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Rome Italy - a Culinary Experience
Visiting Italy is always a very pleasurable experience and if you enjoy good food you can make it even better with a little research.
Before we go into a short culinary experience of Rome it is important to mention that the food in Italy is excellent and most restaurants will be reasonable if not very good. But, when one goes to a foreign city it is in my opinion a must to taste the local food.
Italy is not all Pasta and Pizza but a large variety of different foods.
Rome - a city with so much to see. Even so the best way to know and feel a city, any city, is to walk through it’s streets and lanes, the main thoroughfares and the narrow cobbled ones And then of course there is the food. We all need to eat, so why not eat well and taste the true local delicacies.
In our last visit to Rome we prepared a list of local restaurants and ice cream parlors. It is not difficult to prepare such a list. The net has culinary recommendations and it just takes patience and a search on the net. Granted, Italian food in most restaurants is good, but why settle for good when excellence is just next door?
So now to business
The visit to Rome was in July, and it was very hot. So a big lunch was not an option and the main meal we had at dinner. This did not mean that lunch was forgotten. On the contrary, take lunch serious even if it is a sandwich, roll, salad or plate of pasta as you will see.
We checked into our hotel which was ideally and centrally situated in Corso Vittorio Emmanuele II. The hotel is situated ideally within minutes walk from Piazza Navona and Campo di Fiori.
We arrived at our hotel 7 hours after we left home and after a 3.5 hour flight. After taking a quick shower, no reason to waste time in a hotel room when in Rome, we went out to begin our exploration of the city. It was hot and near lunch time so we looked for a place to sit, drink and have a light meal.
Walking across the beautiful Piazza Navona was an excellent beginning for the next few days. An important lesson that I want to convey is - patience - you do not have to sit at the first place you see only to be disappointed. Unless of course the first place is special. There are many restaurants on and around Piazza Navona, but our “rule” was - something special.
After sitting a while next to the fountains we exited the Piazza at the far end (opposite side to Corso Vittorio Emmanuele II) and walked through the narrow streets to Via dei Coronari.
It was here we spotted a small coffeehouse - restaurant - Casa& Bottega, - chiacchiere sorsi boccini on Via dei Coronary 183, tel +39-06-68964358.
The place looked inviting and we went inside. The décor inside was quaint and modern and we had a lunch menu which included a choice of pasta or salad, water and coffee. The fresh salad , lightly flavored pasta ( you do not need to pour tons of tomato puree on pasta to make it tasty - actually- you do not need any at all in a lot of recipes) were excellent. To finish the meal and especially after travel we had coffee with milk which was as expected in Italy extremely tasty.
A light lunch highly recommended and just what we wanted. We enjoyed it and came back on the last day of our trip for some coffee and pastry.
To complete the meal a good Italian Ice Cream is necessary.
Lo and behold, opposite Casa& Bottega an ice cream parlor Gelateria del Teatro which turned out to more than excellent. The tastes and texture that are offered are extremely good and leave you with a feel of “I want more”. One can also watch them making the ice-cream.
Gelateria del Teatro Pastecceria/Cioccolateria is situated on Via dei Coronari 65, +39-06-45474880
I feel that this was the best ice-cream we had in Rome and the parlor offers great new and different tastes. There is also a section at back where one can sit and enjoy.
Breakfast which was taken in the hotel is not part of the culinary experience but served the purpose of getting ready for a day of walking and breathing the streets of Rome.
During a hot summer day as I mentioned light lunches are recommended. It will nourish you and not want to make you fall asleep. That would be a waste of time.
An excellent chain of caffe - bars is VyTA boulangerie Italiana which serve excellent sandwiches, pastries and of course coffee and drinks. The rolls were quite large, fresh and tasty and the coffee delicious. For under 12 Euro 2 people can have a light meal. We had a very tasty meal at VyTA situated in the central train station - Stazione Termini. http://www.vyta.it/#
Having said that Rome in summer is scorching, over 32 Celcius (90 degrees F) it is very important to drink water. Water is everywhere. The Romans in ancient times provided the cities inhabitants with running water. All over Rome there are running water faucets . The water is cold and refreshing. So, buy one bottle of water and for the rest of the time just fill the bottle from these faucets.
Evening is when the city is alive in many areas. Dinner is late when the sun has already set. There are quite a few areas which boast restaurants and night life.
One of them is Campo Di Fiori (just off Corso Vittorio Emmanuele II) which boasts of a food market during the day and a lively square with restaurants at night. One can choose from a variety of different special pastas to take home as gifts or for oneself at the market.
Walk down Via dei Giubbonari in the direction of until arriving at Largo Dei Librari. There in the evening is a small establishment that is frequented by mainly local Romans - Filetti de Baccala. The tables are simple with paper tablecloths that are replaced with each new guest. The main dish is a fillet of fish freshly fried. Inexpensive and extremely tasty. Order some bread a house wine and maybe a salad. This will be enough and you will want to come back.
Italy is always a great country to visit. Mediterranean temperament, good food, good wine and good coffee. It is recommended when in Rome not to just tick off a V that you were somewhere, whether it is the Vatican, the Coliseum, a villa or museum, but to walk the streets and alleys.
