rome restaurants © Will Travel for Food

Rome in all its splendor

Rome, the eternal city.

I just got back from 10 days in Italy where I spent a few days on the Amalfi Coast (post coming soon!) and a couple of days in Rome. It was my third time in the Eternal City in almost as many years. I fell head over heels in love with it the first time I visited, just as I suspect many people do. It would be hard not to given everything it has to offer. Putting aside the delicious food and addictive coffee (separate posts coming soon!), Rome has so much history and countless monuments scattered around the city are a testament to its glorious past. But it also has Vespas and Fiat 500s, stone pines (my favourite trees!) scattered all around, one of the biggest cat sanctuaries in the world, chaotic driving, passionate and animated discussions at every street corner, stylish Romans, romance, beautiful – and treacherous! – cobblestone streets, hidden courtyards, great vistas at every street corner and so much more! And the food, the food is just absolutely sublime! It is very hard to have a bad meal or a mediocre caffè in Roma.

rome restaurant guide © Will Travel for Food

Eternal Rome

Since I had been there before, I didn’t do the usual touristy things on my most recent visit, except for one or two favourite monuments. Instead, I just roamed the streets in search of some great eats. This is the first of 3 posts on Rome. I will have one more on the city’s caffès and one on the restaurants I dined at. But for now, let’s start with all the rest… and there is so much! Buon appetito!


rome best gelato © Will Travel for Food

Rome’s best gelato at Fatamorgana

There’s a new wave of artisanal gelaterias opening up in Rome as opposed to the old-school stores that have been there forever.

I tried two gelati places on this trip. Giolitti – one of the old-school shops open since the 1900 – came highly recommended by some of you but I honestly wasn’t that impressed. Perhaps it was a bad day…

Fatamorgana on the other hand is a new artisanal chain that’s been opening up stores in different neighbourhoods of Rome at a dizzying rate. It was absolutely fantastic and will serve as a benchmark for all gelati in my book form here on end. The ice cream is smooth, creamy, uses premium ingredients and no preservatives and the flavours are just crazy! Baklava, pear & Gorgonzola, Parmesan, bruschetta and the list goes on. I had a pre-dinner cup of the Panacea (fresh mint, almond milk & ginseng), Kentucky (chocolate and tobacco) and my usual order of pistachio. The pistachio which is usually my favourite flavour was actually the least interesting. The Panacea and the Kentucky exploded with flavour and I know for a fact that even though I do not usually crave gelato, I will crave this one.

Several locations. Check their website for the one closest to you.

Cornetti & cannoli

rome best cornetti © Will Travel for Food

A wall of bread and pastries at Antico Forno Rosicioli

A cornetto (or cornetti in the plural form of the word) is an Italian-style croissant and the breakfast of choice when in Italy. It’s less buttery and flaky than its French counterpart and more dense. Italian corneti usually come dusted with powdered sugar or brushed with a sticky sugar syrup. You can dunk the plain version in your cappuccino or order one that’s stuffed with marmalade, pastry cream or Nutella. I had one of these almost every morning I was in Italy. When I went on a search of the best one in Rome, the following two spots stood out.

Caffè Barberino (stay tuned for my Rome coffee guide coming soon!)
This little inconspicuous bar came up when I was searching for the best cornetto in Rome. It is located in the Testaccio neighbourhood, right next door to Volpetti, a great salumeria and down the street from the Testaccio market, a must stop for any foodie. The cornetti are some of the best I had in Rome. Order a plain one and dunk it in your cappuccino or one stuffed with marmalade or pastry cream.

Via Marmorata, 41 (Testaccio)
00153 Rome, Italy
+011 39 5750869

Opening Hours:
Monday to Saturday: 6:30am – 8:30pm

Antico Forno Marco Roscioli
An absolute paradise for all lovers of baked goods, the Roscioli Forno has it all, from savoury pizza al taglio to an amazing array of pastries. I bet you can’t pick just one thing to try.

Via dei Chiavari, 34
Rome, Italy
+011 39 06 686 4045

If you’ve never had a cannolo (or cannoli in the plural form of the word), it’s time for you to search for the closest Italian pasticceria. These Sicilian specialties are made of a cylindrical dried cookie shell filled with a luscious sweetened ricotta cream. They are the stuff dreams are made of and some of my favourite Italian pastries.

