"Eat where the locals eat" in Rome, Florence, and Venice

I grew up in my italian grandma's kitchen and want to reclaim those days. I can dine in any formal resturant in the states but want this experience again. Please help!

Posted by Michael
Seattle, WA, USA
5763 posts

Assuming you're staying at a B&B or hotel, ask the person at the front desk where they go for authentic local cooking "a la nonna" (meaning the way grandma makes it). And tell them you don't want a typical tourist restaurant.

Posted by Greg
Palm Beach, Florida, United States
536 posts

Judy - Being Italian and a Great cook I can honestly tell you that off any Square or Main street in Florence, Rome, or Venice there are a multitude of small Cafes that are EXCELLENT - - no worry about Italian cooking - we all know how and especially over there. You can also always ask your Hotel or B&B front desk person for their suggestion which will almost always be an excellent one.

             Greg
Posted by Ron
Carbondale, IL, USA
1201 posts

You might be interested in the Homefood Project sponsored by the Association for the Guardianship and Exploitation of the Traditional Culinary-Gastronomic Heritage of Italy and the University of Bologna.

the project has cook/hosts that welcome you into their home for a traditional regional meal. there are scheduled fixed events in several regions. There is also apparently the opportunity to arrange a special event for a minimum of two people.

Non-residents can join the group for a one month fee and then each event has a price per person.

www.homefood.it

Posted by Paul
Cedar, IA, USA
2381 posts

All good suggestions so far, I have not much to add because the places I do find like this rarely are "signed" prominently, not much of a menu (a chalkboard usually), and some addresses in Rome can be almost impossible to decipher. Hit the backstreets, ask your hotel, be warned that language (unless Grandma taught you some Italian) may be an issue, but if you are willing to eat what is put in front of you, you can get by.

Posted by Claudia
Land of La
2011 posts

Consider using Google and searching food blogs for every city you've listed. Great way to find out about where the locals eat.
Once I've arrived I ask vendors, cab drivers, postal carriers, etc. Might even ask the flight attendant who may be based in the city I'm visiting. Since these folks live there it's a great way to find local eateries.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7827 posts

Hope you have more luck then I did in Venice,, I found it mostly expensive and not that good. I have only been to Venice twice,, but have never hit it lucky yet. We did wander really off the main track,, but Venice is small, so you can really only get so off the beaten path.In Rome and Florence I think you will have your better experiences with good authentic cooking.

Posted by Claudia
Land of La
2011 posts

@Pat. Maybe 3rd time will be a charm, Al Ponte, Calle Larga Giacinto Gallina. Compared to others a very cheap bacari with fish and pasta plates. Also a variety of small plates and a glass of wine at Cantinone-gia Schiavi, Ponte San Trovaso, Doresoduro is well worth not being able to sit down. Near the Gondola workshop. Both of these places seem to feed the locales instead of tourists.

Posted by Michael
Seattle, WA, USA
5763 posts

FWIW, this is a zombie thread from almost two years ago. But the topic is timeless, so have at it. :-)

Posted by Kerry
Tinton Falls, NJ
615 posts

I too found little to get excited over foodwise (at least on my limited budget) in Venice; but this restaurant was outstanding. Trattoria Tre Spiedi, Cannaregio, 5906. The phone is 39-041-5208-035. One disclaimer, we let them pick what to bring us (all Fish) and while what they brought was amazing; it was about twice as much as we could eat & we had to pay for all of it. We took the extra home to our Venice apartment. Just be careful, if choose to let them do the ordering, give them a price limit per person. It was the best food we had in our whole month in Italy. They have meat as well as fish and the pasta was delicious.

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
2858 posts

I like to eat at the cafeteria next door to the Venice train station. The food is good and you can just point at what you want. Enter the cafeteria to the left as you pass out of the station. This is also a good place to get a quick breakfast before catching a train.

Posted by Doug
Portlandia
3290 posts

Yep, zombie post. I almost fell over when I thought a certain, shall we say "enthusiastic" poster was back. The cafeteria down the street from the train station is called Brek.

Posted by Rik
Vicenza, Italy
702 posts

Doug, if I'm not mistaken, there is a different cafeteria/mensa place next to the train station besides the Brek. I've never eaten there myself but my neighbor is a retired train worker and used to eat there whenever his run took him into Venice. Somebody else might have more specific info.

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
2858 posts

As I recall, that worker's cafeteria is to the right of the train station as you leave. I always forget to go there. I often eat pizza-by-the-slice when in Rome or Venice. I've eaten at Brek, but haven't been impressed.