Saying Italy has amazing food is like saying the sky is blue. Duh. I don’t want to say you can’t go wrong walking around Rome or Florence, but if you stay away from eating right in the middle of the super touristy parts of the city, you almost can’t go wrong.
With so many good places to eat in both cities, it’s hard to come up with a list of restaurants that you MUST go to. However, here are some restaurants that we’ve been to that I can personally tell you you MUST go to (in no particular order).
Oh also, none of these restaurants will break the bank.
1. Cantina Cantarini – Rome
This place is just great. No frills, hole in the wall restaurant where no one speaks english. No one in the US has heard of this place, but apparently it’s pretty popular in Japan (the Japanese embassy is a block away, and it has been published in numerous Japanese guidebooks).
It is a tremendous bang for buck. Table wine (which is way better than table wine in the US) runs for $20, and entrees are $15-$25. For $70, two people can be full of fresh pasta and seafood, and drunk off of local wine.
2. Enoteca Pitti Gola E Cantina – Florence
FAVORITE RESTAURANT IN ITALY. This wine bar is just amazing!!!!!
You walk towards the Pitti Palace, and the restaurant is right across the street. When you walk in the room (not more than 500 sq ft) you are greeted with a couple super friendly Italian guys. My guy Zeno (I f’ing love Zeno) will always make sure your glass is full.
Not only do they have a ton of different wines, the food is absolutely delicious. After our wedding (at Portrait Roma) we had a lunch reception here the next day. It was so good that we had multiple friends and family come back during their short stay in Florence to experience this place once again.
Such a no brainer you must go here.
They also have a wine club, and are able to ship up to a 15L bottle of wine to the states…soooo…..
3. Bucca de Mario – Florence
Great steak house in Florence. They only serve meat one way: very, very rare. Don’t even ask them to cook it any other way. The steaks will come out very rare, with a touch of salt and olive oil.
What surprised me about this place was the pasta!
This was the conversation that took place with the waiter last time we went to the restaurant.
Me: “Which one should I get? Is the spaghetti or linguini better?”
Me: “ummmm OK I guess I’ll get the lasagna…”
We were so happy we got the lasagna! To this day, Izumi and I still talk about how amazing that place was.
4. Il Gabriello – Rome
This restaurant was a recommendation from Portrait Roma. Just great, local cuisine in a badass, cave like setting. This isn’t a 5 star dinning establishment. It’s a great place to grab a casual dinner, and drink some wine.
***sorry, no pictures of this place. I guess you have to take our word for it***
We went to a bunch of other restaurants, but these 4 were the most noteworthy (and were good enough for Izumi and I to actually remember).