From Street Food to
Five Star Dining in the Eternal City
There are certain things that are inextricably linked with Rome. The Trevi Fountain, The Spanish Steps, the Pope and of course … food.
The city has more than a whopping 13,000 restaurants, and that doesn’t count myriad street vendors and pop-up stands that seem to be on every corner. So where does one begin? Well with breakfast, of course.
Atop the exquisitely elegant Sofitel Rome Villa Borghese is Settimo’s, where Chef Giuseppe D’Alessio crafts locally inspired specialties. And few things are as special as the breakfast hosted there each morning. Beginning with a basket of warm breads and pastries, Settimo’s offers both a buffet and ala carte menu where the focus is on locally grown goodness served with the kind of culinary flair one can only find in Italy. The only thing more delicious than the meals served at Settimo’s are the rooftop views that accompany them.
If your ideal breakfast is on the sweet side, you can’t miss out on the diminutive Pasticceria Cinque Lune near Piazza Navona. The tiny bakeshop has a near cult following among locals, and one bite of their Torta Antichi Romani is all it takes to discover why. If you prefer breakfast later in the day, or any time of the day for that matter, Dolce Maniera in the Prati neighborhood near Vatican City is your go to. The bakery is open twenty-four hours a day so you can nibble on your favorites anytime the craving strikes.
Speaking of sweets, Castroni – also in Prati – might offer a venerable selection of caviars and upscale Italian products but the busiest counter in this iconic Roman shop is often the confections found at the front of the store. From the ‘milk candy’ Italians love to fragrant hard candies and all in between, you can find it at Castroni’s. And while we’re speaking about La Dolce Vita, we can’t neglect to mention the most beloved of all sweet treats – gelato. Gelato in Rome is more than dessert, more than ice cream; it is truly a passion and throughout the city you’ll find Roman’s queuing up to get their fill. And ask the locals who makes the best gelato in the city, and you’ll get as many answers as there are flavors (read, seemingly infinite). That said, you won’t find many who will argue that Gelateria Sweet Life in the uber-food driven Campo de Fiori (where you’ll also find the produce market) is a star in Rome’s gelato constellation. Located a few steps away from the dinner crows hustle and bustle, Sweet Life if easy enough to find – just look for the lines of locals that reaches down the block.
With so much food to choose from, having an expert to help is priceless. Enter Lauren Caramico, founder of Davvero Rome. Leading food-focused tours and excursions throughout Rome, the Brooklyn-born Caramico has made Rome her home and is a veritable fountain of local delicacy expertise. After asking local friends for recommendations and meticulously exploring the area in search of the best of the best, Caramico has come up with what could only be described as a who’s who of Roman delights.
In a conversation with Caramico, we asked her the questions everyone SHOULD ask before heading to Rome.
If you could eat just one thing in Rome, what would it be?
Such a difficult question...it’s like picking your
favorite child! By category I would say for antipasto it would be bruschetta pomodoro, for pasta primi it’s l’amatriciana, (a delectable red sauce with red and black pepper) as a secondi coda all vaccinara, for street food Trapizzino (a Roman pizza pocket), and for every day (sometimes twice a day) either suppli (Roman balls of rice and cheese, deep fried) or any one of the three Roman types of pizza.
What makes Roman food typically “Roman”?
Roman food is very seasonal and very local. Some of the most quintessential Roman dishes are created with produce and ingredients found in Rome including Roman artichokes, Roman zucchini and zucchini flowers, Pecorino Romano cheese and so e other lesser knowns like fava beans, etc.
The most popular dishes known-internationally are the four famous Roman pastas of cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper), gricia and carbonara, and l’amatriciana (guanciale (salt-cured pork jowl), tomato, pecorino romano and chiles).
However, the REAL Roman cuisine goes a little deeper than that. Roman cooking is “quinto quarto” - the fifth channel of the animal. In other words, offal. Some of those top dishes are coda alla vaccinara (braised oxtail), trippa (intestines), cow’s tongue, and pigs’ feet.
If you’re not the adventurous eater you can always order the veal saltimbocca, baccala (cod fish), or abbacchio (roasted lamb). Also, very Roman is porchetta - a roasted pork stuffed with a variety of herbs and spices.