I Dolci di Nonna Vincenza
This beautiful boutique specializes in Sicilian pastries. I went there for the cornetti, which ended up being really ordinary. The service wasn’t all that great either but the Sicilian cannoli were really good. It’s also a great boutique to grab an edible gift to bring back home. or any other Sicilian confection at this specialized pastry shop.

Via dell’Arco del Monte, 98
00186 Rome, Italy
+011 39 06 9259 4322

In Montreal, you can find cornetti and cannoli at La Cornetteria.


rome markets © Will Travel for Food

Rome’s Markets | Top: Campo De’ Fiori, Bottom: Nuovo Mercato Testaccio

Markets are always on my to-do list when I travel and no country in the world does markets as well as Italy. There are quite a few markets in Rome, some more popular than others. I visited two while I was there.

Mercato di Campo de’ Fiori
This is Rome’s oldest market and definitely worth a visit, even if it seems to be catering more to tourists than Romans these days. You’ll find stalls that carry everything from beautifully stacked seasonal fruits and vegetables to fish, pasta, oils, vinegars and spices and homeware.

The market is usually open from 7am to 1pm, Monday to Saturday but this is Italy and things can be unpredictable at times.

Piazza Campo De’ Fiori
00186 Rome, Italy
+011 39 06 0608

Nuovo Mercato Testaccio
For a more “functional” market and one that Romans actually go to, visit the new Testaccio market open in July 2012 to some controversy. While not all Romans agree with the shutting down of the old market to replace it with this contemporary structure, it is hard to argue with the fact that the market is almost exclusively self-sufficient when it comes to energy thanks to the solar panels adorning its roof. Everything from meat to fresh fish, produce, bread, cheese, olives, oils and vinegars, spices, pasta, grains, nuts, wine and so much more is sold here. Go hungry if you want to take advantage of the amazing salumi and cheese sandwiches available. Make sure to stop by Lo Spaccio di Testaccio, a lovely store selling homeware. A few of their offerings found their way into my suitcase.

Between Via Galvani and Via Alessandro Volta
00153 Rome, Italy
Open Monday to Saturday from 8am to 2pm, until 7:30pm on Fridays.

Salumi and cheese

rome food © Will Travel for Food

Salumi & cheese heaven (Volpetti on the left and Roscioli on the right)

I like visiting supermarkets and markets in foreign countries. I like the familiarity of walking down a supermarket’s aisle and browsing and I love being surprised when I find peculiar things that are specific to the country I’m visiting. Specialized food stores are also a must-stop for me and when in Italy, one must absolutely make an effort to visit a salumi (Italian charcuterie) and cheese specialty store.

Salumeria Roscioli
When it comes to a great place to buy cheese or salumi in Rome, the name on everyone’s lips is Roscioli. From the same owner as Forno Roscioli (see above) a couple of doors down, this specialty store carries a dizzying variety of charcuterie and cheeses from all around Italy (even some Iberico ham from Spain). Take it to go or sit down at one of the tables and enjoy the salumi and cheese as appetizers to a great meal. The store doubles as a restaurant and my post on that is coming soon!

Via dei Giubbonari, 21
00186 Rome, Province of Rome, Italy
+011 39 06 687 5287

Like Roscioli, Volpetti in the Testaccio district is a great place to pick up some great salumi and cheese. Much smaller in size, the store is packed to the ceiling (literally!) with hanging pork legs, various dry sausages and the likes. You’ll want to be hungry when you walk in because you will be fed a sample at every counter. They also make pizza and some other specialties like fried artichokes, stuffed zucchini flowers and more. Pick up some of these goodies to go and walk over to the Nuovo Mercato Testaccio a few blocks away (see above).

Via Marmorata, 47
00153 Rome, Italy
+011 39 06 574 2352


rome pizza © Will Travel for Food

Pizza in Rome

Bad pizza in Rome (or in Italy in general) is probably just as good as the best pizza anywhere else. Once you’ve tasted what pizza is supposed to taste like, it makes it hard to have it anywhere else outside of Italy.

Rome is filled with al taglio pizza spots, which means that the pizzas are baked in large rectangular formats and are sold by the slice and by weight. That also means that you can try several flavours at any visit. They make for the best quick lunch or snack on the go. Even though most of them are good, below are three that have really stood out.

