While Italy is full of art, history and culture, I definitely was most looking forward to its gastronomic tourism. Translation – the food was DAMN good. I kept a little photo diary of (almost) everything I savored in the beautiful culinary country, so I wouldn’t forget my favorite restaurants and dishes. There are definitely a few I hope to return to and enjoy again some day. I broke the food up by Rome and the Amalfi Coast – there are too many dishes to fit into one post and the cuisines are pretty different. So, let’s first enjoy a tasty tour of Rome – my mouth is already watering.
Our first meal was at La Bruschetta near our hotel, the Marriott Grand Flora on Via Veneto. We were jet lagged and just wanted food and wanted it yesterday. I had lasagna, and it was soggy and mediocre. Not the best culinary note to start the trip on.
Our dinner that evening, however, more than made up for the poor first impression. At the recommendation of our concierge, we tried Ristorante 34
near the Spanish Steps. It’s definitely in a touristy part of town, but the food was UNBELIEVABLE. We dined al fresco in the twilight, and dish after miraculous dish was paraded out by the welcoming (rare in Rome) and hustling waiter. I feasted on red pepper and gorgonzola pasta, veal saltimbocca with truffle mash (ohmagahhhh), and a chocolate souffle. My parents split an outrageous veal shank, and I had to partake in those festivities as well. Honestly, this was our best meal by far in Rome, and I highly recommend you try it.
Picturesque Roman al fresco dining, straight out of Lady and the Tramp.
All finished off with a shot of espresso.
Day two, we ventured to the neighborhood of Testaccio for the Eating Italy “Taste of Testaccio Food Tour.”
My parents had completed the tour their last trip to Rome, and highly recommended it. We spent half the day wandering Testaccio, sampling its foodie delights at local vendors, restaurants, and markets. Unfortunately, I was so entranced by the food that I didn’t take pictures of everything. I did remember to snap some, however, and have included them below. Definitely add this tour to your “must-do” list in Rome.
Suppli, a street food made out of breaded, fried risotto.
Our tour began as most days should, with tiramisu.
The morning of our third day, my mom and I explored the Vatican and Sistine Chapel and had worked up quite an appetite by lunch time. We met my brother and dad to fuel up at Ristochicco
, just a short walk from St. Peter’s Square. The whole surrounding area by the Vatican is a swarm of beggars, scammers, and tourists traps. I definitely relied on Trip Advisor to find a legit restaurant that wouldn’t serve awful food and take us for every euro. Ristochicco
was fabulous, and we gobbled up our pasta (I had gnocchi with toms), served fresh out of the cast iron pan.
That evening, after an afternoon filled with rain showers, we took a perilous cab ride (every cab ride in Rome will bring you close to death) to the Trastevere neighborhood. Trastevere was the least “touristy” feeling place we visited, and it was lovely to spend an evening with “real” Romans. Most restaurants are partially outdoor, lining the pedestrian walkways that are filled with street vendors. We had dinner in the center of the action at Grazie e Graziella,
another TripAdvisor find.
To start, we shared an antipasti of beautiful meats and cheeses, then I had amatriciana for my main. It’s a traditional Roman meat sauce (you definitely don’t order bolognese – this isn’t Bologna!) made with guanciale, pecorino cheese, and tomato. For dessert, we were stuffed but just had
split a tiramisu. This was probably my second favorite restaurant in Rome, after 34, plus the waiters were really hot ;).
After dinner, we attempted to walk off the pounds by wandering the piazza in the dusky glow. If I lived in Rome, I would without a doubt live in Trastevere.
On our final fourth day in Rome, we had a full day of touring planned at the Colosseum and Roman Forum. To make planning a bit easier and to avoid the crowds at restaurants near these tourist hot spots, we filled up on brunch at our hotel, the Marriott Grand Flora, restaurant. Luckily, the buffet provided this view:
You could do worse than a hotel breakfast with sweeping vistas of Rome. I nibbled on an assortment of pastries, meats, and fruit. The breakfast was included with our room, so not a bad way to save a few euros.
After lots of walking and putting on our best Russell Crowe and gladiating about, we decided to forgo a normal lunch and do as the Romans do – eat gelato. I can’t remember the name of this random gelateria a few steps from the Colosseum, but their nutella flavor was on point.
We had a day of travel to Naples then on to the Amalfi Coast looming ahead of us, so we decided to stick close to our hotel for dinner. Unfortunately, we struck out in this neighborhood, yet again at Andrea. It was fine, serviceable, but entirely forgettable. Not representative of Roman cuisine at all. Plus, their saltimbocca was never going to live up to the heaven I experienced at 34. Lesson learned, Via Veneto is not a neighborhood for impressing foodies. I should have known when the restaurant focal point is the Hard Rock Cafe.
We really outdid ourselves with sampling the tiramisus of Rome. This one was okay.
The cookies weren’t too shabby, but I’m easy to please when it comes to sweets.
Luckily, the Amalfi Coast cuisine finished our trip on a high note. I’ll be sure to put together another post recapping that tastiness!