to not like anything there after the service experience-- but I couldn't lie about the fact that it was a good dish.

We sadly didn't make it to Litro, tried to fit in everything but just wasn't possible! I imagine how a lot of people feel visiting NY. Litro, and now Vice are high on the list of places to visit when we return. Will definitely return to Cesare and as well!

As for market, I thought we hit it all, but maybe we missed some of it...

Tonda is also on the list of where to check out upon return. Too many great spots!

and yes, I imagine not many have drank that Castel Noarna lately... ;)

Oct 08, 2014
jdream in Italy

(absurdly?) long Rome report

Day 1
Arrived midday and decided after a longish day of a travel and the rain that we would keep it in Trastevere. We had dinner at Piano Strada which was tiny and absolutely charming. We drank a bottle of Ginostra Pecorino and took our time through many delicious plates. Started with two focaccia's one with prosciutto & fig, the other with zucchini blossom, ricotta, sundried tomato and mint (loved the use of mint, added such a nice freshness). We followed this with a porchetta panino with radicchio, orange & mint as well as cacio pepe ravioli with a tomato/crispy guanciale sauce. Everything was so thoughtfully presented and assembled. The flavors were really bright and the service was so nice. Loved it! We then got gelato at Fatamargano- we tried pear with vanilla and chocolate as well as a second flavor I can't recall; the gelato was icey and gritty; we were not a fan of this place.

Day 2
We walked to Campo dei Fiori and started with one slice of potato pizza there. While not fresh from the oven it was still excellent, crispy potato, salty oily (in a good way) rosemary crust. I totally get it. We then got a slice of rosso pizza from Roscioli-- also terrific. We wandered from Campo to the Pantheon and stopped for a coffee at Sant'Eustachio along the way (my husband is convinced the secret to their insanely frothy foam is a touch of egg whites)-- good coffee, was glad to have tried it. Also stopped at Tazzo d'Oro since we stumble passed it-- also good and fortunately happened upon it at a time it was empty. At this point it was barely noon, we had had three espressos each (there was a morning one at a little cafe near the apartment we rented) and were flying. After checking out the Pantheon (wow) we wandered around Piazza Navona and continued wandering and stopped for a drink at Barnum. We had a late afternoon snack at Forno Renella (one margarita slice and one with zucchini blossom, mozzarella & anchovy) in our neighborhood-- totally solid. Margarita better than zucchini blossom, which was a bit doughy.

For dinner we went to L'arcangelo. Food was really good, not sure our minds were blown as expected and had a bit of a weird service thing. We decided to eat at the bar, which we love to do at home. Seemed the chef and manager/somm (owner?) were disgruntled by a difficult table. They didn't do much to hide it and so we got taken on a bit of a ride of their frustration-- this is always a potential pitfall of sitting at the bar I guess. In the end, once the offending table left, they were really quite lovely. We started with an amuse of broccoli anchovy soup which was good. We then had the suppli-- two of which we loved (the classic and the smoked potato) two we didn't quite "get" (the sweet cream-- really tasted like dessert and the anchovy on almond brittle). We then had gnocchi amatriciana, which was every bit as delicious as we heard it was and followed it with coda alla vaccinara-- also, good. Was impressed they were pouring the Zidarich Vitovska BTG. We also had a bottle of a simple Cesanese. Conceptually the place confused me… they're serving one dish that comes with a glass cloche on top, filled with smoke and also coda alla vaccinara- I couldn't figure out what they were going for. We had a good meal but wouldn't feel the need to run back here next time we're in Rome.

Got gelato at Gracchei, the chocolate and hazelnut were quite good but the other flavors (stracciatella and banana sorbet) were not good at all.

