Sunday, May 12, 2013

Apps, Blogs and Twitter

Katie Parla is m favorite Roman food writer. Her App: "Katie Parla's Rome" and her Blog: are both tremendous resources.  The app is great because you can get the info without using any international data charges.

For info about the towns surrounding Rome, @lazioexplorer is a good follow on twitter.

Positano - Da Adolfo

Da Adolfo is one of the more interesting restaurants I have been to.  It is a tiny little place directly on the sea.  There is no road access, so it must be reached by boat from Positano.  At lunch time, Da Adolfo sends there boat to the pier in Positano to pick up customers.  The boat is pictured below, and is easily identified by the red fish that says Da Adolfo.  We actually missed the boat, and took a water taxi instead.  It is a 10 - 15 minute ride.

When you arrive, this is what you see.  It is not a fancy place,  but it is absolutely magical.  It is located in a teeny little cove.  I think people go there to swim and spend the day, as well as to eat. 

Here us on the patio:

And now, onto the food.  When we arrived, we were the only people there, and possibly the last people before they closed for the winter.  They asked us what wanted to eat, and we responded, whatever they were eating.  We did order appetizers, one of which is a dish for which they are famous: mozzarella grilled on lemon leaves:

Links to Some Articles About Italy from the Last Few Years

36 hours in Torino – NYT 2012 -

From The New York Times:
36 HOURS: 36 Hours in Perugia,
Perugia, in the central
 Italian region of Umbria, is an enchanting hilltop city with a compact historic center that is a rambling maze of medieval streets.

From The New York Times:
BITES : Restaurant Report: Venissa, on Isola di Mazzorbo,
The emphasis is on all things local at this restaurant on a restored estate on the island of Mazzorbo, a half-hour’s boat ride from Venice.

From The New York Times:
A Gothic Tour of
While its food and scenery command devotion, the country’s catacombs, skulls and castles offer a tantalizing glimpse into its violent past.

From The New York Times:
EUROPE ISSUE: Cucina dell’Arte: High-End Dining in
A quest for a different kind of eating in
 Italy, one that swaps the simple plate of pasta for art on a plate: maccheroni soufflĂ©, urchin risotto and caviar-and-chocolate for dessert.

In Rome, Small Artisanal Gelato Chains Thrive

Where do Romans Eat in Rome? 5 Restaurants Recommended by Locals
Dining in Rome: Flavio al Velavevodetto with Tavole Romane - Food Lover's Odyssey

Cesare Al Casaletto {Rome}

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Roma - Tourist Tips

This is predominately a blog about food, beverage and restaurants, so I will try to keep the site seeing tips brief.  The 2 things that really blew us away last trip were both things we did for the first time.  The Galleria Borghese and The Forum.

Galleria Borghese and Borghese Park- the Galleria Borghese is a former Cardinal's palace that sits inside Borghese Park.  The Galleria is filled with works of art and sculpture.  The most impressive works were the collection of Bernini sculptures.  I cannot say that I new much about Bernini sculptures before this visit.  But, after I am definitely a fan.  This museum took about 2 hours to see.  Reservations are required, a it is a rather small museum.  Before or after, take some time to walk around Borghese Park, as it is incredibly beautiful.

The Forum - In the afternoon of that same day we visited the Galleria Borghese, we went to the Forum.  The Forum is right near the Colliseum, so it is possible to see the outside of the Collisuem and get pictures on your way to the forum.  I think the Colliseum is best viewed from the outside, so this works out perfectly.  We were absolutely fascinated being inside the Forum.  It was incredibly beautiful, and was on of those places where you can almost feel energy from the enormity of the history of the place.  Definitely, bring a guide book to help with what you are looking at.  We used Sloan's favorite, Rick Steves.  The light in Rome is absolutely incredible, you can almost tell in my pictures, as I am in no way a photographer.

The Pantheon - I think the Pantheon is actually open 24 hours.  It is an easy place to visit for 15-20 minutes, as you make your way to one of the nearby espresso meccas!

Tour by Taxi - on the list trip to Rome, we made a habit of having our taxi drivers stop at a famous piazza or fountain on the way home to the hotel.  This is probably the best tourist tip we have to offer.  We visited Piazza Navona, the Trevi Fountain, the Maltese Embassy and the Colliseum this way.  Another time, the driver waited while I ran into Tazza D'Oro for an espresso.  Every taxi driver we had was incredibly nice, they will all gladly wait a few minutes for you while you run out to take a picture of whatever you are seeing.  Something like the Trevi Fountain is best viewed at night with less people around, and really only takes 5 minutes.  Even though the fountain was still swarmed by agressive Bengalis hawking trinkets at 11PM in the rain in January.  The traffic in Rome is not bad at night either.  Be sure to tip, and the driver will be your best friend, as Italians don't.

The Maltese Embassy - This is a little far out, but not far from Trattoria Monti.  The embassay is in a beautiful section of town. What makes it famous is the key hole on the gate.  If you look through the key hole, it perfectly frames St Peters which is way in the distance.  It is a cute oddity.  There will be guards an people there at all hours of night.

