Just returned from Rome and Florence. Had an amazing time.
Favorites of the trip was easily La Campana in Rome and Nerbone in Mercato Centrale in Florence.
Biggest disappointments were La Mani in Pasta in Rome and Cibreo Caffe in Florence. Cibreo Caffe was actually the worst meal of the entire trip and also the most expensive.
*La Campana (aka so good I went back thrice). I thought this could be a potential tourist trap since it was in all the guidebooks and trip advisors and whatnots. It was outstanding. The cuisine is seasonal. The food so fresh they proudly display every ingredient. Every dish was good. There was not 1 single miss in 3 visits. We ordered arancine, fried zucchini blossoms stuffed with cheese and anchovies, grilled porcini, funghi ovulo, risotto with tomatoes, cream, and shrimp, fettuccini with white truffles, fettuccini vongole, spaghetti with zucchini flowers and bottarga, roasted lamb, braised veal shanks, and probably a few other dishes that I’m forgetting. The pasta dishes were superior to anything else we had or anything I’ve ever had. The porcini and truffles without comparison. Highlights were:
-Porcini arrosto: grilled in season porcini, huge ones, at 16 euro a plate. Porcini this good we do not have in the states. The stems were sweet, fragrant, and savory. The caps creamy and custardy, almost like egg yolk. I consumed 5 plates of this during 3 nights in Rome.
-Fettuccini with white truffles. We ended up downing 4 plates of this. There were very generous shavings of white truffles. The aroma was so fragrant, you could smell orders from the other room. Superior in every way to white truffles I’ve had in the US even when compared to the highest end restaurants. Very reasonable at 45 euro.
-Risotto with cream, tomatoes, and shrimp. Risotto perfection defined. I don’t know what else to say. Another dish that tops any high end version I’ve had in the states
I’ll be back in April. La Campana is must see Rome landmark in my opinion.
Amazing wine list. Epic actually with some of the finest Italian wines you’ll see. Food was good. The rigatoni with oxtail ragu was good. The carbonara was good, the amatriciana. The fried porcini here were a failure compared to La Campana.
*La Mani in Pasta
Not worth trekking through the ghettos for and easily our worse meal in Rome. They sat all the tourists downstairs in the basement. Pasta was decent but not the same level as La Campana. Much of the seafood was frozen (and not just the shrimp). The best dish was the spaghetti with lobster. I did see that the upstairs had dishes that were not on the menu downstairs. So maybe if you’re local and Italian, you get a much higher standard. I asked if they had porcini, they told me no, but I noticed that they were on the counter upstairs on my way out.
In Florence, I returned to Nerbone in Mercato Centrale where I had my first Panini Bollito about 7 years ago. It was as good as I remembered, if not better. We also had a local, very opinionated and slightly bigoted and xenophobic driver who told us that Sostanza was toursity (it was, about 100% tourists) and that Omero was the only place in town still using Chianina beef.
*Nerbone. Another place that couldn’t miss. I ate here 3 times for lunch. Had 3 panini bollitos, ribollita, minestrone soup, braised veal shank, bollito zuppa, tripe fiorentina. Everything was deep flavorful and delicious. The tripa fiorentina was amazing good.
*Cibreo Caffe. Total ripoff. 19 euro appetizers and 30 euro entrees. The appetizers we had were a cream of porcini soup which was decent and a fish soup which was unremarkable. Entrees were an insult. Two 4 inch medallions of veal meatloaf at 30 euro and a very thin piece of veal under a torrent of sauce also 30 euro. Just horrible.
*Sostanza. Very toursity. In fact, it was pretty much 100%. Steak was very flavorful and good. Nice char, and definitely grilled over charcoal. The meat was not as good quality as Omero.
*Omero. Supposedly more local and much less touristy. It was. This is up on a hill beyond Piazza Michelangelo. The food was indeed out of this world good. The hearty vegetable soup with barley was immensely delicious and had amazing depth of flavor. The pasta with meat ragu was also perfect. The fried rabbit was the best fried rabbit I’ve ever had. It’s like the best fried chicken x 2. The bistecca fiorentina was not as salted and flavorful as the one at Sostanza but the meat was definitely a much higher quality and had a much better texture. Beautiful view of the city.