Food Tour in Rome: 8 Must-Try Dishes
If you come to Rome for the first time, the urge to visit all the famous sites might distract you from the sheer abundance of great quality food in Rome. The world famous pizza and pasta are well known to everyone, but if you search a little deeper, you will find some real gems of street food, sweets and dishes which go back ages in history just as famous Colosseum and Roman Forum are.
Winter is probably not the best time to visit Rome in terms of availability of produce, but I was still surprised how fresh everything tasted. Italians are just brilliant at using what is best in season,whether it is pumpkins, artichokes or winter greens.
On a balmy winter evening in December I met with other food enthusiasts as part of Twilight Trastevere Rome Food Tour with Eating Europe, which promised to take us to the hidden places in Trastevere. We were greeted by Rish, who is a Trastevere local and immediately asked us to share our favourite Italian dish.
We all obliged and he happily then added a wealth of information on each of the dishes that we mentioned, whether it was dish origins, versions of a dish or the best places in Rome to try them. For me, that meant an excellent start as I could see that Rish was fascinated by food as much as I am and could talk about it for hours.
I lost count at how many places we stopped on the tour, but you can be assured that you will not leave hungry. The portions are generous and in the middle of the tour I started pacing myself, as I knew there were plenty more dishes to try.
Food is closely related to many aspects of our lives and this becomes really apparent in this tour. Rish will teach you a few local tricks, so by the end of the tour you will know how to drink water from the water fountains in Rome, how to choose wine in Italy , he will share street names stories and you will find out what was the favourite dish of Julius Cesar.
I want to share with you 8 best dishes which we tried as part of Twilight Trastevere Rome Food Tour.
1. Carciofi alla Giudia – Jewish Fried Artcihoke
Best taken with a glass of cold Prosecco as demonstrated on the picture below. The artichokes do not look very appetizing when you see them first, but I urge you to give it a try. Artichoke is first cleaned to retain only edible parts of the plant. It is then deep fried and left to rest. Once you place the order for this dish, the artichokes is quickly fried again to give it a crispy texture and unusual taste.
I have tried Roman Artichoke dish as well (Carciofi alla Romana), but I have to say this version is my favourite, maybe because it is deep fried.
2 and 3. Porchetta (Roast Pork) with Artisan Beer
This is definitely a must try for any meat lover out here. However, it is important that your porchetta served hot and smothered in meat and fat juices. The whole pig is roasted and the meat is then sliced and either eaten on its own or as part of a sandwich. Garlic and rosemary are heavily used to add flavour to the meat and it is a glorious celebration of pork.
We were served our mini porchetta sandwiches with a glass of artisan beer. Rish told us that nowdays making beer in Italy is much easier, due to less regulations associated with the production, than making wine, so the industry is starting to form as well.
4. Brutti Ma Bioni – “Ugly but Nice”
This was a discovery in a sweets department for me this time. Meringue like cookies made with hazelnut, which are soft and slightly chewy inside. Pure indulgence. I have tried it a few times in other places after this tour, but the version I tried in Innocenti Biscottificio was absolute best.
Street food staple, which can be bought all over Rome. A deep fried rice ball, stuffed with mozarella or another filling, like meat or vegetables. Only arborio rice is used in preparation of genuine suppli and it boils in a tomato and meat based broth for hours.
6. Italian Wine
Of course, if you drink alcohol you must sample some wines when in Rome. One of the best places in Trastever for this is Spirito di Vino Restaurant, where, if you ask nicely, you will be taken to the downstairs cellar stacked to the gills with precious wine bottles. On this occasion, we tried Sangiovese, which was an easy drinkable wine for dinner.
7. Pasta Amatriciana
The more I try pasta dishes the more I come to realise that less is more. Pasta Amatriciana is a perfect marriage of pasta and 4 other ingredients: tomato, pecorino and guanciale. I hear you say guan-what? Guanciale is a cured pork cheek which has more fat content than meat.
Somehow, the fried guanciale with crunchy fat pieces takes another dimension in pasta Amatriciana, as it compliments tomato flavour, while giving an extra kick to the plain nature of pasta. It is a simple dish, which you might not think much of when you see it on the menu, but do go for it and enjoy the marriage of flavours.
I cannot pass the opportunity to mention this dish, as for me it is definitely a highlight whenever I am in Italy. In fact, if I can, I eat at least one gelato a day when in Italy.
We went to an artisanal gelateria as part of the tour, but some flavours did not live up to my expectations or maybe I just tried better versions elsewhere. I have tried a lot of gelato in Italy over the years. I always recommend going for classic flavours or seasonal /local produce, as you are bound to hit a jackpot here if gelateria is worth its salt.This time passion fruit and Princess Kiss were definite winners!
Twilight Trastevere Rome Food Tour was an excellent introduction to the area of Trastevere and despite trying so many different dishes, I feel that there is still a lot to discover.
The area is teaming with places for food, whether it is local trattorias, wine bars, pizza places or fancy restaurants. I felt that this food tour gave me a solid foundation on how to discover local places and what to look out for when ordering food or choosing your next gelato stop.
Rish was an absolute delight to listen too and, I have to admit, he did not stop talking throughout the tour. He shared so much information with us, and gave us a lot of pointers on what to see in the area, if we wanted to come back on another day. Also after the tour you will get a great list of food recommendations for Rome. I am sure I will be discovering places on my next trips too, thanks to this comprehensive list.
I was hosted by Eating Rome for this tour, but all opinions are my own.