How to Travel Italy Like a Top Chef (And What to Eat!)

Now you know just where to have Aperitivo.

Top Chef's Sarah Grueneberg runs Monteverde, and the restaurant's fresh pasta — and incredible atmosphere — haven't gone unnoticed. Monteverde is Chicago's hottest dinner reservation at the moment, and GQ just named it one of the 12 Best New Restaurants. We asked Grueneberg to share her favorite finds (and bites!) from three regions of the country that inspired her white-hot eatery. Follow her tips for the most delicious summer vacation ever. 

1.  Reggio Emilia

"Experience the Italian Aperitivo (or happy hour) at Antico Bar Roma in Novellara. Ask for Cristian! Then, meet my best Italian friend, Andrea Bezzecchi, by visiting Acetaia San Giacomo in Novellara. You'll experience the true art and production of balsamic vinegar. For lodging, stay at B&B 104. Tea runs the bed and breakfast from her home. She is welcoming and hospitable, and serves a beautiful breakfast spread. She even has bikes that you can borrow to explore the country roads and towns. In the town of Reggio Emilia, [eat] at Trattoria Cognento. You must try the tortellini in brodo, tigelle, and gnoccho fritto with cured meats and cheeses. For lunch, stop by Caffè Arti e Mestieri. Here, Chef Gianni D’Amato — along with his wife and son — create modern dishes of the classic regional dishes. I have been blessed and inspired by staging in the kitchen with him."

2.  Rome

"When in Rome, get out and walk! Meet Katie Parla and go on a food and recreation tour. For traditional Roman cuisine, eat at Grano Ristorante and get the trippa and eggplant parmgiana — and make sure to meet Saverio and Chef Danilo. The best seafood crudo and sea urchin pasta is at Il San Lorenzo; have Pizza Bianca and salumi at Roscoli, which also has one of the best carbonara in town."

3.  Trento, in Trentino Alto Adige

"One of the best ways to experience this region is to tour its many castles: Don't miss Castel Thun. Meet one of most interesting people ever, Andrea Paternoster, who's a nomadic bee keeper. Start by visiting his honey store, where you'll taste the many different types of honey his bees make! For amazing wine — and personalities — go to Visti Pojer and Sandri Winery."

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