Le Mani in Pasta (Rome, Italy)

I’m going to be 100% honest when I say that we included a night in Rome during our honeymoon just so we could eat at Le Mani in Pasta, finally, after having discovered it in 2010 and not being able to eat here at that time. I wrote about our evening in Trastevere right here. To say that we had high expectations after 4 years of anticipation would be a gross understatement.

This time, we were taking no chances on eating here. We had our hotel (the Abitart) make a reservation for us immediately upon our arrival and headed to the Trastevere neighborhood early to have a quick glass of wine nearby before dinner.

We arrived to the unassuming, bustling restaurant five minutes prior to our reservation time and they were getting our table ready. To pass the time, we busied ourselves with reading the menu and planning our attack. Do not let the fact that the font is in Comic Sans fool you. They’re serious about food.

Le Mani in Pasta

Planning our attack.

We then were shown to our table, and walked approximately 5 steps inside the venue and took our seats, sitting just inside the front windows.  Our cheerful server greeted us with menus and the wine list, and our Roman culinary adventure commenced.

Le Mani in Pasta

Waiting for the culinary bonanza to begin!

We brought our appetites that night. Our first real meal since our wedding reception night (which, as many of you married folks know, is usually not a night where you actually get to eat a lot – being insanely busy), we threw down on some serious Italian and Roman specialties. It was the survival of the fittest. You’ll see why. Continue reading

Get Your Sleep On – Altarocca Wine Resort (Orvieto, Italy)

Altarocca Wine Resort is a fantastic retreat for those who want to get away from it all, but also who want to visit the nearby town of Orvieto during their stay. We stayed here for 2 nights in the middle of our Honeymoon, on our way to a longer stay in Tuscany and on the Italian Riviera.

We actually added this hotel and stop to our itinerary after, while I was doing my research, I noticed that a friend of mine from the UK had just stayed here and had posted some photos on Facebook of his stay. I had to find out where this place was. Luckily, my friend answered my frantic FB chats almost immediately and gave me some info and his full recommendation.

Full disclosure: I formerly worked for a company in Argentina that has built and now operates a wine resort and spa in Mendoza, and I really wanted to see Altarocca Wine Resort especially due to my love of wine and curiosity!

We arrived just before dusk, which was unfortunate because the views from the resort are simply amazing.

Altarocca Wine Resort

One of the views from Altarocca Wine Resort

You really feel like Continue reading

Alla Vecchia Bettola (Florence, Italy)

Our Florence hotel concierge  (Cosimo at Villa Tolomei) recommended Alla Vecchia Bettola for dinner one chilly, late October night during our honeymoon and it was just what we were looking for.  The name itself means “The Old Tavern”, and it definitely has an old, rustic feel to it.

It’s not romantic by any means, with its communal tables, frantic energy and bright lights, but the food here was excellent and the unlimited red table wine was a fantastic deal (4 euros per person?). This is truly a place where locals eat, but there are travelers here, too.

Be prepared to exercise your Italian food vocabulary muscles or to ask a lot of questions of the waitstaff when trying to figure out what you want to eat. Some are very familiar, and some are extremely foreign (even to me, who grew up eating Italian food and going to Italian restaurants since before I could even speak).  We asked for a few explanations of some of the dishes, and the waiters, while somewhat rushing through responses, were as helpful as they could be in helping us craft an Florentine dinner of epic proportions. Continue reading

Ora D’Aria – Michelin star dining in Florence

My husband and I went to Ora D’Aria on our honeymoon in October and we were really looking forward to our meal there based on reading about the chef and the place in general. However, we were a little disappointed with our meal and I think that, for the money, we had better meals elsewhere at a better price.

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THE FOOD

We did the Tuscan autumn tasting menu and each course was good, but not great.

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I think the amuse bouche was actually tastier than the actual courses, which was really unfortunate because I think it set us up for disappointment.  It consisted of a pint-sized portion of steak tartare with caviar and truffle oil, tempura fresh cherry tomato and prosciutto “sandwich”. Continue reading

Salumeria Verdi aka Pino’s Sandwiches (Florence, Italy)

I was really wary of Salumeria Verdi, aka Pino’s Sandwiches in Florence, Italy, based on all of the great reviews on TripAdvisor. “Oh, it’s going to be a bunch of American students and full of tourists,” I thought. “There’s going to be a line out the door and we’ll need to wait forever.”

Well, maybe that’s not all WRONG (the place quickly filled up with American students living abroad and their visiting families), but with one of these sandwiches in front of you and a cold glass of beer in your hand, those thoughts float into the salami-scented vapor and you are in food heaven. It’s no wonder this place has been around since 1900. Yes, 115 years. Pino’s been in charge for more than 20 of those.

Side rant: In Italian, the word for a singular sandwich is “panino”. Plural, it is “panini”. Don’t use the term “paninis.” Ever.

Pino himself greeted us as we came in and we hit it at JUST the right time, so there was no line out the door and there were plenty of tables to sit at. It must have been early in the scheme of lunch things because I was practically salivating all day, thinking about going here. Continue reading

In Vino Veritas – Casa Bleve (Rome, Italy)

If you find yourself in Rome doing the whole tourist thing near the Pantheon, and have some cash to burn and a hankerin’ for some vino, strut your fabulous butt over to Casa Bleve and enter perhaps the most luxurious wine bar and restaurant that you’ve ever been to.

I had Casa Bleve on my list of “must-sees” in Rome after scouring the boards over at Chowhound to find the best wine bars in Rome. After a careful selection process (which was pretty much just figuring out what was close to stuff that we wanted to do – and that people could agree was a good place), Casa Bleve was “it”.

And “it” did not disappoint.

A mini Versailles dedicated to the tasting of delicious, gourmet Italian food and appreciation of wine, the nectar of the gods, the downright opulent surroundings made Frank Sinatra look like a hobo. But, now that you’ve read this post, you’ll dress nicely before you go. Unlike us…We felt like Continue reading