In preparation for my trip to Italy I tried not to eat too much Italian food so I could eat it straight for 11 days. I was no good at it given how I ate caccio e pepe literally the afternoon of my flight (for comparison purposes, obviously). When I got to Rome I was certainly excited to see the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, the Forum, Baths of Caracalla, etc. but, I was more excited about the food because Italy is the ultimate foodie place! As long as you avoid the english and tourist menus, eating in Italy should not be that expensive and especially not as expensive as New York. Below are some of my favorite spots in Rome. Florence and Milan deserve their own highlight so stay tuned!
1. Ai Tre Scalini- Great lasagno bolo during apertivi and for a great price! Check out the neighborhood afterwards for boutique shops and gelato at Fatamorgana!
2. Roscioli- Some of the best espresso I've ever had was at this cafe. Come here during breakfast hour or for a quick bite in the afternoon. Be sure to get the mini roast beef sandwiches, bread with sweet cream, cream puffs and croissants. You'll have to stand and eat at the bar so make sure you know a little Italian so you can at least try to converse with the locals.
3. La Botticella- Your mind is not fooling you. You are indeed looking at cacio e pepe in a parmesan crust. This amazing hole in the wall restaurant serves HUGE portions and cooks with the same love as your grandma.
4. Freni e Frizioni- This awesome bar gets very crowded at aperitivo hour and once you go you'll see why. The cocktails are amazing (see Spritz below) and they have a delicious aperitivo buffet. You order and pay at the register before you hand your receipt to the bartender for him to make your drink. It's a shame we don't drink Spritz during happy hour here in the US!
5. Mordi e Vai- Amazing paninis inside of the Testaccio Market. If you're a fan of tripe (I am not) then get the tripe panini here. Below is the steak panini with peppers which I found incredible. The beef is slow cooked and put on delicious soft bread. Paninis in Italy are not pressed so don't be surprised when it looks like the one below.
6. Gelateria del Teatro- Make sure you stop here to get delicious gelato near the ancient ruins. Below is ricotta cheese, almond, fig gelato with a scoop of coffee gelato. It may sound strange to you but wait till you try it.
7. Volpetti- Volpetti is a foodie grocery through and through. Try their empanadas, fried vegetables, cheeses but don't miss the buffalo mozzarella pizza. The hunks of soft mozzarella on the pizza will keep you coming back for more.
8. Bonci Pizzarium- Bonci has all the toppings you could ever want among which you'll find find cherry tomato and potato pizza pictured below. Side note: Anthony Bourdain swears by this pizza place!
9. Bar del Cappuccino- The mom and pop run shop serves amazing hot and cold cappuccino. The special frozen cappuccino is delicious and a sweet treat in the morning. This place also has an amazing pastrami sandwich that can rival NY pastrami.
10. Trattoria Perilli- I've heard rumors that this trattoria has the best carbonara in Rome and so I had to go. The carbonara was cheesy with the perfect balance of spice from the peppers. Wish I could have a bite now!
11. Glass Hostaria- Glass Hostaria is a one Michelin starred restaurant in Rome. We did the Traditional tasting menu which was a great way to get all the Roman flavors in one seating. Below is the scented sumac lamb, stilton cheese, carrots and fennel pollen and coffee, condensed milk gelato, crunchy almonds, and Baileys ice cream. Glass Hostaria has a great atmosphere with scrumptious modern Italian food.
12. Cul de Sac- Craving a great meat and cheese plate with some wine at an amazing price point? THIS is your place. The vast wine selection is also impressive.
13. Tiber Gelato- Cross Rome's oldest bridge Ponte Fabricio into Tiber Island and stop at Tiber Gelato to get a scoop of gelato. I got the cookies gelato which had large chunks of chocolate cookie in creamy vanilla gelato.