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A FEAST FIT FOR A GLADIATOR

By Laura Blake

Posted: 27th January 2014 10:29

Rome is bursting with restaurants, cafés and delis, but many of these are overpriced, mediocre, and are obviously catered to unsuspecting tourists who think fusilli is some sort of breakfast cereal.  Don’t settle for frozen pizza and bland bolognaise – eat like a real Italian in some of the city’s best (and most importantly, fairly priced) restaurants. 

In Rome, pizzerias are plentiful, so you will definitely be spoilt for choice.  That said, Sforno is quite possibly the best pizza place in Rome.  Located down an unassuming street, and outside of the city centre, rest assured that the lengthy Metro journey you’ll need to take to get there will be worth it.  Thick, elastic dough bases (Neapolitan style) are topped with a mountain of fresh and dense toppings and baked in a traditional pizza oven before your eyes.  The classic Margherita is a firm favourite with the locals, but the ‘Greenwich’ special, made with blue cheese and a port reduction sauce, is surely a decadent dish of the Gods themselves.

If you want to enjoy pizza on the go (a common sight in the city) head to Campo de’ Fiori.  Here, pizza is sold by the weight, so you simply let the chefs know how big a slice you want or how much you want to spend.  A prudent idea, in theory, but be warned; you won’t be able to stop at one slice.  This simple, no-fills deli is renowned for its Pizza Bianca (pizza without any toppings) that is unexpectedly delicious as it is, or it can be filled, almost like a sandwich, with your choice of cured meats, vegetables and cheeses. 

Forget the limp spaghetti carbonara you’d find in the ready meal aisle – in Rome, pasta is serious business.  Traditional restaurants serve pasta dishes that are surprisingly simple and feature only a handful of ingredients, but of course, the Italians know that simple is best.  For a true taste of Italy, head to Capo de Fero in Trastevere.  One of Rome’s few remaining ‘trattorie’ (traditional restaurants) this venue has been open for decades and so oozes an authentic atmosphere.  Their speciality is ‘Rigatoni Democratici’; ask the waiters how this dish got its name and they’ll insist the chefs can’t remember, but it transpires to be a wonderfully generous serving of fresh pasta in a delicious creamy cheese sauce.  They also offer an amazing antipasto buffet that features all of the favourite Roman specialities. 

For the perfect Italian pudding, there is only one choice – tiramisu.  Translated as ‘pick-me-up’, this decadent dish is the perfect combination of sharp coffee, sweet chocolate and creamy mascarpone, and is utterly, lip-smackingly irresistible.  For the best tiramisu Rome has to offer, check out Bar Pompi in Re di Roma.  Serving up a range of flavours, from classic to pina colada, this restaurant can be spotted streets away by the crowds armed with spoons clamouring to get through the doorway.  

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