Disclosure: We get a commission for links on the blog. You don’t have to use our links, but we’re very grateful when you do. American Express, Barclaycard, Capital One, Chase, Citibank and US Bank are Million Mile Secrets advertising partners. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or endorsed by our partners. Here’s our Advertiser Disclosure.
Emily Jablon: Daraius and I went to Europe in September to celebrate our 2nd anniversary for ~2 weeks. It was my first time in Italy so I was very excited! In Italy, we visited Varenna on Lake Como, Milan, Venice, and Rome.
Since we were in Europe, we visited a friend in Strasbourg, France and also spent a night in Zurich. We started our trip with a one day layover in Chicago to see friends!
Our Anniversary To Italy – Trip Report Index:
- Part 1 – Planning & Introduction
- Part 2 – Park Hyatt, Chicago
- Part 3 – One Day in Chicago
- Part 4 – Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
- Part 5 – Virgin Atlantic Revivals Lounge, London
- Part 6 – Under the Channel to Strasbourg
- Part 7 – Hotel Cathedrale, Strasbourg
- Part 8 – What did we do in Strasbourg
- Part 9 – Eating in Strasbourg
- Part 10 – Park Hyatt, Zurich
- Part 11 – 10 Hours in Zurich
- Part 12 – Hotel Eremo Gaudio in Varenna, Italy
- Part 13 – What to do in Varenna, Italy
- Part 14 – Eating in Varenna, Italy
- Part 15 – Park Hyatt, Milan
- Part 16 – What Did We Do in Milan
- Part 17 – Eating in Milan
- Part 18 – Hilton Molino Stucky, Venice
- Part 19 – Around the Hilton Molino Stucky & Free Shuttle Boat Details
- Part 20 – What we did in Venice
- Part 21 – Eating in Venice
- Part 22 – Waldorf-Astoria, Rome Cavalieri
- Part 23 – Eating in Rome, Part 1
- Part 24 – Emily’s Best Meal Was in Italy!
- Part 25 – Rome Cavalieri Imperial Floor
- Part 26 – Activities in Rome
- Part 27 – Activities in Rome – Where to Go, What to See, How to Save Time
- Part 28 – Virgin Atlantic Flight from Europe to US
- Part 29 – Conclusion & Blog Giveaway
We saved for these splurges by either having a heavy breakfast for free at the hotel and skipping lunch (or eating less) and by going to McDonalds or cheaper restaurants.
1. Mirabelle Restaurant
Link: Mirabelle Menu
Emily Jablon: Daraius and I went to Mirabelle Restaurant, a one star Michelin restaurant in Rome, for dinner. He made reservation via email before we left for Rome.
The Michelin Guide anonymously critiques gourmet restaurants. The guide is considered the best ranking of gourmet restaurants. Restaurants listed in the guide are given a star rating:
- 1 star = very good
- 2 stars = excellent
- 3 stars = exceptional
The restaurant was at the top of the Hotel Splendide Royal.
The hotel lobby was beautiful!
I could have happily stayed here for a night!
We took the elevator to the top floor. The restaurant was also very pretty inside, with lots of elegant Italian furnishings.
There was even a piano by the doorway.
We sat outside and enjoyed the cool breeze and beautiful views.
The sunset was beautiful, and we wished that we would have made reservations earlier to watch more.
The seating outside was warm and inviting. I loved the plant decorations that made it feel like a garden!
Link: Tasting Menu
Link: Dinner Menu
Daraius ordered the tasting menu which cost 135 euro (~$185) including tax and gratuity. We save our money (we don’t even have cable!) so that we can spend it on travel, books, and food!
Restaurants usually require everyone at the table to order the tasting menu so that they can better coordinate serving the food. But in Italy, restaurants didn’t seem to mind if Daraius had the tasting menu and I ordered off the menu. It must be the Italian way!
I ordered onion soup with two cheeses, and beef fillet with potatoes and grilled vegetables for dinner. For dessert I ordered a vanilla soufflé that was also very good (but expensive). The dessert alone was 28 euros (~$38) per person!
We received a large selection of bread. The bread with the tomatoes was my favorite.
First, we were served an appetizer.
Daraius got the first course in his tasting menu which was different variations of his favorite goose liver.
Then he got his second course which was Tuna Belly with Mint, and Gazpacho “Andaluso” sorbet.
Next up for Daraius was the Red King Prawns with Balsamic, Buffalo Yogurt Water Melon and peanuts
I also received my appetizer, but was didn’t understand why I had to wait until Daraius’ 3rd course to get it! By then I had finished quite a bit of bread because I was so hungry.
