Tag Archives: Italian food

Favorite Restaurants, in Italy and Elsewhere

Note: All prices may be severely out of date. Quality not likely to have changed. Lake Como Area Belvedere Il Capriolo Crotasc Lanterna Verde L’Osteria del Viaggiatore These are full reviews – also see brief listings below for some more restaurants. Elsewhere Ristorante Tortella, Castelli, Abruzzo various in Austin, Texas American chain restaurants Vegetarian Restaurants Read More…

Note: All prices may be severely out of date. Quality not likely to have changed.

Lake Como Area

These are full reviews – also see brief listings below for some more restaurants.

Elsewhere

Vegetarian Restaurants

Some tips for eating in restaurants in Italy.

Don’t want to eat out all the time? It’s also possible to eat cheaply in Italy.

Opinions

Some More of Our Favorite Restaurants

NB: My data on prices may not be entirely reliable; costs refer to a full meal (antipasto, primo, secondo, dessert) with wine, per person. You can of course save money by eating less! (By 2010, these prices are likely out of date! I have not eaten at any of these places in at least two years.)

But you don’t always have to go to restaurants; it’s also possible to eat cheaply in Italy.

Milan

Lo Scugnizzo

via Cassala 59

near the Romolo metro stop

tel 02 5811 1957

Fresh mozzarella from Naples daily, amazing seafood of all kinds. Pizza is also good. ~ euro 20-30

Vecchia Napoli pizzeria

via Chavez 4

tel 02 2619056

Fantastic pizza. Closed Mondays. Pizzas cost euro 7-12.

Osteria Grand Hotel

via Ascanio Sforza 75 (naviglio Pavese)

tel 02 89511586

Fabrizio, the owner, is head of one of Milan’s Slow Food groups. Excellent food, great wine list. euro 30-40

La Veneta

via G. Giusti 14

tel 02 342881

Antique recipes from the Veneto. Don’t miss the pasta e fagioli with radicchio, but everything else is wonderful as well. The owner is idiosyncratic and sometimes perceived as rude, but really he just has strong opinions on what should be eaten (and drunk) with what, and he’s probably right. Leave room for amazing desserts. euro 30-50

Ristorante da Bruno

via Gonzaga 6 (Duomo metro stop)

tel 02 804364

An old family favorite. Everything’s good. ~ euro 25-40

Gatto’

via Castel Morrone 10

tel 02 70006870

Mon 17:30-23:30, Tue-Sat 12:00-23:30

A brief but excellent Neapolitan-influenced menu, with an emphasis on top-quality ingredients. Possibly the best tuna steak I’ve ever eaten, lightly seared with a Japanese-style dipping sauce. Don’t miss the desserts.

near Menaggio

Locanda San Martino

Santa Maria Rezzonico and then way up the hill

tel 0344 50167 – reservations recommended

Excellent regional specialties including boar and polenta uncia (with cheese, garlic, butter, and sage), very cheap. euro 15-20

Lecco

Osteria del Viaggiatore

Corso Promessi Sposi

see my review

Taverna ai Poggi

via ai Poggi 14

phone: 0341 497126

Large selection of salumi and wines. Especially try the lake fish carpaccio and of course the local specialty, pizzoccheri (buckwheat pasta cooked with vegetables, cheese, garlic, butter, and sage). euro 25-35 at night, much cheaper at lunchtime (weekdays).

l’Azzeccagarbugli

Piazza XX Settembre

tel 0341 288063

A little pricey, but the servings are large by Italian standards. Particularly good meat, and an excellent selection of wines.

Morbegno

Ristorante Vecchio Fiume

Contrada di Cima alle Case

Nouveau twist on regional specialties. euro 30-40

Chiavenna

La Lanterna Verde

Fraz. SAN BARNABA, 7

VILLA DI CHIAVENNA 23029 SO (on the road going to St. Moritz)

Our absolute favorite, well worth the trip. During the day, eat outside and enjoy the amazing view of forests and waterfalls. euro 40-50 (cheap at the price!). See my review liked above.

Crotasc

via D.P. Lucchinetti 67

23020 Mese (SO)

map | my detailed review

Restaurant associated with the Mamete Prevostini winery.Specializes in salumi and insaccati (dried meats) and wild game. Five-course menus euro 25 and 30.

Il Capriolo

Subiale, Tel. 0341 875.017 – Cell. 328 749500

See my review; closed Thursdays.

Chianti

I Tre Castelli
Loc. Cintoia Bassa

Strada in Chianti

tel 055 8572227

Open for lunch and dinner, except Wednesdays.

Rita and Lino took us here. Excellent and unusual dishes such as a very spicy boar goulash.

