Fall in love with Rome's food.
Rome vs Naples in the pizza debate. No, not the taste, the origin.
Look, it's hard to go wrong with pizza in the Eternal City. They claim to have invented it, of course they do, or at least preceded it, but if it came down to an arm wrestle, Naples would win - (1) there is a record of the word 'pizza' as far back as 997AD in Gaeta, a coastal village between Rome and Naples, closer to Naples; (2) Marinara, the Neapolitan seafarer's wife, who lovingly made flatbreads of tomato and oregano to take to sea in the 18th Century and (3) Margherita, Queen of Italy, who visited Naples in 1889 with her husband, King Umberto, and naturally wanted to sample the street food (as one does). A pizza was rustled up for her by the finest pizzaiolo napolitano with Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella di bufala and basil leaves to represent the Italian Tricolore flag. She was hooked, who can blame her?
Dough wise, Pizza Romana is crispy, thin and slightly burnt while pizza Napoletana is stretchy and soft. Pizza al taglio is thick, like focaccia, and cut into squares, it's a must when you're in Rome and sold as street food, so keep a lookout.
'It's hard to go wrong with pizza in the Eternal City.'
Pick any, but ensure your chosen pizzeria has a forno a legna (wood-burning pizza oven) and both pizza bianca and pizza rossa on the menu (white and red: without and without a tomato base) ps. don't expect mozzarella on your pizza rossa.
We recommend the pizza at Chicco di Grano, it's got the crisp but also the body (see the delectable aubergine pizza above) and conveniently located only steps away from one of our favourite Aperitivo Time spots in Rome, Piazza della Madonna dei Monti.
Bucatini all'amatriciana - thick spaghetti with a hole running through the middle in a rich sauce of three ingredients: tomatoes, guanciale and onion.
Rigatoni alla gricia - rigatoni with guanciale (or pancetta) and pecorino romano.
Spaghetti cacio e pepe - spaghetti in a simple sauce of pecorino romano and cracked black pepper.
These Roman delights consist of minimal ingredients and are some of the simplest and oldest Italian pasta recipes in the world. Each ingredient is delicious on its own thus when put together properly, will completely blow your palate, transporting you straight to foodie heaven.
The place to have your palate blown is Pasta Chef Monti where fresh pasta is made daily.
We loved this simple restaurant when it was basic and purely pasta; their cutlery and crockery was100% recyclable and their focus was100% pasta. It recently has an updated, extended, gourmet menu and excellent reviews, just perfect after an Aperitivo or two on the steps of the fountain in Piazza della Madonna dei Monti.
Porchetta and beer - ancient tastes.
What a find this little gem was! About to become engulfed in the glittering glory of the Vatican City, with rumbling tummies we stumbled upon a tiny, unassuming door on a shady side street.
Don't be put off by the quirky English name, the Angry Pig serves up incredibly Roman panini in an incredibly Roman setting. It's tiny, the fridges almost take up more room than the customers, but the Ariccia porchetta is as good as it gets and while colossal monuments, religious artefacts and epic history will make you feel eternal, nothing is more Roman than the passionate love of good food and good company from the host of this humble establishment in the shade of the mighty Vatican.
Porchetta is female pig, deboned, stuffed with herbs and roasted for 6-8 hours. It is sliced and served cold or at room temperature. One can picture its Latin origins on antique, stone streets, sold in slices from a hosteria, it's said Emporer Nero loved the stuff and you'll see why when you bite into a porchetta panino at the Angry Pig.
It's a case, once again, of sublime ingredients making a sublime dish.
The fabulously entertaining host, will create whatever your hungry heart may desire, his vegetarian panino with roasted vegetables, sundried tomatoes and local cheese will become one of your veggie top 10 faves, guaranteed. Take our word for it and make your way to this special place - kids, dogs, everyone's welcome.
And who ever said 'just a sandwich'?
You'll be dreamily reminded of this glorious sandwich throughout the many gilded corridors of the Vatican Museum, make sure its simple glory doesn't distract you from the Cappella Sistina...
Arguably the most exquisite gelato in the world.
Your daily gelato fix needs to be worth it. We stick to Flor (Via Cavour 337 and 259) and lapse into family silence with every cone (quite unusual for Italians). It really is pure bliss and if Rome wasn't full of other mesmerising experiences, this would jostle for top the list.
Flor's chocolate gelato is hands down the best in Rome. Try honest flavours like biscotto, lemon, strawberry, stracciatella and hazelnut. Be decadent, live a little and have a new flavour every day!
Here are our suggestions for incredible pizza, pasta, panini and gelato in Rome:
Pizza: Chicco di Grano
Pasta: Pasta Chef Monti
Panini: Angry pig
We'd love to hear about your experiences at some of our favourite places!
Soon to follow - 'What (else) to order in Rome'