Pauline Frommer’s Picks for Milan and Rome

This is an excerpt from the September 2006 issue of Dream of Italy and Pauline Frommer’s Italy. Although Pauline focuses mainly on budget choices, these selections are great options for the more upscale traveler as well. I’ve eaten at Brek in Turin and had a fantastic meal there. – K.M.

ROME: Bed & Breakfast Association of Rome handles both self-catering apartments and rooms for rent within private apartments, some of which charge as little as 30 euros. Frommer used this service on her last visit to Rome and reports that “our apartment was a charmer, right in the old Jewish Ghetto area on a street where tourists rarely ventured. From our balcony in the evenings,we’d look down on our neighbors feasting in the garden below, and it became a nightly ritual for them to toast us after we toasted them a good evening. We had two large rooms and a kitchen for less than 150 euros a night, perfect for my husband and our two small daughters.” (DOI note: You can also call the association, Mondaythrough Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at 39-06- 55302248.)

MILAN: If you’re looking for an excellent, cheap and quick meal near the train station, head to the nearby branch of Brek (Via Lepetit, 20; 39-02-6705149;; closed Sunday lunch; Metro: Stazione Centrale), one of the world’s best quick-casual food chains. Even when the Italians do something as low-concept as a cafeteria, they can’t help but make it fashionable and pour their hearts into the quality of the food. At various food-prep stations, the friendly and helpful staff make pasta and risotto dishes on the spot and roast pork, veal and chicken to order. The large selection of cheeses would put many a formal restaurant to shame, and you can even get excellent wines in tiny bottles. Best of all:Almost every dish goes for just 3 to 8 euros. There’s another branch at Via dell’Annuciata, 2 (39-02-653619), just off Piazza Cavour, a five-minute walk from the Brera Museum, the shops of Quadrilatero d’Oro and the Giardini Pubblici park. (DOI note: Brek has branches throughout northern Italy, in Bologna, Padova,Treviso,Trieste, Turin,Venice,Verona, among other cities. Check the Web site for details.)

(© 2006 Wiley Publishing. Reprinted with permission.)