Too often travelers coming to Rome believe that here we’re eating the spaghetti bolognaise (should be alla Bolognese) and pizza all the time. Additionally we see too many travelers in some roman restaurants having cappuccino during their meals. Bleah! Italians never do that. The cappuccino is full of calories and one should be drinking this only in the morning, during breakfast. It will give you some energy for your day, but you should not have it during meals as it has such a strong and sweet flavor that you won’t be able to feel the taste of the food you’re eating. During your meals, provided you’re eating some decent food, you should only drink water or wine, as they are not “covering” the taste of food, and wine is exalting it. Those are basic rules of a healthy nutrition, but too often they are disregarded. Coming back to our –Italian- way of eating it is of course a Mediterranean cuisine but it has evolved and changed over time and the new dishes of the Italian cuisine are generally lighter than the traditional ones as those were coming from the culture of a mostly rural country were lots of energy – and therefore vitamins – were required to do “manual” jobs and tasks, such as working in the fields or carrying and delivering heavy coal bags. In fact, in Rome, there is a traditional Spaghetti dish dedicated to the coalman: the Spaghetti “alla carbonara” with eggs, pork meat (guanciale, the cheek of the pork), pepper and a seasoned cheese: pecorino. Believe me this is an atomic bomb of calories and one dish would be giving you enough calories for an entire week. Italians and Romans are no longer eating such kind of dishes that are offered only in the apparently typical restaurants of central Rome were tourists would give it a try, probably together with a cappuccino, believing they are eating like the Italians do. But, I tell you my dear friend: it ain’t like this.
Italy has changed a lot, particularly in the 80ies of the last century, and all the new dishes of the Italian cuisine, as well as the traditional ones revised, are exalting the original taste of fresh and natural food (fish, meat etc), with little garnishments and sauces, as they would only hide the taste of the main ingredients and add useless calories to a population that is now mostly composed of white collars that are doing little obligatory “physical exercise” as the coalmen or the farmers had to do, except the one hour or so weekly training in a modern and fully aircon gym packed with comforts, listening to the gentle music coming from their Ipods. In fact a daily pasta dish is now spaghetti “al dente” (meaning there should still be a small “hard” part in the middle of the spaghetto) with nearly crude oil and cherry tomatoes of Pachino. To be more precise: you should put some oil, some garlic and the tomatoes in a pan and keep it on the stove for no longer than a minute. Very easy, very rapid, very healthy, very tasty. Now, for those coming to Rome in a vacation rental we want to recommend five Roman restaurants that are off the beaten path, meaning that they are not necessarily in the typical tourist areas and that you would not be visiting unless someone tells you that they are really worth a visit. We haven’t chosen those restaurants for their atmosphere, nor for the quality of their service or for their location. We have chosen them just for one reason: you can have there some great dishes that will delight your palate.
Sicilianibocca. (Sicily in your mouth). This is now a small chain of restaurants: there are three, one in the residential district of Prati (close to the Vatican), another one, recently opened, in the heart of Trastevere, on Via Garibaldi, and the third one on Via Flaminia –close to Ponte Milvio – which is the original one and still the one we prefer. As its names clearly says, it is a Sicilian Cuisine, with revised traditional dishes and new ones. They put much attention onto the “freshness of food” and particularly of the fish, which is delivered daily from the Sicilian fishing ports of Mazzara del Vallo and Trapani and Catania. Whilst you wait to start your meal you can have a home aperitif such as a glass of Prosecco (Italian dry sparkling wine) with fresh tangerine juice. As a starter we strongly recommend the very lightly fried “Frittura primavera” (Fried Spring): a tasty mix of small squid and zucchini (courgette) cut in small slices. Or the delicious “Polipetto Caldo al battuto di Limone”: Small and tender, boiled baby octopus with a special olive oil and lemon dressing. Then you can continue with their original recipe: the Risotto ai profumi di Sicilia (Sicilian Scent Risotto): Lemon, orange, mozzarella cheese and zucchini “julienne” and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese or with the Linguine a’ Ghiotta a Messinese: Linguini served with tender morsels of swordfish, simmered in tomato sauce with celery, capers and green olives. Then the one thing you should not miss is the Gran pepata di crostacei: Royal seafood soup with mussels, clams, hard clams, lobster, razor clams, prawns and scampi cooked in the traditional Sicilian Fishermen’s way. At the end of the meal you can choose among their great home -made Sicilian pastries. There is a huge choice of Sicilian connoisseur wines, both reds and whites.
At this point you should not be going back to your apartment rental in the Campo dè Fiori area for a siesta, but you should be running at least half of the Rome Marathon to burn some calories.
