Tasting Rome: Gelato, Pasta and the Market

porchetta

Whenever I go to a foreign city, within a few hours of getting oriented, I invariably find myself mentally preparing my move there. I walk around the streets, admiring all the shops and interesting people speaking beautiful languages, and looking up at the apartments with curving iron railings and linens hanging out to dry I imagine myself being a part of it all and making a new life for myself there.

rome

It happened when I moved to San Francisco, and I remember arriving and thinking that it wasn’t quite as pretty as people said it was. No one told me that South San Francisco, near the airport, wasn’t actually San Francisco. And twenty or so years later, when I moved to Paris, I was in for another shock.

I’m not a particularly good traveler; I like being home. (And I love my pillow.) So perhaps that’s the appeal of moving somewhere and staying put for a few decades. I can really get the feel of what living in whatever city I’d like, and come home and sleep in my own bed every evening.

Italy is a special place and many of us are quite fond of it. And why not? The people are friendly, the food is great, and Italians have an easy-going, sometimes boisterous nature, that I think appeals to Americans. Initially I’m usually reluctant to jump into a local restaurant, especially if I’m alone. But in Italy, if you show the slightest interest in the food, people are very excited to explain more about it. Whenever I’ve made the effort, it seems like they can’t wait to feed you.

burrata

You might be presented with a plate of mozzarella, a soft and supple cheese completely unlike the rubbery bricks most of us are used to, when cut with a fork, ooze out a sweet, warm puddle of milk.


I might be walking home at night and pass by my favorite grattachecche stand, on the bank of the Tiber. There, the nice fellow is there late into the evening, juicing lemons for tart, unsweetened glasses of lemonade, the ideal refresher after navigating the hot cobbled streets of Rome all day. It immediately became my end-of-the-day tonic. And on my last night, in addition to getting one last icy-cold lemonade, I got a twenty minute Italian lesson—at no extra charge.

grattachecche

Italy does have its problems, and whenever I say that I want to live there, my friends who do call Italy home raise an eyebrow because the infrastructure perpetually seems to be crumbling like a Roman ruin.

vino olio mixed greens

So the fantasy of living in Italy is going to remain just that. But I do promise myself I will visit more often than I do, which I say each time that I leave. I like the casual way the Italians dress and improvise (although it’s not as interesting, say, when you’re trying to do your banking or get something done at city hall, I’m sure.) But the food, and the fresh ingredients, will always bring me back.

One of the things I miss in Paris markets are the vibrant tangle of greens one finds piled up in Italian markets, leafy and slightly bitter, they’re best cooked until completely soft and wilted with plenty of garlic, hot pepper flakes, and olive oil.

zucchini-blossom flatbread fraises des bois

I also think it’s interesting how the Italians are adept at dealing with of food intolerances. Just about every gelateria had gluten-free cones (individually wrapped) or had signs in the window noting certain flavors were made with soy or almond milk. Biodegradable cups were the norm, and even the restaurant where I had pasta had asterisks next to the few items on the menu that noted which products used in a few dishes had been frozen.

The owners of Grom told me that all their employees are trained to be sensitive to a variety of food allergies and intolerances. (It’s said that about 30% of Italians can’t eat gluten and I was told that the government gives discount vouchers to people with gluten intolerance to offset to higher cost of gluten-free items.)

italian signs

During one of my days in Rome, my friend Judy of Divina Cucina came to eat our way across the city. I was particularly excited when she suggested we start the day at the Mercato Trionfale up in Prati, behind the Vatican. Not as well known as the more showy markets in the center of Rome, this is a pretty authentic market, where one can pick up anything from a basket of tiny wild strawberries to still-warm bags bulging with soft, freshly made rounds of mozzarella di buffala.

mixed beans porcini mushrooms

I had followed along on one of Judy’s market tours in Florence, and was blown away by how much I learned from her about everything piled up at the market. We raced from one stall to the next, bantering with the butchers and adding big shards of Pecorino to her market basket while she providing a running commentary on all the other ingredients lavishly heaped up around us.

