|I T A L I A
|****Buca di Sant Antonio:**** via della Cervia, Lucca The Buca di Sant Antonio (buca means inn or tavern) has been an inn and
dining establishment since at least the late 1700's. Today it is still a well-known and respected restaurant and, in our experience, deservedly so.
The menu focuses on local dishes and tradition. For instance, being the adventuresome soul that I am, I ordered the goat for the second
course. It was very good, surprisingly tender with a mild taste (I sort of expected tough and gamey). I would definitely order it again. There
are many interesting and unusual (at least for our palettes) starters as well. The restaurant has a planned rustic ambience that makes a pleasant
dining environment. The service and staff are polished, quite experienced and very personable. (This night we used a baby sitter for Casey and
so enjoyed a nice, adult-only interlude in the trip.) Reservations appear to be important here. Closed Sunday night and Monday.
Website Tel: 0583 5581 Fax: 0583 312199 e-mail: email@example.com
|**L'Altana:** 1 Via di Mezzo, Barga: We accidently stumbled onto.this little restaurant right inside the gateway into the centro storico.
It was a good stumble! It is right to your left as you go in. We arrived late in the afternoon and were the last people seated before they began
to close. This in no way affected their treatment of us. We were not hurried in ordering or eating. In fact, we had the normal, usual,
everyday, ordinary, often frustrating experience of having to nearly beg to settle the bill. I had pasta and Ken had risotta--along with a shared
starter. L"Altana is not fancy but has a series of attractive little rooms. I understand that there is a soup served here that is excellent--too bad
we didn't know that when we went. This is a nice place to go for a simple, pleasant, good meal. Since eating there, I have had a Lucca
resident speak very highly of the restaurant. Tel: 0583-723192
|***Ristorante Antico Pignolo:*** Calle Specchieri 451, Venice. This restaurant was recommended by the concierage at our
hotel after we were not able to make reservations at our restaurants of choice. It is not recommended by us!! It is a "fine dining" ristorante
with a menu to match. When we arrived, the matire'd was less than welcoming even though our reservations had been made by one of the 5*
hotels and we were dressed appropriately. However, our waiter and the rest of the service staff were quite warm and appropriate in their
services. The meal was good but not spectacular or memorable--which it should have been-with stars exploding and bands playing-- for the
obscene amount of the bill. It was totally, completely over priced with no way to look at it differently than this. It ended up being the most
expensive meal of our trip and clearly not worth it. When we spend this kind of money, we expect only the best in everyway. This restaurant
failed on all counts.
|***Mercato Coperto Cafeteria:*** Via IV Novembre, Ravenna If you can, try not to miss the fun of eating here. It is in the
huge market building which is open from 7 am until around 2 pm (14:00) each day. The market itself is a great wandering place in the
morning--fresh produce, cheeses, meats, odds and ends, pastries, fish, etc. All fresh and of highest quality. I always bring home a big hunk
of cheese from Italy and this is where I got it this year.
The cafeteria is a product of the market stands and merchants. There are sections with fresh pastas, pizza, soups, salads, pastries, fish, just
about any type of prepared food you would hope for. And----it all looks wonderful. Judging by the things we got, it is all wonderful. It is
very attractively arranged, super clean, etc. Can't imagine anyone not enjoying it here. A fun, lively and vibrant place.
|Side note: For gelato lovers--isn't
everybody? Find Sorbetteria Degli
Esarchi--Via IV Novembre 11 in
Ravenna. They have great fruit sorbets
and wonderful gelato--take your pick.
This is on the Piazza del Popolo end of
IV Novembre. They do close for a
while in the afternoon--as does just
about everything in Ravenna. Things
seem to reopen around 5 pm (17:00).