Day 3
We decided to spend the day wandering in Testaccio. On our way walking to the market we stopped at I Suppli for a suppli and ended up also getting a slice of zucchini blossom/anchovy pizza. Both were good-- suppli was very good and much of their other prepared food looked solid as well. We got some amazing olives at the Testaccio market that were mixed with celery, Calabrian chili and artichoke. We then had what ended up being one of the most amazing bites of the day/trip; a panino from Mordi e Vai… simple braised beef (Alesso, brisket, I think) and chicory on awesome bread that is quickly dunked in the braising liquid. HEAVENLY! After walking a bit more we stopped at Trapezzino and got one with chicken cacciatore. It was really good and a very fun concept. I'm sure if I lived in the neighborhood I would be there regularly. However, not sure it's a destination spot. Additionally, the Mordi e Vai sandwich was a tough act to follow.

I know this sounds like a lot of food but it was really more just a bite or a shared thing here or there. We then walked from Testaccio, through Aventino so we stopped at Il Gelato and for us didn't live up to the hype. Tried a number of different flavors (lemon cream with berries, ricotta with orange peel, blueberry) none were outstanding as far as taste or texture goes. Really starting to wonder if Rome just can't touch the gelato of the Emilia Romagna.

We then walked from Aventino up to the Coliseum and around that area. As we walked back toward Trastevere we ended up wandering by Gelato Corona, which despite looking totally touristy was actually good. We shared chocolate/raspberry & vanilla. Low and behold right before we crossed the bridge we saw Gelato del Teatro and felt that we needed to try it (don't judge). We shared a little one with strawberry sorbet and raspberry/sage gelato-- sorry to say, it really wasn't anything great. The Rome gelato frustration continues.

Dinner we went back to Testaccio to go to Checchino dal 1887. It was surprisingly empty in there (a handful of other tables at 9:30 on a Friday, because it's not a fish place?). Menu and wine list both impressive and overwhelming. I was looking for an older white, which they didn't have much of but at the captain/sommelier/manager's (such a nice guy!) suggestion we drank a really good multi-vintage Sauvignon/Riesling blend from Trentino; Castel Noarna was the producer. It was fun to see the old school service in action-- I can appreciate it when it's done with a smile and a sense of humor, which it was. We started with trotter salad with salsa verde & carrots and veal head terrine. Trotter salad was good but the terrine was the standout, loved the pieces of lemon rind in there. Trotter was served just a bit too cold for something that gelatinous and the salsa verde seemed one note with parsley. We then shared bucatini alla gricia which was excellentl. After we had involtini (very tasty, but a tiny portion-- not a comment I really every make) and puntarelle with anchovy both of which were good. For dessert we had bucatini amatriciana-- this was probably the standout of the dinner. Everything was really good and service was quite friendly; but for me the pasta and the wine were the winners. They also gave us a really whimsical "Checchino dal 1887" Vietri plate painted with a cow and a pig on our way out. Points for that.

Day 4

I woke up thinking about the patate pizza from Forno Campo dei Fiori. So we went back for breakfast in hopes that this time we would get a fresh pie. No such luck, but still very good. We also got a slice of artichoke as it was just out and looked great… and it was! We wandered to the Spanish Steps and had a surprisingly good coffee at Don Chisciotte. After dodging out of that neighborhood as quickly as possible we continued our walk about and eventually ended up in the Ghetto and had a late lunch at Gighetto. While the food was really quite good, the service was atrocious. I get by with passable Italian and we are both quite well mannered and friendly. I'm ok with not being friends with the server, but this was just rude. Regardless, we got the carciofi alla giudea which was a bit too greasy and not salted, but still pretty good-- though I imagine it would be much better in season, we couldn't leave Rome without ordering it once. The tonarelli cacio pepe was exceptional. Not overly heavy and the pasta was perfectly cooked. I tried ordering the chicory, but I was told they were out. Afterward, the Italian tables on either side of us ordered them and magically they were available again. I bit my tongue and we had sautéed spinach instead which was fine. We asked to order something else after and were told no the kitchen closes at 3 (it was literally 3:05, but fine, I understand), we weren't offered dessert and were brought the check. Being in the restaurant industry I have a really hard time with this type of behavior-- I understand cultural differences, but on a human to human level this just isn't nice. That having been said, we both said we would return if only for that cacio pepe.

