Monday, 7 August 2017

Food Specialities to Try in Rome

Alberto Sordi in An American in Rome (1954)

Italian cuisine is known in the whole world as one of the most popular, tastiest and simplest assortment of food - everywhere you go you will step upon an Italian restaurant serving pasta and pizza. It's been my favourite for as long as I can remember. However before moving to Italy, I had scarcely any idea of the regional richness of its gastronomy. Now that I live in Rome I've had the time, along with a few friends, to catch up on culinary wonders and swore I'll always pay attention to regional specialties to get the best out of Italian trips. Indeed it is quite simple to understand that the best Italian food one can ever try is in Italy, provided that you know what to eat depending on the city you're visiting. If for example Italian gastronomy is not all about pasta hundreds of recipes exist, so an Italian person who knows their own cuisine will not pick the same pasta dish on the menu when sitting at a restaurant in Rome, Naples or Florence.

As I've said, regional cuisine has such a strong identity that it would a shame not to match the best recipes in town. Rome, capital city located in the Lazio area, is full of delicious treasures that I am still discovering. The list seems to be endless whenever my friends take me to another hidden gem. I've also had the chance to catch a glimpse of many Roman dishes and non-touristy places on a local foodie tour throughout Campo de' Fiori and Trastevere thanks to Fiona from The Roman Guy, experience I highly recommend if you enjoy mixing authentic local aperitivo, cheese, pasta and gelato to a bit of history of art and a friendly atmosphere (I'll never forget the burrata I savoured at the cheese-monger near Piazza Farnese thanks to her). A few friends who visited Rome this summer have asked me a few pieces of advice on what to nibble here, so I thought that from my small experience here, I could make out a little guide for those who'd prefer to know what to eat in advance and enjoy a very good culinary trip (because to be honest, who wouldn't like to make the most of Roman culture and food?). So here it is, I hope you'll enjoy this little guide of many food specialities you'll love to try if you pop by the Eternal City and wish to take part in the Roman dolce vita!

PASTA

Cacio e pepe

Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe

Tonnarelli cacio e pepe is probably my favourite pasta recipe in Rome, the one dish I will pick if I hesitate on the menu too much. Cacio means cheese and pepe pepper. I absolutely recommend trying la cacio e pepe in Rome as first, it is the specialty of the city and second because if you don't live in Italy you won't be able to make it at home without the right cheese, the pecorino romano. Although I'm usually not a fan of pepper I fell in love with this recipe at the first bite, at Felice a Testaccio (Via Mastro Giorgio 29, 00153 Rome). 

Bucatini All'Amatriciana

Although the original recipe is made of bucatini pasta, I've only had rigatoni with it at the Due Ladroni (Piazza Nicosia 24, 00186 Rome). This recipe seems to be close to the cacio e pepe in terms of preparation but with tomatoes and lardons. It comes from the town of Amatrice located in the region, which was sadly partially destroyed by an earthquake in August 2016. 

Rigatoni Alla Carbonara

Forget everything you know on pasta alla carbonara. The rigatoni alla carbonara at the Trattoria Da Enzo in Trastevere (Via dei Vascellari 29, 00153 Rome) will make you feel like you had never tasted it before. If in France we apparently slaughter the original Roman recipe with crème fraîche, all it normally takes is rigatoni, eggs, pecorino romano cheese, guanciale (sort of lardon), salt and pepper. And a lot of savoir-faire to make one of my favourite pasta recipes ever and that I think everyone truly likes. 

PIZZA

Pizza at La Boccaccia 

Pizza Romana Al Taglio

The first fondamental thing to know is that there are two main kinds of pizza in Italy: the Roman pizza and the Neapolitan pizza, from Naples. Their crust, as well as its baking are completely different and there is an on-going debate about which one is the best. Anyway in Rome al taglio means that in small pizzerias, pizzas are sold in a rectangular shape and you can eat them on the go. Of course you can also stop to eat one in a restaurant that has the regular round shape but it is typical of Rome to sell pieces of pizza. Thanks to the Roman Guy tour I discovered a place called la Boccaccia in Trastevere (Via di Santa Dorotea 2, 00153 Rome) and I couldn't believe how tasty a simple margherita was. All in all the typical aspect lies in the shape of the pizza rather than in the flavour itself. Choose the one that is the most appealing to your eyes and prepare your arrival in heaven. Personally I can't help picking any one that has fresh basil, tomatoes and mozzarella, or aubergine/eggplant.

