Where to eat in Monti [Rome]

The Aperitivist loves a deal, which is probably why L’Asino d’Oro might be my favorite place to have lunch – not only in trendy Monti – but also in Rome. For the incredibly reasonable sum of €13 you can treat yourself to a fixed three-course menu that includes water and a glass of wine. You are normally welcomed to the table with a small crostino or other little benvenuto. Lunch then typically starts with a seasonal soup, followed by a pasta. Secondi tend to focus on red meat, and you can easily add coffee, dessert, or further glasses of wine to your meal. The trattoria, which has an airy modern atmosphere, is also recommended by Slow Food. The menu is inspired by origin’s of chef Lucio Sforza, and focuses on the traditions of Umbria, Lazio, and Tuscany. The food is delicious, and – blessed be! – you don’t even have to choose! You just get what’s on offer, and after all the menu reading, especially if you’re on holiday, there is something incredibly relaxing about starting a lunch knowing that you’ll get whatever is good that day. No surprises at the end either with the bill. Dinner is also excellent, with the added benefit (or incredibly difficult mental exercise) of choosing from the well-curated menu. The desserts are also excellent. Despite it’s location on the foodie-tourist track, the restaurant maintains a light neighborhood feel, and I’d have no problem bringing, partners, parents, or children here to eat. Stop by after a morning of culture at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni or before an evening of wine-bar-crawling in Monti.

Ambiance: Warm and modern
Budget: Cheap
Value: Excellent
Go for: Lunch Tuesday–Saturday
Area: Monti

Via del Boschetto 73
06 4891 3832

Shot of the restaurant and crostino by Flickr user Laissez Fare. Used under a Creative Commons license.

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Palazzo Altemps & Lunch by Piazza Navona [Rome]

Palazzo Altemps is another of Rome’s important museums that is just off the tourist path. Despite it’s location next to Piazaa Navona, I think I saw about eight other other people the whole time I was there. Palazzo Altemps is one branch of the National Roman Museum, which includes a quartet of places dedicated to Roman art: Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, the Bathes of Diocletian, Crypta Balbi, and Palazzo Altemps. It houses a variety of Greek and Roman sculpture from the collections of important Roman families of the 16th-17th century, and the palazzo plays host to special exhibits on the same theme (at the moment there’s one on “Evan Gorga – Il Collezionista”). Many of the most desirable pieces in these early collections were acquired by other museums both in Italy and Europe, but the sculptures on display here are nevertheless top quality; there are some really beautiful and moving pieces –  a fantastic Dionysus, the kneeling Venus (pictured above), and the famous ‘Gaul Committing Suicide with His Wife’. This last is a must-see for ‘Dying Gaul’ fans – it was recovered from gardens of the Villa Ludovisi along with the better know statue, and they probably formed part of the same statue group. The museum also houses a small collection of Roman–Egyptian art.  Continue reading

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Gelato in Rome – Map

After much taste-testing, I’ve finally developed a map of good gelato in Rome. I hope it helps guide your culinary adventures through the eternal city. There are notes with further flavor recommendations, special dietary info, etc. associated with some markers. These gelaterie serve very different types of gelato, but I would consider all of them worth trying (at least once). Two notes:
– I have not added the gelato chain Grom to the map because it’s everywhere in and out of Italy, but its focus on natural ingredients (listed on the wall of the shop) means its a very good place to take people on special diets. The almond granita is also great.
– Gelateria del Teatro has the best gelato in the city center. FACT.

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Lemongrass Gelato [Rome]

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I slept in this morning and missed shopping at my local market in Prati, and instead decided to head over the Tiber to the fantastic Mercato di Campagna Amica del Circo Massimo, which is open until 6 pm on Saturdays and even until 4 pm on Sundays. However, today it was bloody closed because of the Rolling Stones concert the Circus! My long walk wasn’t entirely a bust though, as I soaked up some scenery and treated myself to a gelato on the way. I stopped by Lemongrass (more info on their FB page), to grab a cone. I decided to give the place a go because Fatamorgana (which I’ve written about before) isn’t really doing it for me. I know the place gets a lot of critical acclaim for their dedication to ‘artisanal’ and truly all-natural gelato, but I just don’t like it. They have good flavors, but it’s not creamy enough for me – I find it really icy and it melts fast and gets all watery. On top of that the portion size is a bit mean. I still love their sorbetto, but for a gelato I’ve started to look elsewhere in the neighborhood.