asparagus judy at market

Unlike elsewhere, the mentality often seems to be running along the lines of, “Hey, let’s go kill a pig…then wave it under the face of vegetarians!” In Italy, salumi (charcuterie) is simply a fact of life. They celebrate the pig, and enjoy all the wonderful hams and sausages they make from it, but are naturally proud of what they do (and make). It’s just part of their heritage and you don’t see people running around making ice cream with it.

salumi

When I cooked with Judy a few year back in Tuscany, I learned three quite valuable things from her, which I think about often when I’m cooking or at the market:

1. Don’t mince garlic, but slice it thinly. That way, when it’s sautéed, it won’t burn instantly.

2. Be like an Italian, and cook vegetables twice. The first time is to ‘cook’ them, then second time is to flavor them. Broccoli or greens often get boiled or steamed, then fried in olive oil and other seasonings. Romans especially seem to cook vegetables a long time, which concentrates flavors.

3. Spend more time shopping, less time cooking. A perfect basket of wild strawberries needs little manipulation. Similarly, get to know your butcher, track down a good cut of meat, and cook it simply. Food will taste better and it’ll be less work, and more enjoyable.

sausages

While both of us are big market fans, once we finished, even though it was barely noon, we realized how close we were to Fatamorgana, where I’d had the exceptional Kentucky gelato a few days before, and was definitely addicted to the blend of chocolate and tobacco. We had to go back.

boar head italian meat signs

The thing I love about Judy is that we’re both on the same page. As soon as we woke up, over coffee, we brought out our maps and made lists of where we were going during the day. She immediately said that we were starting at the market, and I didn’t argue.

espresso

When right after the market, and I said that I needed gelato…did she mind having some before lunch? She looked at me like I was crazy. “Of course we have to. We have to try everything!”

So walked a few blocks to Fatamorgana (via G. Bettolo, 7).

I guess Rome isn’t all the different from Paris, because the one thing you go into a store for, they’re certain to be out of. And when we walked in, of course, an empty space stood where the bin of Kentucky was supposed to be. But since we’re adults, we took it in stride and ordered a few other scoops.

Fatamorgana gelato and sorbetti

Generous with the tastes, the woman scooping helped us make our decision and we ended up with cups of pear-gorgonzola, pineapple-fresh ginger, and apple, almond and cinnamon sorbetti, as well as another cup with scoops of Greek yogurt-cocoa nib and Dobos; a mixture of spongecake and chocolate gelati. All were good, but we agreed that the pineapple and fresh ginger was truly spectacular.

gelateria del teatro gelateria del teatro semifreddo

Judy speaks Italian like an local, having lived in Italy for twenty-six years, and she spent the entire day bantering with waiters and cab drivers, who’d often hug her when we left. (Okay, not the cab drivers. But I think a few wanted to.)

So when we went into the much-lauded Gelateria del Teatro (via di San Simone, 70), which everyone told me had the most amazing gelato ever, we were expecting to be blown away. People I met at my book event, and comments from the previous post, Rome, Again, heralded it as the best in the city.

But when we walked in and Judy began ordering from the fellow behind the counter, who may have been the owner, he said to her, “I don’t understand your Italian accent.”

He didn’t appear to be a native Italian either, but it was odd for someone to say that to her, especially when she was understood pretty well by everyone else that day wherever else we went. I don’t speak very much Italian, but I understood what he was saying and it was a bit off-putting.

So she said, “Do you want me to speak in English?” not to be snide, but so he could understand her better.

If the gelato had been better, perhaps it would’ve made up for it. But we both found the flavors lacking. And the small square of salt-topped chocolate and caramel semifreddo was dry and crumbly, which we were expecting to be creamy and rich. Neither of us touched it after taking our first bites. We both agreed the gelato wasn’t anything special, and I’ll leave it at that, and our favorite part was the quiet little courtyard where one can sit in the shade.

proscuitto and melon pasta

We fared much better at lunch, and scored big-time at Le Mani in Pasta (via de Genovese, 37), which came recommended by the owner of the Almost Corner Bookshop (via del Moro, 45), who’d provided books for my book event and whose shop is in the neighborhood.

