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My Rome Notebook: Three Days of Eating In Rome or Everything I Put In My Mouth Was Delicious

Artichokes presented like bouquets of beautiful flowers were everywhere, including IN my belly


I know I might be making enemies when I say that the restaurant food in Paris was, on the whole, often underwhelming, but I also know I am not alone in that opinion. Although we did enjoy a few great meals, the fact that my restaurant list from our three day side trip to Rome is longer than the list I shared after 7 days in Paris is telling. Where, in Paris, I felt we had to work to find a great meal and really travel to specific restaurants, in Rome we would have had to work to find bad food.



In Rome, we did not eat ANYTHING that was not, at the very least, very good. From the more formal dinners right down to the sandwiches shared from little shops along the street, we ate with gusto for three solid days. The gelato made my heart sing, all three plates of my pasta vongole ranged from really good to OMG, the pizzas were thin crusted, fresh and delicious, the wine was generous (see my thoughts on the Italian half litre) and tasty and the artichokes were abundant and wonderful. We did make an effort to avoid places that had huge sign board menus out front featuring six languages, burgers and fries as the lunch special and more tourists than Italians sitting on the patio and we managed quite well.

Where can I buy this get up?


We managed to find restaurants, even in the most touristy of areas, that served delicious food at reasonable prices and the only thing that stopped us all from gaining 5 lbs a day was the fact that we continued to walk at least 12km a day. I would hop on a plane, right this second, and happily go back to Rome to eat and explore since, after only three days, it feels like we have barely scratched the surface of this dirty, loud, beautiful, enchanting city. Although we did stroll through the bustling, more tourist friendly Travestere neighbourhood, we did not stop at any of the hundreds of busy restaurants which all appeared to be full to overflowing so if you are feeling like you don't want to be adventurous, just stick to this area but we like to explore.





Nothing sets the tone for a great stay quite like stumbling upon a fabulous restaurant on your first night. We arrived quite late as Rome, unlike Paris, seems to roll up the carpet in the less touristy neighbourhoods much earlier than we expected. Our place was in the Prati neighbourhood, just a few minutes from the Vatican and on the recommendation of our apartment's manager, we walked a few blocks to the Ristorante Falcone.

for dessert, Shack ordered this mushroom pizza

I am not sure if the food was a amazing as we all recall or whether it was just everything we had imagined a neighbourhood restaurant was going to be in Italy, but we all left with the feeling that this first meal remained our favourite of the entire three day trip.I will also add that this was our cheapest meal of the entire trip to Paris and Rome, including lots of wine and everyone leaving the place totally stuffed to the gills.

the first of about 300 caprese salads that The Kid consumed

My first, and favourite, spaghetti with clams of the trip

Shack's first, and favourite, carbonara of the trip


None of the waiters spoke english and my Italian was very rusty but we managed to order up a feast, none the less. We immediately scored a bottle of Chianti, Carbonara for Shack, Vongole for me and a margherita pizza for The Kid with a huge, fresh caprese salad to get us started. The food was delicious, the server adorable and so friendly and soon the wine was gone so we ordered what was to be the first of many "Italian half litres" of house wine.If that half litre contained one drop less than the the 750ml bottle, I will eat my hat, if by hat, I mean my hat made of cacio de pepe. Even The Kid indulged in a couple glasses of wine (drinking age in Europe appears to be officially 16 but unofficially, as long as you look like you have hit puberty OR you are with your parents) and when he ordered his dessert, Shack decided that he would have a mushroom pizza instead to top off his giant plate of pasta.




After our meal, we all happily rolled back out onto the street, a bit tipsy and already totally in love with Rome and wandered the streets for an hour or so before collapsing, stuffed and thrilled, into our beds. It was THE perfect place to set the tone for the entire stay.

Ristorante Falcone
Via della Meloria, 53, 00136 Rome, Italy
+39 06 3972 6951
 reservations via thefork.it

Roma Sparita

the famous Cacio e pepe served in a crispy cheese bowl - YAAAASSSS

I made two reservations before we left for Europe and this was one of them. Anthony Bourdin ate here on his last trip to Rome and refused to name the place but, of course, internet sleuths soon figured out it was Roma Sparita so I booked a table.

