Good thing Rome doesn't have much public transportation because we were able to walk off all of the pastries, pasta, and gelato. We ate at a wide variety of places including touristy (we were too hungry to walk further) to places at the end of alleys with only a few tables.
The slow food movement is strong in Italy, but breakfast is quite the opposite. Italians zoom by on their scooters in their suits stopping for a few moments to order an espresso and a pastry then consume it faster than it took to order and off they go. Not sure if it is just the ancient capital city's way of life or if it is an Italian thing, but the first day we enjoyed our cafe lattes and pastries on the patio and took our time... everyone knew we were tourists. By day three, we were downing espresso at the bar as fast as the Romans. You know, when in Rome...
Speaking of that old cliche, it really does carry a lot of merit. After a couple meals closer to touristy areas, you must look at who is already dining. If no one, including the waiters, look Italian... chances are you should keep walking even if your feet are tired and your tummy grumbling. You only need to get a block or two away to find something more authentic. And you won't find any Italians eating lunch at noon or dinner at 6:00 (or 18:00), meals seem to start about two hours later than our usual American schedule and last much longer.
After a long day of flying (and three hours of delays) we finally arrived in Rome. Tired and hungry, we stopped at a little pizzeria and ordered some cafe lattes. Italian pizza is a crispy thin crust and usually has some fresh produce on top, kind of like a flatbread. We sat on the patio and watched as people walked by ruins that were unearthed in the 1700s where they were planning to build apartment building. Now the ruins are an alley cat paradise.
Enjoying cafe lattes while Italians rush past our table on their way to work. Oh, and then enjoying some gelato. Tip, always get gelato in a cup, it melts quickly in the Roman heat.
The first day we wanted to get our bearings on the layout of Rome. We stayed near the Pantheon and then a downhill walk to the Roman Forum and Coliseum. There was a restaurant with a beautiful grapevine canopy. Although it was touristy, the restaurant was packed and the food was good, also, surprisingly reasonably priced.
At the end of the alley we were renting an apartment at was another restaurant with a grapevine canopy. Off the beaten path, the place was certainly more authentic and quite delicious. Wine and champagne, homemade noodles, and fresh seafood. We finished it off with some tiramisu while a street musician strummed his guitar and then walked about 20 meters to our door.
The next day, while we waited for our Coliseum tour time we found a little pub squeezed between all of the wine bars. Although I cook with wine, I haven't developed to taste for drinking it, so we were glad to have a couple brews.
On our way back from the Vatican, we stopped for some gelato. You can watch them make their gelato from the window so you know if is prepared fresh and in house. This gelateria has won several awards and been featured on several travel shows. It also has a cute little alley area for sitting and enjoying your treat.
Oh man did we get suckered into this one. We were checking out some of Bernini's fountains at night in Piazza Navona and got some excellent photos. However, we were trying to find a place to eat and the waiters were ushering us into this restaurant that had a giant fish tank (so maybe fresh fish?). I mean, it was good... but like, Italian food in America good, not Italian food in Italy good. Too bad we learned this mistake in Italy, but at least we didn't make it again the remainder of our trip.
Seriously, the pastries are outstanding in Europe. I will definitely be trying to recreate this little Nutella tart. We also poked around in the grocery store near our apartment... not nearly the size of a Kroger or even Trader Joes. This place had noodles, meats, cheeses, oils, and wine... that's all you need... because that's all you seem to eat in Rome. :)
After finding the Trevi fountain and Spanish Step under renovation, we did some window shopping and found a cute little panini shop for lunch.
Our last dinner in Rome was maybe the most traditional. The menu was handwritten and there wasn't any english. We used our phones to translate and speak to the waiter/owner who spoke very little english and was our first of two times we had a language barrier in Europe. While we ate, the skies opened up and started raining on the city and cooling the temperatures. The bruchetta was basic and so so good. The pasta was homemade and just perfect. A great last meal.
Oh, and I have another picture of gelato, but can't remember where in the timeline it fell... so here it is at the end. :)
** For more information on the restaurants, please click the hyperlinks in each description.