A Travellerspoint blog

Where We Ate: Verona

Gelateria Patagonia
We visited the location on Via Mazzini, a pedestrian-only shopping area in Verona. In addition to the typical flavors, they also had some fun ones like Bacio di Romeo and Bacio di Giulieta (Romeo and Juliet's kisses, respectively). Although you can get cups and cones here, they also have some fancy sundaes that are worth checking out.

Loacker Moccaria: this is a combination gelateria and coffee shop. It is affiliated with the Bolzano, Italy-based Loacker wafer company, so there is also an adjacent cookie and candy store. The Moccaria is a find if you want a place where you can sit down indoors, have access to a restroom, and eat your gelato. Their half-dozen flavors are not as many as you'll see in other gelaterias, but they still have a variety of sundaes, floats, and other ice cream desserts--all garnished with a Loacker wafer, of course.
Website: http://www.loacker.it/moccaria/index.php?siteurl=eng_583.html

Pizzeria Leon d'Oro
As the name implies, this place specializes in pizza, but they do have a couple of non-pizza dishes. I tried the lasagna bolognese and thought it was really good. My husband and daughter enjoyed their pizzas as well. Leon d'Oro is a good choice if you're traveling in a group that can agree on toppings because they sell pizzas not only in the typical 1 person size, but also in a larger (3-4 person) size; it's the only place on the trip where I remember seeing that option. If the weather is nice, there is a pretty courtyard where you can eat.
Website: http://www.pizzerialeondoro.com/en/index.html

Pizzeria ponte Navi
This place offered other dishes besides pizza, so it can offer variety for family members who want different things. The menu noted that some out-of-season items are heated from frozen, but never specified which items they might be. We found it a little off-putting that we might be eating reheated food, but I guess I appreciate their honesty; I'm not sure I've ever seen a restaurant in the US admit to that on a menu. None of our food seemed reheated. I ordered Penne alla Cubana, which I had never heard of before. It was good, even though my Cuban cousin who lives in Italy said that it is not authentically Cuban or even a common dish in Italy.

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Note: Normally I wouldn't mention a restaurant's bathrooms, but I know they can be important when your young child announces that they need a potty break. This is what happened with my daughter at Ponte Navi. When we reached the bathroom, we saw that it only had a squat toilet. I tried to explain it my daughter, but she refused to try and claimed she could wait until we got home. Fortunately, we were already done eating, so we paid, left, and averted disaster. The bathroom situation is something to consider if think your kids may have the same issue.
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Taverna di Stella
Our Frommer's guide listed this place as one of the best "down-home Trattorie and Osterie" in Northern Italy, so we decided to check it out. There are a couple of traditional dishes on the menu that had horse meat in them. We opted to be less adventurous in our pasta choices, but they were still very good.
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Although there was no children's menu, they offered to make my daughter pasta in a mild tomato sauce (as opposed to the diavola on the menu).
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There was also a food selection of wines by the glass. In all, I don't know enough to confirm whether it's among Northern Italy's best, but I do know that we enjoyed our dinner here.
Note: The women's bathroom had a standard toilet but the men's had a squat toilet, so you may want to plan accordingly just in case your child needs a potty break.
Website: http://www.tavernadiviastella.com/

Posted by amikulski 11:38 Archived in Italy Tagged children food italy Comments (0)

Where We Ate: Trento

All of these places are walkable from the Grand Hotel Trento in about 10 minutes or less.

Ristorante Duo
The name Duo makes sense because there are 2 floors and 2 different concepts. When you walk in, you are in the tapas bar. If you go downstairs, you are in a sit-down restaurant with Italian food. We went there because we were interested in tapas, but when we saw the seating on that floor--backed bar stools either at high-tops or the bar itself--we went downstairs. There we learned that you can't order tapas in the downstairs restaurant (or vice versa). We were sad to hear that, but our disappointment didn't last long. Their bread basket was filled with tasty homemade breads and rolls and was more reasonably priced than some of the other bread baskets we had. The food we ordered was delicious, too. My husband ordered an asparagus risotto.
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I had a ravioli dish with speck (a type of ham) and peas.
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We split a second course of pork.
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Although there was no printed children's menu, when the server saw my daughter, she said that they could prepare her a simple dish like pasta with tomato sauce. We were impressed with that, too. The pasta was cooked well, and the tomato sauce tasted homemade, not like something out of a jar.