Rome

Osteria Le Mani in Pasta

via dei Genovesi 37, Trastevere

Antica Taverna

via Monte Giordano, 12

da Alfredo e Ada

via Banchi Nuovi 14

An old-fashioned Roman osteria. Get there while you can – places like this won’t last much longer. euro 15-20Also go here

Mantova

Outside Italy

London

(locations in Brussels, Copenhagen, Paris, Delhi, Dubai, and Beirut
as well)

La Porte des Indes

Indian-French cuisine based on recipes from the old French colony of Pondicherry. I have had a lot of Indian food (lived there 5 years), but never anything like this. Amazing. Expensive.

Virginia/Suburban DC

Busara

Some of the best Thai food I’ve eaten outside of Thailand.

France

Le Ménestrel, Nimes

Barcelona

La Provenza, Barcelona

 

Guests of Conti Sertoli Salis: Fine Food and Wine in Valtellina

Part 1: Lunch! Many moons ago, spurred by a question on Fodors.com, I wandered the Internets, looking up wineries in the nearby region of Valtellina. Several had sites, some gorgeously produced. Sertoli Salis particularly caught my eye because the site was so very beautiful, and I knew the wines to be good, but the English Read More…

Part 1: Lunch!

Many moons ago, spurred by a question on Fodors.com, I wandered the Internets, looking up wineries in the nearby region of Valtellina. Several had sites, some gorgeously produced. Sertoli Salis particularly caught my eye because the site was so very beautiful, and I knew the wines to be good, but the English translation was laughable.

Desperate for extra income, I wrote them, hoping to be offered the job of re-translating the site. They replied that, having just spent a lot of money to redo the site, they couldn’t pay cash, but there might be some wine in it for me.

They sent me the files, I translated a small piece and sent it to them, then my life got busy, I changed computers and lost some of the subsequent work I had done. The winery must have liked what they saw: they wrote asking if I could do the rest. Eventually I found the time (and some new wine-related vocabulary) to finish this not-small job and send it off.

NB: The English on the site today is not mine! It will be quite a job to replace the text on the site as it’s mostly embedded in the Flash – an unfortunate mistake made by many Italian web designers. The site is still well worth visiting for the beautiful photos.

I therefore had a standing invitation to visit the palazzo and winery for a tasting and a gift of “our very best wines”. Finally, last Saturday, we were able to make good on this offer.

Enrico and I set out with Pancrazio (a TVBLOB colleague) and Emanuela. Between bad weather and traffic we were an hour late for our lunch reservation at Ristorante Jim, which meant that we had to rush, while this fine establishment deserved more leisurely attention! Jim offers very interesting seasonal menus (in addition to a far-from-boring regular menu); this time the specialty was mushrooms and wild game.

porcini soup

Emanuela and I started with a vellutata di porcini (wild boletus mushroom soup). Oh, my. That was special. I want to go back and eat more of that.

The boys had tagliatelle al sugo di lepre – home-made egg pasta with wild hare sauce. Very gamey, very tasty.

For secondo, Emanuela had bocconcini di capriolo (“bites” of roebuck), which she said were tender enough to melt in your mouth. I had breast of wild duck in a balsamic vinegar reduction – I love duck, and this was even more flavorful than usual. Umm… don’t remember what Enrico and Pancrazio had, except that they both managed to squeeze in dessert afterwards!

Then we headed off to the object of our visit, the winery.

Part 1: Lunch

Part 2: The Palazzo

Part 3: Wine!

High Water (Not Hell) in Venice, part 6

Venice’s Bad Karma On Saturday morning, I learned what a macchiatone (“big spotted one”) is: it’s basically a caffé macchiato (coffee “spotted” with steamed milk), with a bit more milk – so, somewhere between a macchiato and a cappuccino, served in a cappuccino cup. I had it with a delicious little torta di riso (rice Read More…

Venice’s Bad Karma

On Saturday morning, I learned what a macchiatone (“big spotted one”) is: it’s basically a caffé macchiato (coffee “spotted” with steamed milk), with a bit more milk – so, somewhere between a macchiato and a cappuccino, served in a cappuccino cup. I had it with a delicious little torta di riso (rice cake).

Then Enrico and I explored some more.

^ “In this antique home of the Dario family, Henri de Regnier, poet of France, Venetianly lived and wrote in 1988 and 1901.” Venetianly?

^ This was a mystery. Was the pigeon already dead when someone gored it with an umbrella?

The apartment we were staying in was owned by a Jewish family. On the wall near the kitchen was a framed edict of 1777, issued by a prince of Venice on the orders of an “Inquisitor of the Arts”, detailing horrifying restrictions on Venice’s Jewish community. Sobering reading. The Venetians invented the concept of ghetto, apparently.

