Rome-Dining in Rome (and Florence too!)
While all restaurants I visited were good, here are several that were standouts:
La Carbonara in Campo di Fiori (www.ristorantelacarbonara.it/en/). My hotel recommended this restaurant. I am glad they did. The spaghetti carbonara is superb. They claim it is the best in Rome. (So do lots of reviewers on TripAdvisor.) Well, I had 3 other versions from fine restaurants. I thought La Carbonara’s was the best by far. I also had Artichoke and Lamb Chops. The food was excellent. It was so good I asked my waitress Francesca how they made it. She shared some of their secrets. I can’t wait to try these secrets at home. Ask for Francesca and ask her what she would recommend on the menu.
Il Gabriello (www.ilgabriello.com/en/) is excellent, creative and inventive. Be forewarned that this can be hard to find. While it is only 3 blocks from the Spanish Steps, I walked by it 3 times and missed it. I had to ask several locals to get me to the right location. With that said, the experience is definitely worth the hunt to dine here. Rick Steve’s says it is his favorite restaurant in Rome. And with good reason. Ask for the Claudio Extravaganza (not on the menu). It runs 55 Euro’s. You will be amazed with the 6-7 courses. They are small enough so you don’t get stuffed. They are big enough to enjoy the variety of flavors. I was also dazzle at the range of different foods they offered. I found the service attentive, warm and playful. Next time in Rome I will definitely go back. Be forewarned that this can be hard to find. While it is only 3 blocks from the Spanish Steps, I walked by it 3 times and missed it. I had to ask several locals to get me to the right location. With that said, the experience is definitely worth the hunt to dine here.
If you have more time in Italy, consider a trip to Florence. You can take a high speed train from Rome and arrive in Florence 1.5 hours later for about 40 Euros.
Florence is both charming and very historical. It is a small and easily walkable city. The Medici family ruled the city and their patronage of the age makes this little gem of a city a memorable place to visit. While Rome is bountiful with history and sites to see, when you visit Florence you will want to come back to enjoy its charm and beauty.
How long to stay?
Two to three days will give you a leisurely time to see the sites. And enjoy the fine restaurants.
Florence highlights include Uffizi (best collection of Renaissance Art, get a reservation in advance to avoid the lone lines), Michelangelo’s David (get reservation in advance to avoid the lines), the Duomo Museum (it explains the history of this church, how the dome was built – it was a technical marvel for its time, and a collection of fine art), Il Duomo, and many sites that feature the evolution of Renaissance art.
Renaissance art all started here in Florence encouraged by the Medici family. Consider that the Medici’s employed about 120 artists and craftsmen in 1400s. Three of the artists include Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael! In fairness, their other artist were also very gifted as you can tell by their art. The Medici’s assemble a truly remarkable team to beautify Florence.
Exceptional good Florence restaurants:
Vini e Vecchi Sapori. (www.vinievecchisapori.it) While is can be difficult to find and hard to get in, the food is fabulous. Hard to get in for dinner unless you make reservations in advance. If you cannot get in for dinner try lunch. If you do not have a reservation, try to show up just when they open. This place is super popular and has many local regulars
Trattoria Osteria Da Que’ Ganzi. (www.daqueiganzi.it). Excellent food, wine and prices. The owner loves wine and has over 350 bottles of various Italian wines. The food is superb and beautifully presented. I was astonished at bill…it was the least expensive and best dinner I had in Florence. I heard about this place from a couple I sat next to when I had lunch as Vini e Vecchi Sapori. They said that this was one of their favorites, and they live in Florence 3 months a year for the last 20 years. Wow! What a great recommendation. It is best to make reservation in advance. Be forewarned that this place is easy to miss (I walked by it 3 times). When I come back to Florence I will come back to this restaurant for sure.