Silvia from Florence, Italy...
I am a Tuscan chef but naturally I don't like to cook all
the time. In Florence I enjoy the food and atmosphere in
these two places -- the first a restaurant, the second is
a pizzeria. Giorgio and his wife came from Sardinia 24 years
ago and opened La Biritullera Trattoria
and Garden where they still serve traditional
Sardinian food. Giorgio will greet you with a smile and
lead you to the nice small garden at the back of the restaurant.
He will suggest the menu of the day -- mainly fresh fish
as well as simple traditional dishes, prepared by his wife,
who works in the kitchen. The atmosphere here is nice and
relaxed and the prices are very honest. Address: Via Cironi
4/r. - closed on Sunday. Tel. 055-496225 . Take bus #28
from the train station to Piazza Leopoldo, then ask for
My second recommendation is the pizzeria, La
Lanterna Blu. This place is run by a very friendly
Egyptian team. You can ask for pizza in different styles
-- thin dough or doppia pasta (a thick pizza like in New
York). But they also serve pasta dishes and fish and on
Thursdays they offer a nice Middle Eastern menu, with different
mezes, couscous and other specialties. There is no smoking
here. Address: Via Corridoni 19/R - closed on Monday. Tel.
055-4220560 Take bus # 2, 14 or 28 from the train station
to Piazza Dalmazia, then ask for Via Corridoni.
Roberta from Florence,
Finding a pleasant, reasonably-priced restaurant that has
its own character, just something slightly different, is
somewhat of a challenge in Florence. One that I was taken
to by a genuine fiorentina the other week was the Birreria
Centrale which is right in the centre of town
in Piazza Cimatori 1r, opposite American Express. Tel: 055
The restaurant serves typical Tuscan dishes such as Ribollita,
a soup with vegetables and bread, Tuscan meat dishes and
large salads. Since this is a Birreria, we opted for beer,
of course. Wine was, however, available.
What I liked especially was the furniture. Let me just
clarify that I love furniture. I adore going around museums
such as the Bargello or the Horne Museum where household
accoutrements are on display. Not that the Birreria Centrale
has much of the museum about it. Far from it. It was the
fact that these chairs and tables and shelves and bookcases
all had a history to them. You can see instantly that no-one
had commissioned an architect to go around with a practised
eye, to buy in the widest possible range of different styles
of tables and chairs.
Someone with an eye, and a love for this kind of thing,
just went around the various rigattieri over who knows how
long, and picked up whatever caught their eye. And a very
eye-catching array they have made. You could, though, actually
catch something else, like your ankle against a chair leg,
or your knee against the table. Because the downside of
this approach to restaurant furniture is, of course, that
nothing quite fits. We sat at a long refectory table with
a bench along one side and individual chairs, not one the
same as the other and all bearing the signs of their previous
lives. Because of the way the room was configured, we had
to stand up a couple of times to let people in. Which was
OK. The atmosphere is such that everyone is relaxed and
the food is not so important -- or pricey -- that you resent
the interruption. Indeed, you can end up chatting with your
new table-mates. And what could be more fun than that?
Surely not a place for everyone. If you are planning an
intimate t�te-à-t�te, or a business lunch, then go
elsewhere. But for a fun time alone or with friends, the
Birreria Centrale gets my vote as the place to go.
Renee visited Florence, Italy...
My boyfriend and I just returned from an 11-day trip to
Italy (Rome, Venice & Florence). Dinner at one trattoria
called IL Latini in Florence
remains an incredibly happy memory. We arrived at 7:00 (or
7:30, I can't recall) but it was closed. Still, there were
4 people waiting. While Jim stood in line, I went into a
little grocery/wine shop a few steps away (great place too).
When I emerged from the shop, I was shocked to see that
there were at least 25 people waiting for the restaurant
to open. I had a hard time getting back up to the front.
Inside we could see the waiters bustling around then sitting
for a somewhat leisurely dinner, then having their coffee.
They laughed and talked and occasionally looked up at the
growing crowd of people of all ages. At this point, Jim
and I knew we'd found a great place. Shortly after the waiters
finished clearing their dinner plates away, a man inside
opened the door and began letting people into the bright
cheery space two or three at a time.
Inside was a festive event. Everyone was upbeat and happy.
Parties of two were seated at tables with others. We shared
our table with a friendly young couple from Milan who were
celebrating an anniversary and wanted to spend it at this
restaurant. Our waiter was very quirky and with a great
sense of humor. As we were seated he said "red or white
wine", later came back and asked if we wanted antipasta,
again and again this happened--sometimes with choices, sometimes
not. There were no menus. We were game so we tried lots
of things (having no idea what it would cost!).
All of the waiters were busy and happy and talking to everyone--as
were the diners. The owner, an older man, worked his way
around to each table asking if everyone was happy and if
the food was good. After dessert and a digestive drink had
been served, the owner made his way around again. At each
table, the waiter for that table rattled off to the owner
what each party had. The owner then handed you your bill.
In our case, because I chose wine before knowing what I'd
eat, we switched to the chianti on the table. When the waiter
mentioned this to the owner, he shook his hand as if to
say 'so what' and never put it on the bill.
