Archive for the ‘Restaurant Reviews’ Category

We’ve been absent for a while for a number of reasons; summer holidays, work…finding out we’re expecting another member of our pack (in human form)! And sadly, accompanying nausea that made blogging and any kind of movement pretty improbable.

Now safely half way through the third month we’re returning to old habits although the discovery that I have no immunity to toxoplasmosis means that my culinary adventures are dramatically limited.

So, last night we ventured as far as the Naviglio grande where we tried out as an ‘antipasto’ this Brazilian Tekamakeria that we’d had our eye on.

It’s cute, small but modern and the staff is friendly. It definitely embodies my idea of a successful modern eatery innovative food, limited menu, good quality and an eye for design.

Mr Towers has the coquille st Jacques and salmon egg temakinho, while I had to go for fried prawns and surimi (presuming these were all cooked).  The food was served quickly and was yummy but the price on these little parcels is pretty steep and will set you back anything between 6-10 euro per roll.


Atmosphere: laid back but cute. A bit cramped when it gets crowded I should think

Food: Temaki

Dinner for two: Expect to spend 50 euro for 2 people, particularly if you are hungry.

Would we go back? Perhaps, but for a snack and not a proper meal


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On today’s online version of Corriere della Sera an interesting video by Beijing based restauranteurs that explains a little about how to make it in Beijing with an Italian restaurant.

Difficulties catering to sophisticated Beijingren and sourcing genuine Italian products (such as mozzarella di bufala, salami, burrata etc).

PS. Sorry it’s all in Italian!!

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This place is a really little find. After cramming into an impossibly small and inanely crowded  bar for an overpriced aperitif we strolled towards the second flat we were going to view that day and  in Via Casale we found this really cool bar/shop. Basically selling wine and olive oil on tap it also offers the option to buy a small glass of wine (about the size of a shot glass) and a board with cheese, salami and ham and bread sticks.

What is really impressive is how cheap it all is. One glass of wine is 1 Euro and the food, served on a wooden cutting board cost from 3-6 Euro. Trust me, you won’t get anything cheaper in this area.

But it’s not just cost that attracts people here as the atmosphere is delightfully informal and unpretentious. When we finally move I’m going to make this a regular.


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The Osteria al Cappello in Udine is really popular with the locals but also with tourists coming to Udine from nearby Austria.

Yes, it’s true as other reiviews have said that the owners are not particulalry polite but I think it really just boils down to being a bit snappy and if you give as good as you get the service is fine.

Inside it’s pretty dark and I’m not sure I’d recommend it unless you like that mountain restaurant style. As it was a boiling hot summer day we stood outside where some long tall tables are set up and used the little window for service.

I was obviously immediately taken by the fact that dogs were welcome and provided with little bowls of fresh water as well as encouraged to come and ask for a drink at the bar 😉

 Even the glasses are decorated with paw-prints as well as the trademark hat.

Bruschettas and a drink are a very popular lunchtime option in Udine. You can accompany this with a spritz which in Friuli is basically just fizzy wine with water, unlike Veneto where a spritz is almost always an Aperol spritz here you do have to specify.

Osteria al Cappello

Atmosphere: Stick to the outside for a drink and aperitif Friuli-style

Food: Choice of bruschettas prepared at your choice for a quick lunch

Dinner for two: Expect to spend 10 euro for 2 people. The wine and water spritz is only 1.10 EUR

Would we go back? Yes, with Ezzie

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The Fuli Plaza (also Viva Plaza) on the third ring road was our closest stop the hotel for a quick eat. As we were in constant movement most of the time it was nice to grab a quick bite close to the hotel without actually eating inside it.

On our last day, sleep starved and over excited as everyday on this trip we visited the Olympic park and the Temple of heaven. We also got lost (things look so close on the map and then you walk for hours) and managed to fit in a trip to the Hutongs near the Information office. All this with a flight in the early afternoon makes me think it was quite good going.

Anyway because I get nasty unless I’m clean and fed we also managed to grab a bite in one of the restaurants in the Viva plaza and shower before boarding the plane.

I’ve been trying to remember the name of the hotel but really can’t quite remember either way after being served a very chinese can of coke (ke kou ke le) as I remember from my Chinese lessons!)

We ordered a ‘mild’ dish.

Now, all the red in this dish served in the black wok complete with wooden spoon are chillies. Their seeds are all over the rest of the food. How can this be mild??!

To be honest we should have known, Having been treated to Sichuan cuisine throughout the week we’d got the inkling that in China spicy means spicy. I now post this as a reminder to ask for completely bland version of everything next time I’m over!

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Tucked away in an alley just a stones throw from the Piazza Duomo in Udine this little gem of a restaurant was a lovely surprise.

I usually do my homework before travelling but this time I was too busy with work and Far East Film Festival events to really sink my teeth into the Udine restaurant scene so we pretty much chanced on this one. The bonus is that although we hadn’t booked, and it’s a very popular venue, we not only managed to get a table but we were shown to the outside terrace which is absolutely lovely. Exactly the way Italy is envisaged by rom com writers, but actually much harder to come by in reality.

View of the lamp lighting the entrance and candle-lit terrace upstairs

A table on the terrace


 I definitely recommend the Tagliere with a degustazione of cheese in the middle. You’ll get some slices of soppressa salami, cured ham and lard which i found difficult to escape in Udine and kept cropping up  on tartines and bruschettas everywhere threatening me with sky-high cholesterol.

We selected a tagliata di manzo with grilled vegetables and typical Friuli pasta called Cjarsons.

The tagliata served with polenta and roast vegetables including a large  shoot of radicchio

The Cjarsons were rather special. If you like sweetish fillings like pumpkin or almonds in your pasta then this is ideal for you.  They can contain all sorts of ingredients from chocolate to spinach to grappa. Of these we know they had some ricotta, cinnamon and mint and were served with ricotta.

Cjarsons alla Carnica

This wine, Ronco dei tassi, was delicious a bit like a passito but not so sickening sweet, in fact it was nice and dry. The only negative was that it was seriously strong for a white wine and we were quite drunk by the end of the bottle.

To add to the lovely experience we were offered chocolate, cantucci biscuits and an amaro (we chose local Nonino) a nice gesture that restauranteurs are getting out of the habit of.

Atmosphere: Sorry to be schmaltzy but really romantic

Food: Delicius without being pretentious, good quality ingredients with a local touch

Price: Dinner for two with wine c.a.70 EUR

Would we go back? We’re always on the hunt for new places, but this one is a keeper

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So, the world’s 50 best restaurants were published yesterday by the website world50best.com

Interestingly there are only 2 Italian restaurants in the list showing that either Italians are not doing a very good job of getting out there and promoting their fine dining or that restauranteurs in dear old Italia have been resting on their laurels a little too long and need to get out there and modernise the experience.

The UK, in fact, jestingly regarded by Italians as the nadir of cooking actually has one more listed restaurant than Italy thanks no doubt to the amazing renaissance that dining has had in the country in the past two decades or so.

Overall the USA has the largest number of fine dining establishments followed by Mediterranean princess, Spain.

These are the top 10:

Noma, Copenhagen, Denmark

El Celler de Can Roca, Girona, Spain

 Mugaritz, San Sebastiàn, Spain
D.O.M., Sao Paulo, Brazil
Osteria Francescana, Modena, Italy
Per Se, New York, USA
Alinia, Chicago, USA
Arzak, San Sebastiàn, Spain
Eleven Madison Park, New York USA
Needless to say I’m going to print out the list and after an accurate analysis of my travel and food budget try to eat my way through some of these, but as I think it might not be such an easy task I hope to hear comments and experiences from you!

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