I felt Roman Food needed it’s own post as the variety was something I couldn’t quite share in a general Rome post. I find food the most important part of investigating a country, as it is the thing that brings us together and lets face it.. we do spend a lot of our holidays pigging out.
Picking up my Lonely Planet guide to Rome and doing quite a bit of research on Tripadvisor, I came up with a selection of places I wanted to try on my journeys. In addition, I found my own gems along the way. Romans eat like true British foodies eat, they have generous but not ridiculously portioned meals, with flavour and appreciation for good fresh dishes, eating out not because they are celebrating but because every meal is meant to be done amongst your closest friends and family, dining in true Italian style. In the evenings the main piazza’s are booming with life, couples, families, and friends gather around a good wine whilst they graze on antipasti and order their meals on their outdoor seating. Live Music is heard and shops remain open until late hours to accommodate the hustle and bustle of the city streets.
Its a dining atmosphere I wish Britain embraced a little more. Most people I know have a budget and the question is:
Do I eat a decent meal tonight or do I buy that amazing beer offer at Tesco’s?
Sad to say… The latter prevails. Many do not cook whether due to lack of knowledge, practice and time. Sociable dining is put on hold for more important things like overworking, getting drunk and sleeping. It’s sad that less importance is placed on the family meal. Few friends go to dinner together unless in celebration. What about going out to dinner for no reason but the appreciation of good food and company?
That being said we do not have the same gorgeous weather, and with that comes the lack of lovely outdoor seating. It’s a shame, isn’t it?
What is Roman Cuisine?
Most of us are familiar with Italian Cuisine, especially with the hundreds of Italian restaurants dotted around the streets of London. I would say Roman Cuisine is somewhat similar to what we eat but with a difference in that the ingredients used are fresher, the flavour and textures more delicate. Beautiful Grocery stores display a fine array of fresh cuts of meat, cheeses, fresh made pasta and antipasti vegetables to purchase. The ingredients are so beautiful that I desired such a thing to exist on more street corners of London. It is something we have lost to the monopoly food giants of Sainsbury’s, Asda and Tesco’s, the homemade, fresh goods of the family run businesses. It was spectacular. I tried to eat my way through Rome by tasting all they have to offer. The fine pizza’s, pasta, and meat dishes. Bellisimo.
Photos taken in a lovely store just a few minutes walk away from Piazza Di Spagna. (Spanish Steps District). Rather than buy an elaborate picnic box from one of the very over priced restaurants in the area, we chose a selection of meats, cheese and bread to take on a little picnic at the Villa Borghese Park at the top of the Spanish Steps. I could live in this shop, the smells, the splendour of the products and the service was like no other.
Restaurants In Campo De Fiori
Campo De Fiori was my go to place for an evening meal. Trastevere district was full of shops, bars and restaurants all nestled down narrow winding alley ways. The atmosphere was something I couldn’t find in any other district in Rome, and found myself back there time and again.
RJ Numbs: Restorante Campo De’ Fiori
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This lovely restaurant is positioned right in the heart of Campo De’ Fiori square, Rome’s most buzzing part of the Trastevere District. Placed in such a touristy position, my expectations were quite low. You tend to find such areas offer inadequate food for extortionate prices. This is one of the reasons why I was so taken back by the quality of the place. On top of being in a hotspot for people watching a live music in the evening, the food is delicious!
I ordered a pizza with Bresaola (air-dried salted italian beef), Parmesan and Rocket. The ingredients were so fresh, placed upon the dough in such a way that it was like having a giant salad Bruschetta, perfect with a glass of crisp Prosecco on a warm summers day. It took slightly longer to arrive but it was worth the wait.
My Partner had a soup for starter which he loved, followed by the Lamb Cutlets. He is a lamb addict, and scrutinises the quality of the meat, and how tenderly it is cooked. He said the seasoning was perfect as was the cooking of it. Simple but tasty.I would say this restaurant was one of my best dining experiences in Rome, and that I would not hestitate to go again.
The only downfall would be the service. Very difficult to get their attention but this was partially due to how busy they were, given the location.
