We didn’t have anything in particular planned for our fourth day in Rome which just so happened to be a Sunday. Apparently quite a few restaurants and cafes were closed on Sunday’s. At least all the ones I wanted to go to were anyway. But after reading a few reviews and one in particular by Katie Parla (a New Jersey born, Rome based blogger) I had my sights firmly set on De Cesare Al Casaletto, just outside of the main part of Rome. According to her blog Cesare is the place that she takes journalists that want to write about pasta and also where she takes Roman friends. Sounds pretty near perfect to me and they were open on a Sunday so I asked reception at our hotel to book a table for four for that very evening.
Earlier in the day we explored more of the city and I took us on a wild detour to find a gelato shop that had been recommended to me (again thanks Johanna). Il Come Latte seemed a little off the beaten track as it was out of the main tourist areas and we found ourselves to be the only ones around which made me wonder if we had taken a wrong turn. Turns out we did find it and my navigating was on point as usual. Il Come Latte Gelateria was the cutest little gelato shop I think I have ever seen. Very Pleasantville if you have ever seen that movie with Reece Witherspoon. The menu was in Italian so we really didn’t know what all the flavours were but I was able to make out a couple of words including Pistachio and Ricotta so that’s what I ordered. The inside of the handmade waffle cone was also drizzled with white chocolate (you could get milk chocolate if you prefer) with a chocolate dipped wafter chip on top. Perfecto! The server was lovely, even gave MS a warm cloth to wipe chocolate sauce off his shorts.
After our gelato we found ourselves back at the Colosseum eatery that we had eaten at on our first full day in Rome – Angelino Ai Fori – for a late lunch. I had the Caprese Salad with some Bruschetta and MS had the Grilled Provola Cheese with Smoked Ham that we’d previously had.
We both thought the Grilled Cheese was pretty epic but my Caprese Salad was only ok. For such a big and busy restaurant the waiter remembered us and was super friendly in his own brash Italian way.
Back to our hotel for a costume change and then off on the no.8 tram to head to De Cesare Al Casetto. Upon arrival I had a look at the wine menu which seemed ridiculously expensive me. Even my Google Translate app didn’t offer up any help so I asked the waitress if the prices were for a glass of wine. She assured me that all the prices were for bottles of wine. Phew. 15 Euro for a bottle of white Italian wine? Winning!
One of the dishes Cesare is known for is the Fried Gnocchi with Pecorino and Black Pepper Sauce so that’s exactly what we ordered for our starter. When it came out it was far bigger than I expected and it turns out the four of us probably could have just shared the one dish. I could see why it’s a popular dish. Mmmm it was delicioso!
For my main (or as they call it First Course) I had the Tonnarelli All’Amatricana (9 or 10 Euros). Two of my dining buddies ordered the same and the other ordered the Carbonara. There was a slight mix up with the type of pasta that we received but that can only be attributed to the small language barrier.
Oh My Goodness… The Cured Pork Cheek was just to die for! This pasta was something special and to date the best pasta I have eaten on my journey so far, in fact the four of us all agree that our pasta dishes are the best we have eaten.
This was also our last night in Rome so dinner at Cesare was a fitting end to what was a fantastic four days in Rome. I honestly didn’t think I would like Rome, visiting mostly because it has quite a few ‘must see’ places that one needs to visit in their lifetime (i.e. Colosseum, the Pantheon and the Sistine Chapel) however I really enjoyed my time there, despite much of the city smelling like p*ss, and would love to go back again one day.
Today we woke up early because we had an earlyish tour of the Vatican City, Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica.
When we arrived at the gates to the Vatican Museum to meet our tour group I was so glad that I had booked the Skip the Line tickets because the line just to get in was absolutely enormous. Not just that but inside was mayhem. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many crammed into such small spaces before. Anyhow I am glad that we made the time to do the tour – it was three hours but our guide was incredibly knowledgeable even if she did talk for the entire three hours without taking a breath. Sadly I wasn’t able to get any pictures of the Sistine Chapel. The place is under strict copyright from a Japanese Film Company that apparently paid to have the place cleaned some 20 years ago. That didn’t stop plenty of idiots sneakily taking photos and having the guards yell at them. It annoys me that people are too wrapped up in their phones that they can’t stop to appreciate something anymore.
After the tour we had time to go up to the dome of the Vatican and see the view but we decided three hours of statues and marble was enough and it was clearly time for lunch. We made our way back to Trastevere near our hotel and to a bakery that I had been dying to get to that was literally about 30 metres from the restaurant we had dined at the night before.
Upon arriving we were greeted with slabs of the most beautiful fresh pizzas I have ever laid my eyes on. The brash lady behind the counter pointed to the most popular which was the Burrata and Pesto Pizza. Without a doubt we were getting that one plus a few slices of the Burrata with Tomato and of course something with meat on it for the meat eater that I live with.
It was beautiful. In fact I have to say it was the best pizza I have even eaten. Beautiful thick, crunchy bread, unbelievable fresh toppings and generous serves for the price. After finishing the first lot we decided we could definitely fit in another couple of slices of the Burrata and Pesto. I mean we had been walking all morning so technically we deserved it right?
