Sunday 26 May 2019

Il Convivio Troiani

Playful fine dining in Rome

Octopus with apples and raspberries

There are plenty of fine dining restaurants around Rome, so it was difficult for me to pick one for dinner out of the pool. After some researches online, Il Convivio Troiani was the one that really caught my attention. The restaurant is located inside the city center, on the edge of River Tiber. Il Convivio Troiani by 3 brothers was launched back in 1988 so you might think such an old restaurant means the food is traditional and old fashioned, however, the contrast could not be greater. The restaurant is known for its playful, edgy fine dining and has earned a Michelin star. For my visit, I opted for the tasting menu to fully experience what the restaurant is capable of.


Seafood specialist in Rome

Amberjack, lamb, asparagus

I am a seafood addict, so when I have discovered there is a fine dining restaurant specializing in seafood when I was planning my trip to Rome, it was high on my to visit list. Acquolina is a 1 Michelin star, fine dining restaurant that headed up by a chef with big reputation, in the name of Angelo Troiani, who is also the chef-owner of another highly well regarded 1 Michelin starred restaurant Il Convivio, which is not too far from Acquolina. The setting of Acquolina is very contemporary, with plenty of space between each table, with artwork in the theme of sea creatures. What got me really interested in the menu is that the kitchen seems to enjoy mixing seafood and meat together, which is both ambitious and daring.

Enoteca La Torre

Roman fine dining in an elegant setting 

Red tuna, estragon, sour cream and fermented roots

Out of all the 1 Michelin star restaurants in Rome, Enoteca La Torre is perhaps the one with the most elegant, beautiful and romantic dining room. Located in the Northern part of the capital, Enoteca La Torre is what glamour fine dining is all about, headed up by chef Domenico Stile, the food offering is contemporary, sophisticated with stunning presentation.  To finish off my Rome trip with a bang, I opted for the tasting menu "A journey with eyes closed", which is a 7-course menu selected by the chef, mostly taken from its a la carte menu. I always feel tasting menu usually is better value for money than a la carte anyway, as you get to try more dishes at a cost of 10- 20 more euro.

Armando al Pantheon

Classic Roman cuisine

Spaghetti, alla grioia

Armando al Pantheon is perhaps really high on the to visit list for many people when they travel to Rome, highly recommended on many leading travel sites, from Time Out to Eater. The restaurant is renown for its traditional Roman cuisine, in a simple, casual setting. Located next to the Rome landmark Pantheon, the menu format is your classic Italian 4 course affair, starting from a selection of starters, to pasta and mains, before finishing with dessert. Most dish cost around 10 - 20 Euro mark, along with a strong wine list that almost entirely based on Italian wines.

Friday 24 May 2019

La Bottega del Buon Caffè

Top quality refined Tuscan cuisine in Florence

Risotto creamed with 36 months aged parmesan cheese, fennels cream, burnt leek, radishes

Located not far from the Florence city center, overlooking river Arno, is the Michelin starred La Bottega del Buon Caffè, many rated as one of the very best restaurants Florence has to offer. The stylish restaurant has its own farm in Tuscany, supplying fresh herbs, vegetables, and fruit to its kitchen. The restaurant cooking concept is local Tuscan in essence, and use prime ingredients depending on the season. At weekday lunchtime, the restaurant offers an 80 Euro lunch menu, this might sound expensive at first, but all the dishes are actually taken from its tasting menu, to ensure the quality of the dishes is just as good as in dinner service. 

Thursday 23 May 2019

Borgo San Jacopo

Innovative Italian fine dining in Florence

Red salad quinoa, cauliflower, beetroot, sprouts, lovage mayo

On my trip to Florence, sampling local fine dining cuisine is on top of my agenda. After all, classic, casual Tuscan cuisine is already amazing, I was wondering if a fine dining treatment can take it to another level? Does fancy, innovative cooking techniques, combining with prime ingredients really make an impact? To put it to the test, I visited Borgo San Jacopo, a 1 Michelin starred hotel restaurant in the heart of Florence. Headed up by Peter Brunel, the chef is renown for his forward-thinking, outside of the box ideas to create dishes that are unusual, creative, while staying true to the Italian root. 

La Leggenda dei Frati

Tuscan style elegant fine dining 

 Snapper, broccoli, capers

To round off my Florence trip in style, I opted for fine dining, Tuscan style Italian fine dining experience. I was looking for a restaurant that has a good view, classy decor with fine food, and it appears La Leggenda dei Frati fits all of my needs, the Michelin starred restaurant is located on a small hill just outside of the Florence city center, overlooking the beautiful Piazzale Michelangelo site. The restaurant has no more than 10 tables within 2 dining area, all the tables are well spread out with plenty of space. The menu is modern Tuscan style, using mostly local ingredients. To fully experience what the restaurant is capable of, I opted for its 9-course tasting menu.

Ora d'Aria

Casual fine dining in Florence

Roasted pigeon leg and breast, apple butter, honey

From my holiday experience in Florence, besides all of the tourist trap restaurants around the city, the restaurant quality in the city is generally really high, no matter if it is a rustic classic Tuscan restaurant or a fine dining joint. However, it appears all of the high-end restaurants are very formal in the city, with the exception of Ora d'Aria. 
Chef-owner Marco Stabile's restaurant is located in the heart of the city, with a casual, relaxing dining room overlooking the kitchen. For lunch hours, a great value for money, 5-course menu is also on the offer for 35 Euro per person, and that is what I opted for, with an extra a la carte dish.