It’s hard to get me excited about yet another plate of melon, proscuitto, and mozzarella, since (like salad Caprese with tomatoes, basil and mozzarella), it’s a dish that’s usually done badly and really demands to be made with excellent, fresh ingredients (remember Judy saying, “Spend more time shopping, less time cooking” ?) The version we had here was textbook perfect; the melon sweet and ripe, the proscuitto salty, meaty, and tender at the same time, and the ball of chewy mozzarella tucked under it all went down easily with the bottle of Frascati, a locally made white wine (€8) that the waiter made us order.

olive oil

After looking into the kitchen where the servers were serving up the pasta out of the skillets handed over to them by the harried, but careful cook (hence the name of the restaurant), we both were convinced into ordering tagiliolini alla gricia, a big pile of long, handmade al dente noodles bathed generously in olive oil, hot chile peppers, and strips of fatty guanciale (cured pigs cheek).

The waiters were incredibly friendly and when I went into the restroom after the meal, fearing I would burst in the dining room, I notices a spray can of shoe polish and a towel next to the sink, which I told Judy about.

artichokes and coke toothpicks

When she returned from her visit in there, she said, “David, that’s not shoe polish. That’s stain remover!” And indeed, one thing I learned in Rome is to wear dark clothes, since there’s lots of drips, sprays, and wayward foods lurking wherever you go. I don’t quite know how so many Italians usually dress in such a dapper fashion, but lots of the folks here at lunch were dressed a bit more casually, and I was glad we weren’t wearing our Sunday finest either.


I should probably let you in on a few other good gelato addresses in Rome. On the gelato tour I led, we had a demonstration of gelato-making at Giolitti (via Uffici del Vicaro, 40), undoubtedly the most famous gelato shop in Rome. The shop began as a latteria, selling dairy products, then became a vegetarian restaurant! And a century later, they’re now gearing up for some overseas expansion. But they still make each batch of gelato and sorbetti by hand, and Signor Nazzareno Giolitti himself invited us during our Gelato Tour into their busy kitchen to see how they do it.

red peach sorbetti

This is a batch of white peach sorbet. It was made from halved white peaches, pitted, but not even peeled, which got pureed with sugar then immediately frozen in one of the dishwasher-sized ice cream machines lined up against the wall. In fact, we had two young girls who were under the age of twelve on the tour who were the appointed gelato-makers, and they did every step themselves.

alkermes granita shovel

So the next time someone tells me, “I can’t bake” or “Making ice cream is too much work”, I’m going to show them that picture of the bin of sorbet, which took less than thirty minutes to make, including the churning time.

panna fresca giolitti

A few other gelaterias in Rome which I like:

Corona (Largo Arenula, 27) which is noted for its biscotti-flavored gelato. They didn’t seem to have any in the small case on my recent visit, but when I managed to get to the front of the small crowd clustered in front of the freezer, I decided to go for simplicity and had a piccolo cone of lemon and pear-pistachio sorbetti. Both were good, but if you go, try some of the more exotic flavors, like açai, mulberry, or carambola.

Il Gelato di San Crispino (via della Panetteria, 42) has been expanding, and gets a bit of flack for their higher prices and service which can be more frosty than their gelato, but you can’t argue with what’s in the cup. (No cones at San Crispino, for hygienic reasons.) Their caramel-meringue gelato will change your life.

Cremaria Monteforte (via della Rotonda, 22). This small, friendly shop just behind the Pantheon is just enough off the tourist path to keep it special. The granita of espresso with a mound of whipped cream is almost as good as the granita di caffè con panna served at the nearby Tazza d’Oro coffee shop. (So it’s a good option when they’re closed.) But the other flavors are excellent, including the chocolate sorbet and almond granita, or the creamy cioccolato fondente.

Ciampini (Piazza Trinita dei Monti) is a favorite of my friend Petulia, and it’s easy to see why. For fans of single-flavor gelato, I don’t know of any better spot in Rome. The flavors never change, which is fine with me. The chocolate gelato is some of the best I’ve ever had. Ciampini is famous for their tartufo; a mound of ice cream dipped in dark chocolate, then refrozen, to resemble a large, knobbly black truffle. Order a cone to go, or sit in the piazza and watch the posh folks of Rome go by as you enjoy your creamy dish of true Roman gelato.

