Season of the Artichoke – food in Italy, during February

The Italians are crazy for fresh produce as you can tell by the number of annual food festivals they have.

I learned the true breadth and depth of this seasonal obsession when in Italy in February.

February is artichoke season in Italy.

I’ve always liked artichokes, but only ever usually ate them pickled in a Mediterranean antipasto mix, and sometimes on pizza… whereas in Italy i tried them up to 7 x different ways in one meal.


Ristorante Nino
Via Borgognona 11, Rome

Nino’s is a gorgeous (& famous) restaurant in the heart of old Rome. The decor is quaint, looking (i suspect) exactly the same as the day it opened in 1934.

The spinach cup was the best thing i’d ever tasted and Nino’s artichokes in garlic oil were to die for.

Best artichoke, restaurant Rome Italy, Nino via Borgognona 11 w garlic

Amazing artichoke w garlic – Rome Italy, Nino via Borgognona 11

When you add a snow fall (something i’ve attempted to see precipitating from an upward direction approximately 7 x times without success) on the ancient cobble stone roads of Rome (another seemingly unattainable lifelong dream of mine) this night had to be one of my favourites ever.

Mostly because we ordered a second serving of both the spinach and artichokes.

Beyond amazeballs, spinach and tomato in restaurant Rome Italy, Nino via Borgognona 11

Beyond amazeballs, spinach and tomato in restaurant Rome Italy, Nino via Borgognona 11

Al Moro
00187 Roma – Vicolo delle Bollette, 13 ROMA

Even older than Nino’s, Al Moro opened in 1929 and again, i’m pretty sure the waitstaff and table settings haven’t changed since then.

These marinated then fried then baked (from what i could ascertain) artichokes were *actually* the best thing i’ve EVER tasted. Alike to salty garlicky crisps.

Must eat at restaurant Al Moro in Rome Italy

The best thing ever, artichoke at Rome restaurant Al Moro on Vicolo delle Bollette

Al Moro is also right next to the Fontana Di Trevi where i threw in every single coin from my wallet and mentioned so many of your names one by one, sending happy thoughts and appreciation in your direction including @Gabfran@HelenPerris@damana@TonyHollingsworth,  @PaulWoodSA,  @neekatron,  @vinylandcoffee,  @mizerabubble@LeahCutler,  @karalee_,  @ServantOfChaos,  @kthlxndr, @Hookiupi, M, Kails, Kahs, Jules, Mimmini & many more… until i had no coinage and very few thoughts left.

I believe there are some powerful ions floating around in the mists of Trevi Fountain.

Caffe Domiziano

Somehow even better than the pizza in Nice, this pizza now holds top spot in my favourite cheesy pizza’s of all time (still hasn’t superseded Mario-from-Croydon’s cheeseless Balearic though.)

I loved the corn on this pizza, plus the consistency (so many fresh veggies, not too doughy or cheesy).

Plus this spot will always hold a special place in my heart as i had a little clarifying epiphany here in Piazza Navona. My heart had felt heavy for a long time, but here i rediscovered an important piece of information that had been lying dormant in my psyche… and could instantly “see” the foggy depressive blackness melt away from my vision.

Suddenly there was sunshine and blue skies and pigeons and white marble i’d been blind to the moment before. This was a memorable albeit emotional day that deserves a virtual diamond symbol of its own on my life timeline.

Caffe Domiziano Piazza Navona 88, Rome, best restaurants Italy

Caffe Domiziano Piazza Navona 88, Rome – delicious pizza

There was also a lovely restaurant on a corner in the historic part of Rome, called something like “Artisans” which served artichoke 7 x different ways.

I photographed the meal but can’t find the restaurant address or name anywhere:

Best restaurants must see do Rome Italy

Artichokes 7 x ways in Rome – a restaurant in the old district on a corner called something like “The Artists”

Florence, Tuscany

I know the food at this restaurant was delicious, but my brain was elsewhere at the time so i can’t remember anything about it and didn’t even take a photo. One day i’ll go to Tuscany again just to eat at Cammillo.