On our walk home we stopped at Fior di Luna and had a small gelato (cocoa bin and single origin chocolate), both were terrific!

For dinner we intended on a bit of a wine/beer bar crawl with snacks along the way… and failed! We started at Il Goccetto which poured some nice wines by the glass, but the place was packed and we were hungry and unable to order food with no table so we left after a glass each of wine. We then walked to No.Au and got tremendously turned around along the way. Despite being rather nearby Il Goccetto it took us (don't laugh) nearly 45 minutes to find it. When we got there we were told they were out of about half the items on the menu, maybe we got there too late (it was about 10pm on a Saturday)? We were now getting the ugly sort of hungry/angry and left after a quick glass of wine-- their wine list was cool and service was nice. Would have liked to stay but needed food. So we walked on to Open Baladin. They were packed and we were seated in an upstairs room on some strange couches. Recognizing that the food is not priority here the menu still just didn't appeal (and didn't see chips on it, which we heard were supposed to be quite good). So we left… without even a drink. We made a call to go back to Piano Strada and were so happy we did. Drank some Pecorino and again had a wonderful meal-- this place really is special despite the simplicity of what they're putting out. We again had the focaccia with zucchini blossom, ricotta, mint and sun-dried tomatoes. We also had a plate of prosciutto. And the highlight of the night was a Pugliese Burata served with sautéed chicories, homemade olive brioche and an outrageously good pepperoncini marmalade-- the flavors just really worked so well. It's fun watching other people eat here-- as a person who works in restaurants, I'm quite guilty of doing this generally-- with eyes lit up, every bite so good you can't help but smile. I wish they would open around the corner from our apartment in Brooklyn.

Day 5
We booked a Sunday lunch reservation at Da Cesare the day we arrive and I'm so glad we did. We walked the 45 minutes from our apartment in Trastevere to Monteverde very excited for this meal-- and it did not disappoint! We sat outside around 1 just as the restaurant was filling up. The servers were definitely overwhelmed once they were at capacity, but were nonetheless friendly, helpful and forthcoming with suggestions. We started with the polpette and the gnocchi fritti with cacio pepe-- both of which were excellent, but we needed at least two other people at our table if we were going to come close to finishing the gnocchi. We asked the server for his favorite pasta and he answer immediately and unequivocally the gnocchi with sugo di coda vaccinara. It was only once it hit the table that we realized we ordered gnocchi twice, we were caught up in the moment! The sauce was deep and rich with really well developed flavors. The gnocchi were good, but not quite on the same level as at L'arcangelo. For secondi we order the lamb chops, fried anchovies (a last minute add on) and chicories. Everything was excellent, we really enjoyed it all. The portions were quite big and I definitely think this would be a great place with a group. We finished with the mille foglie which was not too sweet and a great way to end a terrific meal. We drank a nice bottle of La Stoppa Trebbiolo (Barbera/Bonarda blend) and really LOVED the wine list. This was a stellar meal and a place I would not miss on any return trip to Rome.

We got indescribably lost on our walk home from Monteverde to Trastevere! We decided to take the scenic route through the park. After an hour of walking we realized we weren't sure where we were, so we redirected the right way… or so we thought. After another hour passed we finally came to an exit in the park and discovered we were literally one black from Da Cesare. We then headed home, the unscenic way… a nearly 3 hour walk home and absolutely worth it!

After a long and big lunch we wanted something light for dinner and needed a break from pizza/pasta and generally the (delicious) Italian food we've been eating for the past 5 weeks. We ended up at Take Sushi for a cucumber roll, chicken yakitori and some vegetable tempura. Quite possible the lamest order we've ever placed in a Japanese restaurant. But since we were unfamiliar with the place we didn't want to risk the raw fish thing. Anyway, not a place to seek out but did the job for the night.