Related Links and Posts

Rome, Again

Espresso di Roma: Sant-Eustachio

Molto Gelati

Rome, Italy

Uova, zucchero et farina: David Lebovitz (In Cucina con Zia Elle, in Italian)

The Ice Cream Shops of Paris

A Booksigning in Rome for David Lebovitz (NYC/Caribbean Regazza)

What is gelato?

Rome Gelato (Lonely Planet)

Gelato in Rome (Elizabeth Minchilli)

10 Tourist Mistakes When Visiting Italy (Ms. Adventures in Italy)

Pistachio Gelato Recipe

Salume Tour (Michael Ruhlman)

Making Perfect Espresso at Illy

Ciao, Illy



72 comments

  • I love every detail of Italy, and is truth, each country has different customs. One of the things I miss most, are the markets, I think there are only two places outside of my Mexico there is so much variety and warmth in the world (for me of course) and are Italy and Spain, two countries that I love, like mine.

    Thanks for the memories and your simplicity to share them with yous readers, and sorry for my terrible english.

    Kisses

  • After this post I have to plan a trip to Italy and sample all of the wonderful food that you have so eloquently written about. I want you to be my travel guide. Please. And shouldn’t all restaurants have stain remover in the restroom?

  • Thank you so much for taking me to Italy this morning. That was amazing…

  • I love those beautiful little cardboard pots, with their charming decorations. I never bought ice cream in france without a plain boring pot or worse, ad covered cardboards pots with all those nasty industrial ice cream logos…

  • Ooh, sorry you had a bad experience at della Teatro. I’ve had several divine nut flavors there…mandorla with great, rustic texture, crema della nonna, etc. Too bad you couldn’t score the biscotti w/vin santo at Corona; it is the sister shop of gelateria Aracoeli over near the church of the same name, down at the base of the Capitoline hill. Aracoeli is the only place I know in Rome that absolutely refuses to give samples; even polite requests in Italian are turned down with a flat “no”. Still, the gelato is good, and it also has kitschy things like molded chocolate & gelato minature models of the Coliseum.

    Did you try Giolitti’s bailey’s irish cream flavor? It is tops, as is their pineapple. Too bad the shop is such a bustling madhouse all the time; it’s so chaotic & crowded. But if I could only have one flavor for the rest of my life, it would be Grom’s salted caramel.

    As for coffee granita w/cream, none will ever replace the version at San Eustachio in my heart. To sit outside in the little piazza and eat it with a long spoon, while having nothing better to do or no place to go, is my favorite thing in Rome.

    One last thing–make a trek out to Sal De Riso’s pastry shop; it’s a branch of his Amalfi-coast-based empire, located on Via Gallia, 12. His delizia di limone, made with sfusato lemons, is the stuff of dreams.

  • I miss Rome!

  • Celeste: It was unfortunate about our experience there, especially considering the build-up the place had gotten. As mentioned, if we liked the gelato better, it would’ve been easy to overlook it. But it just didn’t do it for either of us. (And unlike Judy, my Italian is terrible, and everyone elsewhere was very nice to me when I tried to speak it.)

    At Giolliti, with our group, we made a batch of Kiwi Gelato, which didn’t sound so fantastic. But it was pretty incredible and everyone on the tour remarked how great it was. And unlike other places, even when mobbed, the servers at Giolliti are still friendly. I did go to Corona a few times and find the place interesting especially because of it’s

    As for coffee granita, I’m a Tazza d’Oro fan myself!

  • What are the hygienic reasons? I’m dying of curiosity.

  • Nel: San Crispino would make a hospital operating room look dirty (!) The place is immaculate. They say they don’t serve cones because they have to be handled, but also because they use only very good products and reportedly they can’t find a cone that meets their standards. I don’t mind the cups…more stomach space for gelato!

    Douglas: Yes, it’s quite fun (and funny) exploring new places. I liked writing about all the quirks of Paris, and Parisians, which makes it such an interesting place. Every city and culture has their own individual personalities. Living somewhere really opens you up to learning more about them than just seeing what we do when we visit for just a week or so.

  • This is probably a little bit late, but since you seem to have liked the “Kentucky” so much, you might as well try the Whiskey gelato at San Crispino. Probably the most revelatory gelato experience that I had last time I was in Rome…definitely worth a try.