Anthony Bourdain’s number one choice of pizza in Rome is Bonci’s Pizzarium, and now it’s mine as well. Located in a residential neighbourhood behind the Vatican, this tiny hole-in-the-wall is definitely worth the trek. The pizza is served al taglio, which means that you can try several flavours, which I definitely did.  When I was there, they had a vegetarian monthly theme happening to celebrate summer’s bounty. A variety of fruits, veggies and cheeses came together in happy combinations over an amazing crust. The 3-tomato pizza is a must-have at any time.

Via della Meloria, 43
00136 Rome, Italy

Antico Forno Marco Roscioli
As I said above, this spot is an absolute paradise for all lovers of baked goods and pizza is no exception. The toppings range from classic to creative, using local and seasonal produce. Grab a slice and savour it in the dining room inside or take it to go.

Via dei Chiavari, 34
Rome, Italy
+011 39 06 686 4045

Il Forno Campo De’ Fiori
This “forno” or bakery is located right on the edge of Campo De’ Fiori in two different spaces across a typical tiny street. One side serves some sweet pastries while the other serves pizza al taglio. Stand in line, order your pizza made with a much thinner crust and some more classic toppings than the Pizzarium slices and then go outside to savour it with a view of the organized chaos that is Campo De’ Fiori.

Piazza Campo De’ Fiori, 22
00186 Rome, Province of Rome, Italy
+011 39 06 6880 6662


rome best bar aperitivo © Will Travel for Food

Aperitivo at Salotto 42

Aperitivo is the Italian tradition of going out for a drink just before dinner. A few bars in Italy offer complimentary appetizers to munch on with your Campari or Aperol. These can range from plain items like tomato pizza and olives to more sophisticated offerings like cured meats and creative bruschetta. Aperitivo hour usually starts at 6 or 7pm and lasts until about 9pm when it’s time to move on to more serious things like dinner.

Salotto 42
If you’re looking for a great aperitivo spot in Rome, with a great view of the Temple of Hadrian to boot, Salotto 42 is it. Voted one of the World’s 50 Best Bars in 2010, its reputation is well-deserved. This is where hip Romans go to see and be seen while they sip on a beautiful cocktail and nibble on some delicious bites. Reservations are recommended otherwise go early as this small place gets packed pretty quickly.

Piazza di Pietra
00186 Rome, Italy
+011 39 06 678 5804

Rome’s fountains or nasoni

rome fountains © Will Travel for Food

A very ornate “nasoni”

Rome counts more than 2500 public water fountains with over 200 of them located in the city’s historic center. I’m not talking fountains as in Fontana di Trevi here, but drinkable water fountains that will be a welcome relief when you’re trekking around the city on a hot summer day. Rome’s history with nasoni (big noses) started in 1874 when the first nasone was installed. Don’t worry, the water is perfectly safe to drink and always fresh. The nasoni are also environmentally and wallet friendly. Most of them are very simple metal objects about 3 feet tall with a spout (a “nose”) but some of them can be stunning monuments, like the one in the photo above.

You can download the application that will help you find the closest nasone here or consult Rome’s nasoni map here.


rome hotel © Will Travel for Food

The little courtyard of Piazza Di Spagna Prestiqe Hotel

Piazza Di Spagna Prestige
This is the cutest little bed & breakfast ever! The 6-room establishment is located in a residential building in the heart of Rome and is close to everything. You are given the keys when you check in and are then free to come and go as you please. The rooms are cozy, comfortable, nicely decorated and come with wifi access. You don’t have a view of the city but you have access to the cutest little sunny courtyard and you get fresh cornetti delivered to your door every morning! I highly recommend it.

Via della Croce 33
00183 Rome, Italy
+011 39 06 69940315
Mobile: +011 39 393 9893143

Don’t forget to check out my Rome Google map here. It’s a very handy tool to have when in Rome… And stay tuned for more Rome posts coming soon!

A special thanks to all of you who sent in recommendations of places to eat in Rome. They were truly priceless and I tried to do as many as I could in the little time I had there.

rome monuments © Will Travel for Food

Beautiful Fontana di Trevi at night

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