Day 6
In the morning we walked from Trastevere to the Coliseum and spent a few hours in awe. We then had lunch at Armando. Overall, not sure I get what it's all about. The food was fine but they were booked for days when we had tried getting in earlier in the trip and made this reservation (a Tuesday lunch) five days in advance. The food was good, fine but nothing special. The best dish was the straciatella soup; a favorite of mine and their version was excellent. The amitriciana lacked flavor or any spice and more just tasted like a bland tomato sauce that happened to have pieces of guanciale in it. The saltimbocca was also fine, but for 16EU it was a tiny portion with one small sage leaf on top and the meat was a bit tough. The chicories were nice. To me it is definitely a serviceable restaurant and maybe a standout in a very touristy area (if not venturing to Prati, Monteverde, Testaccio, etc) but to me wasn't worth seeking out.

We then walked to Monteverde for gelato at Come Il Latte… hands down, best gelato we had in Rome without a close second! Super creamy, great classic flavors and awesome homemade cones.

For dinner we headed to Testaccio for pizza at Da Remo. Really glad we went. Marta opened after we left New York for this trip, so I can't compare to that. But this was a style of pizza I hadn't previous had and we loved it. Shared a couple beers, a margarita pizza and a sausage one and we were happy as can be.

Day 7
Walked to Prati/Vatican area to check out Mercato Trifonale. While it was definitely big, the quality didn't seem as high as the market in Testaccio. Additionally, just as far as breadth of product we were much more into the markets in Florence and Bologna. We then we to Pizzarium for lunch and shared the best suppli of the week (nduja & chicory) as well as a few different types of pizza; roasted pepper & buffalo mozzarella, pancetta/scormoza/onion/arugula & zucchini/ricotta/lemon zest. The crust was amazing and we loved the roasted pepper version and really liked the zucchini. Found the scormoza a bit overwhelming on the other pizza. Definitely a solid place with great crust-- flavor wise I guess it's just a matter of how appealing the options of the moment are. I understand the hype of this place and would absolutely go back on another trip to Rome (and would want to try many more of those amazing suppli).

Last dinner in Rome we were going to return to Da Cesare but decided last minute that we really wanted to see what Roscioli was all about-- especially because it seemed so divisive. I'm really happy with the decision we made. We sat at the bar and ordered a bottle of the Cascina degli Ulivi Mounbe '06-- killer, as was their list in general. Breadbasket was expectedly awesome given how great their bakery is. Particularly loved the pizza bianca & the prosciutto brioche type bread. We were started with a chicken giblet suppli that was great. Our first course was a Caprese; excellent mozzarella, really good olive "jam", a touch creative but really just well done. We followed that with Amatriciana & Carbonara, both of which were excellent. Loved that in their versions of these dishes the guanciale was cut more like lardons and rendered so it had a bit of crisp/chew as opposed to the thinly sliced/limp version that was in most of our other pastas in Rome. For a last course we shared beef carpaccio, drizzled with an arugula pesto and parmesan. Great quality beef, super delicate-- and just nicely seasoned. The restaurant was super busy with Italians and tourists. It was a cool space and a great vibe. We had no service issues at all, in fact, servers were friendly and obliging. Finished with the complimentary cookies dipped in melted chocolate. Would 100% return when we are in Rome next.

Some final Rome food observations/questions:
-gelato here, not as good as many other places we've been
-bread much better than many other places we've been
-does Amitriciana supposed to have some spice/heat to it? I always thought so, but I didn't taste it on any versions we had
-saw consistently better wine lists in restaurants here than in other cities we've visited so far, with a nice focus on natural wine

Standout bites/places we won't miss on our next trip to Rome:
-Piano Strada
-Mordi e Vai
-Come il Latte
-cacio e pepe at Gighetto
-Da Remo
-Da Cesare

In the category of good but wouldn't need to return:
-Checchino dal 1887
-Armando al Pantheon

Anyway- thank you all for the Rome advice. It is a city we have thoroughly enjoyed walking through, exploring and eating in. We particularly loved getting into the more "real" neighborhoods (particularly Testaccio, Monti, Prati) and really look forward to visiting again! Off to Barcelona we go….

