Three courses in Rome’s best restaurantsJanuary 23, 2014 2:14 pm
As Elizabeth Gilbert rightly points out in her book ‘Eat, Pray, Love’, Rome is a city renowned for its gastronomic delicacies and where neighbourhoods are lined with pasticcerias, pizzerias and gelaterias. When you’re visiting Rome, you most certainly won’t leave hungry and even if you try, it is hard to find a bad meal – though be careful, you can find an overpriced one.
Whatever the premise of your trip to the Eternal City, make sure you allow yourself time to have a true taste of the Roman culture. To make it easier for you we’ve come up with a simple itinerary to experience the best of local delicacies and traditions, from starter through to desert.
Freni e Frizione
An old car part garage, Freni e Frizione (whose name actually means ‘brakes and clutches’) is the place to go for a true sense of young, vibrant Roman foodie life. Nestled in a cobbled corner of Trastevere, this bar isn’t just visited for its strong drinks as much as its legendary antipasti. The place attracts drives of locals to join the culture of ‘little nibbles’ that Italy is so famous for, so make sure you get there early.
Doors open at 7pm and the rule is that when you buy a drink you are entitled to as much food from the antipasti selection as you can stomach. Well, within reason. Laid out like an artisan buffet, you’re invited to choose from plates of chickpea salads to fresh mozzarella and tomato, baked ‘zucchine’ and Moroccan inspired cous cous. It’s an antipasti tradition given a modern makeover.
Freni e Frizione is the perfect excuse to indulge in some pre-dinner snacks and whet your hungry appetite, so go and sample some rustic Roman delicacies whilst sipping on a refreshing, well made, cocktail crafted by the talented Roman bar staff.
Via del Politeama, 4/6, 00153 Rome, Italy
In the heart of local San Lorenzo, near the main La Sapienza University, L’Economica is an unassuming and uncomplicated pizzeria. To taste some of the best home-made pizza, San Lorenzo offers tourist-free restaurants and tourist-free prices to leave you both satisfied in stomach and in pocket.
Served up in a small restaurant with a mezzanine and tables spilling into the street when it’s warm, there’s plenty of room to sit- providing you don’t mind knocking elbows with your neighbour. The pizza choice is varied and true to its Roman roots where you can choose from simple Margheritas to meat feasts of spiced pork and salsicce (sausage); opt for toppings of heart of artichoke, parmesan shavings with fresh rocket, or even try some deep-fried courgette flowers for a true delicacy.
These pizzas are lovingly made in the one-man kitchen of L’Economica, where the restaurant staff are all related in some distant Italian way. Wash your dinner down with some house red and leave feeling pleasantly full.
Via Tiburtina, 46 00185 Roma
Palazzo del Freddo Giovanni Fassi
Fassi, as it’s known locally, is one of the oldest and most famous gelaterias in Rome. Founded in 1880, as it proudly advertises, the shop is 700 square metres with 200 of them dedicated to ice-cream making workspace.
The Italians love their gelato so what better way to taste some of the flavours of the Mediterranean tradition than by sampling some heaped scoops to cleanse the palette. Lined with glass cabinets and diner-style tables and chairs, Fassi is a proper old-school ice cream parlour and you can even see the vintage ice cream makers on display as well.
Open all hours Fassi caters to only the most knowing of tourists and is a local hot spot serving a mix of unique and classic flavours. From traditional tiramisu and exotic fruits, dark chocolate, hazelnut and even rice, to name but a few, choose your serving style of heaped generous scoops, ‘semifreddo’ or ‘granita’ (sundae-style ice cream).
Just south of the main train station Termini, it’s a short walk from Vittorio Emmanuele metro station so if you want to space out your meal and walk off a course or two, Fassi is well worth a visit.
Via Principe Eugenio, 65, 00185 Roma
Make your trip to Rome that extra bit easier and invest in a OMNIA Vatican & Rome Pass. Not only can you visit the top attractions and monumental landmarks for free and with discounted entry, but you can travel round the city with a Travelcard and experience the sites from the comfort of a hop-on, hop-off bus tour.
To find out more about how the OMNIA Vatican & Rome Pass works, click here.