With only three days in Rome, it was really important that we didn’t have to wander too far away from the major attractions to hunt for our meals. It was equally important that we didn’t wander into any (tourist) traps. La Taverna, about 200 metres away from the Colosseum, struck a good balance. We made a reservation for lunch, since it was possible to do so online, but it wasn’t necessary as there was hardly anyone else around when we arrived.
The house wine was fairly inexpensive at 3 Euros for a small carafe. Edwin stuck to his belief that cold fizzy drinks are the only thirst quenching liquids on the planet.
Bucatini all’ amatriciana, another Roman specialty.
Fritto di baccalà mele e zucchine (fried cod, apples, and zucchini)
Petto di vitella alla fornara (veal)
The food wasn’t mind-blowing, but was lovely nonetheless. We didn’t dine at the really touristy establishments, but it’s probably safe to say that this will be better than any restaurant with a statue of Julius Caesar and overly enthusiastic waiters.
9. Gelateria Valentino
Via del Lavatore, 96
Right now I’m reading “Eat Pray Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert for the nth time, and I regret not going to San Crispino which is just round the corner from this one. To be fair, it was raining heavily, and I was still recovering from the disappointment of the Trevi fountain being covered up and closed for renovations.
Drowning my sorrows in gelato. And a dose of Audrey Hepburn.
Via degli Ombrellari, 7
Our first proper meal in Rome was in a paninoteca not far from the Vatican. I loved the seafood panino and didn’t care much for the mortadella, while it was the other way round for Edwin. So it worked out.
We also ordered a side of fried vegetables (fritti), which was basically tempura without the sauce. Good for two to share, three even.
Desserts were also available, but we didn’t bother as a gelataria was just round the corner. And it would be sacrilege not to indulge in gelato on a hot day in Italy.
7. Hedera – Sweetness & Co.
Borgo Pio, 179
About 20 metres away from FaFaMi was Hedera. We had the limone, which we ate while admiring Castel Sant’Angelo from the outside.
Maybe everything in Europe is expensive because the view is included in the price.
Via degli Orfani, 84
We stumbled upon the Pantheon on our way to dinner. I know, how do you stumble upon something as colossal as the Pantheon? But when you’re two lost people in a city for the first time, anything can happen. All roads may lead to Rome, but it isn’t particularly helpful when you’re actually in Rome. Two things were clear: (a) we were only slightly off the intended path, and (b) I needed a pre-dinner snack.
I didn’t know it at the time, but Venchi is actually a large corporation with stores all over the world. What I also wasn’t aware of is that it’s available in Hong Kong and Singapore. But would that knowledge dilute the experience somehow? Oh well. It’s good-tasting gelato, and that’s all we need to know, really.
5. Punto Gelato
Via dei Pettinari, 43
Melone-flavoured gelato is always a good idea, especially on long walks on warm nights.
4. Gelateria La Romana
Via XX Settembre, 60
We went there before visiting Galleria Borghese, and then again after. To be honest, service wasn’t great, but what brought us back was the generous serving of gelato.
Plus it tasted great, of course.
3. Tazza D’Oro
Via degli Orfani, 84
Another gem that’s steps away from the Pantheon, Tazza D’Oro serves delightful coffee and pastries. Its location makes it perfect for breakfast or a quick snack before visiting surrounding attractions.
A cornetto is the Italian relative of the croissant, and is a breakfast staple. Fresh pastries in the morning? Don’t mind if I do.
2. Ristorante Santa Cristina al Quirinale
Via della Cordonata, 21-22
Now this place would be the antithesis of touristy, despite being in the midst of fancy pants hotels. It seemed like we were the only non-Italian speakers in the room. Maybe that was why the service was… almost non-existent.
The food, however, was a different story.
We didn’t have much pasta while in Italy, but this had to rank right on top. I lovingly savoured every mouthful of the zucchini pasta with crispy little zucchini flower bits. I think part of the appeal was how unique it was. And why not? It’s about trying dishes that you wouldn’t find elsewhere.
We’re big on seafood, so a seafood platter is always a winner.
Tiramisu? Sì, certo! This was the better tiramisu we had in Italy, as it easily beat out the one at Mamma Angela’s. However, the best tiramisu we had during the trip was in Paris (surprise surprise).
By the way, the accompanying dessert wine was really strong. It was a good thing our apartment was just minutes away!
Via Flavia, 98
If you could only eat one thing during your stay in Rome, this is the one. Navigating the curved cobblestone streets of Rome on an empty stomach is an absolute torture, but Pinsere is the pizza equivalent of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Or the light at the end of the tunnel. The bountiful harvest after a year of toiling in the fields. You get the idea.
Last I checked, they’re only open from 10am to 4pm, and it was chaos when we were there during lunch hour. Loud, haphazard queue, no seating area. Dine standing up, or buy to go. (I recommend dine-in for optimum freshness and awesome-ness.) It’s strictly no-frills, but you’ll survive.
There’s a menu, but it’s mostly decorative. Just go to the counter and point to whichever pizza that catches your eye. Till this day I have no idea what we ate. But it was divine, and that I’ll always remember.
The pizzas cost an average of 4 Euros, and the staff was incredibly friendly, fluent in English and French and who knows what else. Which only adds to how amazing this place is.
But the best part?
Feast your eyes. It’ll have to do until the real thing.