Ah food. Always the topic of such debate and this post might cause some too. Good! Because talking about food is fun – not as fun as eating it, but close. The food scene in the eternal city changes regularly. Like in all cities, places open places close, trends come, trends go. Here are three that get a bit on my nerves:
1) Ramen everywhere
Guess what Rome? Japan called and said, “Ramen is not news!”. I’ll be honest from the outset – and judge me all you like – but ramen (and I’m not questioning the delicacy at all!) is not my favourite component of Japanese cuisine. Glad I got that off my chest. Ramen restaurants in Rome seem to be the new black of late and I just don’t see what the drawcard is.
Instead, I say try:
Dumplings any way you like at Dumpling House
Paper containers, various sauces poured into tiny disposable plastic cups and this place is fast becoming a bit of an addiction for me. This venue used to be in Prati and I never got around to trying. Now located in Marconi (few minutes away from Trastevere Station), the place is packed at lunch and dinner and you will need to book. Two Chinese women are in the kitchen (with a glass view look in), stuffing and folding dumplings to my hearts content. Bamboo and mushroom, lamb, pork, the list goes on. You can have them pan fried or steamed and while I come to eat dumplings, there are also some daily specials and noodles on the menu. Oh and my fave, steamed buns to die for. These are available at lunch by phone pre-order and usually at dinner until they run out. Note: the lunch menu is a limited version of the full menu.
2) Cocktails to match pizza or burgers
Pizza in Rome and burgers (generally for that matter) are greasy and have – even if in some cases, good – fat content in them. They go with beer or even a carbonated drink (I love Baladin cola and sometimes just a good old coca-cola: and original for the record). A few places have popped up offering their version of cocktail mixology to go with these comfort food treats and it’s just not my scene.
Instead, I say try:
Trapizzino with a Baladin cola
I’ve had a long love affair with Stefano Callegari’s streetfood pizza pocket. I ate one over 5 years ago and haven’t stopped since. It’s basically a pizza bianca triangle stuffed with anything from tripe to meatballs to sautéed vegetables. I can never go past the pollo alla cacciatora and my second fave is the doppio panna (stracciatella / burrata with anchovies). Ps if you’re local in Rome – Trapizzino are on Deliveroo: Literally. Changed. My. Life.
A delicious club sandwich at Roscioli Caffe
I love me a club! It’s my fave hotel-stay-snack and so I love visiting the Hotel de Russie and enjoying one in the garden terrace. A new fave of mine is at Roscioli Caffè. The fried egg literally hangs out of the side and it’s just heavenly.
3) Over-the-top deconstructed cuisine
I’m all for fine dining, moleculer cuisine and deconstructed takes on classics. One condition – when it’s done well. Putting foam, bubbles and carefully piped sauces on plates does not automatically equate to good food – unless it’s exceptionally good! I say, feel free to flirt and reinterpret traditions, but by god – make sure it’s quality. Change to improve to say, or leave it right alone!
Instead, I say try:
Pianostrada Laboratorio di Cucina
Hands-down one of my favourite restaurants in Rome. Big call and guess what? Yep – I made it. I loved it when it was a tiny hole in Trastevere and love it now in its gorgeous boho slash vintage chic space across the river. Their outdoor space dotted with fairy lights is a welcome addition and they’ve kept the open kitchen style with even more seats to watch the show. From their classic bacca burger (baccalà, salt cod, zucchini flowers and more in a homemade black squid ink bun) to new items like the deconstructed zucchini flowers with mozzarella, anchovy and lemon zest, the menu is ever-changing and the food never disappoints – ever.
Romeo Chef & Baker
Cristina Bowerman’s monstrous stylish bistro digs in Testaccio is her casual outpost (Glass in Trastevere has 1 Michelin star). The decor takes you completely out of Rome, the staff are knowledgeable and friendly and the menu is contemporary cuisine without overworking ingredients or going over the top. Think eggs cooked at 65 degrees with pumpkin purée, violet potato chips and gorgonzola; linguine with semi dried tomatoes, sea urchin and coffee and even a hot dog with foie gras! Order the burrata with 36-month aged patanegra and thank me later. Ps desserts and cocktails are also very much on point.
Dumpling Bar | Piazza Antonio Meucci 1 | Online
Trapizzino | Various (inc Testaccio, Trastevere, Ponte Milvio & Mercato Centrale) | Online
Roscioli Caffe | Piazza Benedetto Cairoli 16 | Online
Pianostrada | Via delle Zoccolette 22 | Online
Romeo Chef & Baker | Piazza dell’Emporio 28 | Online
Signing off from Trastevere