The price point of this restaurant was somewhat higher than most of the restaurants we visited, comparable to fine-dining prices in the US. However, we felt like the quality of the food and service also lived up to what you see in fine dining establishments in the US, so we didn't feel as if those prices were charged unfairly.

In all, this was one of my favorite meals in Italy. If you're looking for a place to have a special dinner in Trento that is still kid-friendly, this is an excellent choice.

Website: http://www.duoristorante.it/

Due Mori
There are no pizzas here, but there are a variety of pastas and risottos that should pass muster with children. I was feeling adventurous, so I ordered some gnocchi with blueberry sauce. The gnocchi were well prepared and the sauce was good, but I'm still not sure if I liked the combination of the two.
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My husband and daughter were completely happy with what they ordered, though, including this risotto.
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Website: http://www.ristoranteduemori.net/

Green Tower
The menu here is good for families in that there are pizzas for the kids and other dishes for the adults. My husband and I enjoyed the risotto and spaghetti carbonara,
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and my daughter enjoyed her pizza (as always).
Website: http://www.ristorantegreentower.it/

Pizzeria Chisté
This place has a good location because it's on the way to the Duomo. It also has a wide variety of pizzas, which were fine, but not the best of the trip.
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Unfortunately, the service here was not very good. It was kind of slow and they didn't stop by after bringing the food to see if we needed anything else. I waited a while to get the check. Don't go out of your way to eat here.

Imbiss Kebab (Via Torre Vanga)
This kebab stand had some really tasty gyros.
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Nothing is kid-sized, but it's affordable, so we didn't feel bad when my daughter couldn't finish hers. In fact, I think my husband ended up eating some of her leftovers. The only downside is that the kebab stand doesn't have its own seating. We took our gyros to the park, but your available options are going to depend on the weather.

Posted by amikulski 18:58 Archived in Italy Tagged children food italy Comments (0)

Where We Ate: Milan

Pizza Big
This place is in the same neighborhood as the apartment where we stayed and was recommended by our landlord. The pizzas here are great, with super thin crusts and a good variety of toppings.
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Our server was friendly and gave my daughter lollipops.
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Ristorante Il Canarino
This place also is in the same neighborhood as our apartment, but (perhaps notably) was not mentioned by our landlord. It has the dubious distinction of the worst pane/coperto charge of the trip: 2 euro per person for a couple of rolls and some pre packaged breadsticks. I also felt as if the waiter seemed put out that we only ordered 3 primi. Still, I mention it because my husband believes that the spaghetti carbonara here was the best of the trip. The spaghetti bolognese was good, too.
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Brek
We learned about Brek from our Frommer's guidebook. It is cafeteria-style, so if you're looking for a full-service experience, this is not a good place for you. For us, it worked well because we could see the choices before ordering. Prices were reasonable, even for the wine they had (in small or large bottles). There was a kiddie menu available, but it wasn't displayed, so we missed it. Be sure to ask about it if you're interested. Instead, my daughter got a pizza. It was made to order, and she enjoyed watching the employee prepare it. There is a location in Verona as well, though we didn't have the chance to check it out.
Webste: http://www.brek.com/en_EN/

Gelateria Odeon
We went to the location on the Piazza del Duomo. It's a good place to grab some gelato to take to the square. Our favorite was the pistachio.
Website: http://www.gelaterieodeon.it/

Posted by amikulski 18:38 Archived in Italy Tagged children food italy Comments (0)

Eating Out (With a Kid) in Northern Italy and Tuscany

Before I get into the specifics of where we ate, here are some general observations about eating out in northern Italy and Tuscany.

The first thing I should mention is that the restaurants were welcoming to families. We never got any weird looks because we had a child with us. In lots of places, the staff were really friendly to my daughter, talking to her and trying to make her smile. Overall, we felt just as welcome in the restaurants we visited as in any US restaurant, sometimes even more so.

