What is an Osteria?
A Trattoria? An Enoteca?
Find here the best in Italy
What is an Osteria?
Wikipedia says: "The Osteria is a place serving wine and simple food."
But it is only that? I don't think so.
There are three things that an Osteria must offer: low prices, quality of the hosting, and traditional cuisine.
But there is another thing, maybe the most important, you go in an Osteria for a little chat with a glass of wine in hand. The place has to be as important as the food.
The Osteria it makes you feel comfortable, it doesn't have superstructures, it welcomes the traveler, and proposes dishes at low prices.
Learn which are the Italian meals, what to expect at a restaurant, how to read a bill, discover which are the Italian eating customs.
How to recognize a good Osteria
- The bill: Well, definitely that. This is the first thing that you look for in an Osteria. It shouldn't be over € 35, better if it is between € 25 and € 30. Maybe € 40 at dinner.
Finish the meal with the feeling to not have lost money, but only to have paid the right price, just a little more than a takeaway.
- The wine: A true Osteria has only regional wines and no more than ten. And it doesn't have to cost more than a dish.
- The bread: Just one or at the most two kinds of bread, always regional.
- Cutlery and glasses: A big no to the tablecloths with square patterns, better if only white. Proper cutlery and glasses for the wine, without exceeding.
- The menu: A pair of appetizers, two or three first courses with a soup, a couple of seconds courses. A dessert, the fruit.
- The recipes: Dishes of the oral tradition but revisited in their form, in the quantities, and in the presentations. I'll say a ten percent of creativeness.
- No: Absolutely no to buffet appetizer.
- Service: Confidential, personalized, always smiling, never rigid. The true innkeeper is as the barber or the hairdresser, he must know everything about everybody.
- Must be open at lunch and dinner.
The best Osteria in Italy
The new guide Osteria d'Italia 2019 of Slow Food for the first time have assigned five special prizes.
The first prize for the best pantry has been assigned to Reis (Frassino), for the ability of Juri Chiotti "to aim all at his mountain," with the majority of the raw products coming from the land around the Osteria.
The prize for the best interpretation of the regional cuisine has gone to Zenobi (Colonnella), where from over twenty years Patrician Corradetti interprets the cuisine with knowledge, passion, personality. Her dishes are a hymn to the hills.
Finally, the prize for the best innkeeper has gone to Ostreria Fratelli Pavesi (Podenzano). Giacomo Pavesi, according to the motivations, "embodies the figure of the innkeeper perfectly: with few words, he is able to tell a dish, a wine, a long tradition or an imaginary dish without leaving anything out.
What is a Trattoria?
A Trattoria is a family place where you can eat regional or local recipes.
Often healthier than a big restaurant due to the freshness of the foods.
The owner has tightened contacts with small breeders, shepherds, cheese dairies. The pasta is freshly-prepared.
This type of activity, unfortunately, is now in decline because nowadays people are always looking for famous restaurants.
Having the luck to travel, as soon as I arrive in a new city, I try to identify the best places to eat.
Following, therefore, the 10 best Trattoria in Italy of my 2018.
1. Trattoria Cafe Coco's
Coco's is a cafe overlooking the market of Piazza Madama Cristina, and they do the best Zuppa di Ceci (chickpeas soup) of the world. But the proof is in the pudding.
Prices: € 20
Via Bernardino Galliari 28, Turin.
2. Osteria Da Oreste Savona
I don't understand why Oreste is not always full of people. Maybe the young people look for smarter, brighter, cooler places to stay. But this Trattoria serves the best dishes of the Savonese tradition, also those that nowadays is impossible to find (as the soup of Christmas).
Try also the "Trofie con Totani" (pasta with squids).
Prices: € 25/30
Vico Gallico 11 R, Savona.
Irresistible, this little cafe is a kickass with its dishes and so many sandwiches like that of horse tartare.
Prices: € 10/15
Borgo S. Ambrogio 2, Parma.
4. Osteria alle Carceri
A kind, pleasant and polite place, just as the unbelievable innkeeper Andrea de Alberti that is also a poet.
It is a modern Osteria, of those that Slow Food likes, but it is true and savory.
Prices: € 25/30
via Fratelli Marozzi 7, Pavia.
5. Trattoria Milanese
Truth is that the Trattoria Milanese is, in reality, a restaurant but a traditional restaurant.
To have a risotto here has the same effect of a time machine that will bring you back to another Milan. Exciting.
Prices: € 25/30
Via Santa Marta 11, Milan.
Cibus is one of the Osterie, according to Slow Food, that is contemporary and famous.
It is there from decades, and it is not a discovery. But this summer when Lillino has brought me in their secret room where they refine the cheeses, it has been a so real and so savory moment to make it unforgettable.
If you love the cheese and south Italy, this it is a temple. And the small and pleasant Ceglie makes the rest.
Prices: € 35/40
Via Chianche di Scarano 7, Ceglie Messapica (Br).
7. Il Gagollo
Locals like this one in north Italy there are no more, a shack on the beach, a crumbling kitchen, a pirate atmosphere.
