Here, There & Everywhere Under the Tuscan Sun

Summer is for getaways. The first half of mine was all about Italia…

ROME

San Marco was home away from home. In one weekend, I managed to hit this spot three times. It’s rustic interior resembled Lilia of Williamsburg. Although I enjoyed the large variety of pizzas, I enjoyed the red pepper infused olive oil more. Once I discovered I could use this olive oil on everything, there was no crust left behind.

 

Hosteria Del Moro da Tony is home of the best chicken parmesan in Italy. Overflowing with melty cheese, the dish literally sits bubbling in front of you. When in Rome, you must go here!

 

Freni e Frizioni Trastevere should be your final stop of the night. This old firehouse turned bar has the coolest vibes along the river. Modern art, chandeliers, and artistic cocktails… count me in! To drink a true work of art, order the Passion drink.

 

CINQUE TERRE

Taverna del Capitano served local seafood in Vernazza. We started with the fried fish plate, which included fresh, flash fried calamari, anchovies, and prawns. Their whole prawns served with gnocchi and zucchini was a perfect seaside dish. The gnocchi tasted light and airy, making it perfect for lunch.

 

AMALFI COAST

Trattoria de Emilia is a local seaside restaurant in Sorrento serving freshly caught seafood, my favorite being spaghetti with clams. The noodles came out steaming, covered with fresh clams in a buttery sauce. The spot seemed to be popular among the locals and well worth the long wait for a table.

 

There was no shortage of granitas in Capri. The icy lemon and orange juice slushies are made fresh from the juicy lemons of Capri, and you often have the option to add vodka. There was nothing more refreshing than sipping on a granita while walking around the island.

 

In Positano, we visited the Palazzo Murat hotel for lunch. This Michelin rated restaurant had a gorgeous atmosphere surrounded by plants and lemon trees. Since we were on the Amalfi coast, the linguini with clams was a must and a truly unforgettable dish!

 

VENICE

Harry’s Bar opened in 1931 by bartender Giuseppe Cipriani and became a local spot frequented by Ernest Hemingway, Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, and Woody Allen, to name some. It is home of both the Bellini and Carpaccio, originating under the Cipriani name in Venice. This Bellini was the best I’ve ever had — a perfect mixture of white peach juice and prosecco which lived up to its name.

Foraging in Florence

Four weeks into my eating abroad, oops, study abroad summer in Florence!

La Milkeria is a dessert-lovers dream. This cafe offers made-to-order crepes, waffles, and pancakes from morning until night. Wait, it gets better. You can top your made-to-order treat with scoops of gelato, heavy drizzles of Nutella and white chocolate, maple syrup, custard, jam, marscapone, and even fresh fruit. Stop in for brunch, lunch, or even a midnight snack!

 

La Ménagère is the coolest new concept-restaurant that offers everything from food to flowers. With a sort of slower Brooklyn vibe, La Ménagère is about as cosmopolitan as it gets. The space is home to a restaurant, coffee bar, cocktail bar, flower shop, and housewares retail shop. The restaurant’s menu is small, but creative, and known for its high-level cuisine filled with oxymorons, like a cold tomato soup or a poached egg served with broccoli cream and topped with lemon and garlic bread crumbs. Reserve the table in the kitchen (yes, you can literally dine in the kitchen) or the long communal table next to the piano. If you’re on the go and don’t have time for this exceptional dining experience, the coffee bar will satisfy both your caffeine-fix and your sweet tooth. Pair a Ditta Artiginale coffee with a fresh-baked pastry or dessert that are beautifully encased similarly to Dominique Ansel. The flower shop adds to the botanical and biological vibe. Across from this small wall covered with silver buckets and open drawers stuffed with fresh flowers is the housewares retail shop. Here you can find cookbooks, contemporary cutlery, kitchen, and table goods.

 

Obicà translates to ‘here it is!’, which is the feeling you get as soon as you walk through the front gate to see a spacious outdoor seating area. If you’d prefer to sit indoors, you could still enjoy the patio scene thanks to the large windows and high ceilings. The menu is simple with no lack of fresh mozzarella di bufala. This is my favorite lunch spot for a classic salad. You can never go wrong with their Pollo Ruspante, a salad mixed with grilled chicken, avocado, cherry tomatoes, and olives, dressed with a light olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

 

La Giostra was a meal for the books. The romantic ambiance of string lights only made me fall even more in love with this place. When visiting Florence, the trifecta of burrata, pear ravioli, and balsamic steak is a must-have. Be sure to order all 3 and share, even though I can guarantee you’ll want it all for yourself. The burrata was unlike any other I’ve ever had. Aside from the fact it was served in a dish rather than inside the usual solid mozzarella shell, it is accompanied by jam, honey, nuts and fresh citrus fruit. The pecorino and pear ravioli was unbelievable. The sweet pear complimented the savory cheese all within the freshest of pastas. The balsamic steak was tender, rare, and drenched in balsamic sauce. The meat absorbed this strong flavor perfectly and would definitely satisfy any balsamic-enthusiast. These dishes were truly unique and representative of La Giostra’s motto, “In Food We Trust”!