Oct 07, 2014
jdream in Italy

Our Rome List- would love some input (we get there today-- oops!)


L'arcangelo (pardon my initial misspell) is located in the Prati neighborhood and different from the place you mention above. We had a very good meal at Checchino and reservation at Armanda al Pantheon tomorrow. Full report to follow when we leave. Thus far it's been an interesting (some good, some less good, fewer "highs" than we expected) dining experience in Rome...

Oct 05, 2014
jdream in Italy

Piemonte 2014 and some links to previous years

Thanks for this amazingly thorough post. We'll be in Piedmont for nearly a week in early November at the end of our couple months of travel. Getting our list of places together now and this was tremendously helpful. Will be sure to report back!

Oct 05, 2014
jdream in Italy

Any Interesting Food Blogs on Bologna?

Not a blog suggestion… but I would urge you not to skip Modena. We did a day trip from Bologna which was an easy train ride, in order to eat at Hosteria Giusti. The meal was tremendous and absolutely lived up to the hype. Also not to be missed in Modena is the gelateria right down the street from Giusti, called Bloom.

Bologna was tricky for food. Definitely easy to find good and reasonably priced meals, but little that was mind blowing. I would definitely recommend Da Gianni for pasta, La Baita for meat/cheese, Giampi e Ciccio for good trattoria food (just don't drink the house wine-- gnarly), Sorbetteria Castiglione for gelato, Gamberini for coffee/pastry in the morning. Two places I'm sorry we missed were Caminetto d'Oro & All'osteria Bottega.

Oct 03, 2014
jdream in Italy

Brief Positano Report

We spent a few days on the coast after a week in Tuscany. The lemons, tomatoes and seafood were a welcome break from our feasts of salumi, cheese and meat.

We stayed up in Montepertuso so decided after a day of traveling to have dinner up there our first night. We went to Il Ritrovo and had a very good meal. Pretty dining room and they try hard with the little things (a little prosecco to start, some complimentary bruschetta-- which was quite good and limoncello to finish). We shared a vegetable antipasto which was good; a number of different veggies, some roasted, some grilled, some stuffed. We then had the scialatielli pomodoro and orata aqua pazza. We finished with lemon tiramisu and nougat semifreddo. The food was simple, but well done and it was a nice first meal. Certainly a place I would recommend, just don't expect a life changing meal.

We spent the next day at Fornillo beach hanging out at the lounge chairs of Da Ferdinando. When it came time for lunch we shared mozzarella grilled between lemon leaves and their version of caponata (more like panzanella with arugula, olives, tuna & tomatoes). Washed down with a mezzo of local wine with peaches and we were very happy.

We also had a lunch at Covo die Saraceni and were thoroughly satisfied with our (overpriced, but worth it) margarita pizza and a mixed salad. We went back another day and the pizza wasn't quite as good as the first day-- undercooked and doughy, which they kindly fixed for us. Nice to take out and also a pretty place to sit outside right on the water.

We had a dinner at Da Constantino which came recommended by a few locals we spoke to. The view was tremendous and there were certainly lots of Italians there. We shared a crespelle with cheese to start (as recommended by the waiter and something we haven't seen on many/any menus thus far). If it was the middle of winter and wanted something warming this would have been great. But it was very heavy and much more laden with cheese than I expected. We then had a terrific whole grilled fish (drizzled table side with warm garlic parsley olive oil) and a tasty, if overcooked, grilled pork chop. Certainly a serviceable meal, nothing stellar.

