The ultimate foodies guide to Rome

Visiting Rome in January was a treat. It was off-peak season so invariably there were less tourists around, it wasn’t sticky hot like it is in the summer and you can still eat outside everyday as long as you have a coat. This might not seem important but it’s the little things that make a good holiday, great! Rather than writing about the must see sights of Rome, as there are many travel guides out there that do just that, I thought I’d share some of the hidden treasures I found walking the cobbled streets including restaurant recommendations from local friends. These are totally worth a visit if you can find time during your stay.

Dar Poeta Pizzeria, Trastevere
Vicolo del Bologna 45, Trastevere
IMG_0681I can honestly say this was the best pizza I ate during my visit to Rome. Most probably because I ate here a couple of times (don’t judge, there was just too much choice to not go back!) but seriously, it does live up to expectations. Dar Poeta is a cosy restaurant hidden off the main streets of Trastevere, a district full of local produce and tradition, and is regularly visited by locals and tourists seeking unique pizza. The menu is full of really interesting flavours. I opted for the ‘Dar Poeta’ which was mozzarella, zucchini, ciauscolo salami, garlic and hot pepper. I’d forgotten what REAL Italian pizza tastes like! If you do go here, make sure you order a ‘Suppli’ to start with and you won’t regret it.


Aroma Restaurant
Via Labicana, 125 – 00184 Roma
IMG_0586This five star restaurant came as a recommendation from an Italian friend who grew up in Rome. Known for its’ breathtaking views of Ancient Rome and a Michelin Star for it’s consistently high standard food and service, this is a special treat. Executive Chef Giuseppe Di Lorio uses top quality fresh ingredients to create distinct flavours, evolving the traditional Mediterranean cuisine. I booked in for lunch as I couldn’t bring myself to miss out on what this restaurant has to offer. I made my way up to the rooftop where I was greeted by the host and shown to my table overlooking the Colosseum. Perfect. I chose a lovely glass of white wine from the wine list (which was in fact a book) and decided on the Ravioli with oxtail stew on a fondue of Parmesan cheese and smoked apple as my main. The presentation of the dish was beautifully done and the flavour was just incredible. After lunch, I enjoyed my wine whilst watching the sun shine over the city and tucked into some delicious petit fours. Whether it’s an anniversary, special occasion or you just fancy treating yourself to some good quality food like I did, then this is a go-to destination. Do make sure you book in advance for this one as it gets booked up quickly, especially in the evenings. Buon Appetito!


Tiramisu Zum
P.zza del Teatro di Pompeo 20 00186, Rome
IMG_0482Tiramisu Zum is essentially a cafe open until 11:30pm, selling tiramisu in all sorts of forms building on the classic. By this I mean there is tiramisu flavoured ice cream, biscuits, cake, cookies and drinks. With tiramisu on my mind, I decided to take a late night stroll to see what Zum had to offer. As one of my favourite sweets, I was hoping the walk was worth it. It totally was. The texture, flavour and sponginess all made for the perfect pot. You could choose the classic, or flavours such as Rum infused, forest fruits and pistacchio. Some really interesting combinations that if I had gone back, I would’ve tried. If you like Tiramisu then you should definitely find time to get here.


Sant’Eustachio il caffe
Piazza Sant’Eustachio, 82 00186 Rome, Italy
IMG_0537For all the coffee lovers out there, Sant’Eustachio il caffe is said to serve the best coffee in Rome. Founded in 1935, it’s been running for decades and continues to be a local destination. You can drink your coffee at the bar inside, or find a table and sit in the sun watching the passers by. If you like what you taste, they even sell a range of coffee beans, cups and saucers and other little treats. This is a coffee shop worth visiting.


Panella L’arte Del Pane
Via Merulana 54 (zona Esquilino) 00185 Roma, Italy
IMG_0715This is an impressive bakery worth seeing. Spoilt for choice, you will find flavours from around the world weaved into classic breakfast pastries, tarts, cakes, a vast array of freshly baked breads and not forgetting the pizza and sandwiches. If I lived locally I think i’d be here every morning! I certainly saw the locals rolling in and out with their orders to takeaway. They have a lovely terrace with seating outside so that you can enjoy your breakfast, or lunch, in the sun with a nice coffee or fruit juice before continuing with your day.


Villa Borghese
Piazzale Napoleone 1, 00197 Roma RM, Italy
IMG_0311Villa Borghese is one of the largest parks in Rome full of buildings, museums and attractions. I know the title of this blog is a ‘foodies guide’ but I just couldn’t leave this off my list. If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre, this park is the place to be. It’s hard to imagine stepping off the busy Piazza di Spagna into somewhere so tranquil, but that’s exactly how it feels. I had a beautiful morning walk around the park in the sun discovering lakes, vibrant gardens, their own Shakespeare’s Globe and the impressive Galleria Borghese. If you do fancy enjoying a glass of wine or bite to eat in the sun then Casina Valadier is your place. This was honestly a magical day and if you visit I promise you won’t be disappointed.

