Tag Archives: vacation

The Food of Italy

I just got back from a trip to Italy, and, as you can imagine, the food was, on the whole, pretty fucking incredible. My wife and I did three stops: Rome, Venice and Milan.

This could get crazy long so I’m just going to jump right into my truncated reviews.

ROME

L’Archaeologie

We hit this place for a quick lunch after touring the catacombs. Excellent pasta dishes, and this was technically our first meal in Italy. We only had two pasta dishes.

Pici carbonara:

Tagliolini with porn cheek and artichokes:

Osteria Barberini

This place had some amazing pasta. This was our first dinner in Rome, and it was a joint that was highly recommended by friends and family who had been here before.

We tried two pasta dishes; cacio e pepe, served in a bowl made of crisped cheese, and a chitarra pasta with shrimp and a ground pistachio pesto.

We also had a stuffed artichoke, and dessert…

Roscioli

This salume joint turned restaurant was highly recommended by friends and fellow foodies.

It was pretty crowded, so we sat at the bar. We kept it somewhat simple, with a plate of meats and cheeses, pasta and meatballs.

We also took in some dessert, because “when in Rome.”

Baladin (Local Brewery Bar)

This place had a great selection of local craft beers.

Bonci

Anthony Bourdain featured this pizza joint on his layover show, so we had to check it out. It was pretty fantastic.

My favorite slices were the traditional and the onion with ham.

La Prosciutteria

One thing you see a lot of in the cities of Italy are meat shops that offer amazing platters of salume for very good prices.

This is one of them. I was pretty much in heaven here, and I was annoyed that we had just eaten and couldn’t do a bigger platter.

Da Enzo

Nestled on a small street near the river, this Trastevere staple was known for their fried artichoke (which was incredible) and their ox tail. We got both, of course, along with some lasagna.

Tonnarello

I had to stop into this place just because I saw that they had “chocolate sausage” on the menu. I was thinking “Lexington Steele,” but what came out was like fudge and cake pressed into a delicious dessert log and then sliced up, served cold.

But look at the fried artichoke they had on display outside.

Gelato Shops: Giolitti and Fatamorgana

Giolitti was in the main part of Rome, and Fatamorgana was in the Trastevere neighborhood. Both served up some amazing pistachio gelato, and we even tried some Sicilian Cream flavors as well. So good. Giolitti was a full-on pastry shop as well, while Fatamorgana was just gelato.

Pasticcerie (Pastry Shops)

Pasticceria da Te is small Trastevere shop goes almost unnoticed, as there is no signage out front. We tried some chiacchiere or crostoli, which are crispy fried snacks that are often eaten when celebrating Carnivale.

 

At Forno Campo de Fiori, we tried some little doughnut balls and other patries, like sfoglie.

VENICE

Un Mondo Vino

Happy hour is big in Venice. Wines are even cheaper than usual, and they serve up “chichetti” – which are pre-prepared savory snacks – to go with the wine.

We found this little hole in the wall, called “A World of Wine,” as we were walking around. It was filled with locals, so we knew we were in a good spot. We warmed up with some hot mulled spice wine, as it was below freezing and crazy windy that day.

Osteria Ai Promessi Sposi

This little joint, tucked away down a lonesome alley, was recommended by friends of ours as a great place to eat.

Venice is known for seafood, so that’s what we were after (though the steak on the menu was really tempting). We came here at 6pm, right when they opened, and it was still crowded. Usually people don’t eat dinner until about 8pm or 9pm. But now I know why it was so crowded – the food was amazing.

Super tender braised cuttlefish with a rich, buttery black ink sauce. Usually I hate ink sauces because they taste way too fishy. This was amazing. I was slurping it up.

My grilled calamari just didnt compare to that cuttlefish dish, but it was still excellent.

Starters were burrata and mixed seafood in broth.

Gam Gam

We stopped in this joint when another restaurant nearby that we wanted to try was too crowded. This is Israeli Kosher food. I wasn’t overly impressed, but the artichoke heart dishes were delicious. One fried, one sauteed.

