Rome for Foodies

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Rome for Foodies
Rome is a food lover’s dream destination. From its street food and cucina povera (peasant cuisine) to artisan gelaterie and Michelin stars, you can find and taste it all in the Eternal City.
Photo by Alyssa Riley
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    When the Moon Hits Your Eye
    In Rome, you have not one but at least three different pizza options. In the mornings, and throughout the day, parents and grandparents bring children for a small slice of pizza bianca (ungarnished pizza bread) or rossa (pizza bread with tomato sauce) at Roscioli for the morning or afterschool snack. At lunchtime, everyone queues for Roscioli's pizza al taglio (cut pizza) choosing traditiona, familiar toppings or signature toppings like burrata and pesto, or potatoes and rosemary. In the evenings, Romans head to their favorite local pizzerie where the wood-ovens have been burning all day for pizza romana, thin-crusted pies. Join the crowds at three of the best places for a traditional Roman-style pizza:Ai Marmi in Trastevere, La Gatta Mangiona in Monteverde and Da Remo in Trastevere.
    Photo by Alyssa Riley
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    Rome's Best Fresh Produce Markets

    The best place to get a beat on Roman daily life while grabbing some great, seasonal eats is at a neighborhood market. Campo de' Fiori, Rome's poster child for local markets, is one of the city's remaining all'aperto, outdoor, markets. And it's a bustling scene of locals shopping for produce, feisty butchers running the day's orders and barmen hand-delivering trays of espresso to the vendors.  The enormous Mercato Trionfale, near the Vatican, has over 200 stalls selling produce, cheese, eggs, meat, honey, fish, housewares and more. Though less volume, the Testaccio Market is one of Rome's most interesting and relevant places for delving into the local food scene. The stalls are piled high with seasonal fruits and vegetables, as well as kitchen gadgets, fried snacks, traditional cookies, honey, and hearty sandwiches. Here's a food tip: if you don’t see it in the market, don’t order it in a restaurant.

    Photo by Gillian Longworth McGuire
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    Just Like Mamma
    Romans are all about tradition. Gnocchi on Thursdays and fish on Fridays are old rules still followed at many traditional trattorie. Look for a family-run place with just a few specialties scrawled on a blackboard and you probably have a winner. Classic dishes include artichokes simmered in olive oil and mint, cacio e pepe, carbonara and tiny lamb chops known as abbacchio alla scottadito—which translates as burnt fingers! Trattoria Da Danilo is nown for its seasonal ingredients and classic Roman dishes, likewise Secondo Tradizione, which also includes a sneaky nouveau flair.  For a fun night out with a very Roman vibe, book a table at Taverna Trilussa in Trastevere where tourists line up for its bucatini all'amatriciana and mozzarella in carrozza.

    Photo by Kristen Fortier
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    Romancing Rome
    Rome is a city of romance, where romance is on every corner. If you're looking for table-side romance, L'Arcangelo is an intimate, yesteryear-style bistrot, where Chef Arcangelo Dandini shows off his flair for traditional recipes. For romantic whispers in cozy corners, The Corner's elevated terrace restaurant is the perfect spot for an evening tryst. Chef Marco Martini just earned a star in Rome’s Michelin galaxy for his culinary creations, which he pairs with equally stellar cocktails.
    Photo by Gillian Longworth McGuire
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    The Fundamental Food Group: Gelato
    You can find a gelateria on just about every corner, and everybody has an opinion on what is the best, so take your time to seek out your sweet spot. In the center of the centro storico is Ciampini, a traditional caffè whose traditional gelato flavors rule the neighobrhood.  By Largo Argentina/Campo de' Fiori, take a taste of Corona, a small family-run gelato shop with traditional flavors like stracciatella and cioccolato fondente, as well as seasonal creations like amalfi lemon and basil.  Too hot for gelato? Try Corona's granita, crushed ice in flavors like coffe, watermelon and lemon. If you pass by a Fatamorgana which has outlets all around town, make a pitstop.  Fatamorgana has the most creative selection of all-natural, traditional, and seasonal flavors like wasabi chocolate.

