I really wanted this to be The Book that has been missing from my ever-growing collection of books and articles about Italy. Maureen Fant comes with seemingly good credentials, and as a resident of Rome, I hoped she would be able to provide real, first-hand information about the trattorias of Rome, Florence, and Venice. --- To a certain extent, she has, but for those familiar with the literature (e.g. Sandra Gustafson's "Cheap Eats," Faith Heller Willinger's "Eating in Italy," Gambero Rosso's "Rome," and more general guides, this book adds very little that is new or indispensible.--- One gets the feeling that the author had the beginnings of a very good book based on her dining experiences in Rome (roughly 80 pages), but once she ventured to Florence and Venice, she was just another tourist looking for a good meal. Her listings for Venice run about twenty pages and Florence is given about thirty-two. Included in this count are several listings that deserve attention, but they are definitely not trattorias, including several wine bars, bacaros, enotecas, pizzerias, and gelaterias. Granted, these are important stops in my daily food consumption itinerary while in Italy, but they are NOT trattorias.--- What is especially galling is one entry from Florence that begins, "I haven't eaten here-- though I've looked through the window-- but local friends swear its the genuine article." And then she continues to review the cuisine!! --- I'm only a tourist from New Jersey, but I've eaten at this same Florentine trattoria three times, yet I certainly wouldn't contemplate publishing what amounts to a full review based on so few visits. But Fant offers a full page..based on hearsay!(What HERESY!) --- Which also casts other entries under some suspicion, especially one that runs a mere thirty-three words. Did she eat here, or hear about it from one of those "local friends"?--- There are no rules for dining guidebooks-- but one would hope that the reviewer would make several visits, and wander all over the menu to get a sense of kitchen's strengths and weaknesses. On good nights and bad. Reading between the lines, it certainly appears that Fant has not applied these standards to this book. It is ironic that in her "Aknowledgements and Apologia" she mentions her submissions to the New York Times, noting that the editors, "have---through a passion for detail ("What were the chairs covered with?") and a relentess search for truth ("But what did it taste like?")-- taught me what the read has a right to ask and know." ---- Then Fant continues, "This book may not live up to their standards, but I hope they will enjoy it anyway." --- So I guess that is my review too-- not up to the standards I expect from the New York Times, but enjoyable. Even if it won't make the trip with me this summer.-- Mangia!