World ? Europe ? Italy

Italy: Best Dining Bets

  • La Terrazza (Rome; tel. 06-478121): You get two winning elements here: some of the finest cuisine in Rome and a panoramic view toward Michelangelo's dome of St. Peter's. The constantly changing menu takes advantage of the best seasonal ingredients, and the chef constantly dazzles discerning palates with new taste sensations. This prestigious restaurant is located in the Hotel Eden.

  • CibrȲo (Florence; tel. 055-2341100): Fabio Picchi, the chef-owner, serves the most innovative cuisine in Florence. CibrȲo consists of a restaurant, a less formal trattoria, and a cafe/bar across the street. The impossibly old-fashioned small kitchen doesn't have a grill and doesn't turn out pastas; it specializes in sophisticated creations based on age-old Tuscan recipes with a twist. Don't miss the flourless chocolate cake.

  • Antica Trattoria Botteganova (outside Siena; tel. 0577-284230, www.anticatrattoriabotteganova.it): On the road leading north of Siena to Chianti, just outside the city walls, lies this outstanding restaurant. Chef Michele Sorrentino gives standard Italian dishes a modern touch and uses the best seasonal ingredients from the Tuscan countryside. Try his tortelli stuffed with pecorino cheese and served with a hot parmigiano cheese sauce and truffled cream, and sample a regional vintage from the fine wine cellar.

  • San Domenico (Imola, outside Bologna; tel. 0542-29000): Foodies from all over Europe flock to the town of Imola to visit this, our pick as Italy's best restaurant. Convenient to Bologna and Ravenna, San Domenico features a cuisine that seems to feature modern French influences. But owner Gian Luigi Morini claims that his heavenly offerings are nothing more than adaptations of festive regional dishes -- they're just lighter, more subtle, and served in manageable portions. Enjoy a vintage from one of Italy's finest wine cellars to accompany your memorable meal here. Simply marvelous!

  • Antico Martini (Venice; tel. 041-5224121): Founded in 1720 as a spot to enjoy the new trend of drinking coffee, this restaurant is one of the best in Venice. Replete with paneled walls and glittering chandeliers, the Martini specializes in Venetian cuisine.

  • Ristorante Il Desco (Verona; tel. 045-595358): Set in a former palazzo, this restaurant is the best in the Veneto region of northeastern Italy. Its culinary repertoire emphasizes a nuova cucina (nouvelle cuisine) that makes use of the freshest ingredients. The wine selections are excellent.

  • Restaurant Joia (Milan; tel. 02-29522124): The vegetarian dishes here are among the best in Italy, but Swiss chef Pietro Leemann also excels in seafood. This is a hot dining ticket in Italy's city of fashion.

  • La Cantinella (Naples; tel. 081-7648684): The only Michelin-starred restaurant in Naples, La Cantinella serves some of the best and most refined seafood in Campania. Opening onto the bay of Santa Lucia, this will be the highlight of your culinary tour of the area. Time-tested Neapolitan classics are served, along with an array of more imaginative dishes. Grilled fish can be prepared as you like it -- and chances are, you'll like it a lot.

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