Ristorante La Scala, in the Parioli neighbourhood, the most affluent residential area of the Italian Capital. But don’t worry, the prices of this restaurant are more than reasonable, lower than the typical tourist traps of the old town. La Scala is a typical family restaurant with a friendly atmosphere. The dish we really like here is the “Fegato alla veneziana”, which you should try if you’re into this kind of food: Venetian Style Calves Liver cut into thin slices, which is cooked with red wine, red vinegar and onions, among other ingredients. As a first course we prefer the “Capellini in brodo” (A chicken soup with Cappellini, a fresh home-made thin pasta) or the “Fettuccine ai funghi” (Fettucine is a flat thick noodle made of egg and flour, cooked with Porcini mushrooms). Now again, instead of going back to your apartment in Rome for a siesta you should be running up and down the 135 Spanish Steps for at least 10 times, just to keep fit.
To remain in the same neighbourhood and, more precisely, in the same street, Viale Parioli, it’s now time to visit the Duke’s restaurant. Despite being just a few hundred meters away from La Scala, the ambience of this restaurant is completely different: it a trendy place for young Pariolini, the golden youth of Rome. In summer you should reserve a table outdoors, in their beautiful and romantic patio. They call themselves Californian Bar and Restaurant but don’t worry, the cuisine is a typically modern Italian cuisine with just some Californian flavor. You might want to start your evening by sitting at their bar desk and drink a cup of Prosecco Franciacorta Brut (dry) or Satin (a bit more “velveted”), a sparkling wine from the Franciacorta region, northern Italy, between Brescia and the Lago d’Iseo (by the way, really worth a visit to experiment its wine route…ok this is for your next trip to Italy). As a starter we definitely recommend the Angus Tartare: a crude, tender meat filet on a Kataifi pasta (the Kataïfi is a pastry that looks like it is wrapped in shredded wheat. It is a traditional pastry made with nuts inside and soaked in a sugar or honey syrup) melted with pieces of cherry tomatoes and raspberry vinegar. De-li-ci-o-us! As a first course we recommend the Ocean Cous-cous: home-made cous-cous with turbot fish and sauce with a scent of dry tomatoes, almonds and mashed chick peas. As a second course the Oscar goes to the Barbecue Shank: it is a tender oven fried baby pork shank with a sauce flavored with apples and beer.
Time for a siesta in one of our Rome apartments that you’re renting for your Roman Holiday? Of course not: time to go up and down the Pincio Hill for at least 23 times.
A few steps from the Coppedè quarter in Rome, an incredibly original and beautiful area of Rome, the Capo Boi restaurant is a top choice for its varied Sardinian cuisine, mostly based on fish dishes. You will be overwhelmed by the starters they will bring at your desk, one after the other in a seemingly endless symphony: oysters, red shrimps, sea-bass “carpaccio”, octopus in vernaccia ( a sweet aromatic wine) sauce, cuttlefish cooked in the Alghero (a city of Sardinia) style etc. As a first course we recommend the typical Sardinian “Spaghetti alla Bottarga”, Spaghetti with mullet roe (the roe are the released external egg masses of fish, in this case the mullet, a typical fish of the Mediterranean sea). Those eggs have a very strong fish taste and smell and therefore we recommend this dish only to those that have also a strong character. For those of you that are more tranquil we suggest something smoother as the Tagliolini gamberi e porcini, a fresh pasta with an unusual sauce made of shrimps and mushrooms. Then one should continue the meal with the Scorfano al guazzetto, a soup with the monstrous but tasty Scorpion fish. To finish the meal, but again only for the strong ones, the Filu-e-ferru (iron thread in Sardinian dialect) , an incredibly strong and dry Sardinian liqueur obtained from the distillation of rapes with its astonishing digestive effect.
At this point, if you will not standstill under the effect of the Filu-e-ferru , you’ll have to forget about the siesta in your apartment in Rome, and will have to go up to the St Peter’s dome and down again for at least 79 times to return to the weight you had before entering the Capo Boi.
Le officine del pesce: when entering this restaurant you will have the impression of entering onto those fish markets that are just in every fishing port: loads of fresh fish everywhere, desks and aquariums and waters with living lobsters and scampi and crayfish jumping all over and then white ceilings, white walls, white floors. Is your soul white enough to stand this? This restaurant is on Via Clisio in the eastern residential neighbourhood called Quartiere Trieste, close to Piazza Verbano. The frittura di Paranza –che fa bene alla panza (means that it is good for your stomach in roman dialect)- is a really great dish of mixed fried fresh fish. Another special dish is the Zuppa alla gallinella: a soup with a coastal fish, the tub gurnard. Then all kinds of crude fish and crustacean with a squirt of lemon can be eaten here for your delight. You should try them all whilst staying in one of our Rome Vacation Rentals. A this point you’ll really have the right to say that you’ve eaten the way modern Italians do.
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