When in Rome, do as the Romans do and eat your hearts out. If your idea of traveling is eating your way through a city, then you've definitely reached palate paradise. From finding the best neighborhood trattoria and scouring the markets for the freshest produce to taking a cooking class and a food walking tour, la dolce vita doesn't get any better than this!
Learning to Eat Like a Local — Photo courtesy of Kenny Dunn-Eating Italy Food Tours in Rome
Eat Like a Local
Since you’re in Rome, it only makes sense to dive head first into the best of la cucina romana. Some of the best pasta amatriciana (pasta made with tomatoes and pancetta) can be had at Vecchia Roma near Piazza Vittorio (Via Ferruccio, 12). Your eyes will light up as you watch waiters set a gigantic block of pecorino cheese on fire and toss your pasta inside. The end result? A generous portion of pasta amatriciana made with smokey pecorino cheese. Meanwhile, those craving pasta carbonara (pasta made with egg, black pepper, guanciale and pecorino cheese) can head straight to L’Archetto (Via dell’Archetto, 26) near the Trevi Fountain or La Carbonara (Via Panispera, 214) in Monti to get their fix. Devouring carciofi alla giudia (a deep-fried Jewish style artichoke), a typical favorite Roman appetizer, should only be done at Da Enzo in Trastevere (Via dei Vascellari, 29). Da Enzo is also a good place for pasta. Call ahead for seats as this place gets packed.
Shop Like a Local
Travelers looking to live like a local should head over to the open air food markets for a day. The most famous is located in Campo de’ Fiori which is open Monday-Saturday from 7.30am till about 1.30pm. However, the largest mercato is located in Prati. The Mercato Trionfale (Via Andrea Doria and Via Tunisi) has over 270 stalls featuring fresh fruit, vegetables, bread, cheese, fish and meat. If you’ve ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at food markets, Kenny Dunn at Eating Italy Food Tours in Rome is your man. He takes you off the beaten track and into the working class neighborhood of Testaccio. During his three hour tour, you’ll get a bit of history and anecdotes about the market vendors, specialty shops and restaurants that he takes you to in the area. Not to mention all of the food you get to sample along the way: prosciutto, suppli, mozzarella di bufala, pecorino cheese and gelato.
Cook Like a Local
Now that you’ve got the ingredients, it’s time to cook like a local. Need some help in that department? Chef Andrea Consoli can give you a hand. For just €65, he’ll teach you how to make your very own four-course meal at his Le Fate restaurant in Trastevere (Viale di Trastevere, 130) . Not only do you get to eat what you make, but you end up having a lot of fun too!
Pamper Yourself Like a Local
For travelers with a sweet tooth, Rome certainly doesn’t disappoint. At Cristalli di Zucchero, you can definitely have your cake and eat it too. At this pastry shop, once can pick up some of the tastiest miniature sized cakes and tarts that are almost too cute to eat. Cristalli di Zucchero has two locations: one in Monteverde (Via di Val Tellina, 114) and the other near Circus Maximus (Via di San Teodoro, 88).
Meanwhile, two gelaterie in Rome are daring customers to take their palates where they’ve never gone before. Fata Morgana (Via di Lago di Lesina, 9/11) near the Villa Ada park and Il Gelato (Piazza Monte d’Oro, 91/92) near Ara Pacis, take gelato to a whole new level. While both shops offer the classics (chocolate, pistacchio and cream flavors), what makes these guys so unique are its exotic flavors. Fata Morgana features flavors such as rice pudding, blue berry cheesecake, peaches with wine and pears with Gorgonzola cheese. Meanwhile, Il Gelato has over 100 flavors to choose from including 20 different variations of chocolate, brie, ginger and ricotta. Yum.