Do you have any "can't-miss" restaurants in France or Italy?

My husband and I will be traveling to France and Italy for the first time next month. We don't have a fixed itinerary, and are basically going to eat as much good food as possible. Please let me know if there's a food experience you'd recommend.

P.S. I just chose a category at random, because none fit this question type. Thanks!



calendargirl September 9, 2010
Paris: Le Comptoir (try lunch as others have suggested); Fish La Boissonerie (also terrific for lunch without a reservation, casual and friendly service in either English or French); Itineraires in the 5th, run by an adorable young couple -- unpretentious and spectacular food... we loved it so much we returned for a second meal there during a recent sojourn in Paris.
betteirene September 8, 2010
Laduree and Le Comptoir. You'll swear you died and are in heaven. Trust me-- bring skirts and slacks with elastic waistbands.
AntoniaJames September 7, 2010
Go to Bourg-en-Bresse, not far from Lyon, at dinner time and walk around the residential neighborhoods near the beautiful little church in that town. Look for a restaurant full of happy-looking people eating dinner. Any restaurant meeting that description will do. Order chicken. If you are not willing to take a flyer on looking for that restaurant, ask anyone in Bourg-en-Bresse for a recommendation for a place that the locals like a lot. Make sure you visit the town early enough in the day to go inside the church, too. ;o) P.S. I've bicycled (alone) all over France to small cities and towns that did not appear in any guidebooks at the time. Most of the places where I ate I selected using the method described above. It works. Incidentally, my favorite client (a Parisian) uses this method, too, especially when dining in New York City As I said, it works.
ChefJune September 7, 2010
There is so much great food in France it's hard to know where to start to advise you. Everyone has their own favorites, and it's hard to know because you haven't said anything about your budget, but here are my France "don't miss"es -- based upon my personal taste experiences.

Paris: Maceo in the 1er, La Cagouille (fish) in the 14eme,
Reims: Don't miss the tour of Pommery. Historically one of the most interesting places ever. Champagne just okay, tho. Food: Assiette Champenoise (maybe the best food in France right now 2** and Les Crayeres.
Lyon: aaah, my favorite city anywhere! Don't miss the silk museum, the Roman ruins and the funicular ride up to Fourviere. Food: Brasserie Leon de Lyon (and tell Jean-Paul I said Bonjour), La Voute Chez Lea. Both places are in the Centre Ville, and very reasonably priced.
Avignon: We love Hiely on the rue de la Republique. No stars anymore, but food and service and welcome just as good as before. Don't miss the bridge or the Palais des Papes.
Nice: Enjoy shopping and munching in the Old Town. Be sure to have some socca and pissaladiere (totally delicious, imho). For dinner, call a day ahead and order Bourride at L'Ane Rouge on the harbor. You won't be sorry. Then drink white Bellet with it. (You can only get that wine in Nice!)
If you want, email me for more info.
FrozenFoodie September 7, 2010
If you go to Venice, be sure to visit Osteria Oliva Nera ( It's run by a husband and wife team, who were welcoming to locals and tourists alike. It's very small, but the food was great (zucchini blossoms, squid ink pasta, etc.). They also own a small olive grove, so we were presented with a bottle of their olive oil after the meal. It's hidden away in a maze of alleys, so I would ask for directions at your hotel if you plan to visit.
lacerise September 7, 2010
Le Comptoir in Paris...try going in the afternoon b/c you'll stand a better chance of getting in. La Regalade, too. Chez Omar. and don't miss La's du Falafel on Rue des Rosiers in the Marais district.
arielleclementine September 7, 2010
thank you all so much for your suggestions! i just checked back here today, and am so happy to hear all these great ideas! Paris, Florence, and Rome are officially on the itinerary, but based on your suggestions we might add Lyon and skip Cinque Terre. hooray!
mtrelaun September 7, 2010
Eat at L'Ami Jean in Paris.
healthierkitchen September 7, 2010
For Italy, get a hold of the Slow Food publication Osterie & Locande d'Italia. It has osterie, trattorie and restaurants in cities all over Italy. We tried some in the Orvieto area of Umbria (love!) which were great.
Merrill S. August 30, 2010
If you get to Florence, go to Il Fagioli on Corso dei Tintori -- small, family-run, fantastic.
thirschfeld August 24, 2010
Not so much for food but I would try to hit the champagne region and go to Cliqout and then some of the smaller champagne houses. Regis Marcon's retaurant, in the Auvergne region, a really great restaurant. Go to some of the bouchons in Lyon if you get a chance. Just beware not all food in France is great.
pierino August 24, 2010
Consider the Testaccio district to be Rome's Kitchen. It's an area just off the tourist maps to the SW but easy to reach by metro or taxi. It's just below the Aventine Hill. For a splurge Checchino is perhaps the best, authentically Roman restaurant in the city. It's in an unlikely place opposite the old slaughterhouse which is now an arts center tucked into a hillside "monte testaccio" that's actually composed of old amphorae. I'm not making this up.
It's not impossible to have a bad meal in Rome, in fact it's really easy, simply due to the tourist traffic. But it's the one city in the country where you can taste the whole spectrum of Italian cooking because the politicians and the cardinals and the film directors come from other parts. I really like Da Giuseppe near Piazza del Popolo for bolognese style pastas and bolito misto.
Personally, I would skip the Cinque Terre made popular by Rick Steves, who I think is an idiot. It would be inconvenient for your itinerary anyway. The technical term for this getting "stevesed."
arielleclementine August 23, 2010
thanks, pierino! that would be fantastic :) we're flying into paris, and flying out of rome, but haven't really settled on where we'll be in between. we'll be traveling by train from paris to rome, stopping anywhere. i've heard great things about cinque terre, and i think i'd like to go to florence, but nothing is set in stone yet.
pierino August 23, 2010
While Italy is not a big country, it's not a small one either. And the restaurant cooking is micro-regional. I personally love Rome. But I also love Umbria (the region). But....if you could narrow down your travel plans, I can hit you with some specific places.
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