The two cuisines I will never get tired of eating are Japanese and Italian.
This restaurant needs no introduction, San Pellegrino 50 Best Restaurants in the World – Ranked #1 in 2018, 3 Michelin Stars, etc etc.
I had tried to get a reservation the normal way. By logging into the reservation system on the day they released seats. Despite logging on early, I was #2,500 in the virtual line. I believe there are only 60 seats at lunch and dinner. Fortunately, American Express offered access and I jumped at the chance.
To start, there were a couple of amuses including the foie gras “popsicle”.
The Emilia-Romagna region of Italy is a less touristy area of the country, and has been described as a center of food in Italy. It is here that some of the greatest products of Italy, and possibly the world, are produced. Some examples include Parmigiano-Reggiano and Balsamic Vinegar. I was excited to be in Bologna and taste traditional Bolognese sauce. After years of making it at home, and eating it outside of Italy, I finally had a chance to taste the “real” sauce produced in its home, which I could then use as a reference point in the future.
Continuing with our journey through Emilia-Romagna, we spent a few days in the city of Parma. Our first dinner was at Cocchi, another traditional restaurant. The meal started off with a complimentary plate of one of the regions most famous foods – Parmigiano-Reggiano. Later in the trip, we would visit a farm producing this amazing cheese and be able to sample the differences in taste as the cheese ages.
For starters, we tried the Parmesan tart with mushrooms and prosciutto with torta fritta. Torta fritta are deep fried bread typical of the region. They are like pillows and very delicious with cured meats.
If I had to pick my favorite meal in Italy, and for sure top 10 of this year, this would be IT. La Filoma in Parma.
Lets start with the interior. It exuded old world European charm and elegance right when you walk in. Look at this place!
For starters, we had Culatello ham. This was my first time trying it, and it is WAY better than prosciutto. Love at first bite. Sliced so thin, you could read a newspaper through it, which, I have been told, is the sign of a good slice. Unfortunately, the product is not exported so its probably not possible to try outside of this region of Italy.
Another day in Parma another Trattoria. More pasta. Usually, when travelling, after a while, I start to notice that different restaurants have the same variation of the same dishes. It eventually becomes boring or repetitive. That is one of the benefits of living in North America food wise, immigration has resulted in many cities having a very diverse and interesting food scene.
In some countries, I get bored of the cuisine – not so in Italy. Despite eating similar things everyday, I did not tire of it. I also thought that eating a carb heavy diet would make me feel tired.
Relying on a hotel concierge for dinner recommendations is always a gamble. A lot of times, even when you tell them not to send you to a tourist place, they, for some reason, do so anyway. Maybe its a language barrier. Maybe they are getting a commission from the place. Who knows. Anyway, I was in Rome over Christmas so I needed help finding a good place that was open. I had my assistant coordinate with the hotel we were staying at and he recommended Ristorante Pizzeria Castello. For some reason, the place already sounded touristy.
This is the Rome and Italy I love. Since my trip to Emilia Romagna earlier this year, Italy has become my favorite place to eat in the world (Peru would be a close second). Roscioli is a deli and restaurant in Rome, and it did not disappoint.
It’s easy to have a poor meal in Rome. Just like Paris, there are a ton of places which cater to tourists. Although I observed the majority of people at Roscioli were tourists like us, the food was outstanding.
The last time I was in Naples, 9 years ago, I came in the evening and left in the morning. I never got to try pizza in its birthplace. This has bothered me till now. I was determined to have pizza in Naples.
Unfortunately, none of the “famous” places take reservations. There is ONE place that my hotel told me about that I will write about in the future, but its not one of “THE” places.
Anyway, based on my research, I had narrowed down the number of places I wanted to try to 4, and Sorbillo was the first. It was almost 40 degrees in Naples the day I went, and a 20 minute walk from our hotel.
Il Riccio is a one Michelin starred restaurant in Anacapri on the Island of Capri in Italy. Like most things in Capri, I found this place to be disappointing.
Lets start with the good, the place is beautiful. Its set on the side of the island with seafront views.
joking aside, how this place got a Michelin star is a mystery to me. Lets start with the reception. We arrived on time, but for whatever reason, they had us down for double the number of people. Whether this was the hotel concierge’s fault (who made the reservation for me) or the restaurant I will never know.
Villa Fiorentino (hotel and food review; greatest dinner with a view)
Villa Fiorentino is a family run, very boutique hotel in Positano, Italy. I would highly recommend this place if you are going to be staying in Positano.
First, the family still runs the place and the service is very warm and personal. The rooms, and bathrooms, are very clean. It feels more like an apartment than a hotel, because I believe it is a home that was converted into a hotel. The AC works very well. The whole place has, and is decorated in, old Italian Charm.
Chez Black is a popular beachfront restaurant in Positano. Our hotel made reservations for us, and when we arrived, it was very busy. We were seated fairly quickly though. The crowd is very good looking and its a great atmosphere there. While dining, a group came by and played live music and sang.
I choose this restaurant based on their famous uni pasta (riccio di mare in Italy). More on that later. To start, we had a blue fin tuna tartare. It was good, but just like everywhere I had it in Europe, I prefer the Japanese preparation.
Usually, my rule of thumb is that good views = mediocre food. This was not the case at da Costantino. In fact, this place was recommended to us by our driver. Not once did he mention the views. He promoted the food as the best in Positano.
About the meal. We started off with a Caprese salad which was average.
For my main lunch dish I had the Crespoline Al Formaggio. The driver told us this was the best dish of his life. I told him about the great bolognese pasta I had a few month prior, and he told me this would “easily top that”. It was a great exaggeration.