A Foodie Guide To Rome

Thursday, November 10, 2016

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Remember how two years ago I couldn't keep my mouth shut when it comes to the beauty of the Eternal City? Not only Rome is beyond beautiful, but it's also super delicious. I have been restraining myself from ordering pasta all'amatriciana for two years, because I am afraid I will end up disappointed. I am saving that delicious meal for another time I find myself at the Santa Maria di Trastevere square. Today's post is by the lovely Zorica from EuroTribe, a travel blog with focus on European destinations and all things European worldwide, as she puts it. Zorica and I are obviously in love with food in Rome, and to say her post made me hungry would be underestimation. So, here goes!

Rome is a foodie's heaven in Europe. People here live to eat and food is an essential part of every social occasion which means you'll never be hungry in the eternal city!

So first here's a quick overview of the cuisine in general.


Cooking
The most famous local ingredients include olives, olive oil, ricotta, wood-baked bread, pasta and fish. You'll find these ingredients in Roman classic dishes such as pasta e ceci (pasta with chickpeas), carbonara (pasta based on eggs, cheese, bacon and black pepper), amatriciana (pasta sauce based on cured pork cheek, pecorino cheese and tomato) etc.

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Also an important part of Rome's culinary tradition belongs to the Roman-Jewish cuisine. What characterizes this cuisine is its deep fried food. When the Jews were confined to the city's ghetto from the 16th to 19th century, they lacked many ingredients and to compensate this they started frying everything. Jewish Ghetto is a must see in Rome and when here you should try locally grown artichokes. The best season to have them is between February to May. Walks of Italy offer many interesting tours including the ones to the Jewish Ghetto. 

Seafood
Seafood is popular in Rome and there are many seafood restaurants although these are usually more expensive options. May and June are great months for eating seafood as these are the main fishing months in the country. A great dish is risotto alla pescatore.

Dessert
Desserts tend to be the same at almost every place. They usually include: tiramisu, panna cotta and ricotta cakes.

Where to eat and what to eat
If you are on a budget you can eat at tavola calda which literally means hot table. They serve pre-made food (usually local food) including pizza a taglio (slice of pizza), pasta, roasted meats and salads. Pizza joints are quite spread and you can choose between pizza margherita, pizza con patate, pizza napolitana etc.

If you love wine you can eat and drink well at enoteche (wine bars). Don't expect a rich selection of foods but they usually serve cheeses, cold cuts, bruschette and some hot dishes.

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For a full meal you can choose between trattoria, osteria and a restaurant. Now the difference between these is not really big but trattoria is known as a family run business while osteria is specialized in one dish. These are more budget friendly than restaurants as they offer much better service and more choices.

A very popular trend nowadays in Rome is aperitivo which was taken from Milan. Aperitivo is basically a buffet that accompanies evening drinks. It usually costs from 5 to 10 EUR for a drink and unlimited food. It starts from 6pm and lasts until 9-10pm.

Markets are of course a good place for foodies too. Almost every neighborhood has one and they are open from 7am until 2pm usually. Some of the most popular ones are Campo de' Fiori (upscale), Circo Massimo market (popular farmers market), Nuovo Mercato Esquilino and Piazza San Cosimato in Trastevere.

If you are vegetarian you won't have a difficult time eating well in Rome considering there's a rich selection of pasta dishes, salads and pizzas. Many Italians think that vegetarians don't eat red meat only so always check with a waiter. The situation for vegans is much more difficult as cheese is used in majority of meals. Your best bet (if you are vegan) is probably to self-cater or to eat at a dedicated vegetarian/vegan restaurant. Also, many restaurants offer gluten-free options.

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If  you're renting an apartment or if you simply love to cook your own food your best bet is self-catering. At alimentari which are general food shops you can stock up on deli supplies. Other options are fresh-produce markets and supermarkets like Carrefour.

Ice cream deserves a special mention because hey, some of the world's finest ice-cream shops are located here. There are many vegan ice cream shops too. I've visited a few and to be honest they were fantastic. I recommend Olive Dolci in the Ancient Rome neighborhood.

Pricing system
The meal in Rome consists of primo (first course), secondo (second course), dolce (dessert) and a glass of drink, usually wine. Now if you're like me you'll be fine with the first course and dessert. Believe me, your stomach will thank you later. You can always mix and match! However, some places in Rome offer tourist menus where you can have a first course, second course, dessert and a drink for only 10-15 EUR. This is great if you are on a budget. This is especially popular in Trastevere area. You can check out my travel guide to Trastevere for more tips.

When it comes to tipping, the service is included in the price but it's advisable to at least round up the bill.

Tours
If you enjoy cooking you may want to try one of Rome's many food tours. Check out websites like Trip Advisor as they offer a list of activities and tours.

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Thank you so much, Zorica! Dear reader, please make sure to visit Zorica's travel blog and say hi. And of course, don't forget her instructions when in Rome!

P.S. You might wonder why we don't have our own photos of the food that we both obviously have eaten. I'll speak for myself, and I think Zorica can resonate: I was always so hungry and it looked so good and smelled so divine there was no time for photos. Just eating. ;) 

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