April 16, 2007
After a week in Rome I’m ready to offer some serious restaurant advice to anyone who loves to eat. And that is this: Forget about the guide books, don’t even think about going to the places that people like me recommend, and wander around until you find a restaurant filled with people speaking Italian instead of English.
The truth is that with the exception of a few really high-end restaurants, most places in Rome are market-driven and they tend to produce stunningly similar menus. This time of year, no matter where you go you will be offered artichokes (fabulous), fava beans (ditto) and lots of lamb. There will invariably be pasta carbonara, amatriciana, alle vongole and alla gricia. If you go to a fish restaurant there will be 3 or 4 different kinds of fish, grilled or sautéed. And most of the time, it will be good.
What won’t be good is the way you’re made to feel in the tourist places. You’ll get thrown into a room filled with other foreigners and you’ll be rushed through your meal. You’ll probably eat well, but you’ll feel…. Cheated, somehow.
And really, one of my favorite meals was just eating on the street. A piece of pizza from the ancient bakery near the Piazza Navona. A piece of fruit from the Campo de Fiore. Lemon sorbet from Crispino (so great).
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