If there’s one thing I love about Italy (apart from cobbled streets and interesting architecture), it’s the colorful food culture that sweeps up both locals and tourists alike. During our backpacking trip across Italy two years ago, Gloria and I were stranded in Rome for two nights. We were supposed to be in Florence, but we missed our train and after a dodgy encounter with a fake cab driver whose license was a laminated piece of paper, we decided it was best to stay in Rome and explore the city in the morning.
That was a smart decision because Rome, as it turned out, was breathtaking. From the historical sites like the Colosseum and the enchanted alleys flanked by dozens of cute little shops selling the most exquisite desserts, Rome had us wrapped around its charming little finger.
There are three things you need to try when in Rome:
And of course, the list goes on. Rome’s food pockets run deep. Just look up “best pastas nearby” and you can spend hours just scrolling through heaps and heaps of high-rated restaurants.
For lunch that day, Gloria and I popped by Barrique on via Cavour. We ordered a spaghetti a la carbonara and the Dia Vola pizza.
I love pastas (can’t stress that enough!) and this was definitely one of the better ones I’ve had. When the pasta arrived, I was surprised. Instead of the thick, rich pool of cream sauce that I’d learned to expect of carbonara, there wasn’t much sauce, as you can see.
The carbonara was amazing. Chewy spaghetti tossed in flecks of egg with a generous mound of pungent parmesan. (I’m not a parmesan fan, so I scooped them off onto Gloria’s plate. She happily indulged.)
Later as we continued across Italy and sampled more carbonara, I began to understand that the Italian carbonara doesn’t consist of pasta swimming in cream sauce. Cream is not exactly a norm in Italian recipes. The actual Italian version of this dish just combines eggs, cheese, bacon and black pepper.
The pizza that we ordered was a thin-crusted masterpiece embedded with milky cheese and slices of spicy salami. It also helped that we were hungry, so everything tasted extra delicious.
This was just a random restaurant we found while strolling along Cavour. The prices were a little steep, but I considered it a good splurge since all we’d been eating for every single meal throughout our trip was fresh baguette and cheese. When you’re on a budget, you’re on a budget.
You cannot go to Rome and not try Fatamorgana. It’s a little gelato shop tucked in a back alley (don’t worry, it’s safe) and this place received a 9.1 rating on Foursquare, so I knew I had to try it.
We sampled a few of them before finally settling for the mouthwatering pistachio and rich Madagascar chocolate. Good choices! Fatamorgana carries some pretty exotic flavors, so if you’re a very adventurous foodie, you’d love flavors like basil and ginger. I’d like to consider myself adventurous, but when it comes to ice cream, I’m quite happy in my comfort zone.
The nice cashier kept saying, “Eat it quick or it’ll melt. It’s very soft.” He said it five times from when he scooped them into a crunchy waffle cone to the time he received the Euros. All of that only took like, 15 seconds?
And boy, was he right! The gelato started pooling really fast and soon, streaks of pistachio and chocolate were running down the side of the cone. That’s how you know it’s really fresh.
And that’s pretty much all the food we had in Rome that afternoon. In the evening, it was back to baguette and cheese for the both of us.