While being sure to see all of the important sights in Rome, it was necessary that we also tried to taste as much Roman food as possible.....in research efforts of course, so that all of you will know exactly what to try on your next trip to the Eternal City. In our short stay, we managed to have many great meals, but here are a few highlights of some of our favorites.
We will start with a few drinks: The Campari Spritzer is so refreshing on a hot summer afternoon. It is made with campari, prosecco, an ice cube or two and an orange peel. We had this one at Gusto Trattoria, just off of Piazza del Popolo. The right side shows a can of Chinotto, which can almost be described as a bitter Cola. I am not a fan of Coke, but yet Brian is, and we both seem to love the interesting taste of Chinotto. It is made from the bitter citrus fruit with the same name, that is grown in Italy. You can also buy Chinotto in the US (imported) but this San Pellegrino brand we have only been able to find in Italy....or very expensively on the Internet of course.
Homemade pesto pasta: while we had a few different versions of pesto while in Italy, this one was so light (no overpowering basil, nor oily), on homemade pasta, and dusted with parmigiano and freshly toasted pine nuts.
Cocomero: Watermelon. It was so incredibly sweet, crispy and refreshing after a meal.
Seafood pasta. This fabulous dish was had a Nonna Betta in the Jewish Ghetto.
Once again, freshly made pasta makes all the difference. The sauce was broth based with garlic, grilled squid, clams, cod and fresh cherry tomatoes
Another great Roman Jewish specialty was the grilled artichoke "Jewish style". The trimmed artichoke was pressed flat on a hot grill. Once crispy, it is removed and drizzled with olive oil and sea salt.
There are so many wonderful wines in Italy. If you are on a budget (or even if you are not) don't worry about ordering anything more than the table wine offered by the restaurant. Each time that we had it, we were impressed with the quality and flavor, unlike the usually undrinkable American table wine.
A staple of mine while I am in Italy...Pizza al Taglio (by the slice). This was my lunch from a place in the coveted Trastevere neighborhood. I ordered three types: the first is with zucchini blossoms and anchovies The second is buffala mozzarella with cherry tomatoes and arugula... and the third is topped with thinly sliced potatoes, rosemary, olive oil and parmigiano. You can ask for any size of whatever the pizza place has to offer. Sometimes they will also "mettere nel forno" warm it in the oven for you if you prefer it warm. I really do not like cold pizza, strange, I know, so I always get mine warmed.
Piadine. These are really a specialty of the Emilia Romagna region, but we did find them in Rome and the small town of Arezzo. Piadine are a thin grilled Italian flat bread sandwich We had one with bresaola, arugula and parmigiano,
and also one with radicchio, grilled eggplant and scamorza (similar to a smoked mozzarella).
We each ordered our piadina and a frizzy cool drink, then waited outside the shop on a shady bench. They brought out our order to us with in minutes, wrapped in butcher paper, hot and delicious. I am big on simple eating, so this is one of my favorite types of meals.
Finally, perhaps one of the simplest dishes in Rome was the Cacio and Pepe Rigatoni- this variation also came scattered with grilled pancetta. The pasta was perfectly al dente, while the salty, crunchy pancetta perfectly complemented the bite of the black pepper and the fresh Pecorino Romano.
The Italian restaurant receipt. Concise and to the point.