Earlier this year I finally got the chance to take a much needed break from work and head over to Europe for a month-long vacation. It was a long time coming too, because I had been wanting to travel to Europe, and Italy in particular, for the better part of the last decade.
Despite the cooler Winter temperatures, the trip was an absolute blast! Every day I was amazed by Europe’s rich culture, incredible history, breathtaking architecture and delicious culinary delights. All that I wanted to do after returning to Sydney, was to fly straight back to Europe! :)
Now I wasn’t planning on writing anything about the trip, let alone review the restaurants that I had visited. However, my friend convinced me to at least post some photos, so here goes…
Ah, Roma. Such an incredibly beautiful city. My intention was to spend only 4 days here before touring the rest of the Italy, but alas, I loved it so much I stayed for a week and a half. Even then I wish I could have stayed another 6 months! Arrivederci Roma, I will see you again.
Via Emilio Faà di Bruno, 26, 00195 Roma, Italy – Website
This is a restaurant I found when on the hunt for Sicilian cuisine. Apart from the risotto, which was okay, the rest of the dishes were simply divine. The frutti de mare (fruits of the sea salad) was so fresh and the pasta was cooked to perfection with just the most amazing sauce. In fact it was the best pasta dish I had in Italy. I highly recommend this restaurant to anyone visiting Rome.
Please note that the photos do not do justice to the dishes. Unfortunately the low light and incorrect white balance produced some weird looking photos :(
Cacio e Pepe
This is a very simple yet incredibly popular pasta dish found throughout Rome. It’s just pasta with cheese and cracked pepper. If you’re after something quick and easy, it’s well worth a try.
Tartufo Bianco Affogato
I had affogato pretty much everywhere I went in Italy. Absolutely love em! This particular one took it a step further with the addition of white chocolate vermicelli on top. Yum!
Il Gelato Di San Crispino
Via della Panetteria, 42, 00187 Roma, Italy - Website
Thanks to Swah (from Love Swah) for suggesting this place. She wasn’t kidding when she told me it’s the “best gelato in Rome”. Although it is located very close to the Trevi Fountain, it is just far enough away to avoid the stampede of tourists. Oh and if you’re there, please don’t skimp! It is seriously the best gelato ever. When my friend ordered the large tub, I thought she was crazy for ordering so much for two people. Fast forward through an hour of absolute bliss and I was wishing we had another two tubs to devour!
In my eyes Napoli is great for only two things, Pizza and Pompeii. Sadly I was unable to visit Pompeii during my stay, but I did end up eating at the best pizza place in Napoli (and probably all of Italy!).
Pizzeria Da Michele
Via Cesare Sersale, 1, 80139 Napoli, Italy - Website
If you’ve watched ‘Eat Pray Love’, you will know of this pizzeria. They offer only two types of pizza; Margherita (tomato, mozzarella & basil) and Marinara (tomato, garlic & oregano). Now despite being ridiculed all the time for ordering something ‘plain’, I have always been a fan of margherita pizza. It’s simply delicious. What sets Da Michele’s margherita pizza apart from the rest? Everything! Though if I have to pin point one thing, it’s the dough. It’s just so light and fluffy yet also charred and crispy at the same time. So if you don’t mind grabbing a number and lining up outside the restaurant for 15-45mins, then you have to have to have to try Da Michele’s!
Photo copyright: Sony Pictures
Another stunning city in Italy. I stayed here for only 2 days but loved every second of it. Florence is jam packed with history, brilliant architecture, world renown monuments (such as the Statue of David) and a truly buzzing nightlife and street culture. Oh and don’t forget to take a trip up to Fiesole. Such a stunning town on the hills overlooking Florence.
Giannino in San Lorenzo
Borgo San Lorenzo, 33/35/37r, 50123 Firenze, Italy - Website
Amazingly delicious lamb chops! Florentine cuisine is known for it’s steaks and chops. Definitely worth a try no matter what restaurant you visit.
Italian version of Japanese tempura! :) Chicken and veggies deep fried in batter (photo below). Very rustic Florentine dish, which was quite yummy, but got a little too oily for me half way through.
Via Faenza, 95, 50123 Firenze, Italy - Website
Open late, yummy pizzas and an absolutely stunning decor inside! Wow!
Piazza della Repubblica, 39, 50123 Firenze, Italy - Website
Located in the ever buzzing Piazza della Repubblica, this cafe has great coffee and mouth-watering panna cotta’s!
This city really surprised me! I wasn’t expecting too much from Barcelona, but I had the best time there! It’s just so full of life (and this was in the middle of Winter!). And the Gothic district… my God! It is so surreal, it’s like stepping back in time.
Santa Maria de Montserrat (monastery on top of Monserrat mountain) is also a must visit when in Barcelona.
Ménage à Trois
Carrer d’En Bot, 4, 08002 Barcelona, Spain - Website
When in Spain, you have to eat tapas and drink sangria! This restaurant is a great place for both and it’s right near the Gothic area!
Carrer de la Palla, 8, 08002 Barcelona, Spain
Cute and cosy little cafe selling all things sweet :)
I have to admit that I wasn’t too keen to visit Paris, based on what my friends had told me. Once there though, I found the city to be quite beautiful, especially the Marais district. Plus it snowed while I was there which made the city look magical.
Robert et Louise
64 Rue Vieille du Temple, 75003 Paris, France – Website
A local took me to this restaurant after reading about it in the Lonely Planet guidebook. The sole purpose of our visit was to try snails for the first time – which we found to be really delicious! I also tried Foie Gras for the first time, which tasted so exquisite, although now that I have seen a video of how it is made, I will never have it again. Now if you love your steaks, or lamb chops, then you will definitely love this restaurant. Table after table people were ordering meat, which was cooked on top of a traditional wood-fire BBQ. Highly recommended!
I only spent 2 days here so I didn’t get to see a whole lot. In terms of places to eat, what I did notice was an abundance of Argentinian steakhouses (not sure why?) and little shops selling fat, chunky hot chips with mayo. It seems to be the staple fast food of Amsterdam.
Damrak 41, 1012 LK Amsterdam, Netherlands - Website
This seems to be the most popular takeaway selling fries with mayo. Just on that note, I think more people eat mayo as a condiment than tomato sauce in Amsterdam!
London reminded me a lot of Sydney, only bigger. I managed to stay right next to King Cross station, which was very convenient because I could take the Tube to pretty much anywhere. There is loads to do in London but some my favourite areas were West End (theatre district), Brick Lane and Camden Town.
In terms of food, the traditional dish would probably be fish & chips (or curry as some locals told me). Having said that, there are loads of great international cuisines on offer. And if you’re after a quick bite, Borough Markets near London Bridge has some great snacks and light meals.
9 Parkway, London NW1 7PG, United Kingdom – Website
A great japanese restaurant a friend of mine took me to. The dumplings were so nice! Though I think I had too many of them because I struggled to finish my main of roast duck and pork with rice!
87-135 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge, Greater London SW1X 7XL, United Kingdom - Website
I couldn’t finish my trip to London without visiting Harrods :) It’s is truly enormous. Luckily there are places inside where you can relax and grab a bite to eat, such as the Godiva chocolate cafe. Yum!
Hmmm… this short post with photos turned out to be a lot longer than I had imagined! Oh well, it’s always nice to look back on what was a brilliant vacation!
Now I’m sure I have missed out on loads of great restaurants and world renown eateries, but this was a completely unplanned, spur of the moment trip for me, so I’m more than happy with the things that I saw and the places I visited. And besides, I have to save something for the next time I am in Europe ;)