1. Cadran Solaire, Courmayeur - Without embarrassment, I ate dinner at Cadran Solaire on consecutive nights and can highly recommend the vegetable soup with fontina, tagliata di manzo, risotto alla zucca, tagliatelle with artichokes and Val D'Aostan cheeses. €€€
  2. Locanda nel Borgo Antico, Barolo - I had one of the best meals of my life at the Michelin star awarded Borgo Antico, situated at the end of a dirt road just outside of Barolo. Highlights were white truffle on fried eggs served in the frying pan, brasato with polenta, Il plin di fonduta, piemontese cheese plate and the best wine I have ever had (Paolo Scavino Bric del Fiasc 1999). €€€€
  3. Osteria Da Divo, Siena - Although I dined solo at this romantic restaurant, I stayed for 3 hours as the food was too good to go home early. Although the ribollita could not match Coco Lezzone, the second first course I had, Pici al ragout di lepre, was excellent. I regret not going for the bistecca alla fiorentina next, as it looked incredible at the table next to me. Next up was a plate of pecorini senesi, likely the second best dish I have ever had in my life. Everything went well with the house Chianti (too dangerous to drink a bottle solo) and the brunello grappa was a great way to finish. €€
  4. Roma Sparita, Rome - Thanks to Anthony Bourdain for the heads up on Roma Sparita, where he claimed he had one the best dishes of his life, cacio e pepe. Although refusing to name the restaurant to avoid having it ruined by tourists, it wasn't hard to identify Piazza di Santa Cecilia in Trastevere from that episode of Bourdain's No Reservations. Roma Sparita does in fact have the best cacio e pepe in the world, served in a delicious bowl made of parmigiano reggiano. I wanted to cry it was so good. This was the first time in my life I re-ordered a pasta in a restaurant. Although nothing else on the menu is anything to write home about, and the place in now filled with tourists thanks to Bourdain, a visit to Roma Sparita is worth it for the greatest expression of the simplest and best italian pasta dish. €€
  5. Coco Lezzone, Florence - The pasta rigatoni al sugo is delicious and perfectly al dente.  Second visit revealed that tourists have discovered Coco Lezzone, but the family trattoria atmosphere remains. On my third visit, I was amazed with their ribollito soup. Downgraded from top spot because a friend was disappointed by a recent visit. €€
  6. Lu Stazzu Porto Rotondo, Porto Rotondo - This agriturismo just outside the VIP area of Porto Rotondo combines a stunning view of the Costa Smeralda scenery together with an excellent set menu of antipasto (pecorino and smoked ricotta, aged and roasted sausage), first courses (ravioli and gnocchetti), second course (porceddu and more smoked sausage) with fresh garden greens as contorno, and dessert (seadas and ricotta with Sardinian honey). It was the best meat dinner I had in Sardinia. €€
  7. Mandrella, Sestri - Unbelievably good food (try any of the seafood pasta dishes). The highlights were the (muscoli in genovese) with curry sauce, seafood tagliatelle and the basil gnocchi (not on the menu) with seafood (all fresh and cooked to perfection)...something from another world! Be prepared to wait as here they take slow food to another level...but your patience will be rewarded! €€
  8. Ristorante Rabaja, Barbaresco - Only stopped in for lunch but was very impressed with the quality to value ratio at this restaurant in a town famous for its noble red wines. The low-cost tasting menu with excellent wines by the glass were a welcome relief from the more pretentious restaurants in the Alba area. €€
  9. Da Augusto, Rome - Great Roman food in Trastevere. Excellent spaghetti cacio e pepe and rigatoni all'Amatriciana. €€
  10. La Piola, Alba - full review. €€
  11. La Lepanto, Alghero - Our final meal in Sardinia was the most memorable: For lunch we had an amazing aragosta alla Catalana and paccheri with fish ragu. €€€ 
  12. Rosa Alpina Wine Bar and Grill, San Cassiano - fighetto wine bar with excellent wine and beer selections. Very good pizza and excellent pastas. €€€
  13. Osteria della Fragoletta, Mantova - Try the bigoli con guanciale, pecorino and balsamic vinegar. If you can handle a sweet pasta, the tortelli di zucca are excellent. Sbrisolona with grappa to finish. €€
  14. La Pischera, San Teodoro - An excellent ittiturismo serving fresh and tasty fish dishes in a beautiful setting on the water. €€
  15. Restaurant X, Roma - Try the jewish artichokes or the amazing handmade fettucine cacio e pepe e ricotta. €
  16. Nonna Betta, Roma - Go here for the best artichokes of your life (when in season). €€
  17. Trattoria dal Billy, Manarola. Great seafood restaurant with a spectacular view of the italian riviera. Get the seafood antipasto: there are 12 delicious portions. €€
  18. Mami Trilussa, Roma - Excellent but expensive restaurant in Trastevere. Formal but friendly service. Pasta served directly in the pan. €€€
  19. Fratellini's, Forte dei Marmi - Italian-Japanese fusion...normally I would steer clear of such a concept. If you can ignore all the fake people, you will enjoy some of the best sushi and seafood pasta there is. €€€
  20. Trattoria del Tribunale, Parma - Antipasto: it doesn't get any better - prosciutto crudo, parmigiano reggiano, culatello, gnocco fritto (torta fritta)...you will struggle to make it to the first course. For the first course, go with tagliolini al culatello...unbelievable. Good handmade tortelli (with herbs, pumpkin or potatoes and mushrooms) but a bit too rich for my taste. €€
  21. Club Moritzino, Badia - Here I had one of the best pasta dishes of my life - tortelli with parmigiano and truffle. Definitely must for apres skis in the Dolomites. The snow cat trip up to this beautiful Alp refuge is a must (included in fixed price dinner during the winter). €€
  22. La Latteria, Verbania - Excellent antipasti (speck of duck, gnocchi fritti with truffled prosciutto cotto) and first courses (gnocchi with castelmagno cheese). Wine list is small but well thought out. €€
  23. Panson, Genova - Amazing trofie al pesto, tagliato di manzo and phenomenal cake for dessert. On second visit, even more impressed with the pesto. Excellent fried seafood critters. €€
  24. La Vendemmia, Bergamo - Excellent antipasto and first courses (casoncelli, foiade). €€

€ - low cost, €€ - moderate, €€€ - expensive, €€€€  - extreme