Hello Chowhound Friends,
We are just back from ten days in above cities. As I profited from your advice allow me to report. Background: we are a family of five traveling, kids 17, 15, & 12 ( all with hearty appetites) and we ate mostly pescatarian ( with a few exceptions).
Rome: Day #1: highlights: pizza ebraica at Boccione in the ghetto and excellent gelato at Fatamorgana on our way to see Moses. Dinner was wonderful at Roscoli, excellent ingredients simply but creatively prepared.
Day #2 - superb family tour of Vatican with WalksinRome ( which got us to Sistine chapel early when it was almost empty!) then walked to Travestere and very good pizza at Renella.
Day #3 - Highlight was Sunday lunch at Piperno: wonderful, Old World service, elegant Roman crowd and lovely food. Fulfilled life-long dream of caciofi alla guidia in Rome. Disappointments: some miscommunication about our fish ordering yielded three roasted fish, not the variety of preps for which we'd hoped, and the chef had gone before we ordered dessert so we did not get any of their famous "grandpa's balls."
Day #4 - spent the day with Chowhound star Elizabeth Minchilli on a tour of Testaccio. I HIGHLY recommend this, especially getting out of city center. In addition to excellent food treats and bites, it was wonderful to learn about regular Roman life ( shopping, health care, rent control, apartment politics). Highlight was carciofi all romano from cart in market, with some cheese, on a roll - definitely in the running for best bite of whole trip! Elizabeth was knowledgable and welcoming, and got us royal treatment at Flavio's ( best cacio e pepe of trip). Also excellent gelato at Giolitti.
Day #5 - discovered Roscoli bakery - stunningly beautiful pizza and baked goods. Ricotta pie with chestnuts! Excellent tour of Colosseum and Forum, again with WalksinRome. Very good gelato at Alberto Pico ( Panna not as good as Giolitti). Special dinner at Armando al Pantheon: smoked herring over beans and red onion, pasta with garlic, oil and red pepper, tonnarelli in cod ragu was also one of highlight of whole trip. Indulged in the guinea fowl and duck - both standouts - grouper on a bed of artichokes and potato. I am never so as happy when I can end a meal with a pear poached in wine with prunes. Old school Cucina Romano.
Day #5 - Off to Florence, Dinner at Sostanza was fun and quick - chicken in butter is everything you hear. Bistecca was not classic T-bone, but was delicious.
Day #6 - breakfast at La Menagerie ( just below our rental apartment), fun space and vibe. Lunch at Nerbone in central market was great - just what you'd expect: quick, hearty and delicious. Very good ribbolita. Dinner at at Trattoria Cibreo was a bit disappointing - was back off meat, so we may have missed their best, but portions were smaller than we'd seen and much was under-seasoned. Very warm and welcoming waiter though.
Day #7 - began with excellent tour of Uffizi with Florencecustomtours, who did a great job teaching kids and exposing us to the high points of the collection. Highly recommended.
Dinner was at Ora d'Aria - the high end meal of the trip and a lifetime meal. Lovely and gracious service with creative and beautiful food. Too many memorable dishes to list, check out their menu. Easy to have a fabulous meal without meat ( although again indulged in pigeon). All of us will talk about meal for some time.
Day #8 - too full and happy to eat much more as we wandered though Oltrarno picking up bites and treats. Excellent schiacciata and other baked goods at S.Forno Panificio.
Day #9 - off to Venice. Fun cicchetti at Vini Da Gigio (nothing artsy, but yummy). Splendid dinner at Anice Stellato - lovely service, venetian classics all updated and done with great care. Excellent wine list. Highly recommended. All excellent.
Day #10 - in and out of bakeries and chocolate shops. I couldn't find anything again if I tried, so . . . spent the evening on a cicchetti crawl. Best was Cantine del Vino gia Schiavi, which is right near the remaining gondola repair yard, so that was fun. Ca D'Oro alla Vedova was disappointing although welcoming.
Alas, and now home. Big food regrets: 1) not enough time and 2) not making it to Bonci's Pizzarium in Rome or 3) Vini e Vecchi Sapori in Florence ( tried twice, but could not get in or a reservation). Which brings me to: reservations are important, even for the rustic little place. If you are reading about it, others are too.