I have been quiet for awhile. Not because I wanted to or because I was not cooking, but rather because the husband and I were traipsing our way across Europe. Two of our weeks were spent falling in love with Italian food and with every taste and every bite new ideas came to mind. I cannot count the number of times my husband said “we have to make this when we get home.” From pastas and pizzas to soups, salads, pastries and gelato, we were treated to something new and exciting every day.
Although there were many great restaurants and cafes (some fabulous, others somewhat less fabulous), there were three main places that stood out in our minds and would persuade me to fly all the way back to Italy just to experience them again. So in case anyone out there is thinking about taking a trip to Italy, here are my three Italian favorites:
1. Trattoria da Fiore – San Marco 3461, Calle delle Botteghe, Venezia
My husband found this restaurant on our first night in Venice. We had no idea what to expect, but as we watched many locals stream in, we figured it must to be worth the try. We were met by a very friendly staff who seated us at the front of the restaurant right next to the window which allowed for an endless amount of people watching. The restaurant itself was simply yet nicely decorated with a full anti pasta bar that the waiters would prepare mouthwatering plates of food from. After reviewing our menu multiple times, I settled on a simple pasta with fresh crab meat and the husband ordered linguini Frutti di Mare.
Within no time, we were both served the most beautiful bowls of pasta. They were simply prepared, but each bite was perfection. We were both so impressed – and it was the simplicity of the dishes that made them so wonderful. Rather than being weighed down with thick sauces and heavy pastas, we were treated to fresh pastas dressed in light sauces and drizzled with olive oil and seafood that tasted exactly as they should. Our dishes were not over done with spice and cream, instead, they were true to their ingredients, and better for it. The only thing I could have asked for was more.
2. Trattoria le Mossacce – Via del Proconsolo, 55r, Firenze
We actually discovered this Florentine restaurant because of a rave review in one of our travel books. It was a bit of a hike from our hotel and there was a bit of a wait when we arrived, but the food made it all worth it. It is one of those places that you immediate feel like you are home upon entering. We sat at a table with one other couple and a young man who was dining alone. It was crowded with tables on top of tables, but the atmosphere was friendly and conversation entertaining. We started off by sharing a bowl of Ribolitta, a twice-cooked vegetable soup made with beans and day old bread. It was delicious, one of the best bowls of soup I’ve ever tasted; a dish so warming and savory, that it quickly supplanted Minestorne as my favorite Italian soup, and inspired a new obsession. We tried about five different Ribolitta’s as we made our way through Italy – but I can say with full confidence, Tattoria le Mossacce’s was the best.
After our soup, I ordered Cotolette alla Milanese (Veal Cutlets Milanese), and the husband went with Osso Buco, while we shared a side of “sauteed vegetables.” The great thing about our table was that we were right next to the kitchen and got to watch as three Italian men whipped up meal after meal and did so with speed. Before I had the chance to get over how wonderful our Ribolitta was, our meals were served. My veal, again so simple and paired only with lemon, was the probably the best piece of veal I’ve ever had. It was lightly breaded, and bursting with flavor; crisp on the outside, and tender on the inside. When the husband asked for a bite, I contemplated keeping it all for myself (then, quickly thought better of it). Although I did not get a chance to taste his Osso Buco he raved about it for weeks and from my own experience I trust that it was good. And if the first two items were not enough, our side of sauteed vegetables (essentially, a big bowl of spinach) was incredible. It appeared to be prepared in olive oil, and again, with lemon juice. We more or less licked the bowl clean. Walking home after that meal, I think proclaimed Tattoria le Mossecca the best restaurant in all of Italy.
3. Pizzeria Baffetto – Via del Governo Vecchio, 114, Roma