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Women Report on 150 Great Eats Worldwide

 


  ITALY

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 Via Cironi.

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, Italy...
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 211915

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, Italy...
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 recommended.

 

Mary Ann about Rome, Italy...
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, Italy...
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 looking around.

* For more information on Italy see: http://www.journeywoman.com/girltalk/italy/girl_talk_italy.html

  PORTUGAL
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.
  SWITZERLAND

Karen from Bern, Switzerland...
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 29 19


Karine from Zurich, Switzerland...
I live in Zurich, Switzerland and my favorite restaurant is called "Oepfelchammer". 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 (in Swiss)

 

Barbara from Bern, Switzerland...
Are you looking for another kind of dining experience? Then try the Haberbühni Restaurant (http://www.haberbueni.ch/). 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.). Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

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