Yummy and yuck in Rome

My food adventures in the Eternal City

Let me give you a good advice right from the start. Don’t go to Rome during Easter. If you don’t have some specific reason to go in this time, you will be glad to avoid the masses of people clogging the entire city. We made this mistake so I can tell you it is not very pleasant. All the good restaurants are full, the prices are sky high, and the streets are full of tourists.

We spent four days in Rome, walking through the busy streets, admiring the historic sights, and trying a new gelato each day. I love history and I love food so I had high hopes for this trip. Let me tell you how it all ended up.

First, let’s take a look at the food in Rome. This was my first trip to Italy and at home, I am quite a fan of the so-called “Italian cuisine”. However, what I got in Rome was not the food I am used to at home. I admit it was a bit disappointing.

We ate breakfast at our hotel Impero near the Termini station. The hotel was overall very pleasant and the location was really convenient even though it was a bit farther to the historic center. We had specifically chosen a hotel with breakfast buffet. Many hotels and hostels offer only a croissant and a coffee in the morning. Which would leave us hungry in like half an hour. So if you enjoy a nice full breakfast, look an accommodation with a buffet.

Our first diner was at the restaurant Alessio right across the street from our hotel. The restaurant had very good reviews on Trip Advisor, so we had high hopes. We arrived shortly before 6 pm and even though the door was open the waiter told us they are not open yet. But he allowed us to sit at a table and wait until six. After official opening the restaurant quickly filled with people. We ordered house wine which was very good and not too expensive (we always went with house wine, it’s tasty and cheap). I had lasagna bolognese and my boyfriend a pizza. Lasagna was good but the portion was a bit small. The pizza was quite different from what we were used to from home. Thin like paper with only a few ingredients on top. For the price which was not low it was quite the let down.

But we soon learned that this is the typical Italian pizza, or at least the Roman pizza. Next evening we visited the Pizzeria Da Baffetto. According to many internet reviews, one of the best pizzas in Rome. We arrived shortly after opening (most restaurants in Rome open around 6 or 7 pm.) and the downstairs rooms were completely full. So we had hoped to get a table upstairs. But as we found out you can sit there only with a reservation. So the waiter seated us at a small table with an older pair from UK. I could hardly fit in the chair so little space was between the table and the wall (and I am not exactly a bulky person). Behind us was sitting a group of overly noisy people and next to us a large family from China which was quite loud too. It was the most unpleasant experience during the whole trip. The pizza was underwhelming too. We both ordered Prosciutto Funghi. It was so thin I barely felt full after eating a whole pizza (at home I eat only a half of the regular size), there were a few mushrooms on top with three slices prosciutto and barely any cheese. That’s when I gave up on pizza in Rome. But please don’t let that discourage you from having a pizza. Maybe you will find a good one in Rome but I would definitely avoid Baffeto’s.

Disappointed we left Baffeto’s and noticed that in the meantime a long line has appeared before the entrance. We were just glad we did not stand an hour in a line to wait for that kind of dinner. Right next to the pizzeria was a gelateria called Frigidarium. There was a line in front of it too but much shorter. Still hungry I suggested to try it out. And this was the thing that saved the evening. Because it was the best gelato we had in Rome. I got a coconut gelato with white chocolate poured all over it. It tasted like a dream. If you are ever near Frigidarium, go there, choose a flavor, and let them bathe your gelato in chocolate. Best thing ever!

Other gelaterias we visited were San Crispino, Venchi, and La Romana. All were nice but Frigidarium was my personal favorite. In San Crispino you can get gelato only in a paper cup and I prefer a cone. In Venchi and La Romana I probably chose bad, overly sweet flavors. I don’t even remember the names of the flavors because I wanted to try something new and mysterious. Next time I should stick with the classics. They also had the melted chocolate there but they only poured it at the bottom of the cone which was not as great as when it was on top of the gelato.

I have a serious sweet tooth but gelato was not the only food that I enjoyed in Rome. What I really liked was Spaghetti Carbonara. In Slovakia it’s often mistaken for a creamy white sauce. But a real carbonara is only egg and bacon. And I must admit, this version was much tastier than the Slovak version. I am not a big fan of the traditional al dente pasta which seemed too firm to me, but the combination with egg and bacon was perfect. And the bonus, you can put so much parmesan on top as you like. And I love cheese.

The last evening I decided to try another version of spaghetti which I can’t get so easily at home. Cacio e Pepe is a pretty simple pasta with black pepper and pecorino cheese. The spicy pepper and flavorful pecorino gave it a nice full taste which I really enjoyed. Maybe not my favorite pasta but I would not mind eating it again. We finished the meal with a desert. A mini tiramisu served in a coffee cup for 6 euro. That was probably the most expensive dessert I ever ate (considering the size). But it was the last evening so we splurged a bit.

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