  • Awesome post David, thanks for taking us along. I’m torn between the feeling of already being there for the day and running out & buying a ticket. So funny about the pillow :-)

    On the topic of hygiene & food handling, what’s up in Paris? I’m always amazed when I see things out on display for hours without being refrigerated. Yesterday I saw some grain & meat salads, packed in a plastic container, just sitting on a grocery shelf.

  • We were just in Rome this spring and San Crispino and Giolotti were at the top of our list, too. I love that in Rome, you can get 3 flavors in a small cone (or cup). We had ice cream at least twice a day and for a family of 5 this meant that we tried dozens of flavors over the course of our week there. Thanks for transporting me back!

  • I think you need to tell us, in great mouth watering detail about that Porcetta (?) at the top of you post. Wow, did THAT get my attention. That’s reason enough to return to Italy! Thanks for another mouth watering tale.

  • I swear that burrata is one of the most divine things in life & I miss it SO much.

  • Ah, bella Roma! Lovely lovely post and now I must get back to Roma al piu’ presto! The markets, the people, the GELATO, I love everything about it {well except the distance it is from my house LOL}

  • Okay, that’s it. I have to move to Italy now. That tidbit about vouchers for those with gluten intolerance pushed me over the edge! My mouth is watering and my heart is longing.

  • I pray everyday that someone will present me with burrata…

    Love this post. Thanks David:)

  • Hi David,
    I was one of them that suggest you to go to Gelateria del Teatro…….I’m so sorry you had a bad experience. I love their “almond” and “raspberries and mint” or “apple and cinammon”……..I love fruit gelato and over ther I like it very much.
    Unfortunately the owner is for sure not the best in friendly and politeness…..may be I had to tell you about this, sorry.

    Just one more thing. About San Crispino. I told you, I love fruit gelato and I love cono gelato. Their fruits gelato are too frozen, not many kinds of fruits and they have no cono. This is why it’s not my favourite!

    Anyway, come back to Rome soon!!
    Ciao Lidia

  • David – this post just reinforced my goal to go to Italy on vacation next summer – the photos are phenomenal and you just really brought it to life with this post.

  • Awe…. As always what a delight to read. Although I have noticed lately the “Gelato” factor! Must be on our way to the Summer heat!!! :)

  • I do love your travel posts. You are good at taking us there even from a computer screen.

    Such a shame about the Kentucky, next time…

    Really quite rude of the man in the ice cream shop to your friend, a bit condescending even. Rudeness is my absolute pet hate.

    Mind you, it reminds me of when hubby and I have been in Paris, my hubby is clearly earmarked as British, and the French speak English to him. I get the 90 words a minute fluent French and smiles, which I haven’t got a hope of understanding or replying to. They indulge my awful French though – for which I am very grateful indeed!!

  • Brilliant pictures- I have just been looking at Puglia, amalfi coast and a variety of other places for a cooking course. Now i’m just thinking- why not go it alone? Amazing inspiration.

  • Oh the markets

  • Burrata is the stuff of Gods. I really can’t get enough of it. Thanks for showing a picture of it, I’m going to have to go track some down now!

  • Sorry your experience at Teatro wasn’t great.

    However, I’m glad you loved “my” market Trionfale. It’s incredible.

    Campo is closer but Trionfale has better quality and prices. It’s one of my favorite places in Rome. I go there twice a week.

    I first went to Le Mani in Pasta when it opened a few years ago. I was tourist then and I had a hard time finding it. I still remember the meal I had, it was that good.

  • Zia & nyc/c.ragazza: Well, I do think that sometimes people have bad days and not everyone can be charming all the time. Perhaps he truly couldn’t understand her, but not one other single person that day had a problem…and we talked to a lot of people!

    (And yes, Le Mani in Pasta is great, and worth looking for…)

    Francheska: It’s sad that farms and market are disappearing, or when they aren’t good. The best thing to do is find someone who is producing good things and continue to shop there. Depending on where you live, you can also subscribe to a CSA box, or similar program, in your community.

    Lys: If you can, I’d avoid going to Rome in the summer. It’s really, really hot. If you can go during another season, even in June, you’ll be much better off. Although I’m not a big fan of it, if you do come in the summer, spring for a hotel with good AC.