We also had some meze type dips, and a pappardelle pasta dish with mushrooms.

La Cantina

This joint sort of fell flat for us. The meat platter was expensive, although it was good quality and all hand cut. The seafood platter was nice too, but way overpriced. Perhaps they were trying to recoup some funds after their flood a few years back.

Alla Palazzina

After meandering around Venice looking for a late night spot to eat, we stumbled across this corner joint. Ravioli with mushroom and truffle, and a scallop and shrimp dish.

Rialto Market

What an amazing market. Fresh produce and fresh fish. And the artichoke hearts!

And all around the area are cheese vendors and butcher shops, too. My kind of spot!

Yeah – that’s horse salami.

Coffee & Pastries

These coffee shops could put Starbucks out of business if they were in the US.

And the frittelle in Venice are fucking outstanding. They’re like zeppoli, kind of, but they are often made with a flavored dough or filled with raisins, nuts, etc.

Cookies that look like fish.

A lot of these shops also sell savory items too, like pizza and panini sandwiches. Venice style pizza is more like NY thin crust.

So freaking good.

MILAN

Meucci Pizza

This was a quick lunch. We each ordered a mini pie and shared. The pizza styles are different in every city. Rome was like puffy square (what we would call Sicilian), Venice was circular and flat (like NYC style, as I mentioned above) and Milan was somewhere right in between: circular and slightly puffy.

Salsamenteria di Parma

This is another one of those wine and meat shops I mentioned above. This one was incredible. We got so much food for $20, along with free amaro afterwards. I want to go back right now.

Osteria di Brera

For our last meal in Italy, we had to try the osso buco in Milan, which is supposed to be one of the region’s specialties. It was pretty tender and flavorful! Also hit some pasta as well.

Pasticcerie (Pastry Shops)

We did a lot of browsing in these hops. I think we had a bite at one spot but I can’t remember what or where.

Like all over Italy, the bakeries also sell savory breads.

Conclusion

Italy is absolutely amazing. On our next trip, we plan to hit six more distinct locations: Amalfi coast, Sicily, Tuscany, Florence, Lake Como and Capri.

Atlantis Resort – Paradise Island Bahamas

My wife signed up for some crazy credit card that rewarded her with a free five day stay at Atlantis in the Bahamas. Then she used some of her frequent flyer points to secure us our flights. It was just a matter of paying for food at that point.

I’m sure you have no interest whatsoever in seeing my amazing vacation photos, so I’ll share with you, instead, some pics of the food we ate at the resort.

This resort is known for having very expensive food. We tried to avoid that a bit by hitting some of the cheaper joints for lunch, and supplementing hunger pangs with the assortment of snacks that we packed into our suitcases. This place is indeed expensive, with some joints even costing more than what we are accustomed to, even as NYC food lunatics.

Murray’s Deli

This is a classic NYC style Jewish deli. We had a massive loaded baked potato and a pastrami/corned beef open faced sandwich. We just couldn’t get enough in New York, so we had to eat some while in the Bahamas.

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Oh and the pickles…

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This place was pretty good.

Burger Shack

Classic American style diner with burgers, dogs, fries and other comfort foods.

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We actually ate here twice because the place we intended to visit prior to our second trip (Bimini Road – Bahamian food) was closed.

First Meal:

The burgers were pretty good. I can tell they use more fat in their patties than we do here in the states. That made for a more robust flavor but with a slightly less desirable texture. Either way a satisfying burger.

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The banana nutella shake was on point, by the way.

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And I’m sure you saw those fries creeping into the frame in the shots above. We actually ordered the combo of onion rings and fries.

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Fries were solid. Onions rings, not so much.

Second Meal:

Goombay Punch, essentially fruit soda (pineapple, mainly), is big down here. And sweet. We tried two varieties during the course of our vacation, and this one was superior (the other was called a “fruit champagne” and it sucked balls).

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Hot dogs are split and grilled, which I consider to be the best method for grilling dogs. We covered ours with mustard, ketchup, mayo and Tabasco sauce.

