Italy: The Food

Hi friends.  Remember that one time we went to Italy five months ago and I did a post per city we visited and then never spoke of the trip again?

Well, there are just a few more posts I never wrote but wanted to, so there’s no time like the present to get those up on the old blog!  Plus, if you are going to Italy, maybe you are of the same travel planning school that I am (read some blogs, read some guidebooks, read some Trip Advisor) and this will be helpful.

So, here are the restaurants we ate at that we would visit again, if we were in Italy.  I wish I had some suggestions for Venice, but honestly my favorite food memories there were picking up some pastries to snack on as we were walking back to our hotel on our first afternoon in the city after visiting the Jewish Quarter.  The other place we loved was a very local wine bar stationed near the gondola repair yard.  The food was passable but the vibe was great.  So there is that.


As I mentioned in my previous post about Florence, this is the point where we got to Italy and I wasn’t even really sure why we were specifically in Florence besides to Eat Food and See Old Things That Are Probably Religious.

We were supremely aided in all things food during this leg of the trip by Sally.  Her daughter has some friends that visit all the time and they sent us their best recommendations for what to eat while we were in town.

Mercato Central

For our friends in the states, this is set-up like one of the many public markets we have scattered in hip cities across the country.  What we didn’t know (and what took us 10 minutes to figure out) is that all of the restaurants, etc. are upstairs.  So find the staircase and go up.  It is 100% not obvious until you are in the building and you are at the actual staircase.  Everything we ate there was great, so you really wont make a bad choice.

Café Rivoire

I didn’t take a snap of this one, but they have a really killer cioccolate con panna (hot chocolate with whipped cream) that is the consistency of chocolate sauce that you will die for.  Go for an afternoon treat, go for dessert, just be sure to try it.

Alla Vecchia Bettola


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This is a 20 minute walk from the Piazza della Signoria (so basically the Ponte Vecchio area) and it is on the old side of the river.  You are going to walk through neighborhoods for a really long time and basically wonder if you are ever going to get there.  You will.  It is not touristy at all and the staff are very friendly. This is also one of those places with all you can drink house wine for like $5 (does not suck).  Their big dish is the Penne alla Bettola so that’s a good one to order along with anything else.

Il Bufalo Trippone

IMG_1299 IMG_1243This is my five-star, one dollar sign contribution from Trip Advisor.  Marcus and I visited this little sandwich shop as one of our stops dinner hopping on our night out alone.  We were so impressed that we dragged Mom, Dad, and Sally back the next night to dine on the same pull-out counters that we did the night before.  They do sandwiches, charcuterie boards, and have wine for like $1.50/glass and it is all just so beyond killer even though the restaurant/shop is probably the size of a medium-sized galley kitchen.

Cinque Terre

Trattoria dal Billy

Billys 2 Billys

Billys 1

This restaurant is located in Manarola and after our first hike, we were starved to death and ready for a hearty lunch.  This was my first pesto on pasta experience of the trip (delightful).

Gambero Rosso

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This meal might have tasted the best because we had been hiking all morning and it was like 2:00 PM when we arrived.  Or it might have tasted the best because it just was.  What I do know is that people were falling out of the door to get a table and that everything we ate was just perfect.  It was also the fortification we needed in order to make our next assault on the trail from Vernazza to Corniglia.

La Lanterna

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Riomaggiore is not the hoppin’ town in Cinque Terre.  I think it is actually in a competition with Corniglia for quietest/least travelled.  Our guest house owner suggested that we would enjoy a nice meal here and it was Quite Fancy in terms of atmosphere and price compared to the other restaurants we visited.  It was also a great welcome to the town.  If we were in Riomaggiore just a month later, most of the “seasonal” restaurants would be open and we would likely have a different go-to, but this was certainly lovely and obviously the locals are keeping it in business if they’re operating year round.

Mama Mia!


This is a little takeaway shop in Riomaggiore.  What we were here for (and what I was dying to try because of some NYT article about how to do Cinque Terre on the cheap) was the fried seafood.  So we ordered two of the mixed calamaris and feasted on literal troughs of small fried fish and squid and whatnot for a grand total of $15 or so.


Taverna dei Monti

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We were really tired after our first day in Rome and we were so glad when our hotel recommended this down-the-street restaurant.  I had some minestrone to start and Marcus had some sort of cream of onion soup and those were hardcore restorative after our day out and about.  We actually ended up eating here twice because it was just so easy and we were just so tired.  The night we ventured out to a different (recommended) restaurant, we just wished we had eaten here.


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I think that either this was listed in bon appetit or really, I have no idea where this suggestion came from but this was definitely our “nice” meal out in Rome and if you are checking out the Vatican then it is probably a 15 minute walk away.


Here is the deal.  Even though Rick Steves (and everyone else on the earth basically) is down on Naples, if you have any love of Neapolitan pizza in your heart, you should go for at least 24 hours.  But really, you could probably do 48.  We ate pizza for six meals and even though neither of us even thought about pizza in the states for several months afterward, it was I think the best eating experience we had in Italy.  Partially because These People Know What They Are Doing and also because it is the only time that we ever ate one style of food exclusively for that amount of time.  I think it gave us a better read on what was great versus what was good.  Big struggles, I know.  One pizza meal was Marcus bringing us carry-in because I got massive food poisoning (or possibly exhaustion) on our first evening in Naples.  The other pizzeria, I really 100% cannot remember the name of.  It might have been Sorbillo but according to The Google that is closed forever now, and even though the Pizza was good, I wouldn’t have ranked it as The Best, so we’ll live.  Here are some snaps of the “good” pizza, just in case.

Plus everything listed here (and closed Sorbillo) is on Italy’s list of top 15 pizzerias (they were actually all in the top 10) so, clearly life is not hard.

L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele

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This is The Best Neapolitan Pizza.  They are The Winners.  There are like all of two ways you can order a pizza (margherita or not) and two sizes you can order (giant or more giant).  They serve water and beer.  I think two pizzas and two beers cost us $17.

Di Matteo

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I think this was the most underwhelming experience for Marcus but I was pretty jazzed because we got to try calzones here as well as some other crescent shaped pizza.  You know, change it up a bit.

Il Pizzaiolo del Presidente

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This recommendation actually came from someone I follow on Instagram who has spent a lot of time in Naples.  The fried things were great (that was her big recommendation) and I was especially tickled when the waitress asked us if we wanted red tomatoes or yellow on our pizza.  Yellow, obviously.  I also want you to know that our waitress was exceptionally proud of herself for providing us with that opportunity to choose.  During our meal we learned that she was from Ukraine and a potpourri of other facts, usually delivered with an exceptionally intense stare.

L’Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba

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This was our first pizza meal in Naples and the moment we ordered I was all We Have Arrived In The Land Of Plenty.





One response to “Italy: The Food

  1. Oh, Neapolitan Pizza, it’s been too long!

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