    Tami: You buy porchetta to take home and eat; it’s not often eaten in restaurants. So salumerias serve it, as well as certain shops that sell the salty pork with side orders, which you can choose from. Many are open late, since they sell sandwiches to late-night revelers, too.

  • Thank you for the virtual trip to Rome. I would love to go back to Italy, it’s been more than 10 years since my first – and only – vist. I’ve never been to Rome, only Florence, but your descriptions make me want to go there. One of my favorite food memories from Florence is of the incredible sorbets. They were so fresh-tasting, and so creamy! Almost like gelato. Your photo of the peach sorbet is taking me right back to that hot summer and all those wonderful, creamy sorbettos.

    Seriously, how do the Italians make their sorbets so darn luscious? :)

  • Oh this is reminding me of my honeymoon back in October! We stopped at every gelato shop we saw.

    To this day I’m still longing for one flavor that was fairly plain but chocked full of candied citrus peel bits. It looked like confetti with all the different colored peels. It was from a tiny shop that was no bigger than a closet a few blocks away from the Vatican walls only open a few hours a day that every day we had to crawl through the dozens of locals eating form there.

    Looks like you had a wonderful (eating) experience!

  • I wish I could visit Italy, I’ve heard so many wonderful things about that country, especially about the food. I’m curious about why it is apparently advised against to live in Italy, though, as I personally would love to give it a whirl.

    If I ever find myself in Rome I’ll be sure to try out the gelatarias you mentioned. Thanks!

  • David, David, David – You’re killing me with these Rome posts. Le Mani In Pasta was my favorite neighborhood trattoria when I lived in Rome, and I had always been reluctant to write about it on my blog for fear that it would be overrun with tourists. Obviously the word has gotten around. I have been more generous on my blog in writing about my favorite gelateria in Rome (and to you on another comment) – Giorgia Gel. It is low on the radar screen and nobody else has written about it as far as I can tell, but it’s absolutely wonderful artisanal gelato (the dark chocolate in sinfully good) and prices are better than anywhere else. Located in Trastevere on via S.Francesco a Ripa. Go try it before you leave Rome.

  • Fantastic report David. Now if only we could figure out how to get the gelato to transmit via the internet…

  • I love your site so much. This post just makes me want to visit Italy soooo much!

    Just a heads up though, I think you meant to type “Be like an Italian and cook your vegetables twice” and you typed “Be link an Italian.”

  • Thank you so much, David. Beautifullyl written and partly alleviates my pain at having missed visiting Rome when I was in Italy in March-April. Though pear-gorgonzola gelato is making me cry a little inside in missed-out-misery….

  • Thanks for the tour, David. One day, I will get to Italy. In the meantime, I leave for Paris on Saturday with five incredible women on a much anticipated vacation! We are beyond excited. Oh, and by the way, thanks to your earlier post, we’re going to spend a day in Reims. Looking forward to it.

  • Your first paragraph is exactly the way I feel whenever I arrive at a beautiful place for the first time. Maybe it’s a result of the old traveler/tourist argument?
    Hat’s off to the Italian government for doing something for those poor, unfortunate gluten-free souls. If I had to give up bread for medical reasons I’d still be complaining fifty years after the fact!

  • dear david. . . thank you for all you write about. . . you have a certain flair that is so fun to read. i appreciate every in and out you share. . . thank you sincerely.

  • Like you, I also mentally move to just about any place I visit – except Singapore, I can’t do humidity with such curly hair – so I love getting a glimpse in windows and through courtyard doors!
    Sadly for us Australians though, while we may live in God’s own country, it is a bloody long way from the rest of the world so those glimpses are a very precious peek at other cultures and their daily lives.

  • Years ago, as the internet was picking up speed (1997) I went online and found a culinary tour in Tuscany hosted by a woman from Seattle. It was a whim. My first trip to Italy and in my relatively new independent (read divorced) life, my first big trip alone. Turns out Judy was our guide, our instructor, our translator, our mentor and our friend for 12 days of cooking, going to market, eating, more eating and eating again. With Judy as our base of knowledge, I came back with a great education on things like Balsamico, Truffles, Olive Oil and more. As a matter of fact, customers come to me or are pointed to me for my knowledge and will often make a quick stop back at the store to thank me for my recommendations. Had it not been for Judy and her expertise, I’d be just another mediocre shop girl.

