Everyone loves the food in Italy but can we get really great food for an affordable price? The answer is YES! Here are some rules:
- Food is cheaper in small non touristy towns than in the big cities.
- Pizzerias and trattorias offer very good local food and wine at an affordable price.
- Bars offer breakfast and lunch cheap.
- Happy Hour bars offer free food with affordable drinks.
All non tourist restaurants are great in Italy. If you are in a tourist area like the Trevi Fountain in Rome, you will find lots of tourist places to eat serving bad food. They serve pasta, pizza, hamburgers and hot dogs. Don’t be fooled! These are not Italian restaurants. We always walk around on our way to attractions and take a side street that looks interesting. You will find interesting shops and real restaurants. Next we look to see who is eating inside or outside. If it is mostly tourists, we skip it. When we find a place with a lot of Italians we try it. Italians eat lunch between 1:30 and 4 with family or friends. Dinner is usually eaten late, between 7:30 and 11 pm. If you are looking in a restaurant at 5 pm you will either see no one or just tourists. You might want to look the night before on your way back to your hotel if you are an early diner.
Good restaurants in Italy are small. They only have a small number of tables. Cooking fresh pasta for 100 is not possible. They cook well for a few people. When you find such a place, visit it often. Try lunch and dinner. Try different dishes. Be sure to tell the owner or your waiter that it was good (è molto buono).
Some restaurants charge extra for outside seating. This is usually not that much and is well worth being able to eat and watch the people pass by. In the colder seasons, they will turn on heaters outside to make you comfortable. If they are too hot for you, tell your waiter. They can adjust them or turn them off.
Pizza can be gotten in a pizzeria (pizza shops), ristaurante (restaurants) and Trattoria (small inexpensive restaurants). Enjoy the place you pick. Be romantic, you are in Italy. Forget your worries and just enjoy the food and people you are with. Eat slowly and enjoy the taste. Drink some wine and taste it. It enhances your taste buds. It will make the food taste better. Try the bread it is well worth it in Italy. Italian bread is crusty on the outside but soft inside.
When you are done you can have a great desert or if you are too full, walk a bit and stop at a gelato shop (gelateria). There are so many flavors of gelato, it would take the rest of your life to try them. Not a bad way to spend your time. Ask for a sample and then choose. You can get a regular cone, sugar cone or dish. Enjoy
George & Jo Anne