Hello! This is Sanaa’s daughter, Alya. For those of you who don’t know, I am currently living in Cagliari, Italy on the beautiful island of Sardinia for an internship in the Architecture department at the University here.
I was given the month of August off, thus I took the opportunity to travel around the north of Italy. My mom allowed, but under one condition, I had to blog about some of the food I ate. So, I’ll be contributing a few posts to my mom’s blog specifically talking food, if you want to read more about my vacation/my life in Sardinia in general, you can check out my blog here.
First, let me my a few of my favorite meals I had on my expedition.
I should preface my meal choices a little before I begin. First, I was on a budget. This was my first large travel without the company of one of my parents, and without their wallet as well. This voyage was completely self-funded, so I really tried to take advantage of the “cheap eats” filter on Trip Advisor. Second, at this point, I had been living in Italy for 2 months, and while I love Italian food, one can only eat so much pizza and pasta. Of course I had to try some pizza and pasta, but I really tried to venture outside of the Italian norms.
1. Trattoria ZaZa – Florence
Now Trattoria ZaZa was recommended as a must-go by two separate people, so I abided. Luckily it was pretty close to my hostel, s
o I found it on the map, and went. Wow, this place is popping. I don’t think I’ve never seen so much outdoor seating in my life, little did I know they had 3x that amount inside, and every table was filled. The hostess was wonderful and found me a nice table for one.
The menu options were just as many as the seats in the restaurant; there were pages beyond pages of different options, I had no idea where to begin! I finally settled on the puttanesca with tuna spaghetti, one that was apparently “grandma’s recipe.” Now, I loovvvee puttanesca sauce, but I have never tried it with tuna, so I was extremely curious.
The plate came out, and honestly it doesn’t look like anything special. The sauce is kinda a weird color and the spaghetti is just plopped onto a place. But, oh my goodness. It was in love upon first bite.
The tuna was perfectly incorporated into the sauce which was perfectly incorporated into the pasta. The portion was huge, which was great, and I finished and enjoyed every single bit. I actually spent the entire rest of my vacation on the hunt for another puttanesca tuna pasta, but sadly, had no luck.
2. Market Hall – Florence
Florence took the crown in the food I had on my vacation. This pizza has to be one of the top three pizzas I’ve ever eaten in my life.
I got the tip to check out the food hall for dinner from another solo traveler I met waiting in line to climb Giotto’s bell tower. I had originally planned on getting something healthier, maybe a salad, but I kept seeing everyone with this pizza and it just looked so good. It was so good.
The style of this pizza is called “Capri,” named after the Italian island of Capri off the Amalfi coast, why is the pizza called Capri, I have no idea. Essentially what it was was a marinara pizza topped with fresh cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, and fresh mozzarella, then drizzled with fresh olive oil.
I’m still sad I finished that pizza. Also said I didn’t get a better picture of it to fully showcase it’s glory.
3. Flower Burger – Milan
I had this restaurant bookmarked as a place to get some really good vegan burgers. I know what you are all thinking. Vegan burgers in Milan? Really? I know, I know, but hear me out. I really haven’t found any great vegan/vegetarian restaurants in Cagliari and my body has been craving it for 2 1/2 months now.
I ordered their classic, the Flower Burger, with a side of fries. The burger was filled with a bean burger with vegetables and a chili sauce all on a black bun.
The burger was good, not fantastic, but good, really good. It was filled with toppings, which I appreciated, but I wished they used a bit more chili sauce. Additionally, the black bun looked awesome, but fell apart half way through eating my sandwich.
Those fries though. Wow. Amazing. Two thumbs up. Real potatoes, thick wedges, seasoned beautifully. Wow.
Also I should mention this lunch was extremely filling. Despite 6 hours and walking 10+ miles after lunch, I still didn’t feel the need to get any dinner!
4. Street Pizza – Bergamo
I started to get ravenous as I was checking out La Citta Alta in Bergamo. However, none of the restaurants I had bookmarked nor none of the restaurants recommended to me by my AirBNB host were anywhere near me, and the cheapest thing on the menu on 95% of the restaurants was 9 Euros. No no.
Then, out of nowhere, I strolled on pass a cafeteria displaying focaccia pizza being sold by the slice. I wanted to venture outside of pizza, but ugh pizza. And it was so cheap.
Thus, I caved, again, and got a slice of their “Ensalata Pizza” which was a Marinara pizza with fresh arugula, buffalo tomatoes, and pulled mozzarella cheese, then drizzled with a balsamic vinaigrette. It was an interesting experience watching them cut my piece with scissors, charge me based on my slice’s weight and then serve it to me with a fork stabbed in the middle.
But, let me tell you, this was a great pizza. Like that kind of pizza that really isn’t gourmet at all, or award-winning by any means, but that kind that exactly hits the spot you’re looking for. An amazing experience all for under 5 Euros.
5. Dal Moro’s – Venice
Venice is known for bad food. I have to agree. It’s very touristy, and touristy food is really never that great. However, I found this fast food gem by creeping on one of my friend’s Instagram who traveled to Venice at the beginning of the summer.
Fast food pasta, in a box. I digged the idea, decided to check it out. The shop was tucked away on a Venice street and the shop could not have had more room for 3 or so people; however, the line extended out the door and around the block. Luckily, it moved quickly and I got my pasta within 15 minutes of arriving.
Fusili with a spicy marinara sauce. Delicious. Great quality food for a great price (Just like my moms!) And the box was so convenient! I’m all about multi-tasking. I got to enjoy great pasta while exploring more of Venice.
6. Coceata – Venice
This creperie, was listed the #1 restaurant on Trip Advisor, and it was listed under Cheap Eats. Thus, I had to go.
Again, the restaurant was tucked away and only had room for 2-3 people. Additionally, there were only two guys working with only two burners to make crepes. Luckily, I got there right when it opened, so I only had to wait 20 minutes for my crepe. Once I had left, they were telling people it was going to be upward of an 1 1/2 – 2 hour wait for their crepe.
Here, they only use the freshest ingredients to make the greatest products. Something both my mom and I are totally into. I didn’t know this when I came, but I was pleasantly surprised. I ordered a savory crepe with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, arugula, zucchini, and a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette (deja vu back to Bergamo?).
It was very very good. Very fresh, great flavor combination. My only regret was that I didn’t get one for dessert!
7. Lino Fritto- Venice
This was a complete stumble-upon. I was wandering around Venice around the Realto Market and happened to come across this seafood fast food joint. Their menu looked great and I loved that they used fresh products straight from Realto Market.
I decided upon the Fresh Tuna Burger and the Fritto Misto (fried calamari and Vegetables). Grabbed it to go, found a nice place to sit along the grand canal and enjoyed me meals while pigeons were swarming with envy around me.
Both were absolutely delicious. The Tuna burger also had cooked onions and capers, and the fritto mist was freshly fried and so calorically delicious. The portion sizes were really small though, and a bit pricey because of the fresh fish, so I had to get something else to eat afterword. However, I was super excited to get some fresh seafood from Venice, and it definitely did not disappoint.
I ate a lot of good food on my trips, but these ones were definitely worth mentioning! Stay tuned for at least two more posts on what I ate my trip!
Thanks for reading!