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So I stopped by Lemongrass, which is just next to the Ottaviano metro. As a result, it’s a good place to stop before or after the Vatican. They do seasonal flavors and at least some of their ingredients (like the nuts) are sourced regionally in Italy. So far I’ve tried:

Yogurt with nuts and honey ✓
Coffee ✓
Mora – just OK (It has a lot of fruit and seeds in it but not much taste – I’ve found the same to be true at Giolotti. Maybe blackberry is just that way?)

They also have a couple of interesting flavors like apple strudel, as well as several vegan flavors, which provide a non-sorbetto option to the diary-free crowd. My overall verdict? It reminds me a lot of Giolitti with fewer flavor options. I haven’t seen the ingredients list, but I bet its similar to Giolitti or to Gelateria la Romana, which round out natural fruit and nut bases with fillers and some E numbers (rather than Fatamorgana and Grom which contain nothing dodgey). This is just a guess though, as their website doesn’t have any info on it yet, and I didn’t spot any info in store. Overall, I think I’ll keep searching for the local place, but I would recommend Lemongrass to the Giolitti crowd, and I will probably be back again for the yogurt gelato – it has just the right amount of sour. Surely it qualifies as a breakfast food?

Go for: a good gelato near the Vatican
Price: small 2-flavor cup/cone €2.50

Via Barletta 1 (Angolo Viale Giulio Cesare, 56) 

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Where to eat at the train station [Rome Naples Milan]

Termini

One of the reasons I started this blog was to talk about good places to eat in parts of the city that visitors normally go. I also think it’s important to match the restaurant/take away with why you are in Rome in the first place. For instance, after a morning at the Vatican museums you will be totally famished, physiologically exhausted, and hangry to the point of physically harming your partner/children/elderly relative. At this point, a fantastic Ethiopian restaurant in Pigneto and a natural wine bar in Piazza Bologna are no use to you, which is why I recommend Sorpasso or Arlù for a solid quick lunch steps from the museum. Similarly, no normal person is ever going to go on a ‘foodie pilgrimage’ to eat 20 pizzas in 48 hours. That is completely nuts. Also, at that point how can you even judge which pizza is the best? Wouldn’t you feel sick? Do you just eat like 2 bites and get the bill?? If so, how can you judge the pizza?? Do you have to layer all that pizza in between dried prunes??? (I would.) These things weigh on my mind. Italian food-whisperer Katie Parla is clearly up to the task, but what about us mere mortals?

To return to the main topic – places to eat in common situations – I’d like to introduce a place to eat in a very popular part of town that you will inevitably pass through while hungry: the train station.

Continue reading

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Vatican Via Triumphalis Scavi [Rome]

So I recently posted a place to eat near the Vatican; today I’m providing a reason to be at the Vatican (if the world-leading art collection isn’t enough of a draw). I recently arranged a visit to the Via Triumphalis necropolis, an ancient Roman graveyard underneath a parking lot by the Vatican Museums. All I can say is – YES. This place is so cool. Continue reading

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Sheffield

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It’s not Rome, but it’s home!

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Gelateria al Teatro [rome]

People – seriously – this place is mind blowing. I do not understanding why people are not freaking out about it all the time. It is EASILY the best gelato I have had in the last three months. It is beautiful and moreish. There are no bothersome ice crystals. It’s smooth, but not characterless, and the flavors are awesome:

Sicilian almond ✓
Pink grapefruit ✓
Rosemary & lemon ✓
Sage & raspberry ✓

Amazing. Maybe you don’t like herb gelato; maybe you like something more traditional; whatever – this place rules. Plus, it’s in a beautiful historic building in the quaint neighborhood west of Piazza Navona. There are lovely tables outside in a little sun trap. This post is short because the place speaks for it itself – want delicious gelato in a picturesque location? Go. I hear their location on Lungotevere dei Vallatiis even bigger and in a fancier building – I think I might go there tomorrow.

