Top Ten Things I Ate in Rome
I asked. You chimed in. I’m back from Rome and I’ve just got to let you know the goods on what I had, including a recap of the dishes that I was most anticipating.
Did everything live up to my sky-high expectations? Let’s find out.
10. Gelato – I actually took it easy on the gelato. I only had it twice while I was there…tremendous restraint on my part. Our first time was at Giolliti, a famous spot, and I had a hazelnut/fior de latte cone and our second was at Della Palma (below) where I had creme caramel/ricotta with fig sauce. Both were delicious, but the thing that really struck me was the overwhelming number of varieties these places had. They made Baskin-Robbins and his 31 flavors look like a punk. I did a quick guesstimate at Della Palma and came up with more than 85 flavors. I’m convinced that the majority of the fun involved in the gelato experience comes from the process of choosing which varieties to get.
9. Zucchini Blossoms – I was a bit nervous that I wouldn’t be able to get these due to the early season, but after seeing how fantastic they looked in the market at the Campo dei Fiori (below) we ordered them as an appetizer at La Campana, a ristorante just around the corner from our hotel. Delicate, crunchy, and filled with oozy cheese. But the best, most flavorful part of the perfectly fried flower was the fact that it was filled with…
8. Anchovies – Listen, I don’t want to hear that you don’t like anchovies. And I’m not getting into the canned/tubed conversation because the ones I had in Rome were light years ahead of even the best canned anchovies you can get here. The anchovies that we had both in the zucchini blossoms and on a pizza were flavorful but surprisingly mellow. I’m now more convinced than ever that people who think they don’t like anchovies just haven’t had good anchovies.
Find out what topped this list and pick up the names of some great restaurants along the way, after the jump.
7. Amatriciana – This dish makes the list even though I didn’t order it during my time there. Of course, I did sample more than my fair share of it off of Mrs. TVFF’s plate (she got it twice), so it’s in. It was quite a bit richer than when I make it, and without the red onions that I typically put in. I asked one of our waiters if the restaurant made it with pancetta or guanciale and he replied quickly and forcefully: “Guanciale…if you want good amatricana, you must use guanciale!” There you go, folks, straight from the expert. If you’re in NYC, pick some up at Salumeria Biellese, which is where I get mine.
6. Filetti di Baccalà – Fried fish? Yep, pretty much the same as the fish and chips that you’ll find in the best places in London, but there’s something to be said for simple fried food executed perfectly. It’s just another reminder of how seriously they take their food in Rome…even the glorified bar snacks are inspired. We got ours as an early-evening snack at a place named, unoriginally, Filetti di Baccalà, located a few blocks away from the Campo dei Fiori, in a bustling part of town that we cut through after a long day of touring churches and walking through Trastevere.
Nice looking artichokes…I remember the pasta being more al dente than my mom had ever cooked when I went to Rome ten years ago. Now my girlfriend, who is Italian, tells me that it is a common opinion of Italian cooks that Americans have begun to cook their pasta TOO al dente (at least the ones who have learned that al dente is a good and authentic thing). It sounds like you might debate this point though. I don’t think there are many things better than al dente bucatini!
I remember the pizza being so good. I wish I could find something like it here. I guess here in DC Paradiso is the closest thing I’ve found.
Were most of the anchovies you encountered brown or white? I wasn’t eating anchovies yet when I went to Rome and can’t remember.
you know what, i’ve never been that impressed with Supplì. of course, i havent eaten it in italy, but in DC it just doesnt blow me away. i think it needs more cheese. maybe eliminate the rice altogether?
Sounds like an incredible experience for you and your lovely bride. At my age I don’t think I will ever make it to Italy (a life-long dream to visit the land of my ancestors) but will be content to experience it vicariously through you for now.
With your description of all those exotic dishes in Rome one can just imagine someone who comes into a restaurant, orders spaghetti and meatballs and gets a blank stare from the waiter.
when i went to italy i was stunned by three things food related:
1) three-packs of Heineken.
2) eggs on pizza. both cracked on as raw and cooked w/the pizza in the oven, and also i had one where the egg was hard boiled and put on the pizza after cooking.
3) the spaghetti in venice was the best i’ve had in my life. how do they make it so amazing???!?!
@gansie: The supplì there really were amazing, so maybe you were just getting a lousy version? You know how the crispy rice at the bottom of the paella is delicious? That’s what it was like.
@tyler: I hear you on the level of al dente going too far. That wasn’t the case with the ones I had in Rome. Oddly, the spaghetti that I had at Lupa in NYC was extremely al dente, but managed to stop just short of being too much.
I didn’t get a great look at the anchovies, but am pretty sure they were brown. That’s why I was amazed by the gentleness of the flavor.
Oh dear… suppli… *drools* My mother makes the best suppli I have ever eaten but I expect to find an even more delicious version in Rome. My nonna sometimes stuffs them with peas and proscuitto as well.
Thanks for the lovely blog post! Much gratitude from someone who is researching how best to stimulate her sense of taste in Rome next February 🙂