While my husband Robert and I were in Rome on vacation, one evening our fabulous travel agent and best friend Katey Hartwell organized for us a “food tour” through the neighborhoods of Trastevere and the Jewish Ghetto. Our darling guide Francesca met us at the Piazza Campio de Fiori, along with two other American couples – very nice folks from Portland, Oregon. We had been on the same tour with them at the Vatican earlier in the day, so we felt like we were meeting up with old friends!  Our first stop was at Antice Norcinera Voila (on the Piazza Campo de Fiori) where we sampled a variety of salami, prosciutto and other meats.

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They were all delicious, with very different flavors. Some were spicy, some salty, others a bit greasy (the one made with liver) – my favorite, not surprisingly, was the one flavored with black truffles.

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We also liked the dried prosciutto strips – sort of like an Italian beef jerky!

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From there we walked a short distance to Verso Sera Enoteca (Italian for a wine bar), to sample a fried artichoke and – hum, wine! (The blonde in the photo was our guide Francesca.)

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We sat on the patio, but the interior is interesting as well:

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Not the sort of fried artichoke we most often see in the US (chopped, breaded and fried), in Rome it’s more typical for the whole artichoke globe to be fried, and not breaded. We all loved it! The leaves were very crispy, like eating potato chips.

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We also really enjoyed the wine – a Pecorino (same name as the cheese). Light, not too sweet, not too dry, just our kind of white wine. Similar to a Pino Grigio, but with a bit more body.

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On a side note, look at the cute, tiny car we saw – smaller than a smart car! It looked like something out of a cartoon:IMG_3111

Next we moved on to pizza at Forno Roscioli. I was excited when we stopped here, as my college friend and restauranteur extraordinaire, Danny Meyer, had recommended this restaurant to us.  It’s really more like a deli – counter service and only a handful of tables.

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We sampled a variety of fabulous pizzas . . .

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along with a popular Italian beer, Peroni.

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While Naples, not Rome, is the original home of pizza, these pizzas were wonderful – lot of fresh flavor, not greasy and not overloaded with a ton of toppings. Robert was in heaven, as pizza is one of his main food groups! We also sampled a sort of pizza sandwich, which was also yummy.

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Robert and I both thought the beer was great too – on the light side, which I prefer.

We strolled through the charming neighborhoods to our next stop, Antica Caciara, to sample Italian cheeses.

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The Pecorino Romano and the Caciotta were our favorites.

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Of course, it wouldn’t be a Rome food tour without pasta! Our next stop was at La Fraschetta for three different pasta dishes, all traditional Roman: Carbonara (eggs, Pecorino and/or Parmesan cheese, bacon, black pepper and garlic), Caccio e’ Pepe (Italian pecorino cheese and black pepper), and All’Amatriciana (tomatoes, guanciale, Pecorino cheese, red chili peppers and white wine). This place was right out of central casting, with red and white checked tablecloths on long tables. Unfortunately, my phone battery died, so no photos of the pasta – or the fabulous gelato we had next! We loved all three of the pastas. It was tough to pick out a favorite. I think mine was the Caccio e’ Pepe – a spicy Italian version of the traditional American “mac and cheese”. So simple, just a few ingredients, but very well prepared. Creamy, cheesy, peppery – yum. Pecorino cheese is saltier and sharper than Parmesan – I think it’s the secret to this sauce.

Everything we tasted all evening was scrumptious and typically Roman food – and all super fresh and loaded with flavor. I would recommend all of these foods and purveyors!

Lee Clayton Roper

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I’m Lee Clayton Roper, and I’m passionate about making cooking and entertaining easy, elegant and fun. Here you’ll find scrumptious recipes, helpful tips and seasonal menus that will spark inspiration in your kitchen!
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