Venice is indeed a beautiful city, but it has many centuries of bad karma to pay off.

Venice 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

restaurant

Trattoria Al Passo, Venice – Only Fish!

While we were all in Venice, Jeet’s friend and Andrew’s colleague, Umberto, wanted to take us to his favorite restaurant in the nearby village of Campalto. The restaurant’s card says Solo Pesce (only fish), and that’s all we had – lots of very, very good fish, most of it local and extremely fresh. Umberto and Read More…

While we were all in Venice, Jeet’s friend and Andrew’s colleague, Umberto, wanted to take us to his favorite restaurant in the nearby village of Campalto. The restaurant’s card says Solo Pesce (only fish), and that’s all we had – lots of very, very good fish, most of it local and extremely fresh. Umberto and his friend Mauro ordered for all of us, and at the risk of a bad nautical pun, I will say that they went overboard.

Pictured above is the amuse bouche of smoked fish, which was served with Franciacorta (champagne-method wine made in Italy).

Then we had an antipasto crudo (raw antipasto). The object in front that looks like it has two big black eyes is a cavalletto di mare (sea grasshopper). These things have always looked creepy to me. The “eyes” are defensive mimicry – that’s actually the tail – and they have way too many little legs underneath. But I ate it anyway, and the flavor was divine – sweet, and the flesh slipped right down without being slimy. The plate also contained two kinds of shrimp (not raw) and some kind of fish (swordfish?).

I didn’t get a picture of the other antipasto, carpaccio di tonno (because I was too busy eating it): very thinly sliced raw red tuna, served almost Japanese style, but with olive oil. On the plate was a small mound of green stuff; I put a chunk of it in my mouth before I realized it was wasabi, which I’ve never seen served in an Italian restaurant before. Ouch!

Next we had cappesante (scallops), grilled, then served on decorative shells. Apparently this is not the season in which they are large. Didn’t matter – they were tasty!

Then razor clams, also grilled.

Then we finally got to the primi, first polenta with schie, the tiny and flavorful local shrimp. (We did wonder who peeled all these little bitty things.)

And, finally, risotto with clams. Fortunately, someone had thought to cancel the order for a pasta dish as well, and we hadn’t ordered any entrees.

All this took a long time, which we didn’t mind as we were eating and drinking fine things in good company. Pictured above are Enrico, Kiki, Hadi, and Geraldine (shown reacting to a bad joke, not asleep on the table!).

We paid about 65 euros a head for “only fish” (plus quite a lot of wine, coffee, a few desserts, and limoncello) – well worth it!

Trattoria Al Passo

via Passo 118, Campalto (VE)

phone: 041 900470, 338 347 6106

closed Mondays and Tuesdays

San Lorenzo Dinner at the Symposium Quattro Stagioni: Arrival

I was one of a lucky group of people to win a dinner offered by San-Lorenzo.com as part of its marketing initiative Il Vino Lo Portiamo Noi (“we’ll bring the wine”). So what if the dinner took place halfway across Italy in le Marche? The Symposium Quattro Stagioni is one of Italy’s top restaurants, and Read More…

I was one of a lucky group of people to win a dinner offered by San-Lorenzo.com as part of its marketing initiative Il Vino Lo Portiamo Noi (“we’ll bring the wine”). So what if the dinner took place halfway across Italy in le Marche? The Symposium Quattro Stagioni is one of Italy’s top restaurants, and the company at table seemed likely to be as enjoyable as the food.

My friend Susan was one of the group, so we travelled down together in the train from Milan Friday afternoon. Our friend Sara Piperita, the event organizer, was on a train that was supposed to leave earlier, but ended up leaving later. This did not bode well, as we were supposed to meet her in Fano to catch a ride to Cartoceto, the village where the restaurant is located.

We ended up waiting two hours outside the station in Fano, as Antonio Tombolini, head of web marketing for San Lorenzo, got stuck in traffic coming to get us. Travelling in Italy in summer can be absolutely miserable, no matter what means of transport you choose.

We reached the village with just enough time to check into our B&B and take showers, and change before we caught a ride to the restaurant with Roberto and Ludovica. The establishment proved to include lodgings, and a pool with a marvellous view.

As we waited for the group to assemble (18 people in all), chef/owner Lucio Pompili led tours of the wine cellar.

He explained that the bottles are wrapped in plastic to preserve the labels: a 1000-euro bottle of wine can lose 30% of its value if the label is ruined, and still more if it has suffered evaporation loss. (If the wine was 1000 euros good to begin with, I personally would not give a damn about the label.)

Sara’s husband Patrice, who recently qualified as a sommelier (in addition to his day job as a chemist), was in his element.
patrice