But heck, when the sea gives, the fishing cooperative of Gagollo prepares the best fried clams.
Prices: € 25/30
Via Aurelia, 17047 Vado Ligure (SV)
8. Trattoria Vecchio Mafone
One of the last times that I went to Palermo, I ate at Mafone at lunch of the first day. Then at dinner of the first day. Then at dinner of the second day, only because at lunch it was full of people.
The fish, the spaghetti with urchin, are the best of my life.
Prices: € 25/30
Via Judica 22, Palermo.
9. All'Antico Vinaio
It is fancy, it is the best voted on TripAdvisor, but if the queue is less than fifty meters I'll stop to eat.
Try the Schiacciata and the Finocchiona. With € 4 I buy a sandwich big as a laptop, and then I go through the city making the tourist. Cool.
Prices: € 10/20
Via dei Neri 74/R, Florence.
After just a few months of life, this modern Osteria managed by the young and audacious Sarah Cicolini has become the favored of so many of us gluttons.
The last time I ate an unbelievable tartare of a heart of Carrù, the great dishes of the Roman. The demonstration that the tradition can be contemporary and the contemporaries can be traditional.
Prices: € 30
Piazza Tarquinia 4a/b, Rome.
What does enoteca mean?
Enoteca meaning: simply put, the enoteca sells wine but not like in a supermarket!
First of all, here you can find wines that you won't find anywhere else; secondly, you can taste it while eating something. Perfect for small talks with friends.
There are infinite enoteche in Italy, but which are the best?
Here a list of the most antique wine shops in the Belpaese.
It is not easy to make a list, but here are the 10 enoteche that have the best wines, liqueurs, with an eye to the Italian gastronomy.
1. Enoteca della Valpolicella
You can find it at Fummane, at just a few kilometers from Verona. A complete selection of the best wines of Valpolicella. The most prestigious Amaroni and some rare bottles of Recioto are the cream of the crop of this wine cellar.
Here it is also possible to taste a complete meal of good territorial cuisine. Price: € 40.
Via Osan 45, Fumane (Vr)
The most ancient enoteca of Rome (since 1876), it is very famous in the capital for its vast choice of wines, champagne, sparkling, liqueurs, and distillates. The restructuring has preserved the historical structure conjugating it with elements of modern functionality.
Via Goito 20, Rome.
3. San Lorenzo Wine Bar
San Lorenzo is a wine cafe that goes out of the traditional schemes of this typology of locals. Its philosophy is that to let its clients discover some new doozy, tastings the wines for geographical areas.
This wine cellar proposes labels of Italy and France, but the surprises come from countries like Australia, Chile, New Zelanda, South Africa, and California.
In a modern and elegant environment, it is also possible to taste some dish of the Umbria tradition.
Via Oberdan 12, Foligno (Pg).
4. Cantina Apollonio
With so many places that sell wine in Apulia, a visit to the wine cellar Apollonio is mandatory, this family trades wine since 1870, a tradition that is handed down from father to son, today is conducted by two brothers: Max and Marcello.
Via San Pietro in Lama 7, Monteroni di Lecce.
5. Enoteca Redi
For the tourists of the wine, it is inevitable a tour to visit the Wine cellars Redi of Montepulciano.
Define them suggestive would be an understatement, barrels, and vats; everything seems to belong to the scenography of a historical film, instead, they are real.
The wine cellar rises on medieval structures, and it still follows the rules of the 1337 Montepulciano statutes as it regards the care of the wine of that epoch.
A real dive in the past.
Via di Collazzi 5, 53045 Montepulciano (Siena).
6. Enoteca Marcucci
The environment of this good enoteca is of great charm, thanks to the elegance and the simplicity.
The owner Michael Marcucci offers the clients a wide choice with over 2.500 appreciated labels and will also prepare for you a table to eat something.
Well-attended, among its clients there are names like George Armani, Paul Smith, Fernando Botero, Flavio Briatore, and Naomi Campbell.
Via Garibaldi 40, Pietrasanta.
7. Enoteca Regionale La Serenissima
Place rich in charm, located in the 1400 Venetian Directors building, at the center of the strengthened citadel of Gradisca.
You can taste almost all the wines of Friuli accompanied by fantastic appetizers of Montasio and various typologies of the local hams.
It is also possible to dine, but you have to reserve in advance.
Via Battisti 30, Gradisca d'Isonzo.
8. Cantina Comunale di La Morra
We are in Piedmont, the center of production of the most prestigious wines of Italy. And La Morra is the heart of the Barolo.
Via C. Alberto 2, La Morra
9. Malia Wine Bar
This wine cellar is considered one of the most important of South Italy. There are over seven hundred labels in the wine cellar, the international panorama is represented by French and a world selection wines.
Great attention, however, for the wines of South Italy.
The atmosphere is elegant and pleasant.
Via Ietticelli 55, Castrovillari.
10. N'ombra de Vin
Located in the center of Milan, it is the place of pilgrimage of the Milanesi wine lovers.
The wine can be purchased and tasted, in the years the selected labels have reached a comprehensive range.
It is possible to try traditional dishes too.
Via San Marco 2, Milan.