These 3 Restaurants in Italy Are the Real Deal

by Christopher Atwood

This has been a big month of travel for me. Over the last few weeks, I’ve journeyed to New York City, Boston and Washington D.C. In the mad dash before my business trips, I had no time to plan my off-work hours there. Luckily, friends and family hosted me in each locale.

Having a local show me around, I realized, made a world of a difference. Instead of wandering aimlessly, I experienced the cities’ secret gems – vetted and vouched for by the folks who live there.

In Boston, a relative took me to a pizzeria that’s been run by the same family for three generations. Stepping inside, I spotted black-and-white family photos on the wall. In the kitchen, a traditional coal-fired oven is still in use! Our waitress proudly told us that her great-grandfather started the pizza place back in 1926.

Had I walked down this street on my own, I would never have spotted this neighborhood institution. Touring an unfamiliar place with a native, I stopped feeling like an outsider. I was able to see each city through local eyes. Inside connections meant that I could feel at home in towns I barely knew. 

When you travel with a local, you don’t feel like a stranger. You’re welcomed inside someone's reality – sharing in the people and places that they love. This is even truer when you travel to a foreign, mysterious country.

It’s often hard for first-time travelers to Italy to encounter the country they’ve dreamed of. Sure, anyone can spot the Colosseum or walk through the Vatican City. But, it’s much tougher to access the city that Romans know and adore.

This is why See Italy always partners with local guides. You won’t just tour Italy with us. You’ll see Italy through local eyes – exploring nooks and crannies known only to the people who call it home. With this in mind, I want to share with you three of my favorite, local-approved ristoranti in Italy. No tourist menus here – just authentic eats and real Italian hospitality.


Located in Rome’s non-touristy Trastevere neighborhood, Da Enzo al 29 is a postcard-perfect Roman ristorante. Tables out front are crowned in checked tablecloths. To get here, you’ll clamber over cobblestone streets — where laundry hangs to dry overhead. Roman recipes – cucina romana – in all their humble glory reign in Enzo’s kitchen. Pasta specialties include carbonara (egg + cheese + pork), amatriciana (tomato + onion + pork), and cacio e pepe (pecorino cheese + black pepper). Do as the Romans do: order a liter of wine with your supper.



Whenever a friend asks me where to dine in Florence, my first answer always is: Gilda Bistrot. This trattoria is tucked on a side street in Florence’s Sant Ambrogio district – a quiet haven far from the crowds. Gilda, the owner, will welcome you with a kiss on each cheek. The menu changes daily. Honoring Tuscany’s seasonal bounty, Gilda personally writes the menu by hand each day. Gilda’s food shows the same care — reassuringly rustic and yet refined.



Venice is a maze of streets, bridges and waterways. Untrained visitors often err by sticking to the Grand Canal. To find the best food, you need to head to Venice's side streets and calm canals. At L’Anice Stellato, a trattoria on a quiet canal, you can savor the flavors of the sea. Try the squid ink spaghetti or softshell crab. In warm months, you can sit by the canal while enjoying your meal.

Why feel like a stranger, when you could feel at home in Italy?
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