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Say hello to the Vitamin B: mac and cheese with blue cheese, chopped up hot dog, BBQ pork, and bacon. Insanity.

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Nobu

We had some free sake and sushi sampler platter to use at Nobu, so we figured we would eat a meat there.

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The sampler platter kinda sucked. I can’t believe they normally charge $40 for that. But we did redeem the meal a bit with this conch sashimi:

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And this crispy pork belly dish:

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This small bowl of spicy seafood soup cost $19, which was a total rip off, but it was in fact tasty.

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Unfortunately I was still hungry, so I ordered a noodle dish in hopes that the starch aspect would fill me up. Green tea soba noodles:

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These were actually pretty good. And of course Katherine lifted them for my Instagram feed.

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77 West

This was probably the best meal of the trip. We went for lunch, so kept it relatively light, but everything was excellent.

Good cocktails for the ambiance – not too sweet, just right.

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Probably one of the best tuna tartare dishes we’ve ever had; served in a spicy coconut curry style broth that really popped.

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And why not have another burger? This was much better than the ones at Burger Shack, and it came with fries or a salad for the same price, pretty much.

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I kept it light with a salad instead of fries, and that was a good move. The salad was actually really great and fresh.

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Seafire Grill

Of course we had to try a steakhouse. We pretty much shared a meal for one, since we didn’t want to break the bank.

We tried two cocktails (since we had credit for two free drinks): one was too strong and lacked finesse (the 1888 Rum Old Fashioned), but the other was perfect – a bourbon lemonade.

We started with this horrible crab cake. I’ve had better out of the freezer section of Shop Rite.

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After dining at over 100 steakhouses, some of which are not NYC-based, I’ve learned my lesson: If there is no prime or aged beef on the menu, I should probably stick with a filet. You’re rolling the dice on quality with any other cuts – especially when you’re outside of the USA. Additionally, since a filet had very little fat content to begin with, you don’t have to concern yourself with marbling quality or things like prime and choice. Furthermore, I also took a peek at the butcher shop area of this restaurant (you can buy steaks to grill on your yacht at the marina), and I was not impressed with the strip and rib eye offerings. Filet was the way to go.

It was decent. I’d say 7/10. It was super tender. It lacked some juiciness and outer crust, but it was cooked perfectly medium rare from end to end. If I weren’t such a steak snob, being spoiled by the selections in NYC, this would have been an outstanding cut.

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But at $58 for 10oz, however, this was incredibly overpriced. In NYC it’d be maybe $50, and that’s already pricey since its fucking NYC.

On the side we had some asparagus with Bernaise sauce. These were perfectly cooked, and they even shaved down the woody bottom part with a peeler.

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As always, I have to talk about the table bread in some way. Here, it was lame. A little mushy, kinda like tan Wonder Bread. Not warm.

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The ambiance and the bar were nice though, and it reminded me of something like Capital Grille in midtown. Rich and dark wood tones. If this joint were in NYC I’d probably score it in the high 60s or low 70s. Let’s just go with a 70, for the sake of ease, and because we really only tried three items.

Olives

Olives is a Todd English joint and it is directly connected to the casino at Atlantis, so the place has some standards to live up to. We weren’t planning on dining here, but when the entirety of Paradise Island lost power, we were unable to dine at the only Bahamian restaurant at the resort, Bimini Road, yet again. First time it was closed (peeve about the resort – random closures of restaurants on random days for random reasons), and the second time, which was our last night there, it was shut down because of the power outage.

Anyway, we ended up having a really nice meal at Olives. We had credit for two free cocktails (which we actually used after eating at Nobu earlier in the week).

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That same day we tried the tiramisu flan, which was really delicious and unique, since Nobu was insanely overpriced and the dessert menu looked dumb there.

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We split the rigatoni bolognese, which was really nicely cooked with sausage and ground meat.

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Since we were intending to eat Bahamian food but got denied, we tried the conch ceviche, thinking it would be stellar, made from a local catch. It was just okay. The conch sashimi at Nobu was better.

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On the side we had some of the free focaccia bread (which was nice) and this bland, flavorless broccolini.

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