Pizza bianca romana

Pizza bianca with prosciutto and mozzarella
The pizza bianca is the typical Roman street food, is called pizza but in reality it is more used as "bread" to eat it as a sandwich with mortadella. It is extremely tasty with mozzarella (as usual), is quite cheap and makes the case for a good lunch. The best one I've had was at the Antico Forno that is literally located in front of the Trevi Fountain (Via delle Muratte 8, 00187 Rome), which is great because you can stop there very easily (as the Trevi Fountain is an obvious wonder to see when visiting Rome). It costs around 2,50€ such a bargain and a good alternative to pizza. 

Gelato

Fata Morgana, Monti neighbourhood 

Any gelato but at the right gelateria

The real challenge in every touristic Italian city is not to choose a gusto but to know where to find the tastiest artisanal ice creams. In general, avoid places where the gusti looks neon, it means that the ingredients that were used to make it are not natural (very much spottable with pistachio). To me the best gelaterias are the Gelateria del Teatro (Via dei Coronari 65, 00186 Rome) and Fata Morgana (Via degli Zingari 5, 00184 Rome). I'm in love with the flavour called bacio del principe (kiss of the prince) that mixes gianduia and hazelnut - my only advice would be to stay away from the regular flavours like vanilla and chocolate, take the plunge and try a new one everyday.

Wine

Aperitivo during The Roman Guy foodie tour in Trastevere

Castelli Romani (red and white)

Cincinnato nero buono (red)

I'm not going to pretend I am a sheer expert of wine but these two are really good and are cultivated locally in the region. The Castelli Romani wines are DOC, which means denomination di origine controllata and assure the quality of the wine. Make sure to try one glass if you fancy Italian wine while dining at a restaurant; but don't forget that beer matches pizza best! 

Others

Bruschetta con friggetelli at Km Zero on the Roman Guy foodie tour

Bruschetta con friggetelli

Friggitelli are a sort of green peppers that are not spicy at all and go very well on a bruschetta (toast). Again thanks to the Roman Guy food tour*, I've tried those at Km Zero in Trastevere (Vicolo de' Cinque 30A, 00153 Rome) which I found perfect along with a nice red wine to sip. 

Suppli

Supplì are quintessential delicious Roman snacks although they are similar to Sicily's arancini. They are fried balls of rice with meat, tomato sauce and melted mozzarella in the middle. This is the classical recipe, but you can also try a variety of suppli depending on which snack bar you go to. My favourite is called Supplì (Via di San Francesco a Ripa 137, 00153 Rome) and I love their version with cacio e pepe (like the pasta) and with their fresh mozzarella, tomato and basil. 

Baccalà

Baccalà is a typical Roman dish, although what I first compared to fish & chips is not very well-known to non-Roman dwellers. It is very good if you fancy some fried fish in the heart of the Eternal City! To find at Filetti di Baccalà (Largo dei Librari 88, 00186 Rome).

Baccalà
If you've ever tried of the specialities or if you keep a memorable food experience somewhere please let me know in the comments below! :)

*The Roman Guy is a team of Rome lovers that plans out great tours and which has had the kindness to make me discover many Roman dishes I would never have heard of otherwise, such as baccalà or a variety of Roman cheeses. I have truly enjoyed the experience and would definitely recommend it. Click here to discover the Rome Food Tour I went on with them! For more information, please have a look at my disclaimer.

La Boccaccia
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2 comments

  1. Oh man does this make me miss Rome and the Rome food in particular, Italian food is just something else in my opinion, it's so good! When I was in Rome I loved getting their little pizza/focaccia slices, I used to be obsessed with the ones from a place called Grano Frutta e Farina :)

    Julia // The Sunday Mode

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is so good indeed! Thank you for the place, I'll try to give their pizza slices a go soon :)

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