Don't miss an opportunity to get there a bit early and explore this beautiful church

The restaurant sits facing the Piazza Santa Cecilia, where a beautiful church, Santa Cecilia (of course) is located. Since 1527, Benedictine Nuns have lived in the monastery there and are caretakers of the church. Because we booked a table to coincide with the very touristy 7:30pm opening time and arrived a bit early, we were lucky enough to be treated to the first 10 minutes of evening vespers in the church. There was a group of about 20 people in the pews and a small group of nuns leading the singing and if you can swing it, you might be able to treat yourself to both the vespers and then follow with amazingly rich cacio e pepe next door.



a lovely plate of tender veal

I would like to show you my kid's face AFTER he cleaned these oxtails down to the bare bone but that would be undignified

We all had the famous pasta, cacio e pepe, an unbelievably rich pasta (made fresh, in house of course) coated in a blanket of tangy pecorino and lots of black pepper served in a crispy bowl made from more pecorino cheese. I didn't think it was possible to eat a pasta that felt richer than carbonara but it took everything in me to finish mine and I couldn't eat anything else. The Kid followed his with their equally famous oxtail, digging in and eating with his hands, like a true Roman and leaving nothing behind but gleaming, white bones. This earned him a hearty back pat and a round of applause from the wait staff that made it suddenly okay that he had tomato sauce on his glasses. Because Shack doesn't do difficult to eat foods like oxtail, we also ordered a plate of tender veal to share as well.



an old school ricotta tart

some sort of molten chocolate something or other was equally delicious

We had a lovely bottle of wine to round out the meal and a couple of shared desserts and despite being the first people in the restaurant, we were never made to feel like this was anything odd or laughable, which is sometimes the case when dining early in Europe. By 8:30 the place was packed to the rafters with locals and tourists alike.


Piazza di Santa Cecilia, 24, 00153 Roma, Italy
Hours
Saturday12:30–2:30PM, 7:30–11:30PM
Sunday12:30–2:30PM
Monday
(Labor Day)
Closed
Tuesday12:30–2:30PM, 7:30–11:30PM
Wednesday12:30–2:30PM, 7:30–11:30PM
Thursday12:30–2:30PM, 7:30–11:30PM
Friday12:30–2:30PM, 7:30–11:30PM

Reservations: quandoo.it



Ristorante Piperno


Okay, so we were not the only people here right at 7:30 because I forgot the other tourists in the corner

The second place I made a reservation for was Ristorante Piperno, one of the oldest places in Rome, sitting on the edge of the Jewish quarter that dates back to 1860. It was not warm enough yet to sit out on the patio but the front dining room was lovely if not a tiny bit formal and stuffy, as was the service.



We started with the Gran Fritto Piperno, a sharing platter consisting of Fried Artichoke done in the Jewish style, potato croquette, an arancini, fried mozzarella and fried zuchinni blossom. It was not the most exciting dish of our trip but everything was perfectly prepared, not greasy, crisp and hot but at 23€, I would skip it next time.

Mains were Cotoletta di Vitello Bolognese (basically veal parmesan), Risotto Pescatora (seafood risotto) and Saltimbocca a Vitello a la Romana (veal cutlets with ham and sage). Always keep in mind that the Italians eat in course so when you order a meat or fish dish, you get the meat or fish and that is it. You must order vegetables, pasta or risotto etc separately. 


The pasta is made in house, they had an array of preparations of artichoke that I could order to make an entire multi course, the wine list is lovely although a bit pricey and we all agreed it is a great place for a celebration or a fancy pants date night but not our kind of place to visit regularly if we lived in Rome.


Because my kid is a 17 year old young man, he ordered "Grandpa's Balls" for dessert because they are called Grandpa's Balls. Luckily, these tasty little ricotta fritters are named ironically, rather than literally.


lovely, tender veal in a light pan sauce

seafood risotto



Our food was very good, the neighbourhood is lovely and we enjoyed a long stroll after dinner before heading back to our apartment. 

