For the past few years, I have been very luck to be able to travel to Italy every summer for a couple of weeks. I am currently in the (exciting!) process of planning a July trip there. I always land in Rome–one of my favourite cities in the world–where I try to spend a few days before heading out to explore other regions of the country. This year is a toss between Calabria and Puglia. Thoughts?
Rome is an absolutely gorgeous city, a little chaotic, ageless, hot tempered and especially gourmand, which is, of course, the part I look forward to the most. I always land there with a new, ever-growing list of places to try but I also love wandering around and discovering new spots or returning to old favourites. Below are a few of the spots that are on my list of favourites.
Roscioli – La salumeria
21 Via dei Giubbonari / +39 06 6875287
If I could only eat at one restaurant in Rome, this would be it. Originally a salumeria, Roscioli carries “250 different cured meats, 450 different cheeses, and a cellar with more then 2800 different labels”. They also have great pasta dishes as well as meat and fish dishes. I always, always order la burrata pugliese con pomodorini (burrata cheese with cherry tomatoes), a variety of salumi and for if I’m feeling more adventurous that day, a tasting plate of different lardos (pork fat). I also always have to have (do not leave without ordering!) the cacio e pepe pasta and the spaghettone carbonara, which are some of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever had. You will need a siesta after a stop at Roscioli but everybody siestas in Rome so you’ll fit right in!
Roscioli – Il Forno
34 Via dei Chiavari / +39 06 686 4045
Just around the corner from Roscioli Salumeria is their forno where they bake fine pizze, breads and various baked goods. You can stop there for a pre-lunch or pre-dinner snack if the wait is too long at Roscioli or get some goodies to go, which I usually do.
7 P.le Aurelio / +39 06 581 5274
Located high up in Gianicolo Hill in the Trastevere neighbourhood is the very elegant Antico Arco restaurant. The food here is modern Italian, entrenched in tradition but presented in a contemporary fashion. I may have a slight obsession with carbonara but if it’s on the menu, I order it. This one comes with shavings of black truffle which makes it even more decadent. The excellent service is warm and courteous and the walk back down the hill is long but just so lovely with breathtaking views of Rome. You can also grab a cab at any time if and when you get tired. Reservations are recommended.
Pizzarium (aka Bonci)
43 Via della Meloria / +39 06 3974 5416
Ask anyone where the best pizza in Rome is and they’ll most likely answer Pizzarium (aka Bonci). Located in a residential neighbourhood on the outskirts of Rome’s historic center, this is usually my first stop as soon as I land in Rome (and every time I drive in or out of the city). Gabriel Bonci has been dubbed the “Michelangelo” of pizza and his dough is one of the best in the world. This is Roman-style pizza with a thicker dough served al taglio (by the slice). I love it because of the crispy dough, seasonal toppings and unusual combinations. The longer you hang around, the harder it will become to leave because fresh pizze come out of the kitchen all day long. Pizzarium has undergone some renovations and has apparently doubled in size over the last few months so I can’t wait to check out the new digs this summer!
36 Via Trionfale / +39 06 3973 4457
This bakery comes courtesy of Gabriel Bonci and is about a 10-minute walk from Pizzarium. I barely had the time to make a quick stop here last summer when it was newly opened but it was enough to taste the French-style croissants, which were some of the best I’ve ever had! The Italian-style cornetti are delicious as well, so are all the breads and pizze baked on the premises. The panificio has apparently gone vegetarian since last year, but with so many beautiful produce on offer in Italy, I am looking forward to making a stop there upon landing in Rome.
Cesare al Casaletto
45 Via del Casaletto / +39 06 536015
I had Sunday lunch here with friends last summer and I really enjoyed it. We were surrounded by Italian families and kids and not a tourist in view. Sunday lunch is a leisurely affair in Italy so you can’t be in a hurry. Sit down, relax and pretend to be a resident of the Eternal City for an afternoon. We ordered a slew of seriously delicious appetizers including fried gnocchi (a must!). Any of the fritti here are highly recommended. The pastas are incredible as well. Sit on the terrasse if you can. It’s just a regular patio at the bottom of a nondescript residential building but it comes alive when it’s invaded by all these loud and colourful Sunday lunchers and it will leave an indelible mark in your heart.
I also, of course, also have a list of favourtite cafés in Rome where I love to sit and watch the world go by.
A presto Roma!
Thanks to Air Transat for their contribution to this article. Visit their website for information on their flights from Montreal to Rome and other major European cities.