    We spent time in her tiny kitchen near the Mercado Centrale in Florence and although small, I’ll never forget making limoncelo, chicken with sage, pasta with ragu and panna cotta. Dinner was fabulous and in all, it was the trip of a lifetime — Judy helped put it on the map for me.

    It’s been a long time. Thanks for your post and reminding me of happy times.

    As I read your post I could almost hear her excitement and I’ll bet you guys were walking around with big smiles on your faces.

  • This makes me so wanting to go back to Rome. I loved it. That peach gelato looks absolutely delicious.

  • david…
    i hope we can meet one day… i know we would laugh, eat, and laugh more.
    i love your personality… and i love that you love your pillow. i have to take mine everywhere.

    burrata – incredible… i thought i had the best ever in los angeles… but this sliced, pie wedged beauty is melting in my mouth and i am millions of miles away…

    have a wonderful weekend… always look forward to the next post.
    x pam

  • Fran: Glad you got to meet her, too. It’s nice to wander around places on your own, but often you miss things and when you have a good guide, you can really understand what you’re seeing and it makes the experience much richer. We had such a great day together, I hope we can do it again!

    Hannah: You could likely make it yourself: churn up a batch of Pear Sorbet and add chunks of gorgonzola. It’s a pretty wonderful combination. (You can also try my Roquefort and Honey Ice Cream recipe, if you’re feeling experimental..)

  • This post SO makes me want to spend more time in Italy. Beautiful pictures of an amazing place and mouthwatering food. Fabulous.

  • David, I love your posts and the way you bring a place to life. Not that Rome needs much help but you still manage!
    Your posts have brought back such lovely memories. We hunted down Giolitti’s on a cold, seriously wet day in November and despite the weather, managed to pack away great scoops of delicious gelato. Mine were all fruit flavours and my aunt had pistachio, and chocolate. We have never stopped talking about it and now I want to take my son on a pasta and gelato holiday in Rome.

    I love travel but for me food is number 1. I tend to remember places based on the food I ate there, the markets I explored and the bakeries I indulged myself in. I still drool when I remember the amazing La Boquieria (sp? ) in Barcelona or the wonderful little restaurants in the old town of San Juan, tiny, family-run bakeries in Genoa and so on. I worked on ships for a few years so was privileged to explore many parts of the world. To me, food was the essential part of any exploration.

  • Oh, too bad you had a bad day at Gelateria del Teatro… I built it up so much! The foreign-looking man behind the counter is not the owner, he’s an employee. And yes, he does have attitude.

    I’m happy you visited Mercato Trionfale, because it stands a good challenge to both Campo and Testaccio. Now my next feat will be beating the crosstown traffic to visit Mercato Irnerio, on the other side of town.

    Sounds like you and Judy had a ball, and that’s what’s important.
    I’m making dinner reservations at Mani in Pasta…

  • Loving Italy is pretty easy to do, and I cannot imagine who is discouraging you from making the relationship more durable. Bureaucracy is nuts, yes, but you can learn to avoid a lot of it.

    One thing foreigners often quickly forget when they go back “home” (and which you apparently never have forgotten) is that when there are only 3-5 ingredients in a dish, the quality of each must be impeccable. Adding this or that doesn’t help, it destroys. So, yes, I drive 7 hours each way to buy the oil I prefer with buratta– just not very often, once a year. Most Italian dishes are extremely simple, but make a big mistake in the base ingredients and you might as well not bother.

    I even apply what I learned of Italian cookery to the country Frenchj cookery I grew up with, and it doesn’t suffer, it doesn’t suffer. I hope to see you next time.

  • Hi David,

    We absolutely adore Rome and had gelato twice a day. We also also have to agree with you that we were not impressed by Gelateria del Teatro. We got many gelateria recommendations from our guest house and loved each and every place except for Gelateria del Teatro. The flavors were just not so impressive. It wouldn’t be so bad if the service was not so snooty. Considering all that’s available in Rome, I wouldn’t waste time going back there either.