Hands down the best meal of Positano (and up there with our trip so far) was at Da Adolfo. We spent the day on the beach and had an epic two+ hour lunch that was absolutely stellar. We started with marinated fresh anchovies and tuna crudo, simple dressed with olive oil, garlic & parsley-- everything so fresh and clean tasting. We followed that with spaghetti with vongole that was an awesome classic rendition of that dish. After we had arugula salad, grilled anchovies (I have an anchovy thing) and a grilled fish. We had ordered a whole fish but they ran out and brought a filet of something that was delicious. I was a bit bummed because we had wanted something whole but the server was very apologetic and explained they were unexpectedly busy for a Tuesday at the end of September. No problem at all as what they replaced it with was wonderful and the experience and food was just too good to care. This was a meal we will always remember.

Overall, we found the food in Positano to be tasty and fresh. Nothing revelatory but admittedly we didn't venture to many places. As we are traveling for a while there are certain places that we know we will want to splurge more so we need to attempt to be more conservative in others-- this was a place we chose to be a bit conservative, but nonetheless ate very well. From a seafood standpoint, I will say that I think Portonovo can rival/beat Positano… but Positano definitely wins for the view!

*Oh, and one last little food bit. When we got to Naples to take the train to Rome (where we are now) we had a little extra time so we checked our bags and went to Da Michele for pizza. It was good-- but I have to say, and this is not usually something I would say… New York is doing so much good Naples-style pizza right now that I feel there have been versions back home that I enjoyed more than da Michele, but it was good to have tried it at the source. I must admit that the server asking for a tip (on a pizza that cost 4 Euro and we sat for about 10 minutes) was a bit off-putting.

Oct 03, 2014
jdream in Italy

Our Rome List- would love some input (we get there today-- oops!)

Thanks for the info. We have deliberately left off fine dining as that is often not as much our thing-- or rather not so much what we are interested in while in Rome. I appreciate your explanation of pizza as well as the Testaccio spots.

Not to worry-- coffee isn't being planned. More just mentally logging names of places/general location should we happen to walk by.

@ziggy- noted about Remo! Thanks!

Oct 01, 2014
jdream in Italy

Our Rome List- would love some input (we get there today-- oops!)

Thank you so much for the feedback. We just got in and are figuring out our plans for the evening (and the week).

Out of curiosity, were there any glaring omissions from our list?

Oct 01, 2014
jdream in Italy

Tuscany report (with a touch of Le Marche)

And that's so interesting about "in salmi" and makes total sense. Thanks for teaching me about this!

Sep 30, 2014
jdream in Italy

Our Rome List- would love some input (we get there today-- oops!)

Ok, so we are headed to Rome and have spent some time in the past couple days coming up with the a list of spots we'd like to hit. Would love some help narrowing it down (likewise, let me know if there is a glaring omission). Ultimately, we would like to try a variety of "styles" in Rome-- from the classic trattoria to the cool new hipster spot.

Here's the list of restaurants we've got going right now-- we have 7 nights. Clearly can't hit all, would love help narrowing it down. Also, if some are better at lunch, that's always good to know too:
-Le Mani in Pasta
-Urbana 47
-Settembrini OR Cafe Settembrini (but definitely want to check out what they're doing)
-L'Asino d'oro (or should we skip since we were just in Umbria?)
-Da Teo (we're staying in Trastevere, thought it would be good to have a spot or two there in case there's a day we don't want to venture)
-Flavio del Valevevodetto
-Ceasare al Casaletto
-Cechinno al 1887 OR Perilli Or Roscioli Or Al Moro Or Trattoria Monti (I've grouped these all because I've heard mixed about all and all seem to fall into the same category of more old school/offaly-- I think hitting one would or two most would be plenty)
-Armando al Pantheon
-Pianostrada Laboratoriodicucina

-Da Remo

For coffee:
-Tazzo d'Oro
-Caffe Sant'Eustachio

For drinks:
-L'angolo divino
-Bir & Fud
-Il Baccoco
-Jerry Thomas Project
-La Barrique
-DOM Hotel (for sunset drinks)

And I haven't even started to look at gelato yet!

