October 27th- November 1st, 2005
When John was young he spent a few summers living in Rome with his family. As a result he has many fond food memories from the city and we were excited to seek them out together after visiting Venice. The two favorites concern two very important food groups: Gelato and Pizza.
We sampled the Gelato at Giolitti, which is often heralded as the best gelato in Rome, and found it pleasing. The best thing about our visit was watching a well-to-do middle-aged man in a suit slink up to the gelato counter looking like a heart-broken small child with an empty cone in one hand and a palm full of fallen gelato in the other. The help behind the counter quickly repaired the situation with a fresh serving and the man went back to his table with a huge smile. I think a country where ice cream is not just reserved for small children must be doing something right.
However, the best gelato by far can be found at Fonte Della Salute on Trastevere. As well as having tastier gelato and a better flavor selection, this establishment feels more welcoming and than Giolitti. John used to live nearby Fonte Della Salute and became quite a regular here as a child.
Though I sampled countless flavors of gelato in Rome, I always come back to the pistachio. The sweet, slightly salty, nutty flavor combined with the impossibly creamy texture is irresistible.
Just down the street is Pizzeria Ai Marmi (Trastevere, 53-55-57-59) where, conveniently, the best pizza in my opinion can be found. Sit outside, enjoy some wine, and people watch for the best experience. Our favorites are the four cheese and the unmissable zucchini blossom pizzas. The flavor on the later is so simple, yet so thick and unctuous, that it pairs perfectly with the thin, fire-baked crust.
In keeping suit with our picnic theme, which is both enjoyable and inexpensive, we put together a lovely lunch and sat in the enormous. Villa Borghese park. We purchased breads at Forno Campo dei Fiori bakery and produce in the Campo dei Fiori market.
We enjoyed a flat bread (pizza rustica) which was seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper. It wasn't too oily and had a good, simple, straight forward flavor and a perfect chewiness. We stuffed panini, which I learned are crusty rolls that you can pull the top button off of and you find a hollow bowl of bread that is perfect for stuffing with meats, cheeses, and vegetables.
The olive bread had lots of green olives, a crisp crust, and a dense white interior. Though the crust was a bit too dry. It was a decent bread, certainly far more palatable than our olive bread experience in Venice.
We ate extremely well in Rome. The gelato and pizza are the best I have had (unless you are talking about Chicago style pizza of course) and I eagerly anticipate returning to Rome one day to enjoy them again. We had a great time seeing the sights and, of all things, our hostel was evicted on our second night in town. We had a humorous and memorable (though of course only in hindsight) experience when we returned from the Trevi Fountain late one night to find the contents of our hostel spread out on the street with tired and worn looking travelers and employees curled up beside our belongings. After several hours of being thoroughly confused, we were finally taken to another hostel around 4am, handed a beer by the lovely staff, and showed to our rooms. I bet that hasn't happened to many people.
Lastly, I would like to leave my readers with these fantastic photos of a street-food-joint near the St. Sebastian Catacombs.
Does that make you hungry?Next up, Zagreb, Croatia.