This post is purely dedicated to our Italian cuisine experience, good and bad. I can’t believe it took me three days to prepare this post!
It’s worth mentioning that our food budget was around 10 to 15 euros per meal but to be fair most places we checked out were within that range. I tried to take a picture of all of our meals but unfortunately sometimes we were too hungry we just dug in.
Before we start a couple of useful tips.
Most places have different prices for sitting down compared to takeaway. If you are not desperate to sit down and just fancy a snack, then don’t.
Also, most restaurants in Rome and Florence, I think all of the ones we’ve been, include service charge in the bill (for some of them it was unbelievably high e.g. 22%), so no need to tip.
Thank you to my lovely sisters for some of the photos on this post and helping me remember the names of the places we ate at. Love you.
Just to warn you, I got really hungry reading this and looking at the photos we took, so get a snack and a drink and enjoy.
Let’s start shall we?
We had our first meal in Florence at this cute little restaurant, L’Imperatore on one of the picturesque streets near San Lorenzo market. Stella (sister two) and I were not too hungry so we opted for a starter, grilled vegetables with melted mozzarella on top, and a ‘primo’ (first course) which is hot food heavier than a starter but lighter than a ‘secondo’ (second course) (check out Wiki for more on Italian meal structure). I had the beef cannelloni and Stella the ricotta cheese and spinach one, and our little duckling Anna was very hungry so she had pasta al pomodoro (spaghetti with tomato sauce, which was ‘very tasty, it doesn’t even need cheese’ in her own words) for a first course and grilled chicken with roast potatoes for second. All in all we enjoyed our meal so if you want decent and some of the cheapest food in Florence, give it a go!
After lunch we bumped into Mercato Centrale, this amazing indoors food court, which included a fancy cooking school we had a peak through the glass doors. We wished we hadn’t just had lunch so we could try some of the delicious food on display. I won’t say more about it, just look at the photos.
In the afternoon we sat at this pretty patisserie, Scudieri, just opposite the Florence Cathedral, which looked awesome but the counter lady was rude. And the tiramisu brought to me the first time was too runny so the lovely waiter didn’t want to give it to me and took it back. The second one he brought me was really nice and the chocolate cupcake the little one had was great but Stella found hers too sweet. We paid around 25 euros for three puddings and a bottle of still water (it cost 5 euros!!), which I think was too much considering the relatively poor service. We found water overpriced in most places in Florence and Rome so get water from a shop for a euro or two instead.
On our second day in Florence we had breakfast at Smalzi cafe. We had freshly prepared paninis and OK coffee. Friendly service, reasonable prices and AMAZING location. I could sit there admiring the views for hours.
We had lunch at Fiorino D’Oro on Piazza Della Repubblica. Decent food, brilliant location overlooking the square and good prices but the service was slow. It was busy but still.
In the evening we got to try the infamous Bistecca alla Fiorentina, delicious, juicy T-bone steak. It’s expensive in most restaurants, but is a very large dish and perfect for sharing. It took three of us to finish it. We had ours plus a delicious margherita at Le Cappelle Medicee. This was one of my favourite meals. Friendly staff who also offered us limoncello shots on the house, good prices and another great location near the Cathedral.
On Day one at Roma we had the worst meal ever. We were exhausted and starving so we sat at the first cafe we saw, Bar Cottini. It wasn’t very clean, service was slow and we had the most horrible, greasy pizzas. We didn’t even finish them despite our hunger and we didn’t take any pictures! If you ever come across it, avoid it!
On the contrary, our next meal, dinner at Ristorazione Alimentare Romana, I think, (I remember the street, I actually found it on Google maps but there are a couple of restaurants there, is the first one you find on this cute, quiet side street, but it might not be because the food was good but the TripAdvisor reviews are horrible) was really nice. They used fresh pasta for their carbonara, which makes a huge difference to the palete and their capricciosa pizza was decent, although I still can’t understand why the ingredients were clearly divided in two halves.
From day two to our very last day, breakfast was delivered to our room by our lovely hotel owner, Helena. Fresh croissants, coffee and orange juice.
We then had a quick lunch at this small, cute, quirky cafe near the Colosseum, Cafe Cafe. Loved the decoration and our freshly prepared sandwiches. Good prices and service and the music in the toilet activated as soon as you sit on the toilet seat made me laugh.