St Peters and The Sistine Chapel - these are probably both something you need to do if you have never seen them, although they are definitely a production.  On our honeymoon, we did go to see the Sistine Chapel, we waited about an hour to get in, and then once inside were hoarded through on a packed march with thousands of others.  After walking through a large museum, you slowly trudge through the chapel.  It is a shame that is becomes really hard to appreciate.  I have read that they do small private tours in the evenings.  This is sure to be very expensive, but might be worth it for the real art lover.  On this trip, we did not make it into St Peter's because it was way too crowded.  If you are visiting both of these sites, plan a whole day.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Roma - Expensive Hotel Cocktails

This is my first post about expensive hotel cocktails, there will definitely be more.  I am a strong believer that vacationing in a big city requires a few stops at nice hotels to have a civilized drink.  Hopefully, where you are staying has a nice bar.  In Italy, cocktails are not a huge part of the culture, so hotel bars are often the best place to find a nice cocktail.  We haven't found too many cocktail spots in Rome, but the ones have found, are good ones.

The Hotel Eden:
Via Ludovisi 49

We were lucky enough to stay at the hotel Eden on both of our trips to Rome.  The hotel is  not far from the Spanish Steps, the Via Veneto or Borghese Park.  On the top floor of the hotel there is a nice bar where you can have a cocktail and see all of Rome.  From their windows you can see St Peters and the top of the Spanish Steps.  It is a great way to appreciate the 7 hills of Rome.  It could be worth a trip on a clear night. 

Traveling in style back to the hotel Eden.

The Hassler:
Piazza TrinitĂ  dei Monti 6

The Hassler is perhaps the most famous hotel in Rome.  It sits directly at the top of the Spanish Steps, so this is an easy place to grab a drink during a long day of site seeing.  The hotel is very old school, and a little stuffy.  It has a beautiful lobby lounge, and a nice bar in the back.  We were having a drink there late one Monday when Tom Cruise came striding through the lobby.  He was in town to promote Valkerie.  The Hassler is that kind of place.  In the picture below, it is to the right of the church, behind the palm tree.

The Hotel de Russie:
Via Del Babuino 9

The Hotel de Russie is a much more modern hotel than either the Eden or the Hassler.  This hotel is located on Babuino, the main high end shopping street in town, not far from the Piazza del Popolo an the Spanish Steps.  We did a quick walk through the lobby on our last trip, and it was absolutely gorgeous.  There seemed to be a beautiful bar, and an amazing interior courtyard.  The spa looked pretty amazing as well.  We are hoping to stay there on our next visit to Rome.  

Roma - Osteria La Gensola

Osteria La Gensola
Piazza della Gensola 15RomeItaly

Osteria La Gensola was a very nice osteria in Trastevere neighborhood.  Trastevere is a very cool neighborhood of small streets on the other side of the Tiber river.  We have only been there twice at night.  I would definitely like to walk the cobblestoned streets during the day one trip.  

This was the one restaurant that Riccardo made us promise we would try on our 2009 trip.  Riccardo had a cousin who used to be a regular of the restaurant, we were instructed to tell the Chef that we were his friends.  The chef was definitely a spirited host and cook.  We agreed to do a tasting menu and were well rewarded.  

For those who know NYC Chefs, this guy has a striking resemblance to Tom Valenti!  Truth be told, they are similar in appearance and personality!  See Below, that is him on the right with the beard:

There is serious cooking happening at La Gensola, the chef is very talented.  There is a definite Sicilian influence to the menu.  Sicilian seems to be a popular cuisine of the moment in Rome.  Truth be told, I dont really love Sicilian food.  But, this meal had many hits.

Pictured above are some excellent panelle: or fried chick pea fritters very similar to the southern French panisse.

Next, the Sicilian theme continued in a dish of gamberetti over cous couse.  They were delicious.  Then Sloan started her nightly truffle tour with:

A dish of tagliarini with truffles and a truffle omelette, and Sloan was a happy lady.  Did I mention she likes truffles?

That is all of the food I have pictures of, and really remember.  We definitely enjoyed our meal.  You may well want to have a dinner in Trastevere, as it is definitely a hip food neighborhood.  This would be a good choice for a fun meal in a trattoria with modern ambitions.  I am not, however, dying to go back.  I think maybe this is due to the heavy influence of the food and wine from Sicily.  It felt a little weird to be eating Sicilian food while in Rome.  You know what they say......  Either way, La Gensola is definitely a good restaurant.

Roma - Gusto

Piazza Augusto Imperatore 9

'Gusto is a complex of restaurants on the Piazza Augusto Imperatore.  The complex is located short walk from the Piazza del Popolo.  'Gusto could be a good choice for a lunch more casual than Dal Bolognese.  The main thing about the restaurants is the design, they are drop dead gorgeous.  All the places are highly designed in the "Keith McNally type style."  There is a ristorante, a pizzeria, a salumeria, a retail store etc.  We just went and looked at the menus.  It is a little confusing, but I think we ended up in the pizzeria.  

The food was good, nothing memorable.  Other than Sloan's quattro formaggi pizza which was a real belly bomb.

This thing must have weighed 2 pounds, and easily could have fed 4 people.  There was really nothing traditional or special about it, but it was good in the guilty pleasure type of way.  I dont remember anything else we ate, but I do remember the rooms.  Gorgeous room shots below:

In conclusion, the 'Gusto complex is pretty cool, but is more about beautiful design than food.  Riccardo says that they are famous in Rome for serving an American style brunch.  But, please dont eat an American style brunch in Italy!  You need to save room for 4 courses at lunch and dinner with snacks in between.
I would definitely recommend going for lunch, but for dinner the food might not be special enough.