More Reviews at: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g187791-d3488008-Reviews-RJ_Numbs_Campo_De_Fiori_Restaurant-Rome_Lazio.html
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I was immediately drawn to this restaurant because of it’s very traditional Italian decor. It had a cabin feel that made it quirky and kitsch. The hanging chilli, the candles and the paintings on the wall teamed with a dim lighting made it the perfect setting for a quiet romantic meal. It was placed on one of the alley’s leading up to the Campo De’ Fiori main square, a very busy street with many dining options next to it. The choice was endless so the deciding factor was how welcoming it seemed.
After eating I found that this was not as traditional as I might have hoped. I turned out that it was a chain as I noticed a few of the same establishments dotted around Rome. What acted as a family-run cutesy restaurant was actually more like the Bella Italia’s of the Italian Restaurant business. This did not make it less charming but did effect it’s appeal somewhat.
We ordered a lot of food on our visit as we were feeling keen to try dishes we had not tried before, and had done a lot of sightseeing during the day. So we did it the true Italian way: Antipasti, Main Courses, Sides… The table was like the embodiment of the Last Supper.
We ordered Roman Meatballs in a tomato Ragu, Roman-Style Chicken and Roman-Jewish Style Artichoke. The artichoke was a big mistake. I love vegetables but did not anticipate how much I would hate artichoke! I was not sure if it was the way it was cooked or the vegetable itself but it had a very bitter off flavour I couldn’t quite get to grips with. We ordered it as Tripadvisor said it was a must try, I would said tripadvisor is not always right. I had one bite and left that aside. The meatballs I thought were a safe choice as It would take a lot to mess a meatball dish up. It was tasty but very very salty. So much so that the rich saltiness made it hard for me to finish. I found that all their dishes had this issue. They had a problem with overseasoning, which I guess is not as bad as being very bland but still meant I did not finish my meal. My boyfriend enjoyed his chicken.
I thought the food was okay, but that is lacked freshness, flavour and depth. It did the job but considering the competition, I am sure the others may have been better. Salt is not a flavour I desire in heaps. I must have known they wouldn’t be amazing in that their menu was so overwhelmingly long, it would be impossible to do them all well. The service was okay.
All in all and average restaurant not worth going to but not utterly horrible if you find yourself going there for a bite.
More Reviews at: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g187791-d801765-Reviews-Aristocampo-Rome_Lazio.html
Ristorante La Canonica
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We chose this restaurant as it was both very busy and had a very lovely atmosphere. Perched in a small alley on its own, this cute little restaurant had everything a trattoria should need a buzzing atmosphere, live music and an appetising menu. The menu is something you see through most of Rome as the dishes tend to be very similar everywhere you look. The thing that drew us was that people were queuing for it and the Turkish way to tell a good restaurant would be to see how many people go there.
We sat down and a lovely chubby older waitress came, she offered us our menu’s and spoke little to no English, but she smiled and laughed a lot so we immediately felt well looked after. We ordered a basil, tomato and mozzarella salad and meatballs to share. I couldn’t ask for cheese to put on top because it was too busy to get their attention and to be honest, this was the blandest ugliest dish I had eaten in Italy. No flavour, and what only could remind me of heinz tinned Spaghetti. It had no decadence, no flair. It was basic, but not in a simplistic beautiful kind of way.
My Salad was beautifully presented but let down by the produce used. One thing I can’t stand is unripe flavourless tomatoes (like the tesco value kind), orange coloured, watery and tasteless. Considering the abundance of beautiful vegetables and fruit, and the amount of gorgeous fresh tomato dishes I tried, I did not understand why they gave us such a pitiful excuse for a tomato.
I would say the attraction to restaurant must have been the live music, and the fact that a load of people made a bad decision, and a load of ignorant diners saw them and followed suit.
Restaurants Around the Vatican City
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The Vatican was a nightmare to find food in, as for some reason all the restaurant’s we visited had closed after lunch period. We had finished St. Pauls, The museums and were dying for a bite to eat. We went through the Tripadvisor one by one knocking off all possibilities until we found this one, saw it open, so stuck with it. It was very quiet when we visited but in a pleasant location very close to the main attractions. We sat down and ordered Pizza (It’s a pizzeria, you have to!) and a variety of antipasti such as mozzarella, bruschetta, bread sticks.
