Now that you know my favorite towns in Italy, I may as well spill the fagioli and tell you where I like to eat when I'm there. As you know, I'm all about the food; I promise you these ristoranti will do you proud and feed you well.
This is a tough one. Having lived there for a few years we had several places that captured our hearts (and our stomachs), so it's hard to narrow it down to just one. But when forced to think about it and recommend only one place to eat in Ascoli, I'd say head to Cantina dell'Arte. It's warm, rustic-chic interior is inviting, the service is good, the menu is varied and reasonably-priced, and the food is not only excellent, it's nicely-presented. Must Eat: the Olive all'Ascolana.
Osteria il Falco Grillaio.
I have half a mind to keep this one to myself. I've reviewed other Matera restaurants that I could pawn off on you, but you know I just can't lie to you guys. My favorite hands-down dining in Matera is the Osteria il Falco Grillaio. No, they don't serve falcon, despite the name. They do serve terrific traditional fare with a bit of flare in a rustic setting. It's right across from the Archeological Museum, making it easy to find. Must Eat: the home-made pasta with cardoncelli mushrooms. Or the cavatelli with mollica di pane. Can't decide which is my favorite.
Rome is awash with trattorie and ristoranti; the trouble is finding one that isn't also loaded with turisti. Our little haven away from the crowds is Osteria dell'Arco, just outside the Aurelian wall near Piazza Fiume. We happened into it on our first trip to Rome and have consistently enjoyed the meals there ever since. The tiny dining room is cozy and the chef is somewhat creative using mostly Lazio products. Must Eat: Pernicelli pasta with guanciale.
A little ironic that this great eatery bears the same name as our Roman fave. The food is completely different. Abruzzese cuisine is hill country eating: hearty, bold, distinct. The Hostaria fills with locals who appreciate the antipasto buffet, the hot frittelle, and the home-made pasta. Around here "hostaria" means hospitable. Must eat: the antipasto buffet with super-fresh cheeses and an array of local delicacies.
Citta della Pieve
Trattoria da Bruno.
Despite its location in the centro storico of Citta della Pieve, da Bruno has a strangely modern and sterile interior. That does't carry over to the food, however, which adheres strictly to the credo of local and traditional. Daily specials are recited and particularly worth paying attention to. Service can be a little slow, but that's because the joint fills with exuberant, hungry pievesi. Must eat: the homemade ravioli if it's offered that day.
photo credit: The Girl Who Ate Everything