Archive for the ‘Italy’ Category

J holds up the Leaning Tower

K lends a hand to try to help straighten the tower

Pizza in Pisa

Kathryn says: We came to Pisa to do one thing – to see the Leaning Tower. We enjoyed walking around it and reading about it in our guidebook. Apparently, architects and engineers tried to correct the lean several times, and it just wasn’t happening. We joked that it was a good thing it wouldn’t stop leaning because it created a huge tourism industry here. That lean generated a lot of jobs, and a lot of creative photos.

After snapping our share of photos and even a fun video, we headed to the bus stop to catch a ride to Luca. While we waited, my stomach grumbled, and I thought of a good way to appease it – pizza in Pisa!

I walked over to the nearby food truck and ordered a mushroom pizza, which the cashier threw on the griddle to reheat. She cut it in half and gave it to me folded over like a panini, but I opened it up for the photo. It had light cheese and sauce and tender mushrooms on a thin, crispy crust. It wasn’t the best pizza in Italy, but I thought it was pretty cool that I was eating “a piece of pizza in Pisa.” Say that ten times fast.

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Dad, restaurant owner, and Mom at Osteria Ai Specchieri


Bread with olive oil



Pizza with salami, mushrooms and artichokes

Tuna salad with mozzarella

Jamie says:  Oops… I forgot a great meal from our trip!  Here it is!  Better late than never.

Kathryn says:  After touring Doge’s Palace, our stomachs were grumbling. Just down the street, we popped into Osteria Ai Specchieri (Calle Larga San Marco 654 Venezia; tel. 041-523-7918) to give it a try.

The owner was super-friendly and instantly befriended us. After he took our orders, he sat down at the table next to us to eat his lunch.

I got a delectable fried calamari, which was perfectly crispy, salty and lemony, and a side of polenta, which was plain but good when I drizzled olive oil on top.

Mom got pizza with salami, mushrooms and artichokes, and she was kind enough to share it with J and me. We were amazed by the flavorful cheese and toppings and found it to be our best pizza yet in Italy.

J says:  K was right!  The pizza was quite awesome.  It was hard to resist eating more of Mom’s meal.  I really enjoyed my tuna salad, too.  It was tasty and light.  There was also corn in it again.  Dad got the same thing and liked it, too.

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Pretzel cracker mix and apricot juice

Pasta with white and red sauce, bread, prosciutto, hard cheese, olive, crackers, and cookie

Blood orange juice

Gelato cone

Focaccia bread and cookies

Jamie says:  It was sad leaving Rome.  The ground was wet… the city must have been sad we were leaving.  We took a taxi ride early in the morning with an interesting and kind taxi driver who never failed to point out a significant building or tell us an important story about history (I guess a tour was included in the fare).  We got to the airport and found our airline- Alitalia.  The foodie in me asked if there would be breakfast… I was told yes.  We boarded the plane (which didn’t take off for an hour) and met some interesting people during the flight.

My “breakfast” ended up being a pretzel cracker mix and apricot juice (and a Larabar I packed from home).  I enjoyed the snack but was still hungry.  Lunch came soon after.  It was pasta with white and red sauce, bread, prosciutto, hard cheese, olive, crackers, and a cookie.  I put the prosciutto and hard cheese in the roll and made a tasty little crunchy sandwich.  The pasta was actually quite good.  We each had our own, but K really liked the side with white sauce and I preferred the red.  I ordered a blood orange juice to make sure I wouldn’t be hungry.  It tasted like it had added sugar but was good regardless.  Tiny gelato cones came for dessert.  To our pleasant surprise, there was a chunk of chocolate at the bottom of the cone.  K and I each managed to get a second one.  They were too good not to.  The last food we were served was focaccia bread and cookies.  The bread smelled better than it tasted but wasn’t bad.

Between the chatting, food, sleeping, and reading… the time went by and we were home in the US.  The six hour time zone change was actually a more difficult adjustment.  (I’m still getting up early, but am appreciating the longer days.)  We were starving for dinner by 5:30 PM (hey, it was 11:30 PM in Italy) and decided to grab some good ol’ BBQ at one of our favorite restaurants in Davie- Scruby’s BBQ.  Dad and I appreciated the variety of restaurant styles in the US (in Italy you don’t see Mexican, Japanese, BBQ, Thai, etc. restaurants) and was looking forward to some ethnic cuisine.  K and Mom still had their hearts (and taste buds) in Italy I think.  We’ll be back again one day… we threw money in the Trevi Fountain.

