Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Sign in to follow this  
gruyere

Chianti Restaurants: Reviews & Recommendations

Recommended Posts

I enthusiastically recommend Il Guelfo Bianco, a smaller 3* hotel a couple of blocks north of the Duomo. It is nothing to look at from the outside (or indeed in the lobby), which belies the unbelievably huge and wonderfully furnished rooms within. The staff really goes above and beyond to help with reservations and other essentials. And, it is half the price (if not less) of the 4* hotels listed above. Il Guelfo Bianco is recommended by Karen Brown, who is by far and away the best source of good accomodations worldwide. Karen Brown's Website

On a food related note, Il Guelfo Bianco was somehow able to make a Saturday night reservation at I Latini for us -- and if you know anything about I Latini (see my review on another post), you will understand just how unbelievable that is.

Every Italian city has one three star hotel that puts the four stars to shame. This is the one in Florence.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
recommended by Karen Brown, who is by far and away the best source of good accomodations worldwide.  Karen Brown's Website

I found this Siena B&B on her website for a trip last fall. Though outside the city walls, it was an utterly fantastic place, what with local farmers shooting quail in the fields as we drove up. The common rooms and our expansive guest room were incredibly appointed, lots of beyond-antiques and so lying about. The only complaint was the once THEY voiced: it is expected that you take in one dinner with the sisters at the villa, and they were disappointed we could not accommodate that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not to be disagreeable but Il Latini is overpopulated with Americans eating mediocre food in, actually, a very interesting restaurant. Sostanza for bisteca would be far superior.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Every Italian city has one three star hotel that puts the four stars to shame.

This is absolutely true!!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Joe H, I don't find your comment at all disagreeable, and I agree that Il Latini is capable of mediocity, but also of quality at a really fair price. (I once watched my petite wife down a 2 1/2-pound bistecca fiorentina there, and it was outstanding.) In my view, it would be unfair to single out any restaurant in Florence for being full of Americans eating mediocre food. That is the case in MOST, in my experience, and the thing I like least about Florence. There is brilliant food there, too, but not available unless one takes out a second mortgage on one's home. I always opt for something like Il Latini or a pizza joint while staying in town, and then save my money and appetite for much finer dining at reasonable prices outside of Florence.


Bill Klapp

bklapp@egullet.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dont miss Il Ritrovo while you are in Florence. Mogsob recommended it on a previous thread and we visited when we were in Florence a few weeks ago. By far the best meal I had while in Florence. The bistec fiorentina was heavenly, at about 3 inches thick. The waitress brought out one for my wife and I to share (we saw the piece of meat uncooked first, as is customary) and my wife thought it was only for her. She looked absolutely stunned.

I was also very impressed by the pastas and the tiramisu. In fact, my wife said it is the best she has had, and as she is italian and her ex was an italian restauranteur, this was quite a compliment.

I strongly recommend Plotkin's book for this and any other trip to Italy. There is also a guide to food (including vineyards, olive growers, etc) specifically in Tuscany. I will see if I can track it down.


Thomas Secor

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Next week I am off to Italy to attend my sister in laws wedding. The reception is to be held at Badia a Coltibuono, so the food promises to be good.

Apart from hanging around in Chianti we will also be in Liguria for a week.

I have been in both regions many times and wish to try some of the more obscure regional dishes. Vegetable dishes in Liguria in particular. Does anybody have any suggestions?

Chhers

Adam

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Adam,

The first specialty of Liguria is foccacia col formaggio. olive oil rich thin flat bread stuffed with stracchino cheese. Restaurant Manuelina in Recco. Easy to get to from the autostrada.

By far the best meals we've had in Liguria were in Sestri Levante at Fiammenghilla del Fieschi. Stuffed zucchini flowers, ravioli filled with herbs, grilled baby octopus, fresh seafood, excellent wine list just let Gabriella Paganini (chef, owner) cook for you.