|**Ristorante All'Olivo:** Piazza S. Quirico, Lucca We had read some good things about this restaurant, including that it was not
overly expensive so when we walked by it, we decided to make reservations for that evening. Unfortunately and to our shame, when checking
the displayed menu, we somehow overlooked the prices so were a little taken back by the prices once we got there. Both Ken and I ordered
shellfish plates of crawfish, giant prawns and scallops which were good but not really anything special. Ken ordered caprese but,
unforgiveably, the tomatoes were somewhat dry and tasteless. The service was quite good and the outside dining loggia was pretty and nicely
done. Again, Casey was treated well--love the way the Italian culture values children. This was one of our most expensive meals and, even
more than La Grotta in Montepulciano, was overpriced. For this reason, I would not recommend it. If prices were lower, I would recommend
it for the pleasant ambience and excellent service and even for the food as it was good--just not good enough to justify the bill. Closed
Tel: 0583 496264 Fax: 0583 493129
|**Cappello Cantina:** Via IV Novembre, 41, Ravenna This is a cute little cantina with good food, friendly staff, good prices in an
historic building. The cantina/wine bar has just a few tables outside when weather permits. It is on the lower floor of the Albergo Cappello, a
charming hotel in the hearat of Ravenna. The menu consists of pastas, sausage and cold meats, salads and sandwiches. The cheeses and
meats are sliced when you order. There is a pretty impressive wine selection. We really enjoyed this place and its relaxed, comfortable
atmosphere. We were there for lunch and would have gone for dinner but, unfortunately, it was closed most of the time we were in
Ravenna. Closed Sunday night and Monday. Across the inner hallway from the cantina is the more formal Ristorante Cappello. We did not
have a chance to eat at it. Tel: 0544-219876
|***Spasso Bistrot:*** Via Mura d.S.Vitale,10, Ravenna: Recommended. This is a small restaurant on the street leading to S.
Vitale. The owner of the Cappello Cantina recommended it to us. We truly enjoyed it here--both the food and the most charming, delightful
waiter. Had a wonderful red fish appetizer (or maybe it was the second plate). Pastas were good and so was dessert. We ate outside along
the narrow, quiet street. The inside area is also nice. Good food--wonderfully pleasant ambience, nice people. They were exceptionally nice
to Casey. Think you will like this place.
|***Trattoria Antica Locanda Di Sexto:*** Via Lodovica, Seste di Moriano (north of Lucca a few km.) We really enjoyed
coming to this trattoria. It is nice short drive out of Lucca in a charming location right next to the better known (and more expensive)
Ristorante La Mora. We had thought we would go to La Mora but it was suggested by a local that we go here instead. We did not regret
following the advice as we had an excellent, traditonal Tuscan meal in a nicely atmospheric 14th century inn. The "Sexto" is well known for its
steaks and they are outstanding. Ken had gnocchi with bluecheese and steak and I had a good mushroom pasta and a plateful of delicious "litte
trout". They were so good that I wish I had some right now. The house red wine, which everyone seemed to order, was very good. The
atmosphere here is upbeat--a sense of the joy and conviviality that is inherently Italian. Reservations are recommended. We went on a Sunday
night and needed them. Closed Saturday.
Tel: 0583 578181 Website (e-mail link on webpage)
|***Ristorante Al Conte Pescaor:*** S. Marco-S. Zulian 544,
Venice. We enjoyed our meal here. It was so hot in Venice (all of Italy) at
this time that we sought places with a/c. The usual pleasure we take in
dining outside was not an option. The Al Conte Pescaor has a nice sized
patio dining area across the lane from the ristorante itself--which is
air-conditioned. That fact combined with a decent looking menu convinced
us to go in. Now, we can recommend it for its food, staff and service. All
three were good. And-------they took good care of Casey. The food is not
fancy or high-cuisine--just tastes good and is prepared well. It is not what
one chooses when wanting "fine dining" but, then it avoids the
pretentiousness of such places. The ristorante says of itself: "Typically
Venetian Restaurant with fish specialities.
Tel/Fax: 041522 1483
|Of course, we ate many places not mentioned here but either they were 1.) not noteworthy (one way or the other) or 2.) I simply didn't keep
track of them and now have them buried deep in my Italian subconscious,
One caveat to all that I have said: Most of these comments are made from just one dining experience at an establishment so it is quite possible
that they do not reflect what would be found on another day, another time. What I rave about may disappoint; what I pan may be marvelous
if and when you go. If you disagree with something I write, feel free to let me know and just maybe your thoughts will be included to
counterbalance mine. Fair enough?