I get emails and calls all the time, with the same question: Where should I eat in Rome? Since I’ve been reporting on this topic for most of my life – for magazines like Food & Wine, Travel & Leisure, The Atlantic and Town & Country – it’s not a surprising request. And of course, by now I’ve got my list down pat, and can usually attach it to an email pretty easily, along with links to reviews and articles I’ve written. But even I have to admit the list was unwieldy, in no order what-so-ever, and very hard to keep up to date. Which is one of the reasons I decided to publish the app Eat Rome.
Now you know where to make your dinner reservations, the ‘where’, but what about the ‘what’? Of course, certain restaurants have their specialities, but there are some seasonal treats that you should work in no matter where you end up for meals. If you do come to Rome, here are some of the greatest hits you won’t want to miss:
Vegetables: yes, I’m going here first. Italy is still very regional, and each small area still has certain vegetables that rarely make it out of town.
- Puntarelle: Late fall and winter brings this slightly bitter green. This is a type of forced chicory cut into curly strips and dressed with a lemony garlic sauce.
- Artichokes: When they are in season in the Spring, eat them anyway you can. Deep fried and crunchy (alla giudea) sauteed into pasta, or stewed alla romana. They are so tender you can even eat them shaved paper thin, raw, in salads.
- Fave Beans: Romans like their fave raw, popped out of the shell at the table along with a wedge of pecorino romano, a sharp sheep’s milk cheese.
- Vignarola: My favorite harbinger of spring, is a soup made from peas, artichokes and fave beans and made only in Rome.
- Brocolo Romano: Looks more like it flew in from another planet, than from the Roman countryside. This intensely flavored type of cauliflower is bright green, and makes its way into a fish soup with pasta.
Sweets: Every holiday has it’s own traditions and Rome is no exception. If you happen to be in town at the right time, try these:
- Frappe: Strips of sweet dough, fried and dusted with powdered sugar, made for Carnevale
- Castegnole: Like donut holes, these little fried balls are covered in sugar and made during Carnevale
- Bigne di San Giuseppe: Fist sized beignet stuffed with rich vanilla cream, made for St. Joseph’s day in March (Father’s day in Italy)
Salty: You can’t take a passegiata without a piece of pizza bianca in your hand. This flat pizza dough is typically roman and differs from similar focaccia made in other regions, being flatter and crispier. Available in bakeries throughout the day, it’s best to wait for a fresh slab to come hot out of the oven. The baker will drizzle olive oil on top, and slice off a bit chunk for you. Wrapped in a sheet of paper, it’s the ultimate Roman street food.
Elizabeth can also be found at her blog. All photos courtesy of Elizabeth Minchilli.