Of the many European countries I have visited whilst living in the UK, Italy and France by far have had the best food (you can guess which has the worst….). Here are three of my favorite restaurants I have had the pleasure of dining at when visiting Italy. One in Roma, one in Venice, and one in Northern Italy near Aosta. They are all rustic and frequented by locals; great places to go to get a taste of authentic Italian cuisine away from all the damn American tourists (well mostly)!
La Vrille (http://www.lavrille.it/) near Aosta, Italy near the Italian Alps.
This is a very welcoming family run farmhouse located in the Italian Alps. We recently had the most amazing xmas dinner here. It was an 8 course, 3.5 hour meal accompanied by wine made from the local vineyard. The food was sophisticated, yet comforting, showcasing a mix of Italian and French cooking styles (as would be expected so close to the border of France!). Despite the 8 well presented courses, the atmosphere was downright homey…homey. To top things off, the chef (who didn’t speak of lick of English!) came to visit each of the 5 tables at the end of the meal that was served by her two children. Reservations are a must!
Alla Vedova (http://www.in-venice.com/restaurant/ca-doro-alla-vedova/) in Venice, Italy
I first visited this restaurant over 10 years ago when I went on a 5 week backpacking trip through Europe following my college/university graduation. At the time it was not very well known to tourists, and I had my first, and only, artichoke lasagna that was delicious. Since then I’ve been back and it has clearly made it onto the radar of many American tourists. Nonetheless, my squid ink linguine was great, and the service still friendly (if not a bit rushed). Just don’t ask for parmasean cheese on your seafood dishes!
Ristorante La Moretta (Via Monserrato, 158) in Roma, Italy
This is a nice, simple restaurant with decent food. It is a welcome break away from the craziness of the areas run over by tourists in Rome. I had a wonderful spaghetti alla vongole (spaghetti with clams) here, but you can also get pizza and other dishes (although I cannot speak for how good they are). The prices aren’t exorbitant either, and the staff is exactly what you’d expect in a traditional Italian restaurant (i.e, relaxed about service…welcome to Europe!).
That’s it…great choices for simple yet delicious dining. Any other suggestions for great, unpretentious, European dining leave below…I’m always on the hunt for simplicity elevated…