Go for: great gelato – great flavors – my top pick for gelato in the city
Price: small 2-flavor cup €2.50
(NB: My 4-flavor cup was €6. We recommend you save the euro and get two small for €5!)

Lungotevere dei Vallati, 25
Via di San Simone 70

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Where to eat in Trastevere [Rome]

One of the main questions I get asked is about Rome where to eat in Trastevere. Most people visiting the city want to have a meal here at some point, and I whole heartedly recommend Trattoria degli Amici. I think this place is delightful, and it has pretty much all you could want from a meal in Trastevere. The food is really delicious, and its emphasis on traditional ingredients and cooking methods have earned the trattoria a Slow Food recommendation. The menu focuses on Roman classics with some updated options as well. The atmosphere is quiet early in the evening but gains pace as the night wears on. The place has a simple, eclectic style; the walls are decorated with colorful art, and there is outside seating on Piazza di Sant’Egidio (you get wool blankets in the winter!). The trattoria is actually a cooperative supported by the Comunità di Sant’Egidio. The trattoria employs people with learning disabilities to work alongside other staff. If in season, don’t miss the succulent fried zucchini flowers or the pungent puntarelle served roman-style with anchovy dressing, and if you’re into the quinto quarto the tripe is also very good. Overall, you’re in store for a really pleasant meal at a reasonable price: primi are €8-12, secondo around €12-15, so you can get a meal (excluding wine) out of €35. Afterwards take a short stroll to Fior di Luna for one of the best gelati in the center. I’ll certainly be back.

Ambiance: Friendly and upbeat
Budget: Moderate
Value: Good
Go for: A Roman meal in Trastevere
Area: Trastevere

Trattoria delgli Amici
Piazza di Sant’Egidio, 6, 00153 Roma
+39 06 580 6033

 

 

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The Vatican & Arlù [Rome]

In Rome, sometimes you want to go on an epic culinary adventure, and sometimes you’ve been in the Vatican museums for three and a half hours with your parents and your ninety-year-old grandfather, and you are mentally exhausted and starving, and the most important thing about your meal is that 1) it is decent, 2) you can sit while you eat, and 3) it’s really really close. Thankfully, Arlù is there to save you. Also, the pasta is really good. Granted, it’s not mind-blowing good, but considering the neighborhood it’s mana from heaven. And other people think so too – Arlù has 4.5 out of 5 stars on tripadvisor. All their dough for bread, pasta, pizza, and dessert is made in house, and it’s pretty yummy. We had gnocchi with tomato sauce, fettuccine with pesto (very fresh tasting and apprently also made that morning), and spaghetti cacio e pepe. Grandad had a pizza. The dough didn’t really do it for me (too bready), but it had really good sausage on it. Moretti on draft was also a plus. The value for money was pretty good too – pastas and pizzas were around the €10 mark, which seems fair considering the area and that everything is made in house. We rounded off the meal with a panna cotta, a sort of deconstructed millefoglie, and an apple strudel. The first two were good, solid desserts but nothing to write home about. The strudel was delicious – and I don’t even like strudel.

The verdict? I wouldn’t go out of the way to eat here, but it’s a great spot for lunch or dinner after a visit to the Vatican or if you’re staying in the area. Get the pasta, but skip the pizza. Apparently they do all sorts of real food (like secondi) and big salads too, and I’d feel confident eating something more substantial based on my experience.

Ambiance: Quaint and casual cafe
Budget: Moderate
Value: Average–Good
Go for: A bite before or after touring the Vatican
Area: Vatican

Arlù
Borgo Pio, 135, 00193 Roma, Italy
+39 06 686 8936
11:00–18:00
closed Sunday

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