An Easter holiday in beautiful Rome was the perfect break from my crazy work schedule of the the last few months. My parents, little (bigger) brother Shane, Ali and I headed off to the Eternal City for a five day trip. For my dad it was all about the Vatican but for me: it was all about…THE FOOD!
Finding a good restaurant in Rome isn’t too difficult; stay off the main streets and avoid places that charge more than €8 for a Pizza Margherita and you’ll be fine. Our first meal was one of the best; a little spaghetti place, five minutes from our hotel. They served house wine by the litre (€7 per litre!) and at least fifty different spaghetti dishes. My starter blew me away; Bruschette con Guanciale. Who would have thought that cured pig’s cheek on toast could taste so good! The main was great too, Spaghetti alla Puttanesca (whore’s spaghetti) followed by a delicious Tirimasu. A great start to the holiday, great food and cheap wine….win win!
Thursday’s lunch was an old favourite of mine, Pizza Marinara (tomato, garlic, oregano and extra-virgin olive oil), washed down with a pint of Nastro Azzuro. Unfortunately the dinner that evening was nothing to write home about. The bland, overpriced food was slightly countered by an entertaining waiter but the €15 bread charge was unforgivable.
Friday was food day! It started with a metro trip to Testaccio to visit the enchanting Volpetti. First we went to the cafe, which served everything you could wish for except (unusually for Italy) coffee! Even at 11 am, I couldn’t resist sampling a few dishes: Arancini (white and red), Baccala (salt cod) with tomato, potato and herb and an amazing octopus salad. Everything was outstanding. We followed brunch with a trip next door to the Volpetti shop. Everything you could ever need in charcuterie, cheese, oil, vinegar and preserves sit on the shelves, shine in the fridges and even hang from the ceiling. The smell is instantly captivating, but it’s the service that excels – everything can be tasted. I tried up to ten different cheeses and several types of prosciutto. I bought some Caciocavallo and lightly smoked San Daniele Prosciutto; everything vacuum packed to survive our flight home. I can easily say that this is my favourite shop in the world!
Friday evening led to more great food: my Fritto Misto really stood out. Courgette flower stuffed with mozzarella and anchovies, dipped in batter and deep fried is hard to beat ,but the stuffed olive came close! The main was a delicious Carbonara and the red wine flowed again; even on Good Friday….oops! On Saturday evening Ali and myself visited Pani e Pesche, a Sardinian restaurant specializing in (you guessed it!) bread and fish. Everything was delicious, from the basket of freshly baked breads to the fish platter starter, to the simple shrimp main. The scallops with a touch of lemon really stood out, while the flavour of the shrimp in the main dish shone beautifully with little distraction. Ali’s risotto with prawn and courgette flower was excellent and dessert didn’t disappoint either. Seadas is ricotta cheese in a casing of dough, deep fried and then drenched in honey; the perfect end to the evening.
Sunday was Vatican day for the Pope’s Easter Mass, but we snuck off after Communion for seafood pizza and some more red! We had a great last supper together in the evening. The highlight for me was the Trippa Romana, tripe in tomato with plenty of herbs. It was much tastier than I had imagined and I wouldn’t hesitate to order it again. After this we went for dessert, in as far as I’m concerned, the greatest Gelateria on the planet. Gelateria Romana on Via Venti Settembre is a must visit – the greatest ice-cream you will ever have and at €2.50 for a three scoop cone, incredible value.