After a short siesta we met some friends that were also in Rome for some afternoon drinks on the rooftop terrace of our hotel. 15 Euros for an Aperol Spritz (that’s AUD$22) almost made me choke on my complimentary chips but it was such a nice spot to sit we figured we would have one. To put it in perspective in the SE of Italy where I am now they are only 5 Euro.
For dinner we took our friends to the pizzeria that we visited on the first night, Dar Poeta. Since it was still technically early in terms of Roman time for eating (7pm) we walked straight in and got a table for four. I probably didn’t need the two pieces of Gorgonzola and Honey Bruschetta before eating a whole pizza but hey I’m not going to feel bad about it anymore.
Dinner for me was the Super Bufala with tomato sauce, artichokes, buffalo mozzarella, olives and pecorino cheese. The olives were a bit of a let down but the rest of the pizza was tip top. We overstayed our welcome a little bit catching up with our friends that we hadn’t seen in 6 months until I finally understood what the waitress was glaring at me about and we cleared out. Turns out there was a tonne of people outside waiting for a table.
We wandered down to a touristy area with marquees set up alongside the Tiber River and realised it was way too touristy for us. Heineken signs and stuffed toys was the name of the game in this area so we didn’t stay very long. As we were leaving we saw what MS swore was a cat swimming in the Tiber. Upon further Googling it turns out it was a Nutria (a type of rodent but a bloody huge one)… Stay tuned for my next post!
We woke bright and early on our first full day in Rome, partly because my pillow was like sleeping on a bag of cement and partly because I can’t go to bed without an alarm set regardless if I’m on holiday. We had a light breakfast in the hotel, well I did. Espresso coffee and some fruit was plenty for me whereas old Fatty McFat Fat aka my other half stuffed himself with danishes, croissants filled with cream cheese, ham, fruit and more cheese.
We had a Skip the Line Tour booked at the Colosseum booked for later that afternoon but figured we would go and see a few of the other sights before then. Campo Dei Fiori where there was so many delicious things I wanted to buy but figured I am going to be in Florence later next week, then the Pantheon which we literally stumbled upon. It’s a pretty awe inspiring place especially when you just stumble around the corner not expecting to see it. Next up the Trevi Fountain. We threw a couple of Euro over our shoulder – apparently there is more than 3000 Euro thrown into it a day. God knows where it all goes but a good friend of mine said that last time she was there she saw a homeless lady fishing some of it out with a pole with a magnet on the end. I must say I’m impressed with her ingenuity and DGAF attitude.
By this time it was about lunchtime so after a toilet stop – and by toilet stop I mean having a coffee at a café with the ingenious disguise of wanting to use their restroom we found ourselves near the Colosseum at Angelino ai Fori – a restaurant within close proximity to the start of our tour. It did look like a bit of a tourist trap and considering how close it was to the Colosseum it most likely was but it was the best looking restaurant in the area so we gave it a go anyway. Are expectations were extremely low but we actually really enjoyed it and even went back a second time a couple of days later. Go figure.
Three and a bit hours later we finished our epic Colosseum tour and headed back towards our hotel with a short stop at a restaurant that I well and truly had my sights set on, hoping to get a seat. The waitress told us that the place was completely booked for the evening much to my despair but said we could come back in 45 minutes and try our luck. 45 minutes later and boy was I lucky. Straight in and straight to an upstairs table at the highly regarded Roscioli.
My sister gave me a book called “Where Chef’s Eat” a couple of years ago (there’s a new edition every year) and I finally decided that I would have a look through it before this holiday. I earmarked a heap of restaurants, cafes and patisseries in the places we were visiting and Roscioli was one them. After doing some Googling there isn’t a blogger that comes to Rome that doesn’t go to Roscioli so as they say, when in Rome.
The menu is literally mouthwatering! There were so many things on the menu that I wanted to eat and still now I am kicking myself for not getting the burrata (some of the best in Rome) but our entrée of Zucchini Flowers Stuffed with Roman Oxtail Stew and Peppered with White Cheese Fondue washed down with a glass of Italian Pinot Noir was a decadent and tear inducing hot start to our dinner.
Main for me was the Big Spaghetti with Albacore Tuna Marrow, Wild Fennel, Minced Tomatoes and Olives (19 Euro).
MS had La Carbonara with Crispy Cheek Pork, Malaisian Black Pepper, Paolo Parisi Eggs and Roman Pecorino Cheese Dop.
In the menu it states that all pasta dishes are cooked ‘al dente’ which is a little hard for my liking but again ‘when in Rome’. Plus I don’t believe in changing dishes at restaurants. You eat them how they are meant to be cooked and served. So far this is our one and only pasta meal in Rome so we really have nothing to compare it to however my tastebuds know a good meal when they taste it and they were beyond content.
I am glad that I did some research of places that I wanted to dine at before we visited Rome because to me it seems like there are more tourist traps that great places to dine. It does take a little bit of time to research but it’s so much more rewarding finding the hidden gems. Plus it saves aimlessly walking in circles trying to decide which place to go to. As for Roscioli, some reviews have said that the restaurant is too squishy inside but I actually really enjoyed the atmosphere and layout of the place plus being that close to the table next to us admittedly allowed me to eavesdrop on the miserable American couple next to us that clearly weren’t having a great holiday together. The pasta was excellent, the service I found to be exemplary. Whether this trip or another Roscioli is somewhere that I without a doubt want to go back to!