Late last Spring, Dan and I found ourselves in Rome unexpectedly. This gave us an opportunity to try new restaurants that we otherwise may have missed (i.e., with more time to make reservations). Dan decided that he wanted tripe, which is a Rome delicacy (at least to some), so I set out on the world wide web to find fantastic tripe in Rome. Not surprisingly, a restaurant in Testaccio came up multiple times, which is an area well-known of its offal based cuisine. I called and made a same day reservation.
Rome in the Spring.
We taxied from our hotel, the Cavalieri, and arrived at Checchino dal 1887 about 20 minutes later, where we were greated with our reserved table. I suspected Checchino dal 1887 was old-school due to its location and description online, but I underestimated how old school. Checchino dal 1887’s dining room is a true blast from the past, with a domed ceiling and wood paneled walls lining the restaurant. Old Rome drawings, advertisements, announcements, certificates, books and paintings line the wall, and there is a real fire place in the restaurant. Our friend Jenna, who joined us for dinner, described it as as “so old school, there are even cobwebs on the lamps.” LOL, this was actually true, but in the best way possible.
As part of our big family trip to Italy in November 2021, Dan and I signed everyone up for an evening food tour through Rome’s Trastevere neighborhood. We did this for three reasons: (1) several of us on this tour love a good food tour, (2) Dan and I lived in Trastevere when we studied in Rome wayyyy back in 2008 and we wanted our families to see the area, and (3) we previously did a food tour through Testaccioand really loved it! We booked our tour with Eating Italy Food Tours for our first evening in Rome, meeting on Tiber Island around 5:00 PM. Unfortunately, we got hit with an insane rain storm en route to the meeting point and we all got soaked… In any case, the tour went on! Due to the rain, we quickly moved to our first location in Trastevere, which I was verrrrry excited about!
En route back from our food tour, without rain!
Stop 1: Trattoria Da Enzo al 29
Yes, you read that correctly. Our first stop was at the famous Trattoria Da Enzo al 29. Da Enzo is a well known Roman trattoria that is very, very popular. You will frequently find it on “best food in Rome” lists. Da Enzo does not take reservations and there is almost always a wait. As such, our group actually got in before the restaurant opened to the public, something we never could have pulled off on our own! Our group and another couple on the tour were seated between two tables dressed in red checkered tablecloths. Classic southern Italy. Our guide poured everyone a glass of Prosecco and out came the food. First, the famous carciofi alla giudìa (or Jewish fried artichokes). These artichokes are famous Rome and not difficult to find when in season, but tough to find elsewhere in Italy. Basically, this is a deep fried artichoke topped with quality sea salt. Very simple, yet incredibly good. On the table was also Italian bread, burrata, tomatoes, and olive oil, which were suggested together as a type of little bruschetta. I loved the burrata and actually preferred it to the artichoke. Stop 1 was off to a good start.
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)!
On my big family vacation to Italy last November, we ended with a bang by having a grand wine and food pairing dinner at the famous Roscioli on our last night! For those unfamiliar, Roscioli is a Roman restaurant group that is very, very popular. Roscioli has several spots in central Rome, including the famous Roscioli Salumeria con Cucina, Antico Forno, and Rimessa Roscioli, which is where we had our wine dinner. Rimessa Roscioli is the “food and wine experience” branch of the Roscioli family. Its located not far from Campo de’ Fiori and offers a la carte dining as well as a number of wine and food tasting experiences. We opted for their Wine and Food Pairing dinner, which is held daily at 17:00 and 20:00 daily. We made reservations online easily in advance and were pretty excited for our big last night out!
The set up for our Wine & Food Pairing Dinner at Rimessa Roscioli.
Since we were a group of eight, we dined in Rimessa’s basement wine cellar, which is a sizeable private wine cellar with a large table right in the middle. It was totally private. We were promptly seated on arrival and the table was all set for our tasting.
If you’ve ever planned a day at the Vatican, I’m sure you are very familiar with the mediocre food options in the area. Why the mediocre food? The Vatican is full of tourists, not locals returning for meals in the area, so, similar to Venice, there is not much incentive to produce excellent food. In other words, quantity over quality, and high prices to boot. I paid 5 euro for a Coke Light in 2008 … In any case, when for my family’s lunch break between visiting Vatican City and the Colosseum (yes, HUGE day, read about it here), I was determined to find a good, sit down restaurant for a break.
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