To feel the city.
Due west fro Piazza Navona and Campo di Fiori, on the west side of the Tiber is Trastevere with it’s quaint narrow streets. At night it comes alive , as it’s numerous restaurants are filled with people. The food is good in most , but if you want a home Italian meal then go to Piazza de Renzi just off via Della Pellicia and there is Trattoria Augusto. Home made Italian food, tasty and inexpensive. This restaurant will remind you of real home made cooking. The table tops are of paper on which your bill is calculated. The menu is comprised of starters, a main course and dessert all very reasonably priced. In addition there are listed in the menu a special dish for each day. On some of the days there are also specials not listed - just ask the person serving you. The décor is simple , the food good and the price inexpensive. Great for a good meal - lunch or dinner.
Ice cream is an Italian specialty as we all know. There are many good ones, but the excellent ones are the ones you want. These are the ones which make their own ice-cream.
Above I mentioned Gelateria del Teatro. Others we visited and are worth mentioning are Gelato di San Crispino and Giolotti.
Gelato di San Crispino situated on Via del Panetteria 42 and close to the famous Trevi Fountain is small and narrow. If you didn’t know of it you could just walk past it and miss. The flavors are exquisite and the texture as the Italians know how to make it. It is also a memorable experience because you need to choose fast as the line moves into the store. Amusing experience and reminds you of one of "Seinfeld’s characters who had a soup kitchen".
The famous Giolotti on Via degli Uffici del Vicario is not far away.
Giolotti is one of the oldest ice cream parlors in Rome opening in 1900 and is visited by many including the famous. The parlor’s ice cream has been voted by Rome’s citizen a few times as Rome’s best ice cream.
Walking in the evening in Trastevere is enjoyable and as I mentioned above boasts many resaturants . One caught our eye - situated on Vicolo Dè Cinque, 36 - Hostaria del Moro da Tony. It was packed. We decided to “go for it” and sat on the street. The weather in the evening was great and the atmosphere alive . The meal was fantastic and the service very good - I had a Risotto as my main course with Bruchettes as starters whereas my wife had fresh fish. To sum it up Rissotto , Bruchettes and Fish when good are excellent. This was excellent. Tony himself served us and we received some sweet refreshing watermelon on the house. Excellent food, good service, no wonder it was packed.
Even though Rome is hot in summer it is enjoyable, yet, visiting in May or September would bring better weather.
A cool air-conditioned (believe it or not but there are restaurants and even good ones without AC) restaurant is Ginger on Via Borgognon 43/44 . Ginger have a large menu with very fresh and tasty produce.
As it says on Ginger’s website - “A few steps from Piazza di Spagna, Ginger is a bistro restaurant with a unique atmosphere dedicated to the highest quality of gastronomy. An informal though elegant place, where you can find fine food, salads, baguettes, meats and cheeses from around the world, as well as juices and fresh fruit smoothies”
Just eating a salad or pasta one can feel the freshness and what is said and shown on their website is absolutely correct.
Ginger is great for a snack, a salad a full meal lunch and of course for dinner.
Well worth a visit.
We cannot of course forget the great Italian Pizza or Pasta and spaghetteria-pizzeria “l’archetto” serves delicious dishes of both. The menu is interesting and suits all. One can sit inside or outside in the narrow street. Inside is downstairs, a great atmosphere with quite a few small rooms giving an intimate feeling.
“l’archetto” is situated on Via dell’ Archetto 26.
A place well worth dining at.
Although this Hub is one discussing food, good food goes with good clothes and Italy these days is inexpensive. Sales are in full force in July and the clothes are of course Italian design. Even Polo shirts designed by Italians look stylish.
An establishment well worth mentioning is Il Fornaio bakery situated at 5 Via dei Baullari just off Corso Vittorio Emmanuele II , within minutes walk from Piazza Navona and Campo di Fiori. The bakery offer a variety of produce including bread , cookies, pastries, pizza and special open sandwiches are excellent. If you want to taste real Italian cookies, have a very tasty open sandwich this is the place.
Highly recommended .
To finish a trip with an excellent dinner is to go to Chef Fabio Bongianni ‘s “ That’s Amore” restaurant . True Italian cooking at its best with a very tasty and interesting menu. The restaurant was full but we had only a short wait.
It was well worth it.
The atmosphere is of an Italian trattoria but with Chef’s food and at a reasonable price. We sat at a corner table next to open window - doors so sort of felt eating outside when inside. The service was excellent and as with most Italian restaurants, no one hurries you to finish your meal.
Relax and enjoy the food.
“That’s Amore” is situated at 115 Via Arcione , not far from Trevi and the Centre. If you want an excellent and well worth (not expensive) chef meal this is the place
- Welcome! - That's Amore
Fabiolous Cooking Day is a course designed by Fabio Bongianni putting together Italian food and Italian culture to offer to those visiting Rome a unique experience.
To sum up the Hub - Italian food is good -so eat well when in Italy. If you can , try and sample real Italian cooking and not tourist traps.