I have been terribly delinquent in my posting and for this I apologize. It's been busy. I'm set to move, again, in the coming weeks. And work on the podcast and We Need Diverse Books is on the upswing. But that's no excuse for no food writing. I mean come now, however if you have seen my Instagram you know food has been high on the agenda. And now that the food fairs are back in play...well let's do this! Last month I was in Italy for a lovely 8 days with my priority being getting rest and lots of food. Both were accomplished. What were my priorities in Italy you ask? Risotto. Risotto big time. Yes, many go for pizza but since I was in Milan (not one of the foremost food capitals in the country) I knew that risotto was pretty well influenced there and available at most restaurants. So here are the highlights, as I will not share the lowlights, of eating in Italy from Milan to Genoa to Florence to Venice. Lots of carbs. Not many regrets.
First off a big thanks to Emily for finding basically all of the wonderful eateries we went to via TripAdvisor and other apps we downloaded pre-travels. Emily was essential in finding the food while I kinda focused on what to do around the area. This trattoria was a bit away from our place in Milan Navigli area but sooooo very much worth the trip on a Sunday evening.
We had a wonderfully and reasonably priced price fixe menu with 4-5 courses. Along with unlimited bread we were full halfway through. And this was my first risotto experience in Italy and it did not disappoint!
This was a quaint place tucked in a dark corner along a dark street with some hole-in-the-wall eateries. GPS was our best friend in our travels. We were one of the first parties to arrive and Trattoria filled up pretty quickly soon after with locals.
One of my first and favorite dishes was the octopus with pesto and hummus. Homemade hummus and pesto...in Italy! And the octopus was fantastic tender quality. Then risotto, delicious, salt code with tomato sauce (which was salty) and an apple tatin which had more of a cakey crust than a flaky pie crust but was warm and oh so good.
Don't let the name fool you. This was a fine dining establishment by one of Milan's finest chefs Claudio Sadler. Funny enough many in Italy don't consider this to be high class and I guess compared to Sadler’s place it isn’t. But from my perspective they had a solid menu, good service, good portions and the ambiance was definitely one of a more high-end restaurant you’d find in NYC.
The bread offered at these restaurants in Italy was often always on point and made in-house. So good and easy to fill up on. I had the veal Milanese and also a mango tart with eggnog mousse. Very light on the tart and I liked the shell. The veal was hardcore and large with mashed potatoes so creamy it was the ideal meal on a rainy and chilly day in Milan. I wish we’d had a longer walk to work that off but am not at all disappointed in the meal.
The best Neapolitan style pizza in Milan, or at least the Navigli district. Either way it was really good stuff. A variety of pies it took Emily and I a while to decide the two times we went. The Four Seasons was the last meal I had in Milan and the only thing I’d say is that their pizza is not as good the next day because the middle is so thin anything with toppings, especially heavy ones like the four seasons will sink through and there’s no saving it.
Best gelato I had in Italy hands down. Had that super soft serve smooth quality I love and the Nutella was amazing. I had gelato in every town in Italy we went to and next up would be a place nearby the museo holding the David in Florence but walking around on my last full day in Milan this was a nice treat. I even debated trying to stop by Schokolat, with luggage, on our way home via the rail. It was vetoed and rightfully so but the gelato was that good that I’d almost risk missing a plane for it. So there you have it.
By recommendation of a friend who had Italy travels, and was in Prague at the time I was asking for restaurant recs, mentioned this place while in Florence. After a long day of seeing the David, going to the Museo del Bargello and walking up and down Florence’s canal we sat for a fantastic dinner. Funny enough we were often first at restaurants because of U.S. timetables being different from Italy. (They open for lunch, close, then reopen for dinner people so plan accordingly.)
This was one of the best dishes I had in Italy hands down was the risotto with artichoke, saffron, and fresh prawns. I wish I had it now. The picture makes me long for this. I need it in my life. Bread was a bit tart and hard but the service was fantastic especially since many Americans wandered in and must have also been beckoned by recommendations by friends and/or TripAdvisor.
Another dish was the stuffed rabbit. Seeing that I had to try it at least. I’ve never had rabbit before. I found it a bit salty but held up well with potato wedges the next day. Regardless, if in Florence go to Acquacotta. And get the risotto!
Two words: Homemade pasta! Reasonable prices! Great service! Cheap wine! Those were multiple two words for a reason. See how much homemade pasta I got with pesto? That was six euros. YES! Unlimited bread. Good wine. We met the owner and the restaurant is very very new. I have to go and place ratings on TripAdvisor right after this posts. Genoa is a lovely city in general for being so near the water. The people are polite. It was gloriously sunny and the museos are, combined, cheaper than going to see just the David in Florence. Wish I had more time in Genoa but so very glad we went.
Seafood risotto! I think I had risotto three times in total and gelato pretty much everyday in Italy. And this was a random find since places we were considering were closed. Emily had a wonderful crab gnocchi and I had the seafood risotto which was a tad bit salty, I probably said that a few times in Italy since I’m used to low sodium but oooohhh so wonderful. I didn’t have a bad risotto at all in Italy which means all is right with the world.
When in Venice go find the Ristorante Ribot. I was glad it was empty when we arrived so we had the whole place to ourselves but also want more people to go to good places. And this is a very good place right next to a canal.
Those are my recommendations. There were not so great meals and gelatos and such but why dwell on the bad? I would like these eateries to get more business and I would like you to eat good food should you find yourself in these cities in Italy. So mangia on folks.