*excuse the lack of great food photos but the restaurant was a bit dark and, as I said, the service was not as casual or friendly as other places we dined at so I felt very conspicuous even taking these pictures. Next time I will go for lunch, sit on the patio and take stunning photos and all will be right with the world.


Via Monte Dè Cenci, 9, 00186 Roma, Italy
Hours
Saturday12:45–2:20PM, 7:45–10:20PM
Sunday12:45–2:20PM
Monday
(Labor Day)
Closed
Tuesday12:45–2:20PM, 7:45–10:20PM
Wednesday12:45–2:20PM, 7:45–10:20PM
Thursday12:45–2:20PM, 7:45–10:20PM
Friday12:45–2:20PM, 7:45–10:20PM


Reservations: quandoo.it

Giolotti

Clearly, you can get gelato anywhere in Rome and it will probably be quite good but to get truly mind blowing gelato that will cause you to question your very existence, you need to go to a place like Giolotti. This place has been slinging ice cream since 1900 and even now, after three generations of Giolottis manning the ship, they still have line ups from the minute they open to the minute they close.




We had to take a detour on our maiden voyage due to those Italian Unionists protesting - The Kid was suitably thrilled

Shack had this amazing black cherry and raspberry with a shmear of chipped cream

Everyone I know has their own favourite place for earth shattering gelato and this place was recommended by my good friend, Lydia. We had orginally planned to visit a few of the places that people shared with me but this place was so delicious that we just kept going back. When we go back and have more than three days, I will try a couple of other spots. I think.

I had this caramelized fig with pistachio every time although I skipped the whipped cream after this first cone



Via degli Uffici del Vicario, 40, 00186 Roma, Italy
Hours
Saturday7AM–1AM
Sunday7AM–1AM
Monday
(Labor Day)
7AM–1AM
Hours might differ
Tuesday7AM–1AM
Wednesday7AM–1AM
Thursday7AM–1AM
Friday7AM–1AM


Scusate il Ritardo



After a morning of wandering around and an hour marvelling at the inside of the Pantheon, we were getting hot and hangry.  We were a bit afraid of having our first Italian lunch disappoint but getting out of this tourist packed area was going to take some time and ingenuity and we were, again, getting very cranky by this point. Instead, we chose the restaurant with the best view of the Pantheon that also appeared to have the most Italian speaking patrons dining outdoors, hoped for the best, expected the worst and sat down there.





Spaghetti Bolognese, the stuff that courses through Shack's veins

I am happy to report that although a bit on the expensive side, for Rome, the food was good, the service was good and the view was spectacular.

deep fried meatballs might be my new jam

We shared some battered and fried artichokes, polpetti fritta a la Romana (deep fried meatballs), spaghetti bolognese and a margharita pizza. When I am unsure of the restaurant, I always make sure we order simple things that are hard to mess up and we ordered wisely here. The prices were more in line with Paris prices but it was our first lunch so we didn't really even realize that Rome is a much cheaper city to eat in so that didn't even faze me and the food, although not spectacular, was still quite good so, if this is the touristy crap that I am going to overpay to eat because it's sitting across from the Pantheon, I am okay with that.

I can't find a website but this is their menu on Zomato
Piazza della Rotonda, 6, 00186 Roma, Italy
Phone+39 06 6880 9350
Hours
Saturday7:30AM–12AM
Sunday7:30AM–12AM
Monday
(Labor Day)
7:30AM–12AM
Hours might differ
Tuesday7:30AM–12AM
Wednesday7:30AM–12AM
Thursday7:30AM–12AM
Friday7:30AM–12AM


my penne arrabiata was great 

After visiting the Castelo San'Angelo, we started to walk along the river when we realized that we were famished. It was not looking like there were going to be a ton of eating options along the way and the hangry panic was about to set in when, on a hunch by The Kid, we ducked into Risorante Sor'Eva, despite the fact that it met only one of our measures of a good spot, looking like it had not seen a fresh coat of paint since the early 70's but almost empty with no sign of a nona or a couple of old locals, loudly arguing over lunch. Right after we were seated a boisterous group of local teenagers piled in and promptly filled their table with copious amounts of wine and food so they made up for the lack of old dudes and it proved to be a fine hunch, indeed. 