Courses are ordered a la carte: antipasti (appetizers), primi (first courses, usually pasta dishes), and secondi (second courses, usually meat/seafood dishes). The portions for primi and secondi are a bit smaller than what you'd get if you ordered either as a main dish at a restaurant in the US, but they're not tiny, either. A person would have to be really hungry to get through both a primi and a secondi. Pizzas are usually thin crust and come in just one size: a large personal pizza, about 10 inches. Depending on how hungry you are, you can eat one on your own or share with someone.

Children's menus are rare. I saw only one place that advertised one. A couple of other places saw my daughter and offered to fix her some pasta marinara that wasn't listed on the menu. The rest of the time, we just ordered for her from the regular menu. Sometimes this meant sharing a pizza with her. Sometimes it meant ordering her own pizza or primi--and often sampling what she had. This generally worked out well.

Given the situation with the children's menus, my husband and I generally expected that my daughter would have extra to share, which affected how we ordered. Often we each ordered a primi *or* a secondi, but not both. If we were especially hungry, we might order an antipasto or a third plate (usually a secondi) to share. The waitstaff never made us feel bad about sharing, either.

Many places bring bread/rolls to your table before your food arrives. Whereas in the US this is complimentary, the restaurants we visited often charge you if you take from the basket. You'll see it on the bill listed as pane/coperto (bread/cover). Occasionally, the price is listed on the menu, but not always, and the price can range from 2 euro for the whole table to 2 euro per person. The quality can also vary from prepackaged breadsticks to rolls baked on the premises, and the price and quality don't always match up. In all, you'll want to think carefully before digging into the bread basket.

Restaurants will not bring you tap water unless you ask for it specifically. They will generally try to bring you bottled mineral water instead. Even when we asked for tap water, a couple of places said they didn't do that. Granted, we asked in English, so we may have had more success if we had asked on Italian for acqua del rubinetto.

Gelaterias generally don't have indoor seating. There might be a bench or a small table outside, but that's usually all there is. Sometimes people eat inside standing up, but this can be difficult, especially if it's crowded. This means that if you have a small (aka messy) child, you'll want to strategize about where to consume your gelato with the least disastrous results.

Posted by amikulski 17:57 Archived in Italy Tagged children food italy Comments (0)

Where We Stayed: Agriturismo Guardastelle, San Gimignano

68 °F

The Agriturismo Guardastelle is located about a mile outside the walled center of San Gimignano. It is a working farm that produces wine and olive oil and also has a B&B and a few apartments on the premises. The property is really beautiful, from the main house to the fields and the views of San Gimignano.

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The inside of the property did not disappoint, either. We stayed in one of the rooms in the main house. It was charming and had a nice view.

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It was also spacious. We could keep my daughter's sofa bed open without feeling cramped. The bathroom was roomy as well.

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This is a property where you are better off with a car. Although you can walk to San Gimignano, it is not a short walk. We ourselves never walked it because of bad weather or a tired kid, but we heard it takes about 20 minutes. Also, if you want to explore neighboring towns, that is much easier to do with a car.

The staff at Guardastelle are great. Everyone was friendly and offered us great recommendations for the surrounding area. We also attended the wine tour lunch, where they were welcoming to my daughter and fixed pasta especially for her. The grown ups among us learned a lot and enjoyed the wines and rebollita.

We really enjoyed our stay and hope to return someday.

Breakfast: Breakfast is included when you stay in the rooms. There were pastries, yogurt, fruit, cereals, meats, and cheese--a good variety especially when you consider the relatively small number of guests. The staff also will bring you espresso and eggs made to order upon request. Everything was good.
Bathroom: shower/tub combo
Blow dryer: yes
Elevator: no. This is an updated Tuscan farmhouse, so you will find stairs throughout the house. At the same time, you probably wouldn't need a stroller in the main house, so a family traveling with one could just store it in their car.
Internet: free in the breakfast room and common living area. Getting on was a little complicated--it took multiple steps--and was a bit slow at times.
Nearest playground: Not sure. I didn't see one in San Gimignano. However, Guardastelle does have a pool and there is some space on the grounds for kids to just run around.
Recommend to families with young children: definitely
Recommend to people without kids: definitely
Website: http://www.guardastelle.com/ENG/

Posted by amikulski 17:43 Archived in Italy Tagged children hotels italy Comments (0)

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