ROME: WHAT TO EAT AND WHERE

These are the Blue Guides Recommended restaurants in our Rome guides:

(See MAP »)

Da Oio a Casa MiaRestaurantRomeLazio & Rome
Dal BologneseRestaurant€€€RomeLazio & Rome
Il Convivio TroianiRestaurant€€€RomeLazio & Rome
L'Osteria dè MemmoRestaurant€€RomeLazio & Rome
La RosettaRestaurant€€€RomeLazio & Rome
Le Colline EmilianeRestaurant€€€RomeLazio & Rome
PipernoRestaurant€€RomeLazio & Rome

 

Try the food and wine blog The Rome Digest by a group of Rome-based food and wine writers for recommendations and restaurant news:


 

"If ever a city articulated itself through its restaurants, it's Rome" says the food writer Rowley Leigh.  Rome's food is earthy, elemental, with simple flavours and, in some ways, surprisingly rustic for the cuisine of a sophisticated capital city.

During the Roman Empire decadent citizens indulged in lucullian banquets - named after the rich Roman citizen, Lucullo, who was famed for his elaborate feasts - gorging for days on such delicacies as larks' tongues. Today, it is offal - sweetbreads, oxtails, intestines - that make some of the most famous Roman dishes, such as animelle d'agnello (lamb sweetbreads) or pajata in umido (calf's intestines with milk stewed with tomatoes).

Other potent, idiosyncratic offerings are spaghetti a cacio e pepe - spaghetti with Rome's famous salty pecorino cheese, and a generous grinding of fresh pepper; carciofi alla giudea, "Jewish artichokes" flattened and lightly fried, which highlight the influence of Jewish culture on Rome; or puntarella, the bitter chicory that is served with an anchovy, lemon juice and olive oil dressing.

But Rome has never been able to feed itself.  The need to provide its rowdy citizenry with subsidised grain dictated foreign policy 2,000 years ago, with the enormous, fertile Nile valley resulting in Egypt becoming a personal possession of the emperor himself: an emperor in control of the capital's staple food supply was a powerful one. Likewise, wheat came from Sicily, Northern Africa provided abundant supplies of olive oil, and Phoenician traders from what is now the Lebanon supplied vast quantities of saffron and peppercorns.

Today, too, the influence of ingredients and cooking from beyond Rome's immediate surrounding countryside is felt.  There are the ubiquitous pizzas - a fast food invention from Naples - salamis and hams from the length and breadth of Italy, fresh pineapple grown in the south for dessert, while wines reflect the full range of the Italian wine renaissance over the last twenty years: heavy reds from Piedmont such as Barolo, fruity Sicilian and Puglian wines, and Frascati, the light white from pretty vineyards on Rome's southern fringes.

source: art/shop/eat Rome

Historically a full lunch or dinner was organised over four courses:

  1. the antipasti (literally 'before the meal') or primi, starters such as a selection of salume (cold hams);
  2. followed by the pasta itself which comes in many forms with a distinction being made between 'long' forms, variations on the spaghetti theme of different cross-sections and thickness, and 'short' forms, the butterfly-shaped twists of pasta (farfalle) and their like.  This comes with an often fairly simple sauce based on tomato, basil or pine nuts and serves to satisfy the diner's hunger  . . .
  3. . . . so that the main course, the secondi, can be a small portion of (relatively expensive) meat (almost never fish in Rome despite its proximity to the sea); liver, tripe, veal, wild boar, even rabbit and horse.
  4. Then the meal was often ended with a piece of fresh or dried fruit and nuts.

Now hurried diners and the economics of the restaurant trade mean that pasta often serves as the main course with more elaborate sauces, or is left out altogether to make way for larger main courses of more normal cuts of meat (steak, for instance), while sweet desserts (dolci) and ice creams (gelati) proliferate as much healthier for the restaurateur's profits as they are unhealthy for the customer's waistline and afternoon sightseeing programme.

 

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