Infinito Sobbollire: Anticipating Rome


Ladies and gents, I’m in dire need of a vacation and, as luck would have it, that’s just what I’ll be doing at the end of this month.  My last two trips to Europe, which took me to Hamburg and London, certainly left me with a few good food memories, but that’s going to pale in comparison after Mrs. TVFF and I head to Rome.  She’s been there a few times (and studied for a summer during college), but it’s my first trip.  We’ll be looking at tons of artwork, visiting important churches and ancient ruins and gorging ourselves on every type of food we can put our hands on.

It’s funny…I plan on walking something like ten miles a day while I’m there, yet I completely expect to gain 5+ pounds. What, exactly, am I looking forward to most?  I’ve got a shortlist of dishes that have my mouth watering already.
5. Gelato – Yeah, I know you’re probably thinking that this should be a bit higher on the list.  And it would be, except for the fact that (a) I’m going to be there at the end of February and it’s not exactly frozen-desert season and (b)  I work about a block away from what I think is the best gelato this side of the Atlantic, so it won’t likely be the kind of revelation it typically is for Americans raised on bland ice cream.  Still, eating a cup of pistachio while walking through the Campo de’ Fiori will be pretty sweet.

Check out the rest…and help me find the best spots…after the jump.

4. Bucatini all’Amatriciana –  Pork, tomato, cheese and some of the most fun-to-eat noodles you can find.  This is one of the dishes I make at home pretty regularly, so I don’t usually order it in Italian restaurants when I go out, but it will be nice to see it done by the experts for a change.

3. Trippa alla Romana – My affection for offal has been stated here on before, so it should come as no surprise that I’m looking forward to a little stomach lining.  And you tell me you’re going to simmer it in a rich tomato sauce, to boot?  Hell yeah!  This is the early favorite to become my latest cooking assignment when I get back home.

2. Pizza – I think there’s a decent chance that pizza will be my lunch-time choice pretty much every day that I’m there.  Pizzerias are apparently as plentiful in Rome as push-cart hot dog  stands are in Midtown Manhattan, so it’ll be tough to avoid it.  While the margherita is one of the most common varieties, I’m really looking forward to one that features buffalo mozzarella.  When we order it by the slice at lunch, it’s the perfect on-the-go snack to get us to our next destination.

1. Spaghetti alla Carbonara – Any of you who have checked out my bio on the About Us page could have guessed this one.  It’s about a simple a dish as you can create:  pasta tossed with guanciale — cured pork jowls that will make you give up your love of plain bacon forever — and topped with raw egg yolks, which coat the noodles and create a rich, delicious sauce.  It’s spaghetti, breakfast-style. Hit it with plenty of black pepper and some Pecorino Romano and it’s the perfect blend of flavors. This stuff drives me insane when I eat it here…I can only imagine the life-altering experience that awaits me in Rome.

A couple of items, like fried zucchini blossoms, will probably be out of season, so I’m slightly bummed about that.  But then there are a bunch of other little things, like supplì, which will delight me even though they didn’t make the top of my list.

While I’m fairly certain that I can pretty much close my eyes and pick a good trattoria (making sure to avoid the tourist traps, naturally), I’d be happy to hear any suggestions from you folks if you have any don’t-miss-it!!! recommendations based on your time in Rome.  Whether it’s a particular restaurant or a dish I absolutely must try, be sure to let me know in the comments.  It goes without saying that I’ll be reporting back on the highlights when I get back home in March.

Update: Top 10 Things I Ate in Rome
The Best Little Things in Rome

(Photo: Daniele Muscetta)

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  • Summer February 17, 2010  

    My husband and I spent our honeymoon in Rome, and it was so very long ago that Italy still used the lire AND the dollar was strong, so he bought himself a couple of gorgeous Italian designer suits and had them tailored. But because he had them tailored to fit his I’m-eating-Rome waistline, they’ve remained a bit baggy ever since.

    We’ve been back to Italy a few times since then, and the food is always, always a highlight of the trip.

    Some of my favorite items won’t be available or at their peak when you visit. Fried artichokes are a Roman specialty, but it’s the wrong season. And I will never forget the incredible bread salad I had on my last trip to Lazio, but it was the fresh tomatoes that made the salad sing.

    Don’t forget to eat some seafood! And the espresso, oh, the espresso….

  • Carrie February 19, 2010  

    I think wild boar and truffles mightstill be in season, and if they are, eat all you can! We went in November, and one of my most favorite things was wild boar (Cinghiale) prosciutto with a white truffle butter. Also, gnocchi with truffles is amazing if you can find it. And finally, a Tuscan style white bean stew called Riboletta is phenomenal if you can find it. Enjoy!!!!!

  • Molly March 8, 2010  

    I don’t know if you’ve left for Rome yet….but I have a few restaurants I went to in January and really enjoyed….
    The first is Trattoria Sant’Andrea – it’s Via S.Andrea delle Fratte 9/10, and it’s very close to the Trevi Fountain. My fiance and I actually got engaged there, and we had an amazing dinner. (It would have been good even if I didn’t get that ring, I promise.) I got the spagetti carbonara, and he got a pasta that was with a tomato and milk sauce. Sounds odd, but he claimed he wanted to marry it and have its children. A great atmosphere…our waiter spoke no English, but was very genial, and went out of his way to make sure we had a nice evening. (And no one there had a clue what happened there that night. We were subtle.)
    Our last night, we went to a restaurant called “Le Sorelle” and I think it was the fanciest of our dinners. (Via Belsiana, 30 Very posh – lots of white, nice artwork, I had a pasta with a lamb ragout, he had ravioli stuffed with gorgozola, with aged Parmesan shavings on top, and then drizzled with a balsamic reduction. We had a starter and our two meals, and a bottle of wine wound up being about $150. Worth it…..

    Our first night we went to a place just down the street from our hotel on Via Nazionale… (via nazionale, 250) called George Byron Cafe. Had their version of Carbonara as a starter – they used rigatoni…but very rich and decadent. I’d go there as a last resort….check out the other 2 first.

    Enjoy your trip! I miss it already! I want to go back yesterday!!

  • Pingback: Top Ten Things I Ate in Rome | Endless Simmer March 15, 2010  

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