A couple weeks ago my husband and I spent the weekend Florence, which is about three hours south of our base. And yes, my jaw is constantly left hanging wide open when I say things like “we spent the weekend in Florence” so casually. There we were, walking around one of the most beautiful cities in the world when we noticed the time. Our bodies must have also noticed the lunch hour, because our stomachs both growled—loudly—at the same time.
We needed food and we needed it pronto! Luckily, in Italy, you’re never far from great food. As we started looking for a pizzeria we literally stopped in our tracks as we turned the corner. The building in front of us was like a Mecca calling our name: Hard Rock Café. Gigantic smiles spread across our faces the second we saw it; we walked in without even discussing it first.
I know what you're probably thinking: “How could you eat at a Hard Rock Café when you’re in the heart of Italy? ANY place would be better than that.” Well I’ll tell you why: because even though we are extremely fortunate to have several American chain restaurants at our base (including Burger King, Subway, and Taco Bell), we don’t eat there all the time—maybe once a month and usually it’s a last resort (e.g. I'll go crazy if I don’t eat right.that.very.second.). So when we saw Hard Rock Cafe, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to enjoy an American-style sit-down dinner.
The second we flipped the menu open I was floored with the variety of dishes. To be honest, I was a little overwhelmed with all the options. At most restaurants in Italy, the menus aren’t very extensive, so this was almost like a little culture shock. I must have stared at the menu for at least 10 minutes, my stomach growling louder and louder with each passing second.
I almost ordered the appetizer sampler (hello nachos, potato skins, and fried cheese sticks), but went for a classic burger instead. My husband also got a burger, but opted for the “local legendary” burger that came topped with mozzarella, prosciutto, and a pesto aioli that I need to recreate. That cheeseburger was divine. It was so good we literally contemplated going back for dinner and lunch the next day. You’ll be happy to know we only ate there that once, but it was definitely tempting to return again.
The second best part of our meal was getting the check. I know that’s usually the worst part of any dining-out experience—especially in Europe with the exchange rate, but Hard Rock Café offers a military discount with a valid military ID, which is just music to our ears. I contacted a representative for Hard Rock Café by email to get official information regarding the discount, but never heard back from him. I believe the discount is good for food, drink and merchandise purchases (alcohol is excluded) and was anywhere between 10 and 15 percent off the total bill. Since we don't have any official word, make sure to ask your waiter to make sure the Hard Rock you’re dining at participates in the discount program!
Have you received a military discount outside of America?
Air Force wife Jessica Lynn traded in Georgia peaches for pasta and wine when her husband got orders to Northern Italy. She chronicles their OCONUS adventures at Jessica Lynn Writes.