Monday 20 May 2019

La Buchetta

Fine quality Tuscan cuisine 

Grilled beef fillet with fresh truffle

Located in the city center of Florence, La Buchetta is an iconic Tuscan restaurant that is extremely popular. Unlike many other Italian restaurants nearby, La Buchetta offers both a classic and creative menu. The classic side of things is your traditional Tuscan cuisine, while the creative menu is mostly modern Italian flair with some unusual twist, such as using vodka in a steak and using blue cheese in a pasta. Meat is a big deal in La Buchetta, with 8 main courses are steak based, out of 15 choices. To fully experience what the restaurant is capable of, I opted for both classic and creative dishes from its menu.

Vini e Vecchi Sapori

Florence's local charm

Steak with cheese and rocket

Located in the heart of Florence, Vini e Vecchi Sapori is perhaps one of the most loved restaurants in the city. Popular to both the locals and tourists, the restaurant is extremely popular so booking is essential, but what is so special about this restaurant? Judging from the menu, it is mostly classic Tuscan cuisine, using local ingredients. What really got me knowing it is truly an authentic restaurant is the fact that is stated it offers no pizza, no takeaway, and cappuccino, a far cry from your tourist trap across the city.

Sunday 19 May 2019

Trattoria Mario

Tuscan steak house in Florence

Bistecca alla Fiorentina steak

Trattoria Mario, the family-run steak focus restaurant in Florence is considered to be one of the hottest dining spots for any real foodies and meat lovers. Renown for its legendary bistecca alla Fiorentina steak, the giant T bone steak that Florence is so famous for. Opening for lunch only with a no booking policy, this restaurant would get packed out within minutes as soon as it opens its door at noon. Trattoria Mario offers a small selection of pasta dishes, with a wide range of steak cuts, and that is what most people are here.

Hostaria il Desco

Charming Tuscan restaurant in Florence

Baked rack of lamb with truffle

In the busy Florence city center, Hostaria il Desco is hidden on a narrow street on Via delle Terme, not too far away from Ponte Vecchio. Unlike many other local Tuscan restaurants nearby, Hostaria il Desco has a rather unusual decor, it has a very cozy and charming feel to it, with a romantic and elegant touch. The meal is classic Tuscan, with plenty of pasta dishes. The restaurant has been around since 1954, and it has been providing good old fashioned Tuscan cuisine ever since. When a restaurant has been around for so long and still trading, it must be doing something right.

Osteria dell'Enoteca

Classy Tuscan flair in Florence

Steak time!

Osteria dell'Enoteca is a Tuscan style restaurant located in the southern part of Florence city center, not too far from the landmark Pitti Palace. It is somewhat an unusual restaurant, spit across two dining rooms inside an old warehouse. At the same time, it has a fine dining feel to it, thanks to the well spaced out, large tables covered with a white tablecloth, each of the two dining room has no more than 10 tables, making the restaurant has a premium edge. The menu is largely Tuscan cuisine, guests are invited to try its steak for their main course, these are large cut of T bones that would require sharing unless you are a very hungry person, with each weight at least 1kg.

Saturday 18 May 2019

Ristorante Miky Cinque Terre

Stunning seafood restaurant in Cinque Terre

Raw seafood of red prawns, tuna and seabass

On my trip touring around Northern Italy, one of the highlights was visiting the great Cinque Terre, the beautiful area that made up of 5 small villages on the coast of Liguria. I had not done any restaurant research in advance while I visited Cinque Terre, while I was searching for a lunch spot at Monterosso (one of the 5 villages), I walked passed Ristorante Miky and I decided to take a chance to check out this seafood specialist restaurant. It was only while I am inside and checking online, I found out Ristorante Miky is actually one of the most highly regarded fine dining restaurant in the area. The menu is mostly seafood based, with the classic Italian choices of starters, first course, mains, and desserts.

Osteria alle Testiere

Popular seafood joint in Venice

Seafood platter

If you are a big foodie and happened to be visiting Venice, seafood most likely is high on your agenda. Venice is well renowned for its fresh seafood as a water city, and Osteria alle Testiere is regarded as one of the very best seafood restaurants in the city, with great media endorsement from around the world. As committing to fresh ingredients, the restaurant changes its menu daily, depending on what they can find from fish markets. The restaurant itself is tiny with less than tables, meaning booking in advance is well recommended. Be aware all the tables are closely packed together so this is not the best place to dine if you seek privacy.

L’Osteria di Santa Marina

Creative Venetian cuisine

Shi drum, lentils and pumpkin

Searching for a good quality local restaurant can be tricky when you visit Venice, it is no secret that Venice is one of the most visited city by tourists in the world. On my visit, it was flooded with thousands of visitors from around the world. To capture that profit opportunity, the city is also filled with plenty of "tourist trap" restaurants. To avoid such places, I have done a little research in advance and came across L’Osteria di Santa Marina. The restaurant itself has been recommended by a good number of review sites and judging from the menu, it is fairly creative and taking food influences from around the world, with Venetian cuisine as a foundation. 

Antiche Carampane

Authentic Venetian cuisine

Carpaccio of red tuna, seabass and langoustine

When I visited Venice, dining at a classic, old school Venetian restaurant was high on my agenda list. After spending a great deal of time scouting on the internet, Antiche Carampane kept popping up as a recommendation from many websites, such as Time Out and Culture Trip. The restaurant has been around since 1983, a family run restaurant that prides itself in doing top-notch Venetian cuisine and taking advantage of the local famous Rialto market to sourcing fine ingredients. The menu is your classic Italian affair with appetizer, first course, second course and desserts to pick from.