Hi! Welcome to My Local Eats, a guest post series in which foodies from around the globe share their favorite local places to eat and drink.
Today’s guest post comes from Liam, a Rome-based travel writer who originally hails from London. Today Liam shows us what to eat in Rome, and I don’t know about you guys but I love, love, love Italian food… get ready for some pretty scrumptious food porn!
My Local Eats: Rome
Living in Rome, it’s easy to forget how spoiled for choice you are. Aside from being resident in the nation that invented the greatest fast-food known to humanity (pizza) and mastered the art of pasta production (shh – don’t mention China!) there are a million and one places to get food so mouth-watering you’ll swear you’ll never eat anywhere else… until the next day, when you begin a fresh journey of culinary discovery. But that’s what makes Rome a foodie’s paradise: you could eat at a different restaurant for every single meal, every single day, and still not sample them all in one lifetime. Best of all: you don’t even have to be loaded. Below, I’m going to serve up a few of my favourite places in this awesome city for travellers like you to get a bite!
No guidebook mentions Testaccio and no hotel chains set up here. It’s a rugged little neighbourhood a trek and a half out of the city centre that lacks any sights and is predominantly working class. But this is just a front for one of the best-kept secrets in the whole of Italy: Testaccio is where you’ll find the best food you’ve ever tasted. As in: ever. Buried between the crumbling buildings and dingy old shops are restaurants that have been in the same family for generations. They’re the real deal: the sort of place eateries in the tourist-orientated city centre pretend to be, only so much cooler! In quirky, low lit backrooms you’ll find old chefs who’ve been at it since your parents were kids, and boy do they know how to cook. Pasta, fish, traditional dishes and beautiful Gelato – it’s all here, it’s all cheap and it’s all authentic. And because the tourists stay away, it’s affordable for even the lowliest backpacker (like myself, ahem). Bonus tip: be sure to check out the local market for a whirlwind tour of the best fresh produce in the whole of Rome!
Restaurant: La Tavernaccia
(Via Giovanni di Castel Bolognese 63)
Midway between off the beaten track and tourist-central sits La Tavernaccia. One of my favourite eateries when I first arrived in Rome, the place is family run, popular with locals and always packed to the rafters. Most of the dishes are – you guessed it – pasta based, but the main reason I always had for dining here was the atmosphere. It’s the sort of place where you can forget you’re in a city, or even in the 21st century, and half-expect to see a dashing brigand come bursting through the door at any second, pistol in hand (no luck so far). Even when it’s only casual types, the indoor section feels like something from a Fellini film: an ode to a vanished Italy, maybe? If you only go once, order the lasagne; if you go twice, have it again. Yes: it honestly is that good.
Market: Piazza Vittorio Market
(Via Principe Amedeo, 184)
Again, most tourists steer well clear of the Piazza Vittorio Market – maybe because it jars with their vision of Romantic old Rome. Held in a distinctly multi-cultural part of the city, the market is home to all sorts of exotic produce, from Indian spices to Caribbean cuisine and a whole lot more in between. Think along the lines of London’s famous Peckham market and you’ll have some idea of what I mean. Although it doesn’t feel particularly Italian, the food on offer here is great and it’s an authentic reflection of the modern city: which is what I love about it. It’s a great place to while away a Saturday morning, or for peeking behind the façade of ‘tourist Rome’.
Finally: a reminder for all of you to eat as much gelato as humanly possible. If you think you know ice cream, wait until you see how Rome does it. Almost a year of the stuff and I still haven’t tired (nor do I ever plan to).
So that’s it: a quick guide to eating in my (adopted) city. Hope to see you here soon!
Liam is a travelling food writer from London. Currently based in Rome and consuming extraordinary quantities of gelato, he is blogging for HouseTrip.com and is in the process of planning a culinary tour of Europe.