chowhound has proved useful for me research on good places to dine in italy. there were some hits and misses as usual and i hope the info will help others for their italian holidays.
my trip was to milan-rome-florence-venice-milan over 12 nights.
you'll see me indicating about toilets, i went to italy for fearing the toilets about what i've heard and read about. my fears were uncalled for though^^
we are a family of 3 and are small eaters so mostly 1 restaurant per day.
day 1 @milan: Latteria di Via dell’Unione no cover charge
quite pricey vegetarian food despite the looks of the place. its a local haunt. spent 47 euros easily cos we were so hungry after the long flight. do not touch the bread on table. 4 something euros. but we were too hungry to care. pumpkin flan was blah. their gnocchi was good, veg soup good. mixed platter okay.
day 2 @rome: sanacafe no cover charge
no cover charge, nor tax. food highest quality. free multigrain bread served on table that we ate hesitantly tho caved in cos we were so hungry after vatican. realised bread was free upon payment. cod salad was damn good. tuna salad alright tho sister loved it. mom veal lunch set was damn good too. loved their toilets.
day 3 @ rome: Colline Emiliane no cover charge
begged them to let us in wo reservation on a sat lunch. they relented by squeezing us into a small table. food okay. risotto rice too hard, hardest of all the risotto i've tried. sis liked her spinach ravioli. stewed veal in milk tasted like pork, not worth it as we preferred fresh meat. dessert was 12 euro, some cream like tiramisu (that's how the waiter described it). too much alcohol at the base though we have had known we would mix the cream thing before enjoying it.
day 4 @rome: -
day 5 @florence: Il Santo Bevitore cover charge
cod fish was damn amazing as what the waitress stated. loved my beetroot risotto. sis didn't like the ragu pasta though we ordered only because the guy beside us seemed to enjoy his.
day 6 @florence: tuscany tour, organic lunch included in package
nth much to say
day 7 @florence: Trattoria Marione cover charge
recommended by my foodie tour guide. ordered roast beef w potatoes, spag w tomato sauce and veg soup. i enjoyed their veg soup alot though pricey. sis said she had to drink loads of water after spag w tomato sauce. suspected: msg laden of some sort.
day 8 @florence: Caffe Coquinarius cover charge
really a light place for dinner or lunch. pear and cheese ravioli was nth great. i ordered gnocchi again, alright.
day 9 @venice: Trattoria Antiche Carampane cover charge of 3euro
so bad. i dun even know why people on CH are recommending this place. ordered crab pasta, grilled dory with breaded skin, sea bass. fish wasn't so fresh plus the prices were ridiculous for the "cheap" fish. this was in comparison to the tuna we had in sanacafe in rome and cod in florence.
portions tiny too. crab pasta - nth fantastic. spent 87 euros. it was a local fav tho, i wonder why.
day 10 @ venice: Ristorante Al Giardinetto da Severino cover charge + 12%
bad service though i attributed it to being placed in a section where the server (a grandpa) was about to go off on break. lasagna saved the day. fish was blah. many tourists.
day 11 @milan: la rinascente restaurant cover charge?
rude service again. had risotto alla milanese which was okay. we wanted foie gras lunch set but they gave us the salad set instead. over much confusion we just accepted the salad. please don't even consider the salad set as you'll be offered 2 blocks of smelly cheese and a small salad. the lasagna with veal was nothing like a lasagna at all.
day 12 @milan: Trattoria Abele la Temperanza cover charge
best risotto ever. ordered 2 risottos: tuna and mushroom. service good. placed packed. there's a dude who could translate the entire menu in english for me. panna cotta was excellent. we also ordered a fish w prawns. family said not good, worse fish dish thru out the trip. prawn overpowered the taste of fish. since i'm allergic to prawn i've no idea.
anw, money worth spent for last night in italy.
day 1 @milan: -
day 2 @rome: Venchi (pistachio and hazelnut were the best non chocolate flavours, the rest were blah i.e cappuccino).
day 3 @ rome: san crispino very good with nuts in the nutty flavours. first gelato place which i see having their gelato covered instead of having them all piled up. i later learnt that they do that at places where they make REAL gelato. real gelato must be stored with consistency and leveled.
day 4 @rome: Giolitti (THE BEST EVER, my food guide in florence concur), Il Gelato di Claudio Torcè (bad and slimey)
day 5 @florence: Vestri - my food tour in florence brought us there. okay.
day 6 @florence: -
day 7 @florence: got tourist trapped near ponte vecchio for paying fake gelato + waffles for 10euros.
i wasn't thinking after the space outlet trip.
day 8 @florence: Grom - passable. Neri - horrid, not even cold and super slimey.
day 9 @venice: -
day 10 @ venice: Gelateria Lo Squero Dorsoduro
day 11 @milan: -
day 12 @milan: peck's gelato 3.50 for small. quite good pistachio and hazelnut.
coffee bars/ light food places
day 1 @milan: exk restaurant - they know how to make the creamiest foam. easily accessed from duomo. toilets available.
day 2 @rome: castroni cappuccino good + sandwich/pastries nth to rave
day 3 @ rome: castroni cappuccino
day 4 @rome: Tazza D'Oro Coffee Shop good + castroni juice good
day 5 @florence: -
day 6 @florence: -
day 7 @florence: prada cafe at space outlet way overpriced. ensure you are not hungry before going.
day 8 @florence: the mall's cafe better food, prices quite reasonable.
day 9 @venice: Pasticceria Dal Mas + Pasticceria Targa cheap cakes 1.10euro each!
day 10 @ venice: visited the same places as the day before.
day 11 @milan: random stops that meet the maximum of 1.30 per cappuccino
day 12 @milan: random stops that meet the maximum of 1.30 per cappuccino
in summary, rome has the best food, no cover charges, no taxes but the scariest in terms of safety. was targeted by a gypsy with fake baby when hopping on the metro. met tourists who have phobia taking the metro. wondered whether i put my family in unnecessary danger. but rmb to hold onto your valuables tightly. beware of the spagna station in rome.
don't settle for gelatos on the streets. good gelatos are found in weird places and take effort to hunt down but worth it.
cappuccino is cheap in italy, sometimes cheaper than water.
important to find the nearest supermarket to your hotel. most hotels don't provide kettles to boil.
won't recommend joining a food tour. you can do it on your own w chowhound.