Do Forni

San Marco 468 – 30122 Venice
Tel: 0415232148

I was sad in Venice and didn’t feel like eating until my friend ordered Veggie soup, it smelled unbelievable especially since i’d spent 2 days trying to think of something i could stomach. Turns out this place serves a kind of soul food that warmed me & reopened my appetite for life.

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La Zucca
Address: Santa Croce 1762, 30135 Venice (Italy)
Phone: +39 041 52 41 570

Zucca makes me think of Zucchini although in both France and Italy it refers to squash (and is often associated with vegetarian menus) – the vegetable Lasagne was particularly nice here, although not vegan or tomato-y.

La Zucca, Santa Croce 1762, 30135 best restaurants Venice Italy

La Zucca, Santa Croce 1762, 30135 Venice Italy – vegetarian lasagne

Ristorante Ai Due Vescovi
CalleFiubera 812A – 813 Venezia S Marco

I’ve heard of French onion soup being used in all sorts of ways, my favourite being in the spinach cob dip made by my friend @captainunderpants’ mum. Turns out i somehow skipped tasting French onion soup in France and tried it in Italy instead. Zomigosh. I wish i’d been hungry in Venice, i’d have eaten this every day for lunch.

This restaurant also had amazing desserts, i’m not a sweet tooth but i tried a spoonful of raspberry cheesecake in a tiny shot glass and it was divine.

Osteria Enoteca San Marco
Frezzeria – San Marco 1610 – 30124 Venezia

There’s something to be said for sitting in the window of a restaurant, wearing a traditional costume with huge hooped skirt and petticoats, being photographed and goggled at by all the tourists walking past.

Still not really in an eating mood, i was brave and tried Venetian Squid Ink blackened pasta and it was nice 🙂

Osteria Enoteca San Marco - Frezzeria - San Marco 1610 - 30124 Venezia, best restaurants must see do eat Venice Italy

Osteria Enoteca San Marco – Frezzeria – San Marco 1610 – 30124 Venezia (Venice) Italy – Squid ink pasta

By the way, my red costume was from Tragicomica and my blue dress was courtesy of our lovely and patient in-hotel atelier at Hotel Luna Baglioni (San Marco 1243 3 Venezia).

Ai due Vescovi - CalleFiubera 812A - 813 Venezia S Marco - Kristen Obaid best restaurants Venice Italy

Ai due Vescovi – CalleFiubera 812A – 813 Venezia S Marco

I should add a special mention here to the ceiling at Luna Hotel Baglioni, turns out i was breakfasting in this room for 3 days in a row before actually seeing it… the joys of wearing contacts/glasses (or not as it were).

Hotel Luna Baglioni Venice Italy

Hotel Luna Baglioni Venice Italy

Il Caffe Florian

Florian is Italy’s oldest Cafe, it opened in 1720 in Venice’s Piazza San Marco in Venice. In late February 2012 at the end of my dream trip i sat inside the frescoed rooms drinking hot chocolate and commiserating the imminent return of my costume to the atelier. When we left the cafe a policeman gave me a chocolate.

My last night in Italy.


Caffe Florian, best resturants Venice Italy, hot chocolate Kristen Obaid

Caffe Florian, oldest cafe Venice Italy – try the hot chocolate


2 thoughts on “Season of the Artichoke – food in Italy, during February

  1. thank you Kristen for mentioning the originally frescoed ceiling of our marco polo’s room at luna baglioni in venice. it really is a piece of history of venice our guests can enjoy every day. What a better start…

    if you are in love for italy you can follow an unbiased impartial blog we are publisher of that is about Italy beauties. And if you feel like you are most welcome to be a contributor with your stories
    luca magni
    brand & communication Director
    Baglioni Hotels

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