Just home from a great rip, I want to give my two cents about the restaurants we enjoyed, and those we hated.
In Rome, La Campana, near Piazza Navona, is very nice. Many locals, incredible pastas, but the real star are the roast meats. When we visited this time, I had the young lamb. It was great.
In Montepulciano, Ristorante Degli Archi, is awesome. The owner Pier, and his chef wife do not disappoint. We ate there on the suggestion of some Italian friends we visited, and we had a grand time that evening. The food is awesome, and the ambiance is even better. Pier was a trained operatic singer, and loves to entertain his guests. A really enjoyable evening for sure.
In Santa Maria Degli Angeli, we were tired of Italian, and were really craving a good burger. The small, I mean very small, restaurant named Umami Beer, was perfect. Recommended to me by a Northern European friend, the food here was incredible. The burger I had was better than most every burger I have had here in the states. I had a lamb burger, and the rest had the Chianina. It is hard to describe just how good it was. They also have some incredible craft brews on tap, and I have to say, there are some really good Italian microbreweries.
In Vernazza, which was very uncomfortably packed with day trippers, we had the worst meal of the trip, at that time. Taverna del Capitano was horrible. The food was bad, but the service was really awful. The waiter was rude, insolent, and to top it all, he stunk so bad it was hard to eat the swill they put in front of us. . Avoid this place if at all possible.
In Perugia, the Caffe di Perugia was very nice. good food, and great service in a very old building. A very nice experience. In the small town of Bevagna, we ate at Osteria del Podesta. A small family run Osteria, with really top notch food. They speak no English, but the service was excellent. The mother and two girls did a great job of serving everyone, while the father and 3 other children worked in the kitchen. Another stand out experience.
Lastly, we visited Venice. The food in Venice is either really good, or really really bad. The small bars serving appetizers were awesome. Good food, cheap wine, and good atmosphere . avoid any of the places that have typical tourist menus. If they are written in English they never change, and you can find some really bad ones. The bright spot of the time in Venice was Al Mascaron. It was right outside our apartment door, steps from Santa Maria Formossa. We stopped in on a whim, and they only agreed to seat us if we could eat that that time. Fully booked on a week night. The food was perfect Italian. Wonderful pastas, with seafood, and seconds that were even better. the owner had competed on the Italian version of master chef, and was quite a character himself. The wines complimented the food very nicely, and the service was excellent as well.