When in Rome!

Rome, the home of the Colosseum, Vatican city and also spaghetti carbonara! For this food adventure, I consulted some local food blogs including Parla’s food blog (extremely helpful) but alas, towards the end of my Roman trip I fell a bit ill and was unable to taste everything I wanted. Nevertheless, here is a snapshot to some of my savoury and sweet delights!

Spaghetti served in a creamy sauce with egg, bacon and cheese, more commonly called spaghetti carbonara originated from Rome. I went online looking for the best spaghetti cabonara and came across Trattoria Da Danilo. This restaurant is located not that far east of Central station or the Colosseum. When you enter, it seems quite small but there is actually a hidden downstairs making it quite large. The walls are adorned with awards, photos and professional reviews and this got me extremely excited for my meal.

Spaghetti Carbonara – €10

The spaghetti carbonara has an interesting presentation – it is heaped in a pile in the middle with some crisp bacon balanced on top along with cheese and pepper lining the sides of the plate. The pasta tastes unlike the ones back home in Sydney. It is hand made and slightly thicker but has absorbed all the sauce which is cheesy and creamy with a strong bacon element. The dish is indeed the best spaghetti carbonara I’ve ever had. It is smooth and tasty and the crispy bacon adds some extra texture. Whether or not it is the best in Rome I don’t know, but it sure beats the whole of Sydney. An extremely flavoursome dish and one everyone should grab when in Rome.

Another place where food is abundant is Trastevere, a quirky suburb filled with restaurants, bars and markets (similar to our Surry Hills). After passing a dozen restaurants, we decided to dine at Aristocampo Trastevere. This restaurant had wine bottles hanging off the ceilings and was blasting old school Italian music creating a great atmosphere for tonight’s dinner.

Chicken breast with milk and lemon – €12

Under the Roman specialties this chicken dish caught my eye. Dairy and citrus together? Surely it would curdle in your stomach and taste foul? But my curiosity got the better of me so I tried it of course! The chicken was cooked to a beautiful soft consistency and I haven’t had a meal of just meat in a long time, so it was very welcome. The sauce tasted like a creamy white gravy, but with some lemon tang in the aftertaste. Surprisingly, this combination works for this dish. My only criticism is that it could have used a side of vegetables, but otherwise it’s an interesting dish to try.

Truffle is another ingredient I have seen quite often in Italy. It seems like this expensive mushroom (in Sydney) might not be that expensive in Italy, and I ate quite a bit of it in Florence but unfortunately I forgot to take photos. Fortunately I found it in Rome and am able to give you a review.

Campo de Fiori is a small plaza which is just bustling with food. Lining the edges are many restaurants and within the square are food markets selling fresh produce, drinks and sauces. On top of this, the plaza turns into an open pub at night! During our lunch today, there was live music playing just outside our restaurant and along with the sunny weather created a great atmosphere to enjoy a meal outside.

Fettuccine with truffles – €15

Today I have a fettuccine with truffles from a restaurant called Maranega. Although it does not taste as good as the truffles I had in Florence (it’s more common there than in Rome), the dish was still satisfactory. The fettuccine is thick and chewy but not in a plastic way. Its chewiness is not from being undercooked but rather the pasta’s thicker consistency. The sauce smells extremely fragrant of truffles and there are small bits of mushrooms scattered throughout the dish enhancing the flavours. I don’t think Italians can go wrong when cooking truffles but if you’re ever in Florence, I would highly recommend ordering truffles there over any other Italian city.

For desserts, I intended to do an entire post on gelato but alas my ill stomach decided not to process any gelato on the latter half of my Roman adventure. There is a lot of bad gelato in Rome. The thing is as a tourist, we can’t tell because it’s all pretty good compared to Sydney, but when you’ve had great Italian gelato it’s easy to tell which ones are bad.

Gelato Il Fantasia is a gelato store recommended by Parla’s food blog which helped enlighten me on the few good gelato stores remaining in Rome which still use quality techniques and ingredients rather than sacrificing quality through mass production. With an impressive 54 gelato and 14 sorbet flavours, I couldn’t help but get the large cup so that I could try 5 flavours. Although the scoops are a bit small here and I apologise that they’re all similar colours, I tried the more interesting flavours:

Gelato, 5 scoops – €4

Rice, sesame and chestnut honey
Contains small chewy bits of rice inside and contains sesame flavours and hints of sweet honey. White coloured.

Strawberry and lemon cream
A custard cream flavour with subtle citrus lemon hints

Sesame and pistachios
There are bits of sesame seed in this flavour. Tastes more of sesame than pistacchio.

Salted peanuts
Like peanut butter but in gelato form, delicious.

Banana and honey yoghurt
Couldn’t taste the yoghurt, seemed to be just banana.

After a while, my gelato scoops all got smooshed together but it still tasted so good. If you get a chance to go to Rome and are unsure of where to eat, try looking up some food blogs. Otherwise, I would highly recommend Trattoria Da Danilo for the spaghetti cabonara Gelato Il Fantasua for gelato. The other two restaurants I visited were good but given that their areas are food areas, it may be worthwhile to do some exploring.

The places I dined at were:

Trattoria Da Danilo
Via Petrarca 13, Rome
Ph: 06 77200111

Aristocampo Trastevere
Via della Lungaretta, 75
Ph: 06 58335530

Campo de Fiori 47-48-49, Rome
Ph: 06 68300331

Gelato Il Fantasia
Viale Aventino 59


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