 


Il Palazzetto
Vicolo del Bottino, 8 – 00187 Rome, Italy
IMG_0361I stumbled upon this fantastic rooftop bar when I was leaving Villa Borghese and heading back down towards Piazza di Spagna. If you walk to the top of the Spanish Steps the entrance to the bar and restaurant is on the left hand side. You have to walk over a wooden walkway and then you’ll be greeted by the waiter to be seated, provided there’s a table available. The views are just stunning. You feel as though you’re in and amongst the buzz of the steps, yet also in your own little bubble up on the rooftop. I ended up sitting there all afternoon in the sun, sipping Aperol Spritz and reading my book whilst others ordered a late lunch. I’d recommend this for a mid-afternoon/early evening aperitif, as the sun is setting for the best atmosphere.

So there you have it, my top 7 must visit places when in Rome. This is by no means an exhaustive list as I am sure there are hundreds of restaurants, bars and cafes that I’ve not yet come to know about, but these were my favourites that I think are worth sharing. If you haven’t been already, you need to get yourself to Rome!

MAR d’FORA, Portugal

This restaurant is a hidden gem. Tucked away on the cliff top in Praia de Paraiso, Carvoerio, it boasts a gorgeous set up with stunning views of the sea and surrounding area. If you decide to visit for dinner you can sit outside on the veranda and watch the warm blends of purple, orange and red as the sun sets, it’s beautiful.

We (friends of mine and I) were lucky enough to discover MAR d’FORA whilst taking a tour of the town on a little train. This was perhaps the most exciting find on the tour, it definitely made it worthwhile. We booked to go for dinner on our last night of the holiday to celebrate the great week that we had had and it did not disappoint.

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The menu had a great selection of starters, mains and desserts with plenty of fresh fish options. The waiter asked if we would like to see which fish they had available that evening so we obliged. Before I knew it the waiter appeared behind me with a tray. Wait a second, something just grazed my arm.. OMG the lobster was alive. Safe to say I have never been presented with a tray of fish, let alone a live lobster. I think all of us around the table were quick to say no to that! It was an interesting experience none the less. We ordered some bread and olives to start whilst we studied the menu some more before coming to a decision, although it was a no brainer for me.

Alice ordered the lamb with potatoes and vegetables in a gravy which was succulent and tasty. Emma, Callum and Jack opted for the Tuna steak presented on a risotto bed accompanied by carrots and a jus. The Tuna was perfectly cooked and fell apart easily, the risotto creamy and full of flavour. Having read a review online I chose the fettuccini with shrimp and clams which the waiter said was a great choice! He wasn’t wrong – the dish was full of flavours with a bit of a spicy kick.

We all had a fantastic evening; great food, great wine & great company. The waiters made us feel very welcome, provided giggles and moments of surprise! Perhaps next time I will be brave enough to try the lobster…

I would definitely recommend visiting this restaurant if you ever find yourself hungry in Carvoerio. Enjoy and please share any of your own experiences!

Pizarro

So today I was invited to an impromptu celebratory lunch with work colleagues which was lovely, and lets face it, you’re not going to turn down a lunch! When I realised we were heading to Jose Pizarro’s restaurant in Bermondsey I was even more excited – I had never been before but it looked incredible and I absolutely love Spanish cuisine.

We were seated in the private dining area which was just the right amount of private. It was located around the corner from the main restaurant, seated 10, but we weren’t isolated from the whole restaurant which is great as we were still able to experience the buzz of hungry ‘lunch-ers’ (I think I’ve made that word up) in our own space.

Now I always find it a bit awkward trying to take pictures of food in a restaurant, leaning over the table to get the right angle and lighting or even asking someone to take a picture of their dish for me. I usually get a roll of the eyes or shake of the head in dissaproval for even attempting – and this is with family and friends. So you see my dilemma in trying to capture this moment for my blog whilst doing so on the sly as everyone was deep in conversation. Trying to keep work ettiqute to a tee but hey, we live in 2016, work in FinTech and all had at least two phones each on the table – I think I was safe. I could at the very least disguise it as ‘sorting some emails’.

Of course taking pictures of the menu and my own food wasn’t a problem but this was Spanish tapas, which means sharing! I captured of few of the tasty dishes but not as many as I would have liked. Here’s what I ended up with …

 

I find it difficult to choose a dish from a menu at the best of times so imagine when I’m faced with such as tasty menu, a lot of choice and I can pick more than one thing – automatically want to order 1 of everything! I still can’t decide whether this is a harder or easier choice to make. We probably ordered almost everything from the ‘pica pica’ section of the menu and we couldn’t have had tapas without Gambas al Ajillo – a classic. The chorizo and jamon iberico were delicious but my favourite dish had to be the spinach and goat’s cheese croquetas, simple yet full of flavour and a perfect contrast in texture of soft & crisp.   Similar to these was the Bermondsey Bomba – what a great name! For my main I ordered the baked aubergine gratin stuffed with roast vegetables and topped with cheese. Usually I would go for a meat course but I knew I would already be filling up at this stage with the tapas and what a great decision… the aubergine was cooked perfectly, still juicy, lots of seasonal vegetables and melted cheese – you can’t go wrong with that combo. I have to say it’s the best tapas I’ve tasted in a long time, very impressed. Quality food, great service, yummy wine and a very happy team.

My photos may not be perfect so you’ll just have to take my word for it and give it a go! My next venture is to try Jose tapas bar, just down the road!

http://www.josepizarro.com