Good morning all!
Here are some new things I learned in preparing for my Rome visit which was over the week of Thanksgiving, 2013. As 2007 was the last time I visited, my preparations were a bit more high-tech than last time. For one thing I did not have a iPhone in 2007.
Tip number one: If you do nothing else, download these two smartphone apps: Elizabeth Minchilli's Eat Rome, and, Katie Parla's Rome for Foodies. You really don't need anything else to eat well. Since I am a type-A planner, though, I did do some word of mouth research which uncovered a few other places (which I believe were on the apps, anyway).
I relied on Elizabeth's app the most and used Katie's app as backup. There was some restaurant overlap which is to be expected. If I found a restaurant in both apps it was double jackpot - you know it is winner.
I would give a slight edge to Elizabeth's app because it had a filter to break it down by neighborhood which was quite useful and especially when it gets a bit cold out and you want to find something good to eat nearby without a lot of walking. For all that I took two guidebooks with me (Fodors, and Time Out) I think I ended up only using one guidebook reco for a meal that wasn't already in the apps.
Tip number two: There are a number of food related tours and classes you can take. My friend Marcy recommended two of them to me, and I looked into both Elizabeth Minchilli's day long food tour as well as a wine class led by Hande, of Vinoroma.
Elizabeth's tour would no doubt have been fantastic but at 700E for the day (mid-morning to mid-afternoon) I decided that could wait until I was with my parents or friends.
I took one wine tasting class with Hande of Vinoroma which was marvelous and was only 50E per person. She specializes in Italian wines and at the two-hour tasting you sample and discuss 6 wines from different regions of Italy. She holds these classes in her Monti-neighborhood wine studio which was a treat to visit all in itself. Apparently the cellar is a thousand years old. I should also mention here that her wine studio is walking distance from the restaurant where I had my absolute best meal of my trip. So if you take her class, keep that in mind!
Look at the age of that wine!
I would have taken another wine class with Hande but the timing didn't work out for the days I had left. If you look at Hande's website she also has food tours for a much more reasonable price of only 80E. She is a very warm and engaging person who really knows her wines!
Her "My Italians" class seems to be the most frequent and works well as an intro - it was the one I took. She also offers a Wine and Cheese Lunch but I missed it.
You can follow them both (and Katie, too) on Twitter.
Here is Marcy's travel blog, by the way:
A few restaurant superlatives, now:
The absolute first thing you must do when you arrive in Rome and are setting out for the day is to stop by Tazzo d'Oro (a few steps from the Pantheon) and order a Granita di Caffe con Panna. Don't wait until your last day, as I did, for this absolutely wonderful treat. You will kick yourself if you only have it once, and you wouldn't want to load up on several your last day - way too much caffeine. So start early, savor it, and make repeat visits over the course of your trip.
This next restaurant is a must-visit and it was not only on Elizabeth's app (and probably Katie's app, too) but it was also highly recommended by Marcy, my foodie friend. It is called Trattoria Monti and is walking distance from Vinoroma, in fact, after enjoying the tastings with Hande and her guests I made my buzzy, happy way to this Trattoria. Why was it a must-visit? Because of the onion flan, which sounds so much better in Italian: Flan de Cipolle Rosse con Crema di Gorgonzola. I also ordered some fritti and I can't even remember the name of the pasta I ordered (it was divine pasta in a meat sauce, but I cannot remember exactly what it was) and with another glass of wine, I just didn't want this meal to end. I even tortured friends with a photo of it - real time live.
Armando al Pantheon. This name comes up on Fodors all the time for a reason. It also happened to be a two minute walk from my hotel. I would have eaten there twice even if that weren't the case, though. I actually tried for a third time but they were closed.
Giolitti. This is an old favorite of mine and I visited three times. It's also quite near the Pantheon which makes it convenient. The first visit I had a dark chocolate and hazelnut - a scoop of each - gelato which combination was a tad too rich. I swapped Amaretto for hazelnut the next two times and that worked much better. This may be the thickest, richest gelato I've ever had.
I started nearly every morning with a stroll to get a macchiato and pastry from Caffe Camilloni which is kitty corner to Caffe San Eustachio and both are in Elizabeth's app. Don't forget to load up on espresso/chocolate treats when you visit Caffe San Eustachio.
I hope you enjoyed the mini food tour of Rome. These were not the only places I ate, but these were my favorites on my most recent visit to Rome.