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Restaurant reservations

Hi all,

How important is it to have restaurant reservations? I understand that if we really want to go to a particular place they should be made, but wondering if we will need them for every night (or most) or showing up at restaurants with no reservations is an option. We will be in Rome, Florence, Venice and Milan.

Thanks in advance,

Posted by
6370 posts

I've been wondering the same thing. I've seen more and more comments that restaurant reservations are becoming essential, especially in the cities you mention.

We had trouble in Reims last year finding dinner without reservations.

Posted by
11480 posts

Reservations are a sign of respect and those who reserve get better tables. You may show up at 8 pm and find many empty tables and be turned away because they are reserved for later that evening. Since many places now take reservations on line it is less onerous to accomplish given language challenges, but online has to be done (usually) the day prior. I often called restaurants the same day about 6 pm for reservations later that night except on Saturday night.

A couple of exceptions: some pizza restaurants do not take reservations, and off season it is less critical than Spring thru Autumn and over Christmas holidays. In January on a Wednesday you can walk in almost anywhere. 😁

Posted by
3961 posts

I would agree with Laurel's recommendation. "Reservations are a sign of respect and those who reserve get better tables." We have found this true throughout Europe. Several months before our recent trip to Central Europe we made a reservation at a recommended restaurant in Prague. We tend to travel in September and have found it's imperative to reserve as soon as possible. As Laurel mentioned their are exceptions to the rule.

Buon Appetito!

Posted by
3521 posts

I have never had issues in Italy with finding a place eat dinner, with or without reservations. Sure, sometimes I had to wait for a seat without reservations, but the restaurants have always ben good at letting me know if they expect any tables to open up. I also prefer eating at less fancy places (not fast food or places at that level) so maybe that helps.

Posted by
616 posts

I never make reservations in Italy if we are à maximum of three persons.
I would for more. You might sometimes have to wait a little.
Also for 4-5 stars restaurants, do make reservations.

Posted by
2221 posts

It also depends on what time you want to eat. Since most Italians dine later, if you go early you can usually get in without a problem. My experience is with two people only.

Posted by
237 posts

I almost always make reservations. Anywhere good (by that I mean quality of food, not level of fanciness) is going to be full of locals who as a matter of practice make reservations, even at the local neighbourhood spot. Typically, when a restaurant deserves a table for someone, they reserve it for the rest of the evening, under the assumption that the diners will take their time (as opposed to in the US where they generally assume each reservation will take about 90 min or two hours and then they can turn over the table). For this reason, you might walk into a seemingly empty restaurant and yet be unable to get a table, or told that you can sit but must be out in, say, 45 minutes, because those tables are already booked. Exception is pizzerias as I think someone else mentioned - those often don’t take reservations.

I feel like making a reservation can only help and is pretty easy to do, so why not? If there’s no option to reserve online, I often email the concierge at my hotel ahead of my stay and ask them to make the reservations for me.

Posted by
2064 posts

Ifa restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, we often try to stop by at lunchtime to make an evening reservation, if we happen to be in the neighborhood. Or, if we are staying somewhere several days and we notice a place that looks very busy with locals, we make reservations for the next night.