In my (food obsessed) opinion, telling someone that they must eat una carbonara in Rome at least once in their life is as natural as telling them that they have to visit the Eiffel Tower when in Paris, Big Ben in London or Statue of Liberty in New York city!
For your visit to Rome, it’s just a must do alongside your list of tourist attractions like the Colloseum, Roman Forum and Trevi Fountain. Because there is about nothing more Roman than this!
I’m not talking about any carbonara. Nor about a carbonara horrifyingly prepared in some faraway lands with cream and sans eggs (sorry Melbourne!). But a Roman carbonara. And after all, this is the city that the dish originates from (although if you research the net long and hard enough – which you probably won’t do, because that’s something only crazy people like myself do – the origins and nature of the dish has become quite a hot and contentious issue among food writers and historians alike!)
Well I’m going to give you the short of it.
The name comes from the Italian word for carbon or charcoal burner – carbonaro – with legend having it that they invented the dish while working in the Apennine Mountains near the city. The story goes that they would camp outdoors for weeks at a time and would bring with them food items that would keep without being refrigerated, namely pasta, guanciale (pork cheek), eggs, cheese, olive oil, salt and pepper.
Truth be told, and notwithstanding my genuine interest in history, it’s the availability of a good quality carbonara in my city that holds more importance to me rather than it’s origins. But hey, I thought I’d share anyway!
Oh and for vegetarian readers who want to eat like a Roman don’t despair! For me, the other classic Roman dish of Cacio e Pepe (made with pecorino cheese and black pepper – which sounds so simple it’s boring but take my word for it, is purely amazing!) is the absolute next best thing!
So after being back in the city for a whole week, I had my first carbonara tonight at a typical Roman trattoria in Testaccio called Trattoria da Oio a Casa Mia (Via Galvani 43) and I have a sneaking suspicion that this may become a local favourite of mine while I’m living in this area…
Now there is no shortage of restaurants in Rome to find a great carbonara – and you’d be hard pressed to find a restaurant without it on the menu (served traditionally with rigatoni and sometimes spaghetti) but here are some of the other places in the city where I’ve devoured one that I know you’ll enjoy:
Flavio al Velavevodetto (Testaccio)
Via di Monte Testaccio 97
La Piazzetta (Trastevere)
Via Cardinal Merry del Val 16
Da Francesco (Centro)
Piazza del Fico 29
Come and join me for a bite soon 🙂
Signing off from Roma