If you read this blog at all, you know we LOVE a food tour, and have taken a few in Italy (here, here, and here)! On our most recent trip to Italy, we booked a tour with a new (to us) tour company visiting restaurants in Rome’s Centro Storico, or historical center. Think Campo di’Fiori, Pantheon, Piazza Navona, etc. It ended up being a surprisingly good tour and resulted in us finding some new recommendations. Here is my review of our tour and information on how you can take the same tour!
STOP ONE – A VERO NORCINERIA IN ROMA
Our first stop on this food tour was at a “norcineria” that I have certainly passed numerous times and never gave it a second look: Norcineria Viola 1890! A norcineria is a shop generally particular to the Umbrian town of Norcia, where its very common to salt and cure certain types of wild boar and pigs, as well as make other products out of them. Prior to this food tour, I had never once visited a norcineria. This one, however, is quite accessible, located right on Campo d’Fiori. True to its name, Norcineria Viola 1890 is a butcher and cheese shop selling products from Norcia and Umbira in general. Here, we tasted five types of salami. Yes, five, including the traditional salami, salami with truffle, a spicy salami, a more fatty salami than normal, and a jerky style salami. We also tasted bread in local olive oil (duh), three types of cheese, and wine from Umbria (our favorite)!
For those planning a visit, I would note that Norcineria Viola 1890 was packed with tour groups on the Saturday we visited in May 2022. I would further note that Norcineria Viola 1890 sells a number of vacuum-packed meats and cheeses, which means you can likely bring it back to the US! Be sure to ask if you are planning to travel out of Europe with a meat or cheese.
STOP TWO – ROSCIOLI ANTICO FORNO
I was so, so excited for our next stop, as its one of my very, very favorite take away spots in Rome. In all honesty, its such a favorite that I already went earlier in the week, LOL. This particular restaurant is called Roscioli Antico Forno, or the famous Roscioli group’s casual pizza and panino take away restaurant, and its just down the road from Campo di’Fiori. Since we had a guide this time around, all we had to do was hold the table (er, bar) while she picked out some delicious foods. On this stop, we tried three Roman dishes. The first was supplì, which are Roman fried rice balls. These were stuffed with lots of cheese, and they were fantastic (which is saying a lot because I am not usually a supplì fan). There was also a sprig of green inside, which I think made the entire dish.
Second, Roscioli’s pizza! Served Roman style, or in other words cut into a square to the size the customer desires, this pizza was the traditional tomato sauce with cheese. As expected, heavenly. The tomato sauce was perfect and liberally applied, the crust was thin and crispy, and the cheese was so melty. We did not leave a single bit.
Our third tasting was a local blonde ale called Menabrea. I had not previously tried this beer, but it paired well with these casual foods.
STOP THREE – LUNCH IN A 1ST CENTURY BC THEATRE WHERE CAESAR WAS MURDERED
Our next stop was in an insanely cool restaurant built on an ancient Roman site. The name of the restaurant is Ristorante da Pancrazio, and Ristorante da Pancrazio is built on top of the ruins of Pompeus’ 1st century BC ancient theatre! Yes, the same theatre where Julius Caesar was murdered by Brutus and Cassius. How exciting, right under the restaurant?! In fact, in the basement of the restaurant, where diners can sit (!), the ruins actually make up the walls of the restaurant. We were able to go down for some pictures. Side note – this would be a gorgeous location for an important event (like a rehearsal dinner!).
After oohing and aahing and taking way too many pictures, we were seated outside to try two of Ristorante da Pancrazio’s most popular dishes, which come from recipes dating back to 1921! The first is one of Rome’s famous four pastas: Pasta all’Amatriciana (the other three famous Roman pastas being Carbonara, Gricia, and Cacio e Pepe). Amatriciana is a tomato sauce with guanciale and pecorino cheese, and its usually a bit spicy. I love pasta all’amatriciana, and this one was great! The second pasta was a bit of a lighter summer pasta served with a mushroom sauce and of course, cheese! Apparently this is Pancrazio’s most beloved summer dish, and it did not disappoint. We paired our pastas with glasses of red wine.
FOURTH STOP – TIRAMISU CON BURRO DI’ARACHIDI
Our fourth stop was for Dan’s very favorite dessert, tiramisu, at Two Sizes. Located a very short stroll from Piazza Navona, Two Sizes is famous for its tiramisu in two sizes and five flavors: classic, strawberry, pístacchio, caramel and peanut butter! Dan went classic and I peanut butter (or burro di’arachidi). As someone who doesn’t love tiramisu, I thought the peanut butter flavor was excellent. Dan was also pleased. Two Sizes is definitely worth checking out in the Piazza Navona area. I’ve even seen it on Tick Tok recently!
FIFTH STOP – UN CAFFÈ
We next walked towards the Pantheon where we stopped for an espresso at a cafe dating back to 1938. Named Sant’Eustachio, this coffee and pastry has been around a long time and is super popular with tourists and locals. The interior seems to have not changed much since 1938, and we walked right up to the bar to drink our espresso, like real Italians! Sant’Eustachio has definitely leaned into the tourists crowds, now selling to-go coffee in bags and pods to take home and branded coffee things, like una moka (an Italian coffee pot). The coffee here was high quality and delicious, but I’m not sure I would brave the tourist crowds for it.
ULTIMO STOP – GELATO!
Our tour ended at Günther Gelato for what else but gelato! Günther is the creation of a German from the South Tyrol area who moved to Rome to make gelato. Now with several locations, Günter is quite famous! Here, each person got to select two flavors of gelato to end the tour!
STEAL OUR TOUR
Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, and Campo Dei Fiori Market Food and Wine Tour: $95/person, all food included. We got lucky and had a private tour. Other groups with this company were crowded! We booked via the linked Trip Advisor link. I have no idea the name of the tour company.
Norcineria Viola 1890: Campo de’ Fiori, 43, 00186 Roma RM, Italy. Open daily 8 – 20h, shorter hours on Sunday.
Roscioli Antico Forno: Via dei Chiavari, 34, 00186 Roma RM, Italy. Open daily 7:30 – 20h, shorter hours on Sunday.
Ristorante da Pancrazio: Piazza del Biscione, 92, 00186 Roma RM, Italy. Open daily 12 – 15, 17 – 00h.
Two Sizes: Via del Governo Vecchio, 88, 00186 Roma RM, Italy. Open daily 11 (12 on Monday) – 22h.
Sant’Eustachio il caffè: Piazza di S. Eustachio, 47, 00186 Roma RM, Italy. Open daily 7:30 – 00h.
Gunther Gelato: Piazza di S. Eustachio, 47, 00186 Roma RM, Italy. Open daily 12 – 23h.