People exited through a different door and we saw another
huge group of people waiting for the second seating. The
evening was a fun festive event. We'll definitely return
on our next trip and went back the next day to take an exterior
photo for our files. We were sorry not to have an interior
shot where there are big hams dangling from the ceiling
over all of the tables. Because of the bright space and
high ceilings, it didn't look bad or feel weird. I guess
that some vegetarians might be offended but I wasn't. Contact
information for this great place is: Il Latini, Via Palchetti,
6, Florence. Well worth trying!
Lynne from Lucca,
The owners of this restaurant have been friends of mine
for years. My first dinner back in Lucca is always at Da
Guilio Restaurant where everyone is welcomed
with a smile by Paolo and his wife Emmalita. It is a delightful
trattoria nestled against the famous medieval wall of Lucca.
Because it's about three winding blocks from the center
of town there are few tourists here -- you're always dining
with the locals. Da Guilio's is well known for home style
Lucchese food. They make the best farro soup in Tuscany
(a long cooking soup made of beans and farro/spelt) - absolutely
delicious. I can never turn down their pastas, all home
made. For the entree there is nothing better than the lamb
cooked with olives and served over polenta. If you want
a special bottle of wine they have a great selection of
local wines. The perfect dessert is a dish of homemade cookies
with a glass of Vin Santo. Open Tuesday - Saturday for dinner.
Via delle Conce 45. Telephone 011-39-0583-55948. Reservations
Mary Ann about
I'd like to recommend Corsi
in Rome, Italy. This family-run wine shop turns into a dining
room at lunch hour. Located on Via del Gesù in central
Rome (Largo Argentina). The daily specials are written up
on the blackboard at the door, the tables - with paper table
settings - are often shared. You'll meet bankers and office
workers on their lunch hour, politicians, journalists, local
expats and only a few tourists. Friendly service, noisy,
very Roman. English spoken and inexpensive for Rome. Have
your after lunch coffee at nearby Tazza d'Oro or a gelato
near the Pantheon.
Shannon from Venice,
Taverna San Trovaso (Fondamenta
Priuli 1016, Dorsoduro). This place is always packed, but
they will always find a single woman a seat. Great pastas,
wonderful fried fish, and decent pizzas served in large
portions be careful how much you order here, because it
will probably be too much.
La Perla (Rio Terra dei Franceschi
4615, Cannaregio). A trio of young women work the tables
at this fantastic pizzeria, and service can be slow if it
is busy, but the pizza is worth it, and the single traveler
will be comfortable while they wait, with a book or just
* For more information on
Italy see: http://www.journeywoman.com/girltalk/italy/girl_talk_italy.html
||Christina from Lisbon, Portugal...
The best seafood and the best oceanfront view in Crismina
Beach (7 km from Cascais) is Restaurant
Porto Santa Maria on Guincho Road. Guincho
road is, in itself, a beautiful attraction. To one side, cliffs
and long stretches of blue-green ocean, to the other, dunes
and ahead, the Sintra mountain range. In this scenario, every
now and then a luxury restaurant crops up. One of them, Porto
de Santa Maria, with its big, blue and luminous sign, attracts
many people for the excellent quality of the fish. The house
has had a one star Michelin rating for 25 years, and has been
chosen by Mouriscastours as one of the best seafood restaurants.
This was the place chosen by Bill Clinton to taste the curious
fillet of snook in salt (72 euro/kg). Customers may also try
sook in bread. The place recalls a country house, with light-coloured
wood and royal blue curtains. Decoration is very graceful.
In this relaxed atmosphere, José Gouveia, one of the
owners, welcomes all clients with the same sympathy, regardless
of status or condition. The basement keeps the house's secrets:
several aquariums, and more than 30.000 bottles of wine and
only the best Portuguese labels. Big, big splurge! Address:
Estrada do Guincho, Praia da Crismina, Cascais. Tel: 21 487
0240 (144 seats). Website: www.portosantamaria.com.
Karen from Bern,
The best sushi place in Bern is Kabuki.
It's also the largest Japanese restaurant in the region
serving everything from original Japanese sushi to Tempura,
Sukiyaki, and Sashimi. Devine. Friendly staff, nice atmosphere.
Not cheap though, but are they ever? It's hard to find restaurants
here in Bern that have smoke-free areas. Kabuki does. It’s
always very booked, so reservations are recommended for
noon and evening. Contact information: Japan Restaurant
Kabuki, Bubenbergplatz 9 (Markthalle). Tel: +41 (0)31 329
||Karine from Zurich,
I live in Zurich, Switzerland and my favorite restaurant is
It is open since 1801 so it is quite impressive to eat there
and there are only a few tables (reservations are a must!).
They serve the very traditional Zurich meal: Zuercher Geschnetzeltes
mit Rösti (thinly slices veal in a mushroom cream sauce
with hash brown potatoes). It's just delicious! The restaurant
is located in the old town (Niederdorf): Rindermarkt 12, tel:
+41-44-251 2336. Website: www.oepfelchammer.ch
Are you looking for another kind of dining experience? Then
try the Haberbühni Restaurant
Just the setting is an experience and definitely worth going
to. The restaurant is in a hayloft and the Swiss-inspired
food is just delicious. They have a set menu of a four,
six or eight course meal in the evening as well as various
business lunches. The menu changes every day. And all this
is even quite affordable. The restaurant can be reached
by bus (line 17, direction Köniz, approx. 10 min.).