Those of you who also follow me over Instagram (@travel_pb) have probably already seen a photo with this catchy slogan: Italy is Eataly. It is a slogan of an Italian gourmet food and wine marketplace chain Eataly.
I spotted one of their billboards while in Rome and found it really cute. I know nothing about the food chain and have never been inside one of their places, but their slogan addresses a very important part of Italian culture - food.
In my opinion Italy is as much about good food and wine, as it is about history and art. Combine it all together and you get a perfect mix and a strong tourist magnet. Every time I visit Italy I try to get a taste of every one of those things.
Rome was no different. Apart from good wine and excellent Roman artisan ice-cream I already wrote about, we also had to eat once in a while during our week-long trip. You are welcome to check out our Roman wine tasting experience as well as the tour of Frascati vineyards we really enjoyed.
I am glad to report we had no bad food experiences during our stay in the Eternal city whatsoever. The worst two things we got were an overpriced cup of mediocre coffee and a glass of undrinkable house-wine. That is it - everything else exceeded our expectations or was at least as good as we had expected. A much better outcome than were hoping for.
We were obviously not depending only on our luck and instincts - I also checked for some on-line recommendations. Smartphone support (with Tripadvisor app and web access) can also be a very welcome help in some situations.
We tried to eat as many local dishes as possible and stay on a budget while doing it. I was pretty sceptical about this before the trip but as I learned, it is actually quite possible to eat good food for a reasonable price in Rome.
However, a glass of good wine (by my not so low, European standards) was quite a bit more expensive than back home in Slovenia.
These are the places I can gladly recommend. Please keep in mind these are mostly budget options and the ambient might not always be the best, but it definitely is authentic. Above all, they serve delicious local food.
- Pastificio on Via della Croce 8 (located a couple hundred metres from Spanish steps) is actually an artisan pasta shop, offering pasta meals every day from 13:00 to 14:00 for 4 Euro. A glass of quite drinkable wine is included. Each day they have a tasting of two different pasta/sauce variations. They serve it until they run out - so make sure you are there on time. Food is served on plastic plates with disposable cutlery but it is delicious.
- La tavernetta 48 on Via degli Spagnoli 48 is actually a very good and moderately priced restaurant. It does however offer budget (usually typical local) two course fixed meals for 13 Euro every day at lunch time only.
- Formula 1 is a pizzeria located on Via degli equi 13. It may not look like much and it is also not set in one of the attractive parts of the city, but they serve good food at budget prices. You can get a tasty pizza for as low as 4 Euro. You should also try some of their many fried local specialities. Unlike most other pizza places they are also open during lunch time.
- Navona Notte on Via del Teatro Pace 44 (a short stroll from piazza Navona) is another moderately priced pizzeria with a wood-burning oven. You can expect to pay one or two Euro more compared to the one mentioned above but it is located in a very touristy area. In addition to a wide range of pizzas, here you can also choose among many other typical dishes.
- Checchino dal 1887 on Via di Monte Testaccio 30 is NOT a budget option, but if you decide to spend a bit more on a special occasion this is my recommendation. They are as authentic as they get and (supposedly) never disappoint. This is a true Roman institution and they serve all the typical local dishes like Caponata, Saltimbocca, Spaghetti alla Carbonara and many more. Since it is quite popular it is wise to make a reservation.
If you just came back from Rome and would like to relive some of those great tastes of Cuccina Romana, I have a treat for you. Here are two recipes by no other than Elio Mariani - the chef and co-owner of Checchino dal 1887 restaurant himself. Let him share his secrets while you watch him prepare Saltimbocca alla Romana and Spaghetti alla Carbonara - two typical Roman dishes. Bon Appétit!