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Restaurants in Italy: The Best Italian Restaurants from Personal Recommendations

Restaurants in Italy are not all good, and like any country, you need to live in an area to know where the better places are to eat. When you travel to Italy you need to find the best Italian restaurants in a hurry. Through personal recommendations by other travellers your problems are solved.

The places recommended here are by people who have personally eaten in them, and have no reason to promote them other than the fact that they have had a good meal there, and the experience was good.

We also realize that sometimes you go to a good restaurant and the food and service is not what you expected. This could be for a number of different reasons; a new chef, a new manager, untrained staff, or just because what one person likes is not what someone else may find to their satisfaction.

We hope you take these into consideration when reading the reviews on Italy's restaurants.

And if you have a favourite place that you would like to recommend, please feel free. 

Top 10 Italian Restaurants for Fine Dining. These restaurants are not cheap but they serve food of an excellent quality that one would equate to that of Michelin chef status.

For italian restaurant reviews and recommendations have divided the regions up into:

Northern Italy, (See Below)

Central Italy 

  • Restaurants in Chianti, Tuscany
  • Restaurants in the Casentino Valley, Tuscany
See our page on Tuscan food recommending restaurants in Tuscany. These restaurants have been sanctioned by the Vetrina Toscana body as serving traditional food using traditional ingredients of high quality.

Southern Italy 

Just check that the restaurant that you are writing about falls under one of these regions. The first region we have here is for Northern Italy. The others can be found by following the links below.

Restaurants (Ristoranti, Trattorie) are frequented between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.  for luncheon (pranzo) and between 6.30 and 8.30 p.m. for dinner (cena).

Eating Al Fresco at a Restaurant in the Chianti Region of Italy


Italian Eating Customs:

Italians rarely have breakfast (colazione). Instead they have  a cup of cappuchino and eat a brioche or a cornetto or some other pastry while stading up at a coffee shop.

Lunch is their main meal of the day consisting of antipasto, then the primo piatto which is either a rice or pasta dish, followed by the secondo piatto which is either a meat of fish dish accompanied by either a salad or vegetables. This is sometimes followed by dolci - dessert, and a coffee.

Supper, or cena is a more simple affair,  with families having soup or cold cuts left over from lunch with a salad.

Meals in restaurants are usually served alia carta at moderate prices; tourist menus are not customary except in a few restaurants largely frequented by foreigners and are, in general, not recommended. When there is no menu the waiter (cameriere) will recite the list of dishes.

After the meal, ask for the bill (which should be carefully scrutiuized) with the words 'il conto, per favore'. The waiter will expect a small tip of the total price.

This is a list of the ordinary dishes at the Italian restaurants.

Staples:

Bread
Butter
Cheese
Chilli
Cooked Cornmeal
Cream
Eggs
Honey
Jam
Lemon
Oil
Olives
Pepper
Rice
Rice cooked in a broth
Salt
Sugar
Vinegar
Wholemeal Bread



pane
burro
formaggio
peperonico
poltenta
panna
uova
miele
mamellata
limone
olio
olive, ulive
peppe
riso
risotto
sale
zucchero
aceto
pane intergrale

Meat & Fish:

anchovies
beef
chicken
clams
cod
crab
cutlet of meat often crumbed
dentex
lamb
liver
lobster
mackerel
mussels
octopus
oysters
prawns
rabbit
sardines
sausage
sole
squid
steak
swordfish
tripe
tuna
turkey
veal


acciughe
manzo
pollo
vongole
merluzzo
granchio
cotoletta
dentice
agnello
fegato
aragosta
sgombro
cozze
polpo
ostriche
gamberi
coniglio
sarde
salsiccia
sogliola
calamari
bistecca
pesca spada
trippa
tonno
tacchino
vitello

Vegetables:

artichokes
asparagus
cabbage
carrots
chicory
eggplant
onion
peas
peppers
potatoes
spinach
string beans


carciofi
asparagi
cavolo
carote
cicoria
melanzane
cipolla
piselli
peperoni
patate
spinaci
fagiolini


Fruit:

apples
bananas
cherries
grapes
oranges
peaches
pears
strawberries



mele
banane
ciliegie
uva
arance
pesche
pere
fragole

Soup and Starters:

brodo
capaccio
insalata caprese
insalata di mare
minestrina in brodo
minestrone
olive ascolane
prosciutto e melone
ripieni
stracciatella

broth
very fine slices of raw beef
salad of sliced tomatoes with mozzarella and basil
seafood salad
pasta in a broth
vegetable soup
deep fried olives, usually stuffed with chicken livers
cured ham with melon
stuffed, oven-baked vegetables
eggs in a broth

Pasta Sauces:

al ragu
arrabiata
carbonara
matriciana
napoletana
panna
pesto
vongole


meat sauce like a bolognese sauce
tomatoes with chilli
egg, bacon, garlic and cream
tomatoes and bacon
tomates and basil
cream, prosciutto and sometimes peas
basil, garlic , olive oil and pine nuts
clams, garlic, olive oil, sometimes with tomatoes

Pizzas:

capricciosa

frutti di mare
funghi
margherita
napoletana
pugliese
quattro formaggi
quattro stagioni
verdura

tomatoes, mozzarella, olives, prosciutto, mushrooms and artichokes
seafood
tomatoes, mozzarella and mushrooms
tomatoes, mozzarella and oregano
tomatoes and anchovies
tomatoes, mozzarella and onions
with four types of cheese
same as capricciosa but sometimes with egg
tomatoes, mozzarella, mixed vegetables

Italian food is very regional. Below are some of the best dishes to taste in restaurants in Italy when you are travelling in the North of the country.

  • CANERDERLI: These are dumplings that can be found on the menus of restaurants in the Dolomites and Trentino. They are made from stale bread and usually speck, although the speck can be substituted with spinach, mushrooms or cheese etc. They are boiled in a broth and served together.
  • CARDI IN BAGNA CAUDA: The literal translation of bagna cauda is "hot sauce" and you will find this in Piedmont and Valle d' Aosta. It is a dipping sauce made from anchovies, thistles, garlic, olive oil and cheese.
  • COTOLETTA ALLA BOLOGNESE: A typical dish of Bologna where you have a cutlet, usually pork which is covered with cheese and a slice of ham and then finally covered totally with breadcrumbs and pan fried. Some may know this dish elsewhere as Wiener Schnitzel.
  • RISOTTO ALLA MILANESE: A dish from Lombardy which is a rice dish with saffron and made to accompany ossobuco.
  • TIRAMISU: A well-known dessert from Venice made from marscapone, biscuits, kahlua or amaretto and strong black coffee.

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