Courtesy of Elizabeth Minchilli.
With iPhone apps that can translate menus on-the-fly, track a city's most-photographed dishes and even ask the waiter where to find the bathroom, there's no shortage of useful features available to food-loving travelers. But sometimes all you want is a good recommendation for dinner.
For anyone planning to visit cities in Italy, here's a suggestion: The Eat apps written by Elizabeth Minchilli, veteran traveler and Italy specialist. With just 90 restaurants, bars, bakeries, shops and hotels (compared with more than 900 restaurants alone on TripAdvisor), her just-unveiled guide to Venice aims to curate only the best places there.
In the famously touristy city, she uncovers insider picks like Trattoria La Rampa, a rustic lunch-only restaurant with a spectacular daily-changing menu. It's described as "the holy Grail in Venice… that little hidden away place where locals go." The lack of online reviews written in English suggests that she's right. Beyond great tips on where to eat, Minchilli offers strategies that range from how to get into the popular (and worthy) Osteria alla Testiere to why it's better to avoid most of the city's gelato. With few exceptions, she writes, "all of the many local gelaterie scattered throughout the city are truly awful." For those who don't want to settle for the excellent chain Grom, she names one dispensary of exquisite handmade ice cream, the tiny, hard-to-find Alaska.
"Hard-to-find" is a common attribute of Venice restaurants because of the quirky address system (which doesn't use street names). Since web mapping systems are notorious for being inaccurate here, the hand-placed pushpins on Minchilli's map are extra useful.
Minchilli has also authored Eat Rome and Eat Florence, both worth downloading too.