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.