 

Quattro Leoni is home to a couple of my favorite Italian specialties — fiori di zucca (fried zucchini flowers) and fiocchetti di pera in salsa di taleggio ed asparagi (fiocchetti pasta with pears in a telaggio cheese and asparagus sauce), the second pear pasta dish I’ve discovered in Firenze. The restaurant has a contemporary Tuscan style with modern photography on the walls and stone arches reaching towards the ceiling. Bruschetta and fiori di zucca are the perfect pregame to the renowned pear fiocchetti. The bruschetta was topped with fresh tomatoes and, of course, the purest of olive oils. The fiori di zucca was lightly fried and sprinkled with salt. The pear fiocchetti was in a taleggio cheese and asparagus sauce, but the pasta itself had such a sweet bite to contrast the creamy sauce. Everything about this pasta and the restaurant itself reminds me of the popular and amazing Lilia in Williamsburg. For a sweet ending, order the cheesecake!

 

Acqua al 2 is serving up two of the most unique, yet traditional, dishes in Florence. The walls are covered with painted, designed plates and there is a television in the dining room which is live streaming from inside the kitchen. You can watch the chef as he prepares your mouth-watering blueberry steak. Yes, blueberry sauce poured on top of a filet. This sweet spin on a steak is new and unexpected, but extremely delicious. The penne vodka is also prepared in a unique way. The vodka sauce is creamier and cheesier than a traditional tomato-based vodka sauce. The shape of the pasta and this sauce could fool you into thinking that you’re eating mac and cheese. Everybody loves mac and cheese, so naturally, everybody would love this penne vodka.

 

Osteria delle Tre Panche is a tiny hole in the wall with only 3 tables inside for a cozy, authentic experience with an all-truffle menu. This hole in the wall may be the entrance to truffle heaven. Order the taglierini al tartufo to experience the traditional way to enjoy truffle. The pasta is simply served in a butter sauce and topped with fresh-shaved truffle. If you have room for dessert, or even if you don’t, you have to taste the cheesecake. It is served warm and everything else is their secret.

 

Trattoria 13 Gobbi shares a menu full of Tuscan traditions, especially their rigatoni. This al dente pasta is better than your traditional rigatoni. Not only is the sauce sweeter and creamier than a traditional tomato sauce, but the chef adds bufala mozzarella to the center of the warm pile of pasta, so you’re left with a cheesy, creamy tomato sauce. The spinach and ricotta crepes Florentine could be the closest thing to spinach dip that I’ve found here. The flaky, pastry-like dough adds the perfect crunch to the cheesy spinach filling.

 

O’Munaciello may be my favorite pizza in all of Florence. The space is large, Neapolitan style, and full of locals, which proves I have great taste in pizza! Choose from the long list of both traditional pizzas, or specialty pizzas if you’re feeling a bit extra that day (which I always am). Two of my favorite specialty pizzas are the Cornicione di Ricotta and the Vesuvio. The Cornicione di Ricotta is your typical tomato sauce and mozzarella pizza with a special twist, ricotta-stuffed crust. This is the kind of crust you don’t leave behind! The Vesuvio pizza is the pizza of my dreams. It is loaded with mozzarella cheese, cherry tomatoes, fresh black truffle, and to top it all off, burrata cheese.

 

Yellow Bar serves traditional pastas and pizzas that are perfect for a quick bite. All pastas are made fresh and served in the pot it was prepared in! If you love both gnocchi and penne vodka, the gnocchi rosé is the pasta for you. What looks like a sea of freshly made gnocchi is covered in a pink sauce. Typically, gnocchi could be heavy, but this fresh gnocchi was light and airy.

 

Gelateria La Carraia could be referred to as my second home. This gelateria offers a wide range of flavors, but most importantly, it offers my favorite, mint chip! La Carraia’s dark chocolate is extremely rich and tastes like melted dark chocolate. The tiramisu flavor is creamy and fluffy. My friends could practically survive on their cookies flavor, while I definitely cannot (nut allergy – FML). You can never go wrong with their strawberry and mixed berries for instant refreshment. To make this spot even better — a small cone only costs 1 euro!

 

Gelateria dei Neri is home to an array of unique gelato flavors. Some may go as far as to call them exotic. Dei Neri’s rose flavored gelato is the most feminine and fresh tasting gelato I’ve ever tasted. I felt like a flower princess even after I devoured the whole cone. The ricotta cheese & fig flavor may sound questionable, but it is truly #magical — thank you Foodie Magician for introducing me to this spot. If you like fig newtons (don’t make that disgusted face you’re making right now) you must try this flavor, thanking me later is optional.