It seems that I only took a quick photo of my pasta because, honestly, I assumed that it was not going to be anything worth mentioning and by the time I tasted my pasta, the boys had already dug in and made a mess of their food. But it is near the Vatican and Castelo San'Angelo and absolutely worth a visit so, there you have it.

Simple, unpretentious, cheap and tasty, we had two generous pastas (10€ each), a 7€ pizza, a caprese salad, a bottle of sparkling water, a glass of wine and coffee for a very reasonable 49€ 


Piazza della Rovere, 108, 00165 Roma, Italy

Hours
Saturday12–3:30PM, 7–11PM
Sunday12–3:30PM, 7–11PM
Monday
(Labor Day)
Closed
Tuesday12–3:30PM, 7–11PM
Wednesday12–3:30PM, 7–11PM
Thursday12–3:30PM, 7–11PM
Friday12–3:30PM, 7–11PM

Antica Hostaria Del Corso

Shockingly good lasagna


It took me weeks to find the name of this place because I assumed that it was on our bill (this is how I keep track of what we ate, what it cost and where, much of the time). What I did know was that it was right beside the Ristorante Il Falchetto - but the restaurant we ate at has no real online presence, no website, so to find it, find the Ristorante Il Falchetto and stop at this little spot instead lol. I am sure the food at Il Falchetto is actually, probably better but it is also more expensive, the place looks fancier and we were tired and sweaty and not dressed for that, to be perfectly honest.

Strolling down the Via del Corso, we appeared to be trapped in a ridiculously touristy area where all of the menus are displayed on huge signboards, in multiple languages and burgers and fries are the daily specials. What to do? We have to eat and we have been walking, non stop, for about 5 hours at this point so, as always, I leave the choosing up to the boys who appear to have a finely honed system for choosing places to eat on the fly. A waiter appears across the busy street and beckons us into a small side street so we follow because there is an interesting looking place right on the corner with a line up inside to buy sandwiches. The waiter waves us past this place to the restaurant he works at, the much fancier looking Ristorante Il Falchetto, but, as I said, that is not where we wanted to eat that day.  A couple was sitting on the patio of the more modest Antica Hostaria Del Corso, eating an amazing looking pizza, piled high with arugula and prosciutto so we tell him thanks but no thanks and grab a rickety table at the unnamed place on the corner and decide we will have a look at the menu while the scorned waiter glares at us from the shade of his patio.

Shack likes the fact that this place looks like it hasn't been redecorated since 1967 and Hank is impressed with the nonna who is eating a huge sandwich inside so we decide to stay put. Shack ordered lasagna, the kid got a pizza with sardines and I ordered my third pasta with clams in three days. SO SUE ME< I LIKE WHAT I LIKE.


Much to our delight, the food arrives and it is tasty, simple and exactly what we were looking to eat. The lasagna was meaty and rich and, most importantly, huge, my pasta vongole was just fine and full of tiny, delicious clams and The Kid's pizza was very good as well. A cheap Italian half litre of wine (I calculate that an Italian half litre is closer to a full 700ml bottle, but I am not complaining) was presented and lunch was a great success.

Look, I have checked into it after the fact and I see that it gets a number of terrible reviews as well as some really great reviews so let me just make it clear that this is NOT a place to go out of your way to eat at but, if you find yourself trapped on the Via Del Corso and you are starving but don't want to eat a burger or spend too much money on tourist food, this is a fine place to take a load off and have a good bite.

Via del Corso, 321, 00187 Roma, Italy

Hours
Saturday10AM–10PM
Sunday10AM–10PM
Monday
(Labor Day)
10AM–10PM
Hours might differ
Tuesday10AM–10PM
Wednesday10AM–10PM
Thursday10AM–10PM
Friday10AM–10PM



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