Next was Daraius’ fourth course, Spaghetti with Pesto “Trapanese “Style Fresh Anchovies and Toasted Bread Crumbs
After that, I got my main course, which was beef…
and a side of grilled vegetables.
Daraius got his fifth course.
We received a swan firecracker for our anniversary.
This was a long leisurely meal which lasted 3 hours. That said, I wasn’t served my soup until an hour after we first sat down. Daraius, on the other hand, had already been served 3 of his 7 courses by then.
The wine sommelier also forgot to serve me my red wine with dinner, which turned out fine because I drank Daraius’ wine from his wine flight. Psst: If anyone knows Daraius, they know he gets sleepy and tired after half a glass of wine.
But they did take very good care of my fish allergy, and Daraius felt comfortable enough to order the tasting menu which included 5 fish dishes. The sunset view from the terrace was spectacular and the restaurant was very romantic. We agreed with the 1 Michelin star ranking.
2. La Pergola
I was surprised he took me here, because it’s the only 3 star Michelin restaurant in Rome (and also expensive)! It was our anniversary though, and I guess he wanted to treat us to a nice meal in Rome.
Daraius: Emily’s favorite cuisine is Italian, so I did a lot of restaurant research on Chowhound and other sites for our splurge meals. La Pergola was an easy pick!
I emailed the hotel concierge ~2 months in advance of our visit and asked for a table outside on the terrace. But we were too late for that and got a table in the main dining room. Men are required to wear a jacket in the restaurant.
Emily Jablon: The restaurant is beautiful and has some exquisite artwork…
and handblown Emile Gallé vases.
We sat down and were warmly greeted by the staff. We had a table indoors by the window, which was very nice.
We were given the wine list, the food menu…
and the water menu.
I enjoyed looking at all three menus. The attention to detail that the restaurant paid to food and beverages was astounding!
To start with we had a spumante…
with a complimentary beef carpaccio serving, which was excellent.
Link: La Pergola Menus
Daraius ordered the 9 course tasting menu which cost 210 euros or ~$287. I ordered off the menu because there was a lot of fish in the tasting menu, and I’m allergic to seafood. I ordered the duck foie gras, the Fagottelli “La Pergola” and the variation of duck on topinambur purée with sweet-and-sour vegetables.
The meal cost us more than a month’s worth of groceries! But we don’t spend much money elsewhere and had saved up for this splurge.
He received his first course, “Tonno tonnato.”
and then his next course, emincé of lobster on apricot purée with basil puff.
I also received my foie gras, which was excellent. They brought my food out a lot quicker than they had at La Mirabelle.
Next, he received “Taste of the Sea.”
At this time I received my second course, which was the Fagottelli “La Pergola” pasta. This was the best Italian food which I’ve ever eaten in my entire life. I’m a light eater, but I wished I could eat more of this!
Daraius also received his next course, king prawns in tempura on purée of fried squids….
and then cod with celery sauce and curry crust.
For my main course, I had the variation of duck on topinambur purée with sweet and sour vegetables.
Daraius finally had his last course, fillet of veal.
We reviewed the dessert menu…
but I decided to skip dessert since I was so full, which was a good thing because we were served an armoire that was full of little treats…
with each drawer you pulled, you found a new treat!
We also received two small ice cream cones with refreshing pineapple and chocolate, and an anniversary cake with gooseberries.
Each dish was amazing!
Daraius also had his dessert which was part of his tasting menu!
We also had cheese!
I now have a new favorite Michelin star restaurant! The chef, Heinz Beck, is actually from Germany and came out to greet the diners after the meal. I made sure to lavish my praises for the wonderful food, which was delicious!
Daraius: Chef Beck came out to greet the diners. Even though he is originally from Germany, he speaks fluent Italian. He seemed to know a few of the diners because he was thanking them for visiting again.
The gentleman at the table next to ours gave him a big hug and kept on interjecting “Heinz Beck Number 1!” during his conversation with the chef. His female dining companion didn’t seem to enjoy the attention that he was lavishing on the chef at her expense!
We tried 2 Michelin starred restaurants during our stay in Rome.
The atmosphere was very romantic at Mirabelle, though I had to wait a bit for my food.
Le Pergola deserved all its 3 stars (Daraius rated it a 2.5). It was possibly the best meal which I’ve ever had! It was the perfect place to celebrate our anniversary.
We save our money throughout the year so that we can have a few splurge meals like these during our travels!