Buongiorno, bonjour and “g’day”! (don't you like how they're all the same thing? ~ who knew Australian vernacular was so cosmopolitan???).

Also, "a good day to you, sir/maam" for our American pals, "Ni Hao" to China, and "Здравствуй" to our Russian comrades, "etcetera etcetera and so forth"... (for Yul Brynner).

It’s your old pal Kit (Christof) Fennessy here. I've been writing this blog with your help for ten years, and there's over a hundred and fifty recipes, restaurant reviews of Australia and around the world, and general gourmet articles in these pages for you to fritter away your idle hours on.

Want to know more about me? Friend me on facebook, follow me on twitter, or even look up my New Yorker cartoons on instagram! NB; different platforms not all food related)

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Now, what's on the bill of fare today?

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Roma o Morte - Where to Eat in Rome


Rome. The eternal city. All roads lead to it, and if you're any kind of globe trotter, your feet will inevitably lead you to this ancient heart of Western Civilisation.

But where do you go for the posh nosh once there? And are pizza and pasta the ONLY alternatives?

(Quick answer "no" ~ You will recall that in an earlier post I noted that offal is one of Rome's "local specialities".  But restaurants of quality, as a cheat hint while you are there, tend to promote that they are "seafood specialists").

Click through to learn more...!!!


As a general geography and food note for the gourmet traveller (... not the magazine, m'dear... I mean YOU), can I recommend as a rule of thumb to avoid overly touristy areas while in Rome?

I know this sounds glib, since this is one of the tourist meccas of the universe, but after having been to Rome a half a dozen times, I've discovered the city is one of food sectors, and while in tourist spots (immediately around the Colosseum being a top of mind concern) you technically can find the odd gem, generally you need to journey to restaurant centres in more urbane neighbourhoods.

You see, the hot tourist spots have the equivalent of greasy cheap swill joints, so you need to go where the locals go – where they live, and where they work – to eat really well.

The Vatican area is excellent (as you'd expect... the Pope lives there!), the old Market zones, the Jewish Quarter, Tridente... but the top of the hill near the main station (and even just outside the walls, where our old favourite pizza joint Disco Volante is located), ah, now that is something.

A ten minute walk from Termini is a large building which is the Treasury Building of Rome. The major road on which it sits, the Via XX Settembre, leads from the Porte Pia – where Garibaldi’s republican armies broke into Rome, which was entirely run by the church back then… their unification of Italy catch cry being “Roma o Morte” (Rome or Death) – and all the way down to the Capitol, which is surrounded by historic Roman ruins. And the Via XX Settembre is lined with every government palace imaginable, from the head offices of the Carabinieri to the Presidential Palace.

Through the entranceways of grand government buildings you will spot policemen with submachine guns cheek by jowel with guards in traditional costume with helmets with swords, defending the most beautifully kept gardens you’ve ever seen. The Italian economy may have been faltering... but apparently not if you work for the government. And where the money is, so the food will follow.

It is one of the best dining areas of Rome, and an excellent spot to begin your Roman food odyssey.

Wander the back streets at the top of the hill that run parallel with the Via, and you are guaranteed an excellent meal. Here's a couple of recommendations:

Osteria 44
Via Aureliana, 42/44, 00187 Roma RM, Italy

A classy establishment, Osteria 44 is very busy and good. Yellow fin tuna, saltimbocca, an exceptional wine list, seasonality being key in their offerings. The service is casual but solid: we were offered free bubbles on arrival because we had to wait for a table for four minutes (!), and limoncello at the end to thank us for our patience. Ten out of ten points to a very charming maitre’d with excellent English whose name is Sergio. Say hello to him for me, you'll recognise him by his beard.

Restaurant La Grande Bellezza
Via Flavia, 59, 00187 Roma RM, Italy

A busy little restaurant, with local business people and government officials dining there during the day. Like any restaurant that purports to be good in Rome, they advertise that fish is a speciality.  Top tip: ask for the specials/lunch card.  Tourists are directed towards the full menu, which ends up meaning you may pay more – but then you get the full menu availability. Not over the top cost wise compared to Melbourne (my home), but not exceptional "financial" value for Italy (lunch specials at other venues for twelve euros, so, ya know)… but the food is of a very good quality.



Piazzale 12 Ottobre 1492, 00154 Roma RM, Italy

As a gourmet tourist, wanting to stuff your suitcase with regional specialities, may I direct you to mega-foodstore Eataly?  It's conveniently located on the train line to the airport, near "Pyramid" station.

Italy’s mega-food store (with other stores in Torino, and New York at least), the biggest one is in Roma, running over four floors in an old factory, where they feature all kinds of regional foods, wine, butchers, beers, breads, fruit and veg, cooking schools, etc.

And do you think tourists go there? Yeah, sure... local ones! It's like a giant Ikea of food, a gourmet paradise, and the well-heeled Romans love it.

The ground floor features a number of green grocer stalls with all types of fresh vegetable produce, while at the distant other end the floor has gifts (cook books, fridge magnets, lollies/candy, etc.).

The second floor features baked goods at one end, and wine at the other, including large barrels from which they can decant wine into giant bottles for you.

The next floor features chacuterie, meats, and pasta varieties.

How about a seafood section?  What about a classy restaurant? A beer tap brew sampling section? Little tasting restaurants in the centre of each floor? Cooking class kitchens, or how about a venue to host your event?

It's got it all.

So there you go: a fleeting review of the Roman food scene; hardly comprehensive, but more notes for your next visit. Next episode? We're off to Umbria, the green heart of Italy: specifically Spoletto, Solarno and Assisi – home of truffles and wild boar stew!!