0185-481-041

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are actually 2 Ligurias: The Ponente, west of Genoa, and the Levante, east of Genoa. Where will you be?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Adam I'm not sure if the ones that follow are specialties of all of Liguria since my experience is mainly restricted to Genova and surroundings but I guess some of these are quite common throughout liguria. Now except the already mentioned focaccia al formaggio and Pesto (people in liguria take their pesto very seriously!):

-Stuffed vegetables: zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, onions and so on. Each sort should have a different stuffing. I was lucky enogh to eat some made by a very nice and expert old lady near Genova... mmhhh. Dee-lee-cious!

-Farinata, a chickpea flour flatbread (well sort of), together with focaccia the typical street food of Genova. This and the stuffed veggies are supposed to be quite common in the Nice area too.

-Pansotti al sugo di noci. Herb ravioli with a velvety and time consuming walnut sauce... You wave to peel every single walnut !!

If I remember properly the area inland of where you'll be (could be either on the tuscan or ligurian side of the border is famous for its chestnut products. Some sort of noodles made out from a sort of chestnut flour crepes cut in stripes is a remnant of the times when very little what was available, too bad I can't remember what they're called.

Alberto


Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Adam, (first at all i apologize for my english) in Liguria you can try everything with pesto (for example gnocchi al pesto or trofie, a kind of pasta), spaghetti or linguine ai batti-batti (a sort of little lobster), cozze ripiene alla spezzina (stuffed mussels in La Spezia style), risotto alla pescatora or risotto alla marinara (fisherman's risotto or seaman's risotto), fishsoup (zuppa di pesce), cima alla genovese (stuffed breast of veal), torta ai carciofi (artichoke cake), torta pasqualina (spinach, cheese, and eggs cake), torta di alici or acciughe (anchovies cake), torta di funghi (wild mushroom cake). If yuo're lucky you can taste ovoli in insalata (a kind of very rare wild mushroom served as a salad); ratatuia, mixed vegetables stew; every kind of fish and seafood, for example mussels (cozze), clams (vongole), squids (calamari, totani), sea truffles (tartufi di mare), seabass with herbs (branzino or spigola alle erbe); minestrone; ravioli di carciofi al timo (artichoke ravioli with time sauce); stuffed rabbit (coniglio ripieno), stuffed pigeons (piccioni farciti); castagnaccio (chestnuts cake), pinolata (pinenuts cake), torta paradiso (paradise cake).

Don't forget to visit "le cinque terre" (literally "the five lands), a very very nice place.

( http://homepage.sunrise.ch/homepage/avong/...g/cinque_terre/ or

http://www.5terre.com/FrameSet.php?LeftFil....e=HomePage.php.

it's also nice to visit Castelnuovo Magra, in the beautiful Magra valley, near Sarzana. If you decide to go to visit Castelnuovo, try this restaurant: Armanda, in piazza Garibaldi 6 (6, Garibaldi square), it's a very little restaurant, but very good and quite cheap.


Edited by giuliochef (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for the terrific advice!

Giuliochef - I love batti-batti, a very similar shovel-nosed lobster is common in Australia, where they are know as 'Moreton Bay Bugs' and 'Balmain Bugs'. The local supermarket in Edinburgh now sells trofie!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Adam!

since you're supposed to visit (if I understood well) the most eastern part of Liguria, I have a few more advice to add to the very exhaustive one from giuliochef.

Lunigiana is full of places where you can have Panigacci, the most typical specialty of the area. They're a kind of savoury pancakes, served hot with salumi and cheeses. Thay can also be boiled in water like a pasta, cut in squares and served with pesto, meat or mushroom sauce. In this case they're called Testaroli.

Another typical food of Eastern Liguria is Mesciua, a bean and pulse soup. And don't forget another traditional cake, Spongata- a sort of shortcrust pastry filled with honey, jam, nuts and spices.

