Heading out tomorrow morning for a couple weeks in Italy. Have a reservation at Dario Doc but beyond that we’ve been a lot more relaxed in our planning than usual (have a fairly long list for Rome food but not so much everywhere else). Anybody got tips for any of these areas? Bonus points for pesto, cacio e pepe, and good people watching bar/cafes.
In Rome I like the Caffè Farnese for people-watching.
Go to Emma. Same owners and largely the same menu as the uncomfortable and touristly Roscioli Salumeria restaurant two blocks away.
Best Cacio e Pepe I’ve ever tasted in my life was at La Taverna dei Fori Imperiali in Rome. Near the Colosseum, sort of. Have fun!
I would go to both Emma and Roscioli. Had great meals at both. The pizza at Emma was great. Loved all the different cheeses and meats.
Go to Tempio De Iside - great seafood. The gamberi were the best shrimp we’ve eaten. There were 3 choices and we had 2 of each - red gamberi, smaller ones which went by a different name and gamberi scampi style. Each was raw and they all had an absurd amount of roe. The small gamberi had a fluorescent blue type of roe. It was so bright I honestly thought it might have been some type of radioactive by product. Sweet, soft, briny and fantastic as described.
The sea truffle were basically clams. A little larger than the ones we’d eat raw in the US but excellent with a squirt of lemon. The oysters (Belon and some other Mediterranean variety) were salty. Too briny and much larger than the West Coast varieties we generally enjoy.
The linguini with whole crab (was it hairy crab?) was excellent. It was definitely a lot of work but delicious. The sauce was delicate and paired perfectly with the sweet crab. I wish they’d given some of the crab a half crack kinda like Newport Seafood but I know they might have accidentally put some shell into the dish. The only gripe was the amount of work to get all the crab out but a great pasta dish.
I enjoyed Emma quite a bit, and I didn’t eat a full meal at Salumeria Roscioli, but the pizza al taglio at Antico Forno Roscioli was the best I had in Rome. Sure the spot is popular and a little touristy, but honestly so is everything else in Rome.
If you’ve got a long midday to spend on food, I had an awesome time at Mercato Testaccio, an open air market in Testaccio in Rome. Mordi e Vai makes killer sandwiches, Le Mani in Pasta (they have a full restaurant elsewhere) was maybe the best amatriciana we had, CasaManco was more awesome pizza al taglio, and there were several stalls with great and affordable wine.
I’ve dallied too long on this. Here are some highlights with no pics; I’ll try to get those on later
-At the Market in Roma Termini, we loved both the Bonci and Pier Daniele Seu pizzas. Then we went to Amalfi.
-Trattoria dei Cartari had probably the best octopus and potato dish I tried over the 2 weeks.
- The best gelato we had the entire trip was at Andrea Pansa
-Taverna degli Apostoli was a very cool space and had a fantastic “lemon pesto”
-l’abside had a lobster pasta that sounded good and then came out and it was an entire lobster. That was fun.
We then headed up to Tuscany (staying in Chianti). We had a stop in Naples, and near the train station we picked up a couple of pizzas at Binario Calmo. I liked the margherita best.
-Lunch at La Taverna di San Giuseppe was fun. I actually remember my favorite dish being a cooked leafy green but for the life of me I can’t remember what it was.
-One of the best meals we had the entire trip was Osteria di Passignano (the drive back to the hotel, in which the GPS took us up a “road” that makes the hike I did in Malibu last weekend look like the 405, was a different story). Probably the best thing was actually an amuse buche “panzanella” that was basically creamy foam and flavor pearls and absolutely fantastic. Then we got the actual deconstructed panzanella we ordered and that was great as well. There were many other courses that were pretty universally fantastic. This place may be my highest recommendation in Chianti.
-Great fun at Oficina della Bistecca. The meat was obviously fantastic (and 50 euros for that level of basically AYCE high quality meat is an absurdly good deal), but the ambiace was what really made it special. By the end of the night, we were best friends with the group of Brazilians next to us and the Texans on the other side.
-Ristoro di Lamole was in a gorgeous setting and the food and wine were great too. Some of the best cured meat and cheese to start, truffle pasta, ricotta and pear ravioli, and really good beans.
Then we went to Cinque Terre.
- The cornetti and cappucinos at Il Pirata in Vernazza were good, but the true star was the fresh-squeezed blood orange juice. We had it every day.
- Lunch at Miky in Monterosso was divine. An absolutely otherworldly scallop dish, this egg custard thing that was incredible and fun, and the best pesto we had all trip.
- The lemon anchovies at Vulnetia were great. Actually, they were great all over in both Cinque Terre and Amalfi.
We finished off in Rome.
- Mercato Testaccio was fun, and it was especially nice to be able to try from multiple different places. Annoyingly I didn’t take photos of the actual places we ate so I don’t remember the name, but the pasta places we tried were good. Mordi e Via was tasty as well.
-Having been to Rome a couple times before, I find it unconscionable that I hadn’t gone to the Pantheon with a coffee granita from Tazza d’Oro. Fantastic.
-Everything fried at Nonna Betta was great. Falafel and artichoke were standouts. Also the baklava was incredible despite being not quite as sweet as I’m used to.
-Fernanda Osteria is up there with Osteria di Passignano for top overall meal we had in Italy. Even the table bread, an amusing weak spot at nearly every restaurant we went to, was great.
-Panetteria Romana in Trastevere had this pastry that I can’t remember its name besides that it sounded similar to ciabatta and it was similar to the best turnover I’ve ever had. Filled with apricot I think.
Eventually I’ll get around to photos. This isn’t everywhere and everything we ate, only the favorites. Thanks to all for your recs!