In our culture, eating is a very important matter. I would say that it is the most important part of our lifestyle.
Italian food is for Italians a matter of pride. We find great pleasure in sitting at a table at home or at a restaurant, and sharing a good meal together along with a good wine.
However, I must admit that I do not go out to eat very often. The reasons are mainly two.
First of all, I have always been treated by my Mum’s cooking and eating something that I could get better at home was neither appealing nor convenient.
The second reason is that I picked up from my Mum, part of her skills, so I prefer cooking at home. Food for me is very important and I am also very fussy about it, I use only local, fresh and seasonal ingredients!
I am sure you may know some of the traditional dishes or types of pasta but Italy is not just spaghetti and pizza.
Italian cuisine has developed through centuries of social and political changes, with roots as far back as the 4th century BC. It is characterised by its simplicity, with many dishes having only four to eight ingredients. Italian cooks rely chiefly on the quality of the ingredients rather than on elaborate preparation.
The difference in climate from north to south, east to west, sea level to mountains, valleys to hills, gives a wide variety of food all over the country. Many different kinds of vegetables, meat, poultry, game, fish, seafood and a multiplicity of cheese, fresh, mild, seasoned, mature are seasonably available.
Olives and wine are a major part of the Italian way of eating. Coffee, specifically espresso, has become important in Italian culture. But Italy is also famous, among many others, for pasta, pizza, tiramisu, gelato, mozzarella, parmesan cheese, parma ham, mortadella. Its cuisine is noted for its regional diversity, abundance of difference in taste, and is known to be one of the most popular in the world.
The same dish cooked from city to city, house to house may differ quite a lot. Food culture is deep and with so many variations and way of preparing it.
South and North are also very different in cooking and not just in the weather.
I suggest you to explore, try, taste and be brave with food and wine. Everything is exceptional if you get it from the right place.
Whenever you need nourishment throughout the day do not lose the chance to try local take away food such as supplì (a fried rice ball filled with tomatoes and mozzarella), calzone (fried bread shaped as a folded pizza stuffed with salami or ham and mozzarella, and pizza which is not the one you know but is sold but the weight and has many toppings to choose from.
If you are looking for some ideas on what to eat in Rome or what food to order, here are some options:
Appetizer – panzanella, bruschetta, filetti di baccalà (fried cod).
Pasta shapes – rigatoni, farfalle, tonnarelli, penne, gnocchi, pici, mezze maniche, fusilli, bucatini, linguine, fettuccine, strozzapreti, cavatelli, trofie. Stuffed pasta; agnolotti, tortellini, ravioli, cannelloni, lasagna.
Pasta sauces – Cacio e pepe (pecorino cheese and black pepper), carbonara (kind of bacon and eggs), amatriciana (tomatoes sauce and kind of bacon), gricia (amatriciana like but without tomato sauce), aglio e oglio (garlic and olive oil), pasta e ceci (pasta and chickpeas), gnocchi alla romana (roman dumplings).
Meat – abbacchio (lamb meat), coppiette (air-dried salami), saltimbocca (veal with ham and sage leaves), coda alla vaccinara (oxtail stew), trippa (offal), pajata (caf meat), coratella (offal).
Vegetables – carciofi (artichokes), puntarelle (chicory), fiori di zucca con alici (fried zucchini flower with anchovies), cicoria ripassata (chicory pan cooked), cardi (a variety of artichokes), fave (broad bean).
Dessert – bignè di S. Giuseppe, frappe and castagnole (carnival roman treat), grattachecca (crushed ice served with syrups), Tiramisù, Panna cotta, Torta della nonna (grandma’s cake).
Those are just some of the dishes you can get…there are thousands of dishes and hundreds of wines to be discovered…go ahead!
You will find dozens of ice cream shops during your visit here in Rome but not all will sell a good one. Always avoid those karts outside the most famous monuments and shops very close to the most famous attractions. The ones I prefer and which are also good value for money are Giolitti and La Fonte della Salute.
Giolitti is one of the oldest bars in Rome. Its history dates back to the far away 1900’s when they began with being a milk, butter and cream dealer, and developed in the 1930’s to a traditional bar and ice cream maker. Just off Montecitorio and Pantheon, they serve one of the best ice creams of the city. You can either choose to take it away, much cheaper, or to sit in the back tea room, quite big, where you may also order a wide varieties of coffee drinks as well as cakes, biscuits, tea, beer and enjoy your deserved rest.
La Fonte della Salute, which may be translated to “fountain of health” is definitely the best ice cream maker of Trastevere instead. The shop has been open since 1981. Then after a change in the way they ran things, it came back stronger than before. Now they sell organic, vegan and gluten free ice cream. This is definitely what one would call the “Gelateria of the 21st century”. They also provide some free tables outside.
Rome is full of Pizzerias. You find them in every place. So many that sometimes it is very difficult to choose which one to pick. Some of them open and close within a few months because is very hard to survive with such a competition.
However there are a few tips that you can use to get the best pizza experience in Rome. First of all, look for a place which cooks pizza in a wood fired oven. Secondly, check if there are locals eating. Using these tips will help you to find the good spot for eating pizza in Rome.
Said that, we have two different types of pizza crust. The first one is the Napoletana (from Naples), soft and thick but not as much as the one you get abroad. The second type is the Roman one. Thinner but crunchier. I personally prefer the second one but please try both of them.
If I can suggest you a couple of Pizzeria in town I would definitely go for those, you can have pizza as Romans do in those two central pizzerias, ai Marmi, in Viale Trastevere 53 and Il Poeta, in Vicolo del Bologna 45. The service is not the best but the pizza is very good in both of the places. If you are looking instead for a typical restaurant this one is still in the same area, Osteria Zì Umberto, Piazza San Giovanni della Malva, 14/B.