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Mimi E Coco outdoor seating

The Stolarz family at Mimi E Coco

Margarita pizza with mushrooms and pancetta


Jamie says:  For our final dinner in Italy we decided to a restaurant from a street close to our apartment.  Mom suggested we check out our options on the entire street before committing to a restaurant.  Surprisingly, this was quite difficult since many restaurants caught our eye, but we followed Mom’s advice.  It was a good thing we did because we ended up choosing Mimi E Coco (near Piazza Navona, Via del Governo Vecchio, 72; tel. 0668210845), a restaurant toward the end of the street.  There were outdoor tables in the street and also indoor tables in the cute restaurant.  We chose to dine inside this time- away from the disruptive street vendors who tried to sell everything from roses to laser pointers.  The customer service at Mimi E Coco’s was one of the best we had during our trip.  They brought chips to the table and, as a gluten-free option, brought a cup of green olives.  I’ve never had olives like these; they seemed to be without any salt or preservatives and tasted so fresh.  The waitress and owner were very friendly and engaged in conversation with us- telling us stories and asking questions about us.  There were so many good options on the menu it was hard to choose.  We ordered two margarita pizzas with mushrooms and pancetta (they also placed a green olive in the center of each).  Pancetta covered the top of the pies and a generous layer of mushrooms lay below the pancetta.  The crust was the perfect thickness- moto bene!  I tasted one of Dad’s potatoes- they were really tasty, too.  They brought us all lemonchellos, which was a treat since I had wanted to try one in Italy and I had forgotten, and toasted “chin chin.”  This was the trip of a lifetime!

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Grom gelato

Grom menu

Kathryn says: One afternoon, we split up to do our own things. I went shopping around Piazza Navona and bought a cool pen; it has a pull-out scroll that you can write a message on and it retracts back into the pen. I haven’t figured out what to write on it yet, so I’m open to suggestions…

Of course, after about an hour of shopping, I made my way to a gelateria for a mid-afternoon refresher. I went to Grom (Piazza Navona 1, angolo Via Agonale; Rome, Italy; Tel. 39 06 68807297; http://www.grom.it/ita/) I couldn’t really understand the menu since it was in Italian, but I knew it looked good, so I asked the server what he suggested and kind of winged it. I ended up getting Crema di Grom, which tasted like vanilla cream, and Torroncino, which tasted like cookies and cream. Both fine choices.

I sat by Bernini’s Four Rivers Fountain and savored the treat, which melted fast but tasted so good. I tried not to get any on the postcards I was writing to my friends back home, and I couldn’t resist telling them how I was enjoying a cup of Italy’s best dessert while writing to them.

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Castel Sant’Angelo


View from our table at Castel Sant’Angelo of St Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican

The Stolarz family dining at the restaurant in Castel Sant’Angelo

Sweet rolls

Swordfish with potatoes

Spaghetti with red sauce and pancetta

Artichoke lasagna

Iced coffee

K & J on top of Castel Sant

Jamie says: When I was little, I remember eating in Cinderella’s Castle in Disney World. That was about my only castle experience until now. We were in for a real treat when we visited Castel Sant’Angelo after visiting St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. My Grandfather’s name was Angelo (meaning angel) so this castle had extra significance to us. We climbed the cool, dark interior of the castle with a destination in mind- a café for lunch. We had some “Stolarz luck” when a table cleared out right before Kathryn’s eyes. But it wasn’t just any table, it was one with the most beautiful view of the city and St. Peter’s Basilica. For lunch, we shared artichoke lasagna, swordfish with potatoes, and spaghetti with bacon. The table bread was very different than anything we had had in Italy before- lightly sweetened rolls. This was the first time I had swordfish. It was a thick fish and tasted alright (I remember reading it’s high in mercury, though). I was glad to have tried it but probably wouldn’t order it again. I liked the spaghetti with the red sauce and chunks of pancetta. Kathryn absolutely loved the lasagna.

Kathryn says: Some meals are unforgettable, and this lasagna was one of them. It was so good that once I tasted it, I knew I wanted my own plate of it. Mom and J had eaten the other two-thirds of it since we had planned on splitting everything. So after taking a bite of the swordfish and spaghetti, I gave the rest to Mom and J and ordered another lasagna. The layers of tender noodles, oozing mozzarella cheese and soft artichokes were topped with a fine powder of Parmesan cheese and surrounded by light, bitter arugula leaves and drizzles of a sweet balsamic vinegar reduction. The ingredients blended beautifully into an incredible orchestra of flavors. There I was, enjoying the best lasagna and the best view of the city sitting atop a castle with my dear family. I also enjoyed a sweet, bold iced coffee in a fancy glass. I felt like a princess in a fairy tale.

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Peaches, strawberries, plums, and figs

Oatmeal with Craisins and cookies (Campiello frollino) with chocolate hazelnut spread (Nocita)

Cookies (Colussi Gran Turchese) with chocolate hazelnut spread (Nocita)

View of Piazza Navona from our apartment roof top

Jamie says:  I woke up early and was ready for breakfast.  I made a fruit salad with peaches, purple figs, plums, and strawberries.  When Dad woke up, he started making a pot of his oats and offered me some.  I contributed some dried cranberries to the pot which became nice and plump.  To my bowl, I added two packets of skim milk powder I saved from the airplane flight, and topped it with three cookies (Campiello frollino) with Nocita (like Nutella) on top (I saved these from Hotel Maxim in Florence).  I was surprised how much I liked the cookies and found another packet of two cookies (Colussi Gran Turchese from Hotel Diana in Venice) and another container of Nocita.  Cookies for breakfast- yum!  I’m thinking you could add that chocolate hazelnut spread to anything and it would be delicious!  Dad and I then headed up to the “roof top” of our apartment to check out the view of our piazza, Piazza Navona.

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