Some good places where to eat:

-Locanda delle Tamerici, in Località Fiumaretta di Ameglia (pretty expensive and sophisticated)

-La Palmira in San Terenzo near Lerici (a small, friendly trattoria, renowned for its excellent fish dishes)

-the restaurant (which name I can't remember) on the main square of a small medieval village called Nicola; not only because of the good food, but also for the place, that is magic!

-The most famous place for Farinata is La Pia in La Spezia; they recently opened a new place which has lost the fashion of the former one but luckily their farinata is still the same :smile:

Pongi

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know it's too late, but my favorite website on earth for finding hotels is this:

ItalyGo.com

They also have pages devoted to Florence, Rome, Paris, the Riviera, Tuscany, Amsterdam and Venice. Exhaustive photography and details, and the site design itself is so beautiful and navigable.

For next time!

Ciao for now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you to everbody that offered their advise. I didn't eat quite as much as was suggested, because I ran out of time and once I got to Italy, I stuffed my self with fruit, which seemed to be extra good this year, maybe the drought?

In Liguria, I did manage to eat some farinata, which was quite difficult to find as many places that advertised it, did not make in any longer. I eventually found it watching some people coming out of a small alley with some farinata in their hands. Very nice, especially the crispy outer edges.

I know that tradionally the sea around Liguria isn't thought to be that rich in fish (although the amount of Fish resturants in Liguria suggests otherwise), so I was disapointed to observe a decline in quality this year. In some of the restuarants the Batti batti had been replaced with imported tiger prawns and in Rio Maggiore the fish cart was selling imported South Pacific Sea Bream ('Snapper' in Australia) cheaper then the locally caught Gilt headed Sea Bream. I could guess what was being served in some of the resturants.

Still the local anchovies were very good, as were the stuffed mussels from La Spezia, what a pity that date clams are now to endangered to eat.

I spent some time sampling as many vegetable tortes as possible in Liguria, it is often easy to forget the excellence of Veg in this part of the world in the free for all over seafood. Zucchini flower torte was exceptional. Not sure if it is tradional though?

Had trofie several times and was surprised to find out that it is actually a fresh pasta and that the dried form sold everywhere in Cinque Terra isn't traditional. Must be hellish to make by hand though.

Drank much local wine in Cinque Terra. Some was terrible some was delicious. What a pity that they good stuff wasn't marketed like the poor stuff. The best wine we had was the house wine in one of the restuarants, made by the owners family. It tasted like fruit and sunshine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Adam, I'm glad you had a nice time in Italy :smile:

I'm pretty surprised of your troubles in finding Farinata, which is generally available everywhere in Liguria (except, maybe, in the Riviera di Ponente). Don't be surprised if vegetable dishes are better than fish dishes in Liguria! Contrary to what is generally believed, Ligurian cooking is not a seafood one...seafood is mostly for tourists. Most Ligurian specialties are meat or vegetarian ones. Of course Trofie are a fresh pasta...and zucchini flower torta is traditional (like fried zucchini flowers).

As for stuffed mussels "alla spezzina", if you like them I can give you my MIL's recipe, which is by far the best one I have ever tried :smile:

Pongi

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Adam, I'm not sure if you've come across it before but Fred Plotkin's Recipes from Paradise is a fantastic guide to Ligurian food including a lot of recipes I don't think you'll find elsewhere. Its not available in the UK but you can order it from Amazon.com here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Elsewhere?

Actually you can find everything here...just ask me :smile:

As for stuffed mussels, I'll post the recipe ASAP!

Pongi

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I will be traveling to Italy in a few weeks and hope to rely on frequent ATM withdrawals so I only have to carry small amounts of cash day to day. (This worked very well on a recent trip to Paris.) I'm presuming that Rome, Venice and Florence will have plenty of ATMs, but does anyone know if I'll have difficulty finding them in Greve, Panzano and other towns in Tuscany? We'll be staying at a villa near Greve during the second week of our trip.

Thanks in advance.


Maria Gallagher

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My experience is that virtually every bank in all parts of Italy feature ATMs. I haven't taken a travelers check to Italy for several years.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...