    Photo by Gillian Longworth McGuire
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    A Constellation of Stellar Cuisine
    The dining scene in Rome is not just large plates atop checkered tablecloths in rustic trattorie. The constellation of restaurants includes several world-acclaimed Michelin stars.  High on the Montemario hill in the Rome Cavalieri is La Pergola, the city's Michelin three star restaurant.  The sprawling panorama of Rome is spectacular but it's Chef Heinz Beck who commands an astronomical performance in his creative nouvelle cuisines which plays tenets of Italian cuisine. And it helps that La Pergola boasts a cantaina of some 3000+ labels.  Meanwhile in the very heart of the city is Pipero, a name fondly associated with carbonara thanks to Chef Luca Monosolio.  Monosolio makes that traditional Roman dish unforgettable and its Pipero's team of sommeliers, waiters and owner/philosopher Alessandro Pipero brought in a Michelin and its flawless service, incredible wine list, and rigorously sourced ingredients that make the experience Michelin stellar.
    Photo courtesy of Serrani Brambilla/Glass Hostaria
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    Exploring New Terroirs
    The sheer variety of Italian wines available is outstanding and can be a little overwhelming. Rome has a long tradition of wine bars, known as enoteche, that have plenty of by-the-glass choices and knowledgeable staff to help guide you. Many enoteche also offer light meals to accompany your winetasting. In the Centro Storico, near Campo de' Fiori, the rustic Il Goccetto has an encyclopedic variety of label choices, as does neighbor L'Angolo Divino. In the hip Monti neighborhood go to La Barrique for excellent traditional and natural wines from Italy and France. In the Monteverde neighborhood, Litro is lighting it up as the spot for natural wines, as well as international spirits including thirty different kinds of mezcal.
    Photo by Gillian Longworth McGuire
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    Your Morning Cuppa
    Coffee is an integral part of Roman life.  Bars are lined with customers queuing up for the morning cappuccino or espresso, and where you enjoy your morning coffee is just as important as the caffe itself.  For a bit of history,  Antico Caffè Greco on Via dei Condotti is the oldest cafe in Rome and a historic landmark.  Once the haunt of expat poets, artists, and dreamers, Caffe Greco is popular among the jetset and tourists. Caffè Ciampini,  in the elegant Piazza San Lorenzo in Lucina, is known for its delicious coffee drinks, as well as gelato and apertifs, and also for its great people-watching.  Near Campo de' Fiori, Roscioli Caffe is worth the wait and limited elbow Rome.  The modern caffe offers classic coffees and the rare (for Rome) pour over, as well as traditional Roman pastries made on site.
    Photo by Gillian Longworth McGuire
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    Food Tours and Cooking Classes
    So much of Rome’s history and culture is tied to its food. Take a walking tour of the city to learn all about the food Romans make, sell, and eat. Spend a few hours with trained sommeliers, cookbook authors, and food lovers like Casa Mia's Eleonora and Gina who will guide you through central and not-so-central neighborhoods in pursuit of the best bites.  And then bring it all to the table with a few hours to study in a Roman kitchen. Daniela del Balzo of Daniela's Cooking School will have you cooking like a Roman in no time.
    Photo by Gillian Longworth McGuire
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    The Street Food Scene
    Grattachecca, trapizzino, suppli, oh my! Rome's street food scene has never been so tasty.  All Romans known that just a little bit of pizza bianca (ungarnished pizza) can tide you over in the morning, which is why the lines at Roscioli Antico Forno are literally out the door every morning.  For a little more substance, try a trapizzino, crispy pizza pockets filled with  flavors like pollo alla cacciatura (spicy chicken), polpette (meatballs), and burrata cheese and anchovy.  At the nearby Testaccio Market, pick up a sandwich from Mordi e Vai for a sandwich of braised oxtail or tripe.  All Romans know that during the hot summer the only way to cool down is with a grattachecca, a cup full of freshly shaved ice flavored with fruit syrups and fresh fruit found at the green chiosks along the Tiber river.

    Photo by A. Zabert/age fotostock