1) On our first night in our first stop of Naples, we had dinner at the Sea Front Pasta Bar. We sat at a u-shaped bar surrounding the chefs making our meal. We had a three course pasta tasting menu, complete with wine pairings. Our first wine was a bright prosecco that made us very happy. The first pasta they made for us was my favorite of the three, a linguine with a very light lemon/olive oil sauce. It was perfection.
2) On day two in Naples, our guide Vincenzo took us to what he promised was the best gelato we'll have in Italy and I'll be darned, he was right. If you go to Naples, you must stop in at Il Gelato Mennella. It's a tiny shop, but they have lots of interesting flavors, and I can highly recommend the pistachio. It was fabulous.
3) While researching restaurants at our second stop in Sorrento, La Locanda del Gusto had great reviews on TripAdvisor. A small restaurant, with just two dozen seats, the owner and only chef, Chef Carmen, ran a well-respected cooking school for years in Sorrento before opening up her own restaurant last year. We were all very happy with our entrees, including a Misto Salad, Lasagna, and my favorite, homemade gnocci that was light as a pillow in a silky tomato sauce. We went back for a second evening it was so good. Their house wine was fantastic too.
4) We moved on to the small town of Montalcino in Tuscany. Our traveling companions had been to the town many times, and took us to an authentic little old restaurant, Osteria di Porta al Cassero. It was filled with townspeople as opposed to tourists, and we were made to feel very much at home. We started with a lovely Brunello wine, and I ordered the Cinghiale, a specialty of the house. It's a wild boar stew over polenta. I'd never had wild boar and it wasn't gamey at all, rather it melted in your mouth. I made a good choice!
|Cinghiale over polenta|
5) Last year when we went to Florence, we ate at a terrific restaurant, Antico Ristora di Cambi. No one there really spoke English, and our poor waitress acted out the entire menu that was in Italian. They must have gotten a lot of English-speakers from their great TripAdvisor reviews because this year when we returned, we had the same darling waitress, but she spoke more English and the menu was in Italian and English. We sat near the prep area and watched the owner prepare the charcuterie platters, including cutting the proscuitto right off the leg. We ordered the specialty, Bistecca di Florentina. When my husband tried to order it medium, our waitress shook her head and said "No". They just sear the beef on each side briefly, and then it's brought to your table. They gave us a smaller piece and it was the best beef we have ever had. They serve it on a platter with a side of salt, just the way I like it.
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