Earlier this year we had an amazing 2 weeks Italy and first a thanks to everyone on this board for your help and knowledge (I read through a lot of past posts which were super helpful) and sorry for the delay in getting around to post the report
Our trip wasn’t very "focused" geographically as some as my partner was attending a class for 4-5 days in the middle and the course requirements dictated a lot of our plans. We started in Catania, then on to Lucca, Southern Tuscany and Genova
Mé Cumpari Turddu, Catania: Our first meal of the trip and I must admit we were a bit jet lagged / exhausted. So my notes/memory of this meal are a bit hazy. The room is comfortable and a bit more modern (maybe shabby-chic?) than typical trattoria. The service was very relaxed yet attentive. We started with a typical salumi plate (including some asino and cavallo), then onto a pasta with pesce spada & followed by a deconstructed cannoli (maybe too fancy, out there for me). All-in-all a nice evening and wish that maybe we weren’t so tired as we would have enjoyed more
Antica marina osteria, catania: After walking through the fish market and exploring Catania we had lunch at Antica Marina osteria. This turned out to be a lovely meal with great assortment of sea food. There are a number tasting menu options and we almost ordered 2, but fortunately the waiter steered us to order 1 menu for 2 people. We had a huge selection of antipasti, seafood salads, followed by the best fritto misto I’ve ever had, a plate of spaghetti con bottarga and then grilled fish. We shared a mezzo liter (or so) of their white which was a nice complement
Trattoria da Antonio, Catania: We arrived back in Catania after spending some in Siracusa, Noto, Modica, etc. and went to this small trattoria at the recommendation of our AirBnB hosts. While not the fanciest or most refined, this was exactly what we were looking for. A trattoria with solid food, good service and interesting local feel. The staff was more than gracious and helped us choose a Etna Rosso from Cottanera – good on it’s own but a nice paring with our meal. I finally had the pasta alla norma!
Locanda Apuana, Colonnata: Went to Colonnata to learn about lardo! This was a great lunch stop for a lunch to sample the local speciality and other local dishes. It was a nice lunch to warm up on a cold and rainy day
Osteria Vecchio Mulino, Castelnuovo: Went with a group and had a truly interesting experience. There were too many small course to remember, but we started with various salumi from Garfagnana, a baked polenta with various toppings, a Garfagnana zuppa and it went on from there. Various bottles of local wine & even a desert wine were served. Andrea was a warm and friendly host who provided a fun history of the area and local food.
In Lucca we at at both Il Mecenate and Punto Officina del Gusto. Unfortunately, I have zero recollection of the lunch we had at il mecenate. I am not sure if it was unremarkable or I was just tired. SORRY. However, a group of us ate one night at Punto Officina del Gusto. I was surprised by how modern and trendy the restaurant seemed to be. I had anticipated eating at a more traditional spot but this restaurant turned out to be one of the wonderful surprise. Since it was a group, we were able to taste almost everything on the menu that night (it changes regularly). We had artichokes which seemed to have been stewed and then lightly grilled topped with a citrus-y sauce. The pastas were all very interesting – I chose an almost angel hair pasta in a brodo. It was served cold but the flavor was intense and delicate. A truly interesting revelation. We then sampled a number of the secondi, including rabbit and pork. Both were quite nice, but not super exciting. It turned out to be a nice place for our group as we were able to try so many dishes and sample a number of different wines.
While not food related, we spent a couple of nights at the lovely Pieve di Caminino. The main building is an 11th century monastery. The guest rooms are in the surrounding buildings, we stayed in the old school house. Very comfortable and a great time of year to enjoy the fireplace in the room. I believe all the farmland is organic. They produce delicious olive oil that they distribute, and white wine for themselves and guests. We came away with a few bottles of their wine (drank a few there too) and a couple of bottles of their excellent olive oil. Would love to return and explore the area more as we had planned to eat in Massa Marittima but were too tired after the drive from Lucca.
At the recommendation of Pieve di Caminino, one night we took a fairly steep 5-10 minute drive, to Roccatederighi and had a delicious dinner at a small trattoria, Il Corso. Husband and wife, no menu, simple excellent food.
Antica Osteria di Vico Palla, Genova: We spent a couple of days in an apartment in Genova which turned out to be a the highlight, albiet unglamorous highlight, of the trip. We arrived a bit late and got lost, etc. and finally found this spot by the old port. The room is loud with simple wooden tables, and the menu written on chalkboard. We had an interesting conversation with our server (in my terrible Italian) but ended up very happy with our order. Started with farinata, which was light yet very flavorful. I had a delicious pasta with pesto and we shared a huge mixed seafood platter - a combination of both fried and grilled fish. All fresh and delicious The food was at once simple and incredibly complex and overall fantastic. I would highly recommend to any friends traveling near Modena. We had their house vermentino and left very full and happy.
The following day we explored the Mercato Orientale in the morning and sampled Focaccia, and other treats. Then we found Antica Sciamadda for more snacks. We ended up buying so many different food products (including a tripe salad & ligurian head cheese. Mr.Anthrope loved both) + more focaccia and pesto which we had for dinner at the apartment with the wine from pieve di caminino
Our last lunch in Genova was at Sà Pesta – I was able to have both more farinata and trofie al pesto! Couple this with the house wine and it all made me very happy. While the restaurant is simple, I think this was the best pesto we had. A remarkably simple lunch yet unlike anything we can have in the US
As we had a rather early flight from MXP, we felt we needed to spend our last night a bit closer to the airport. I asked this board and received a few good suggestions, however we ended up staying at an agriturismo – Tenuta Tovaglieri (about 20 min drive from the airport but felt like we were in the middle of nowhere.) Very peaceful place with a vineyard and restaurant. We had a great meal with local salumi, vegetables, and bread, which then moved onto a ravioli course, then a beet risotto and finally a roasted pork with potatoes and vegetables. By the pork dish, I had to I’ve up. All was accompanied by their wines – Giuliana selected a few to sample and all were unique and enjoyable. I believe the meal for 2 w/wine was 70 EUR. This was an incredibly relaxing way to end our trip.