Rome for Foodies – The city’s hidden eateries

To spare having one of those awkward face palm moments after returning from your trip to Rome only to discover that you have missed some of the Eternal City’s best delights that are not listed in the standard guidebooks, check these hidden treasures they don’t bother to tell the tourists about.  Avoid that “Oh, if I’d only known” frustration when you realize too late that your cheap Rome hotel room was close to the creamiest gelato stand,  crunchiest pizza joint or freshest farmer’s market because the only way to find these treasures it learn about them from a local.

Vegetables in the market at Campo d'Fiori, Rome Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Vegetables in the market at Campo d’Fiori, Rome

Farmers’ Markets in Rome

Sure, there are lots of farmer’s markets in Rome, but only the Circo Massimo Market has a “zero kilometer rule” –meaning that only locally grown and prepared goodies are permitted. Established by the Friendly Campaign Foundation, this indoor market is held in a beautiful building located at Via San Teodoro 74 every Saturday and Sunday from 10AM to 6PM. Designed to promote family run agriculture, eco-sustainability and affordable food, these vendors are proud of the fruits of their labors and relish the chance to share them with visitors who find their way to this off the beaten path cornucopia. Ask for the vendor Pietro Hausmann who will happily give you a guided tour in English so you can understand which of the homemade cheeses, fine Italian sausages and fresh baked breads best suits your tastes. To get your mouth watering in anticipation, here’s a sneak preview of what you can expect to find watch this video about the farmer’s market

Farmer's Market del Circo Massimo Photo: campagna amica of Flickr

Farmer’s Market del Circo Massimo

The ultimate Roman Expresso

Tucked between the Pantheon and the Piazza Navona is  Sant’Eustachio, an espresso shop whose procedure is so exclusive they don’t even let you watch the preparation and make their employees take a vow of secrecy. Always crowded with locals, this shop rarely sees tourists so they don’t bother translating their menus. All you need to know is that when they ask “con dolce?” (meaning “with sugar?”)  you answer with an affirmative “Si!” so you can experience the ultimate decadent espresso topped with a delicate froth created not by using cream,  but as a result of their technique that has yet to be duplicated by any other coffee shop in the world.

Sant'Eustachio Caffe Photo: The Wolf on Flickr

Sant’Eustachio Caffe in Rome

The perfect Roman Pizza

It may look like a hole in the wall, but the Pizzeria da Remo at Piazza Santa Maria Liberatrice 44 serves up the best crunchy pizzas in Rome, as you will be able to tell from the crowded tables full of happy Italian customers. They don’t open until 7PM and the place fills up quickly with local families who know that their wood burning oven technique makes the best wafer thin crust pizzas in Rome piled high with fresh ingredients. Served with a brimming carafe of rich red wine and antipasto appetizers, the delights don’t end with pizzas. Desserts like creamy caramel cake leaves first time guests in awe and keeps the locals coming back for more.

Roman Pizza Photo: roboppy of Flickr

Thin Crust Roman Pizza

Eating out in Rome, family style

You’ll feel like you’ve been invited into an Italian home for dinner when you enter Osteria degli Artisti in the center of Grosseto at 6 Via Germano Sommeiller. Don’t worry that it doesn’t look too impressive with the paper tablecloths and candles sticking out of wine bottles, just settle in and prepare to be treated like one of the family. Your host will enthusiastically tell you the daily menu which changes with the seasons and reflects the best the region has to offer. From appetizers like prawns in a creamy white bean sauce to the fresh sea bass coated in a crunchy almond cannoli or wild boar wrapped in prosciutto, prepare to nod your head a lot as you reassure your server that the food is the best you’ve had in Rome — they love to know they’ve outdone themselves again. Although you may be full to the gills, order a slice of their one of a kind lemon cake for dessert that is so good you’ll be glad you had wits enough to try it, even if you have to loosen your belt a notch!

Gelato in Roma Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Gelato in Roma

Gelato in Rome

Don’t leave Rome without indulging in the delights at Caruso’s Gelato Shop, an establishment purposefully hidden from the thundering herd to maintain its handmade integrity; this stuff just can’t be produced in bulk. A short walk from the Repubblica Metro stop on Via Collina, this artisan gelateria not only uses the freshest ingredients to create flavors from almond to zabaglione, it is quite entertaining as well because they make their exclusive ultra-creamy gelatos right before your eyes.  Never fear, if you can’t get enough of your favorite flavor in just one sitting they will prepare you a carton packed in dry ice so you can take some back to your room for future indulgence– just too bad you can’t take any home!

Photo credits: Farmer’s Market del Circo Massimo by campagna amica, Sant’Eustachio il Caffe by The Wolf, Pizzeria da Remo by roboppy

More to enjoy in Rome

Rome through the eyes of the Bishop’s great-nephew
The view from the dome of St Peter’s – in Rome
Five peaceful sights to enjoy in Rome

This article was brought to you by Hostelbookers.com where you can find your choice of cheap hotels in Rome.

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  • Reply
    Gordon Lethbridge
    February 10, 2012 at 12:04 am

    That espresso joint sounds wonderful and following it up at the gelato parlour is nothing short of decadent. It’s all so Italian which in tourist saturated places like Rome are increasingly difficult to find. My tastebuds are telling me to book a flight to Rome.

  • Reply
    February 10, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    You know, I have been in Rome a gazillion times, but I’ve yet to have a meal that’s above average in that otherwise fantastic city. Next time, I have to take a print-out of this article along.
    Sophie´s last blog post ..Scenes from a Bahraini mall – empty elegance

    • Reply
      February 11, 2012 at 6:36 pm

      @Sophie Yes – I think it helps if you can walk a few blocks away from any major tourist site

  • Reply
    Annette | Bucket List Journey
    February 11, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    I think I can live in Rome strictly on that gelato!

    • Reply
      February 11, 2012 at 6:35 pm

      @Annette Me too – all those fruit flavours are so refreshing in the summer

  • Reply
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