04 April, 2013

Stamps in My Passport : Eating in Eataly

Italy is a mecca for food lovers.  For me, one of the most overwhelming aspects of our trip was simply deciding where to eat!  We only had a limited number of meals to consume, and a seemingly infinite range of options for each meal.  Here are some the favorites we landed upon.  Of course, different factors go into everyone's list of "favorites"...I expect there's even better gelato to be found in Rome, for instance, than that at Tre Scalini; but eating their gelato on a textbook perfect spring evening, with music floating in the air and smiles all around, it seemed pretty hard to beat.  All that is to say, take these suggestions as suggestions, and feel free to drop any additional recommendations in the comments -- I'd love to have new leads to track down if I ever return to Italy!


Siracusa, Sicily - La Volpe e L'Uva (The Fox and the Grape) - It was at this restaurant, on the bright, sunny Piazza del Duomo on Ortigia, that I ate my favorite pizza from the entire trip (trust me, I diligently consumed many candidates): a white pizza with bacon, rosemary, soft curls of mashed potato,  mozzarella, and sweet gorgonzola.  With a glass of white wine and the company of good friends, bliss.

Favorite pizza ever - Siracusa
Rome - Obika Mozzarella Bar - So good, we ate at Rome's Campo dei Fiori location twice and another time at the Florence location!  The "Formaggi" cutting board and the pasta with swordfish, ricotta, and pistachio were a couple of highlights.
Wonderful pasta at Obika

Bar Tre Scalini - Many hold this to be the best place for gelato in Rome.  Go to this gelateria on Piazza Navona at dusk on a perfect spring evening, when the piazza glows and trembles with the joy of musicians, friends, and lovers holding off day's end just a little longer -- and they just might be right.  Try the pistachio.
Bar Tre Scalini - so many flavors! 
Choose carefully!
Portovenere - Il Timone - Everything about Il Timone delighted me beyond expression.  The regional cuisine, the graceful owner's hospitality, the coastal view, the cozy decor...I would go back to Portovenere solely to eat there again!  I've since tried to recreate the socca appetizer at home with varying degrees of success...It was one of my favorite food discoveries of the trip.
Socca (chickpea flatbread) at Il Timone 
Il Timone; you'll know it by the lit-up bicycle...
Florence - Le Antiche Carrozze - This spot was recommended to us by the owner of our rental flat, and we ended up eating dinner here most nights.  What can I say?  It was irresistible; cozy interior, staff just abrasive enough to be amusing, and addicting pizza.  Oh, the pizza!  It was always busy but not in an overly-touristy way; obviously a local favorite.

Cortona, Tuscany - Fufluns Ristorante & Pizzeria -- Blueberry pasta with beef ragu and pine nuts was the oddest and the best pasta dish I ate on the whole trip.
Sweet blueberry pasta balanced by savory beef ragu
Montepulciano, Tuscany - Poliziano Winery - Okay, this isn't a restaurant recommendation but I can't mention Tuscany without recommending Poliziano winery.  I can't speak of it highly enough.  We loved our tour guide, an American expat named Jen who took us further behind the scenes than visitors are usually permitted, because it was a slow day and she could see that we were eager to learn as much as possible.  We loved all the wines we tasted, but I especially loved the Asinone: it's a Poliziano specialty that lets the Sangiovese grape shine.  I brought home a bottle that I'm saving for some yet-to-be-determined special occasion.
Poliziano tasting room 
Ahhhh, culture!
Award-winning wines...nbd.

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