We grabbed some ice-cream at Gelateria ai Cerchi on our way back from Tiber island. Their lemon flavour was not the best but their pistacchio was super scrummy.
For dinner we visited a bakery close to our hotel, Bakery Roscioli Pietro, which I found out about online as it had great reviews. We had pizza by the meter, a white one/’bianca’ (no tomato sauce) with thinly cut potatoes and a prosciutto with cheese one. They were very tasty but I think we were overcharged! We paid 35 euros just for the pizza and for that amount of money we could have had a nice pizza at a proper restaurant. We bought desserts from there as well, which were alright but not to our like. They did have a great selection though!
Day three kicked off with a very average snack at a cafe in the train station. I can’t remember the name but it was the last one on the top floor. I wouldn’t recommend it.
We had great dinner though at Osteria La Mucca Biricchina, which was one of our favourite meals of the whole trip. Reasonable prices and delicious food! Little sister had a Carbonara Calzone (it was massive!), I had Bucatini all’amatriciana (pasta with smokey tomato sauce, bacon and parmesan) and Stella had Spaghetti Bolognese. I loved the traditional, cosy decoration as well. I highly recommend this restaurant!
On our way back we got delicious pudding from Mercato Centrale, the food court next to Roma Termini train and metro station. If you are ever at the train station or near it and you fancy a snack or a meal avoid the cafes/restaurants at the station and go here instead. You won’t regret it!
On our penultimate day, we had lunch at the Vatican museums canteen. Avoid like the plague if you are not that hungry. Very slow service due to the crazy amount of people, horrible food, at least what we had, an army of pigeons was ready to attack our plates at any point, they fly VERY close to your head and grab bread as soon as it drops to the floor or left unattended on the table, and we were served by a very rude waiter.
We had a drink at a little cafe/restaurant near Ottaviano metro station, Tavola Calda Pizzeria Caffetteria. That’s where I had the worst cup of tea (the tea bag must have been really old, at least that’s how it tasted)! And the decoration was horrendous! Definitely avoid if you can.
We had nice dinner back at Mercato Centrale. At that point we wanted a break from all the pizza and pasta so I had a juicy beef burger in a tasty bun, Stella had the Italian version of Greek souvlaki/skewers with a variety of different meats (chicken, pork and italian sausage) and delicious roast potatoes and our duckling had roastbeef which was nice but not what she expected as it was thin layers of cold beef with salad.
On our final day we had the best pizza to all the ones we tried in Rome, at Ai Tre Tartufi on Piazza Navona. Delicious pizzas (margherita and bacon bianca) with the best crust compared to the rest of the pizzas we had, but crazily expensive bottle of water, the most expensive in Rome and Florence, at least at the restaurants we’ve been, 6.50 euros!!!!
On our way back we bumped into one of our now favourite places in Rome, Venchi Ice Cream and Chocolate shop. When you visit Fontana di Trevi and Pantheon, you must pop into Venchi for the tastier, most delicious ice cream! You can smell the chocolate from the outside luring you in, their feature chocolate wall made us crave chocolate even more and they have a chocolate tap (YES, they do!!) they use to pour chocolate on top of ice cream or cornet. My photos don’t do it justice.
Venchi is a large Italian gourmet chocolate manufacturer and I found out they have a branch in London as well. I don’t usually support big chains but I’d definitely recommend Venchi purely based on the quality of their chocolate and ice cream.
Here’s a Youtube video of the chocolate wall!
We had our last drink at Angelo Cafe near Piazza della Repubblica. Nice cafe, fast service and not lovely views.
We had some food at a couple of places at the airport, which was ridiculously overpriced and mediocre so I’d recommend to take some food from town or eat before you go. You will still unfortunately have to get ridiculously overpriced water after you go through security.
All three of us love Italian Cuisine, pizzas, pasta, sandwiches and desserts and despite some bad food, we thoroughly enjoyed our Italian culinary experience.
I hope you enjoyed our food journey in Florence and Rome. I’m off to have some dinner!
Next post will be on Friendfest, a gorgeous day in London with lovely friends checking out memorabilia and the sets from our favourite TV show Friends 🙂