Thank you!!!

Sep 30, 2014
jdream in Italy

Bologna for elderly inlaws (who love food)

da Gianni was terrific; friendly service and very good food-- I would definitely put that on their list.

Sep 30, 2014
jdream in Italy

Tuscany report (with a touch of Le Marche)

Alright- we were all together in these regions for just shy of two weeks. For the sake of brevity and usefulness I'll just report back on those meals that were substantial/remarkable/noteworthy (in a good or bad way) enough to warrant a mention.


We spent the first couple days at an agriturismo that was inland Le Marche in the valley of the Appenine Mountains. I must confess that this place was SIGNIFICANTLY more remote than we expected and the approach was nearly 5 miles up a semi-paved road after turning off the last real road. As a result, we did day trips but didn't venture out for dinner. Our day trips were more focused on winery visits so I'm not of much use here at all as far as restaurants go. I will say that there was one restaurant that we heard guests at the agriturismo speak highly of: Casa della Tintoria (Urbania).

We then headed to a couple days on the coast of Le Marche, based in Portonovo just near Ancona. The day we arrived we had a terrific meal on the beach at Il Laghetto. It truly was a feast of every type of seafood that the area is known for. We were taken out by a winemaker that lives in the area, so I'm unsure of pricing. The quality of product was truly as good as it gets. Some stand outs from that meal: baked mussels with herb breadcrumb, the most incredibly tiny steamed clams, fried anchovies, sea snails with wild fennel and porky-tomato sauce, paccheri with mixed seafood, spaghetti with mussels (this area is known for their amazing mussels). We also had a very good lunch at Il Giochetta on the beach; drank some local Verdicchio, shared a caprese salad, a bowl of outstanding shellfish and the best tiramisu ever.


Il Frantoio (Rapalano Terme)- We arrived as they were closing but they happily opened so we could have lunch. They brought us out some terrific focaccia, my husband had homemade pappardelle with wild boar ragu and I had tagliata (my first experience with Chianina beef). Everything was seasoned really nicely and the steak was perfectly cooked. This along with some house wine and a mixed salad was EU30. Very humble food but lovely people and high quality ingredients. This restaurant is listed in Rapalano Terme, but really is on a back road that connects Rapalano to Sinalunga. I would definitely return here.

Osteria Ciriera (Trequanda)- Dinner here our first night as it was quite close to our accommodations. It's tiny and looks more like a cafe but the food was beyond reasonably priced and very very good. We shared pici with cacio pepe (more of a fonduta than I'm used to), roasted rabbit with a wonderful marinade (sundried tomato, green peppercorn, sage…) and roasted potatoes. This with a mezzo of wine of EU27. Not necessarily a place to drive very far out of the way to eat at, but if you're in the area it is really quite good.

La Bottega Calcio (Bagni Vignoni)- Some of the more unfriendly people we've encountered in Italy. However, we had a wonderful little picnic of cheese, salumi and antipasto vegetables. High quality stuff and this tiny town was very cool and worth seeking out.

L'ombelico de Mondo (Montisi)- What a strange little place. It's run by a mom (kitchen) and her son (waiter) and that's all. To my knowledge there is no menu or wine list. You just talk to Gianluca, he explains what they're cooking and then they figure it out. As for wine, talk to him about what you like and he then makes some suggestions. It was a Sunday night at 9 and they were PACKED (not with tourists). We were brought a number of antipasti to start; standout was thinly sliced salame drizzled with honey, fennel pollen and pecorino. We each had a different ravioli dish for pasta-- our hosts who are regulars here, explain that was what they were known for. I had buffalo ricotta with pork, my husband had porcini and someone else had ricotta with pear. Really high quality pasta. We were quite full at that point but shared some amazing steak tartar to round things out. We drank some Ferrari to start and then a couple bottles of Maestro Janni Brunello. It's a quirky strange restaurant but obviously has a tremendous following. I don't know about pricing as we were taken out, but I must say that I imagine it was quite reasonable.