Service: The one major thing I unfortunately, have to point out was the very bad service. Waiters held themselves with a sort of arrogance (that’s what tripadvisor does to people it seems). The first guy took our order, we placed it and waited 20 minutes at which point we questioned the whereabouts of our drink. They said they had forgotten and brought it to us. Then after 45 minutes had past, we wondered where our food was. Not one waiter was to be found, and when we eventually found a guy it was not the one we placed our order with, he told us sorry but he did not know our order. We then saw our original waiter in his clothes, off out and assumed, shift over, he did not give a crap. Our food was not ordered, we had to replace it, after waiting so long, and whilst the other waiter was apologetic he also was quite arrogant. For a royal cock up of this kind we assumed they would be abit more sorry.
The food came at long last and it was just what we needed. The pizza was average but still hit the spot and tasty, very few toppings made me thing they were very stingy especially considering the toppings at other pizza places were far more abundant. I do not think it deemed itself worthy of mention in a travel book but it definitely was good enough for me. The starters were stodgy and filling. They felt more like a take out service food than a dine in restaurant in that the way the selection was presented and what I ate much reminded me of the stuff I would pig out on in Dominos in the UK after a heavy night. After all our walking it was definitely what we needed, but a true Italian restaurant it was not. This is far more for tourism, but given the location it makes sense.
I would go here again if I was at Vatican as it is easy to find and does the trick but I would not go out of my way to eat here again.
Restaurants in San Lorenzo
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I am still very upset about the loss of the photographs from this evening, we just can’t seem to find them anywhere! We chose to find this place after reading Trip Advisor and Lonely Planet:
Throughout San Lorenzo’s metamorphosis from down-at-heel working-class district to down-at-heel bohemian enclave, Pommidoro has remained the same. A much-loved local institution, it’s a century-old trattoria, with high star-vaulted ceilings, a huge fireplace and outdoor conservatory seating. It was a favourite of controversial film director Pier Paolo Pasolini, and contemporary celebs stop by – from Nicole Kidman to Fabio Cappello – but it’s an unpretentious place with superb-quality traditional food, specialising in magnificent grilled meats
It was a bit of a walk to find this little gem as it was in a little investigated district of Rome, down the back streets of Rome’s Grungy student district. Termini was very close to San Lorenzo so it was not too far to find the area. At first glance it seemed as though we were in the middle of no where with no atmosphere and everything closed, we started to doubt we would find such a rave review restaurant. It was later we realised that this district wakes up at the late hours of the night, and that the town was still sleeping until at least 11pm. We found the restaurant using our much needed map and in relief asked for a seat. Indoor was full of what seemed to be large group of gathering of the Locals. We chose to sit outside which did not have the same ambience but was worth it. Indoors downstairs was like a little cavern with low hanging ceilings and wooden tables and chairs. Upstairs hosted a lovely warm cottage feel trattoria with a nearby grilling station like a pizza oven where you could see the cooking of the meat and smell the delightful aromas.
image taken from: http://www.asureviews.org/romeagm.php
We unfortunately, did not get to order too much as the waiter was unable to speak english and the menu’s were all in Italian, you could tell this was for locals from that alone! We stuck it safe and I ordered a pasta with wild fresh collected mushrooms and beef. It was to die for. The vegetables were in eye view, all dirty and fresh they looked like the owners had foraged them just before our meal. That freshness was tasted within the food itself with delicate notes of butter, garlic and herbs. The dishes were elegantly places, and the food was not huge but adequate. We wanted to try grilled meat so bad but I opted out as it seemed they liked offal and unusual cuts, not knowing what I was ordering put me off. If you are willing to try though, these dishes all were true Roman. If its a real Italian meal you want this is the place.
More Reviews at: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g187791-d1319857-Reviews-Pommidoro-Rome_Lazio.html
Restaurant’s in Termini
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This place was a gem of a find. The location was food in that it was close to Termini Station, but horrible in that it was basically on a giant roundabout with alot of ongoing traffic, So romantic and peaceful were not words for it. That being said, the food was delicious considering other restaurant’s in the area were horrible. We walked through many Termini restaurants and walked
away because the food look dull and tasteless. Catering for tourists who chose to stay near the station this district is not a foodie heaven.
That is why I was pleasantly surprised in finding Florin’s. It put all the other restaurant’s in the surrounding area to shame. The carbonara was one of the best I have ever had. Fullsome in flavour, yet light and delicate. It did not have that heavy feeling you have from thick and creamy english carbonara. Instead it had a light buttery texture with just enough cream to make it tasty and fullsome without overly bloating you. It was bliss on our first night of being in Rome and was the perfect meal before bed.