In light of the Thanksgiving holiday coming up in the United States, I am writing about a fun restaurant that I have been to on two separate US Thanksgivings in Venice – Osteria al Squero! While I love this place, I will disclose that Osteria al Squero is by no means a secret or even “off the beaten path.” In fact, Osteria al Squero is listed in many a guidebook, including Rick Steves (with whom I have a love/hate relationship, LOL), and it definitely falls into the “touristy” category. All of that said, Osteria al Squero is still a fantastic spot for tourists to try cicchetti, or “Venetian tapas” for those not in the know. This article details how to enjoy cicchetti at Osteria al Squero.
Dan and my families’ Italian Thanksgiving trip last year started in Piedmont for the Alba International White Truffle Festival. The town of Alba also happens to be right in the middle of the world famous Barolo wine region. So, while in the area, we took a day to explore the Barolo countryside and try some of its well regarded and pricey wines.
STOP 1 – BAROLO TOWN.
We left our hotel in Alba at 9:00 AM to start our Barolo tour. It was unfortunately raining, but we made it to the, very, very hilly and twisty Barolo countryside pretty quick without any issues. People with carsickness beware. The first stop of the day was in the town of Barolo, which is an adorable little wine village that reminded me of a fairy tale city. The rain luckily stopped for a few minutes and we were able to walk around the town.
As part of our big family trip to Italy in November 2021, Dan and I signed everyone up for an evening food tour through Rome’s Trastevere neighborhood. We did this for three reasons: (1) several of us on this tour love a good food tour, (2) Dan and I lived in Trastevere when we studied in Rome wayyyy back in 2008 and we wanted our families to see the area, and (3) we previously did a food tour through Testaccio and really loved it! We booked our tour with Eating Italy Food Tours for our first evening in Rome, meeting on Tiber Island around 5:00 PM. Unfortunately, we got hit with an insane rain storm en route to the meeting point and we all got soaked… In any case, the tour went on! Due to the rain, we quickly moved to our first location in Trastevere, which I was verrrrry excited about!
Stop 1: Trattoria Da Enzo al 29
Yes, you read that correctly. Our first stop was at the famous Trattoria Da Enzo al 29. Da Enzo is a well known Roman trattoria that is very, very popular. You will frequently find it on “best food in Rome” lists. Da Enzo does not take reservations and there is almost always a wait. As such, our group actually got in before the restaurant opened to the public, something we never could have pulled off on our own! Our group and another couple on the tour were seated between two tables dressed in red checkered tablecloths. Classic southern Italy. Our guide poured everyone a glass of Prosecco and out came the food. First, the famous carciofi alla giudìa (or Jewish fried artichokes). These artichokes are famous Rome and not difficult to find when in season, but tough to find elsewhere in Italy. Basically, this is a deep fried artichoke topped with quality sea salt. Very simple, yet incredibly good. On the table was also Italian bread, burrata, tomatoes, and olive oil, which were suggested together as a type of little bruschetta. I loved the burrata and actually preferred it to the artichoke. Stop 1 was off to a good start.
If you read this blog at all, you know we LOVE a food tour, and have taken a few in Italy (here, here, and here)! On our most recent trip to Italy, we booked a tour with a new (to us) tour company visiting restaurants in Rome’s Centro Storico, or historical center. Think Campo di’Fiori, Pantheon, Piazza Navona, etc. It ended up being a surprisingly good tour and resulted in us finding some new recommendations. Here is my review of our tour and information on how you can take the same tour!
STOP ONE – A VERO NORCINERIA IN ROMA
Our first stop on this food tour was at a “norcineria” that I have certainly passed numerous times and never gave it a second look: Norcineria Viola 1890! A norcineria is a shop generally particular to the Umbrian town of Norcia, where its very common to salt and cure certain types of wild boar and pigs, as well as make other products out of them. Prior to this food tour, I had never once visited a norcineria. This one, however, is quite accessible, located right on Campo d’Fiori. True to its name, Norcineria Viola 1890 is a butcher and cheese shop selling products from Norcia and Umbira in general. Here, we tasted five types of salami. Yes, five, including the traditional salami, salami with truffle, a spicy salami, a more fatty salami than normal, and a jerky style salami. We also tasted bread in local olive oil (duh), three types of cheese, and wine from Umbria (our favorite)!
Dan and I dined at our first restaurant with two Michelin stars in May – Daní Maison in Ischia! The entire experience was excellent, and it was not as expensive as expected (although don’t get me wrong, it was expensive). This post details our experience at Daní Maison with their chef’s tasting menu in May 2022.
For a bit of background, Daní Maison is chef Nino di Costanzo’s restaurant. Costanzo’s family is from the Campania region, the region in Southern Italy in which Ischia sits, and his dishes focus on Ischia’s best foods with a modern, artistic flair. The restaurant is located in his family’s former home and is currently filled with works of art by Lello Esposito, who, per his bio, specializes in the relation between contemporary art and tradition by conceiving and re-elaborating the symbols of Neapolitan culture. Very cool!