Trattoria Palomba (Orvieto)- After seeing minchilli's blog post on this place I felt we couldn't miss it. The umbricelli carbonara with the most generous shaving of truffles was amazing. Definitely one of the best pastas of our trip so far. We then had their signature dish-- dove with a very intense tapenade/sauce. We were unsure exactly what was in it; definitely lots of olive, maybe anchovy… it was umami rich. The flavor was great but the ratio of sauce to protein was a bit strange (so much sauce!), particularly given that the meat was quite delicate and the sauce was quite intense. Nonetheless it was a very tasty dish. We drank at the servers recommendation the Cardeto "Nero della Grecca" 2008, which was ok but a bit reductive and probably past prime. For dessert a poached peach over vanilla ice cream covered with a hot chocolate sauce-- yes! We were quite happy with this meal, loved the vibe of the dining room and the service was really very good (even if I wasn't thrilled with the wine recommendation).

Macelleria Belli (Siena di Torita)- We had a lovely kitchen where we were staying so we cooked a number of nights. We were told about this butcher and it is stunning! The quality of product is really incredible, the butchers are so nice and they also make their own salumi's and they are the best we had in all of Tuscany. 100% worth seeking out.

La Porta (Montichiello)- After a morning wandering Montepulciano we came here for lunch. It was rainy but they have a gorgeous (umbrella covered) terrace overlooking the countryside so we were still able to sit outside. We skipped pasta and did two secondi. We had maialino with smoked potato and truffle, braised beef cheeks, beans and a salad. We drank a bottle of the Boscarelli Il Prugnolo which was excellent. The food was really very very good, a touch creative, really well executed and the setting could not be beat. The umbrella we sat under leaked a bit-- really so little-- but they comped out coffee and dessert; totally unnecessary and a really nice gesture. Definitely worth seeking out this restaurant.

Osteria Osticcio (Montalcino)- Have very mixed feelings about this place. They are trying very hard-- too hard, perhaps. The room is beautiful, really elegant with a tremendous view. We found the service trying to be fine dining but ultimately just very icy. The prices were a fair bit higher than most places we visited in Tuscany and while the food was very good (it was) the service really took away from it. Additionally, it was a bummer to see that for a restaurant that is part enoteca that they poured (small pour, high price) some of the more mass produced wines by the glass. We shared a crudite, spaghetti aglio olio, veal milanese (the stand out) and a "degustazione" of beans. The beans to be were the perfect example of why this place doesn't make sense. They go out of the way to give it a fussy name and the beans were well prepared but the servers were unable to explain what the different types were (in English or Italian). I think our meal was also a bit tarnished as the table next to our received the wrong dish and we heard the server argue with her for a few minutes before going and replacing it with what she had actually ordered-- which then took nearly 20 minutes to come out and was just a pasta. It's too bad the service is as off here as it is because the food and setting are really quite good.

Il Granaio (Rapalano Terme)- This is a tiny spot run by a couple guys that clearly know what they're doing and love it. The dining room is very elegant, with beautiful plates, silverware, linens etc. The food was quite good and the experience was really so nice. We started with mezzopaccheri with anchovy, garlic, caper, pepperonico and olive oil & risotto with ragu. We then had a duck cooked in the style of porchetta and a green salad. We drank an OK bottle of Tuscan Chardonnay (I was curious, what can I say) and had two desserts, one very good ricotta mousse with red berries. The bill was 87EU was one of our higher ones in Tuscany, but totally worth it and still really quite reasonable. Worth seeking out.

Overall, we ate incredibly well in Tuscany. The food was humble and simple but the quality of ingredients was very high. We found the people in nearly all restaurants to be incredibly warm and are currently contemplating how to pick up our lives and move there!

Off to Positano for a few days and then a week in Rome!

Sep 30, 2014
jdream in Italy