We have spent two weeks touring Italy and eating some very good and some less than good food. I thought it useful to help future searches to split it into the three regions we went to.
We started with three days in Rome, our first visit. Let me start by reiterating some previous advice: plan your itinerary for seeing the sights and then select good lunch spots close to the sights. I didn’t and it was painful. Rome is a big, bustling and somewhat confusing city and good preparation pays off, or it would have done: my feet still hurt!
Our first day was around the Pantheon, jet lagged after a 12 hour flight from Asia, we wandered the streets with no clue as to what we wanted to try, all we wanted was a seat and a cool drink. We had passed a restaurant (Antica Trattoria da Pietro al Pantheon - via dei Pastini 125), that had piles of fresh produce displayed outside - porcini, zucchini flowers etc. I felt that was a good sign and It was. We started with a Caprese salad and here the waiter suggested a change of cheese to a fresher one that had arrived that day, which was very good. We also had fried zucchini flowers and some pasta with truffles, the flowers were OK, we had a lot better in Puglia, however the pasta was first class in terms of texture and flavour. The house red was drinkable and the jug of mineral water was not too fizzy. Not a bad start but not cheap at €84.
Sunday, the next day, we headed to the Coliseum for a lunch time tour (we should have booked the morning) and when we came our we struggled to find options for food. We ended up heading to the Trastevere and stopped at a fairly random cafe (Ditta Trinchetti - via della Lungaretta 76) that was again good - we select restaurants based on signs of fresh produce driven food. They had some unusual lasagne dishes, mine had radicchio and prawns in it, my partner had the Scamorza. Prosciutto and figs which was generous and very good, and we washed this down with some “San Gabriel” beer - good to see an Italian craft beer movement. A good light lunch at a modest €39.
Sunday night was our disaster, as I was so badly researched for Rome we relied on the hotel concierge for guidance and we were directed to Antica Hostaria Pontesisto (via di Ponte Sisto 80). We didn’t really enjoy the meal, the Caprese salad was good with fine fresh cheese, but the gnocchi was hard and bullet like, suckling pig was really roast pork, and he chicken no better than a home-made roast dinner. Service was perfunctory and at €90 was a forgettable meal.
On Monday we repeated the the lack of research disaster finding ourselves outside St Peters at lunchtime with no idea were to go. We wandered down to the Castel St Angelo and crossed the river in search of food. We passed lots of very touristy looking places and ended up with pretty bad pizza - be warned without research it is easy to eat badly.
However, we ended our trip to Rome on a high with excellent cocktails at Freni e Frizoni (Via del Politeama, Trastevere) which is a grungy very fashionable bar (they do a free buffet) and then dinner at Roscioli (via dei Giubbonari 21-22).
We enjoyed some very fine bocconi with anchovies and olives, a massive plate of mortadella with parmigiano, a first class spaghetti carbonara, an excellent tonnarello cacio e pepe (pasta with a pepper and cream sauce) and then some crispy pork which didn’t really work. The service here is first class and the waiter recommended a very good local wine Damiano Ciolli - Silene which uses Pinot Noir grapes and very drinkable. The bill came to €111 which was very fair for the quality and quantity of food.
Next time, I research, plan meals around the attractions, make certain google maps works in Italy on my phone plan (or buy a map with street names - the tourist maps are useless in the little streets) and plot the restaurants on a map before I leave. When food is good in Rome it is great but lots to avoid. - same goes for the coffee...!
Onto Capri and Puglia next...
Via dei Giubbonari 21/23, Rome, Lazio 00186, IT