After much archaeological explorations and piazza perusing, food is on the top of the list for every traveler to Rome. Food tourism in the eternal city is an educational and cultural activity in its own right. It is an experience that allows you to savor the city’s age old traditions, all the while providing you with fuel to soldier on through the limitless artistic, archaeological and architectural masterpieces.
Here is a list of some of our favorite food activities, from fine-dining catering to shopping with locals in the city’s best farmer’s markets. This list helps you discover the city’s culinary scene beyond the obvious and in new ways, such as tasting beer made in wine barrels and hitting up the city’s best local joints like the Romans do….on a Vespa.
1. Pamper yourself with private catering
While staying at your own private rented Roman villa or apartment, consider private catering. Chef’s Valentina and Francesca from Eu’s Il Buono Fatto Bene bring fine dining to the comfort of your home. Their creations are sophisticated, made with the highest quality ingredients including fresh vegetables from their own private garden.
Their menus are all organic and seasonal, and the sophistication of their presentation will make you feel like you’re experiencing the glory of an imperial Roman banquet. Since the chefs were trained at the prestigious l’Accademia delle Belle Arti and Gambero Rosso, their dishes are not only for a fine palette, but also artistic.
As an appetizer try the glass of organic homemade hummus with crunchy garden fresh vegetables. Make sure to save room for dessert and try for example, their Bavarian cream with stewed clementines and cinnamon.
2.Experience Italian micro-brewing
While Italy may seem like a predominantly wine country, Rome has been at the crux of an innovative and thriving craft beer movement for the past decade. The country is no longer dominated by the industrial manufacturers of Peroni and Moretti. Small breweries such as Birra del Borgo and Birrificio Le Baladin have expanded an artisanal beer movement making over a 100 different labels of unique and sophisticated beers. Owner of ViniCultural Tours, John Penate, has his beer sommelier certificate and leads craft beer tours throughout the city tasting only craft beers from Italian microbreweries and teaching how to properly pair the newest and vast collection of beer varieties with food.
3. Food and Vespas
There is no better way to live life as a local Roman than to eat well and drive crazy. The Foodie Vespa tour with Scooteroma offers the opportunity to do just that. Hop on the back of a colorful vintage Vespa and be transported over the city’s cobblestones and through its large piazzas outside the historic pedestrian center and be taken to the city’s most popular bakeries, espresso bars and pizza joints.
The “Chef’s Menu” tour offers a more upscale experience tasting first-rate cuisine from the city’s most prestigious chefs including even a street food stand at the famous Testaccio farmers market hosted by a Michelin-star chef.
4. Shop at a local farmers’ market
Romans take eating fresh very seriously. While in Rome, try one of the city’s “Km Zero” markets sponsored by the city government. Strict guidelines for these markets guarantee that vendors are selling strictly local and seasonal products.
The most popular city market, bustling with locals on weekends is near Circus Maximus on Via di San Teodoro. It is managed by the Campagna Amica programme of Coldiretti which is an organization promoting the direct sale of produce to shorten the supply chain from farmer to consumer. At the San Teodoro market you can find an array of locally produced artisanal olive oil and wine, craft beer, and farm fresh cheeses and cured meats. It is also a great place to have a picnic lunch trying a fresh porchetta sandwich or fruit smoothie in the outdoor garden.
5. ZUMA Restaurant at Palazzo Fendi
One of Rome’s newest and chicest restaurants offers an innovated change from Italian cuisine. Located on the top floor of Palazzo Fendi near the Spanish Steps, Zuma restaurant is serving contemporary Japanese fare inspired by izakaya dining. The restaurant has a sushi counter and robata grill and the dishes are meant to be shared. Their menu includes maki rolls, sushi and sashimi. As a main course try the beef tataki with pickled diakon and truffle, or the barley miso and marinated chicken oven roasted on cedar wood. The modern décor creates a contrasting setting over one of the best views of Rome’s historic landmarks. Zuma’s Rome location was inaugurated this past spring and is their newest addition to their award-winning establishments worldwide including London, New York, Dubai and Hong Kong.
Greg Grant is Owner of Hosted Villas.
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