    Suzen

  • David-

    It was great having you in Rome! You should definitely come back more often. Glad you enjoyed Le Mani in Pasta and the Grattachecca. Unfortunately just as you left Fata Morgana closed their Piramide shop- so now there are only 2 locations for this wonderful gelateria.

    A bientot

    Petu

  • Did you have Roman Artichokes in the Jewish Quarter? I’m still dreaming of them and it’s been more than a year!

  • Dave…. A waiter at a restaurant in Piazza Novona once told me I speak better Italian than he does…. Do you think he was bsing me ??? LOL.. Also, watch out for the Gypsies… Just sayin !! Loving living in NY where the “Rome experience” is almost the same at the small shops in little Italy… Great post…Thanks

  • p.s. thanks for the link!! I just noticed it.

  • I just returned from a month in Rome followed by two weeks in Paris and your post literally brought a tear to my eye. There is something about Rome that truly makes me feel at home. An undeniable connection.

    My favorite gelateria is San Crispino although I do actually have a soft spot in my heart for Teatro primarily because my boyfriend took me on a surprise trip to Rome this past March and proposed at one of our favorite restaurants around the corner. Thanks for bringing back such wonderful memories!

  • A wonderful visit to Italy this morning with you.
    David, how can you not eat and take photos constantly? You are probably adept at doing both at the same time by now.
    Next, I’m off to South Africa in a few hours to watch the World Cup (another virtual visit, courtesy of TV). Go Mexico! Maybe someday you will take us on a culinary tour of S. Africa.

    Kathleen

  • I am really really sorry to disappoint you all, but it’s a -simply and great- mozzarella in the picture above.
    What we Italians call “burrata” it’s _slightly_ different:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burrata
    http://tinyurl.com/2cra3qk

  • Wonderful post! Our trip to Rome in September can’t come soon enough! I will be bringing your recommendations with me on our trip so we can try the restaurants and gelaterie. But I have to say, the best food I have ever eaten in Rome has been in the homes of my great-aunts and cousins. I plan on writing several posts about our visit after we return from our trip (and the jet lag has worn off). Grazie!

  • Thanks for a such a special posting! I enjoyed reading every bit of it.

  • I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to actually travel to Rome, Paris or any of the other wonderful places you take me…but I can not tell you how wonderful it is to begin my day, or have a quiet late afternoon moment visiting via your posts. You offer endless delights…humorous moments and fabulous treats. Knowing I can “visit” whenever it suits often makes my day. Many thanks!

  • Porchetta. Sigh. What a trip.

    I actually agree with San Crispino that most cones are not up to snuff. A memorable exception was at a gelateria on Capri that made their own, pouring batter onto a hot waffle iron and shaping them into cones while still warm and flexible. They hardened as they cooled but were very often still a bit warm. Heavenly.

  • Wonderful piece, but does the 30% statistic strike anybody else as more than a little fishy?

    How the heck does pasta culture grow and thrive in a country where a third of the people can’t eat it? I’m betting that’s off by two orders of magnitude.

  • ron: Yes, the scoundrels are pesky but I’ve been fortunate not to have any encounters with them. But the dishonest cab driver from the airport was annoying. I don’t like folks who prey on tourists, but I think it happens in many cities, not just Rome. Unfortunately.

    Dominic: I was surprised when I heard that as well, but when I learned that gluten intolerance was a medically-recognized condition in Italy, and saw how many gluten-free products filled the shelves at supermarkets and grocers (including lots of pasta options), I became more convinced. Many gelaterias had gluten-free cones and signs up, too. The Italian friend I spent a lot of time with was diagnosed when she was one years old. Some think there is a genetic flaw at work, but I don’t know that much about it.

    eleanora: Enjoy the restaurant. We didn’t have room for dessert, but the caramel semifreddo, looked pretty tasty.

  • David,

    Thanks for this wonderful post. My heart leapt for joy when I read about the non-dairy gelato choices you mentioned. I would love to take my two year old to Rome but she has very severe food allergies to all milk, egg, peanut ( not tree-nut) and yellow bell peppers. She had a near fatal anaphylactic shock to her first birthday cake. We carry an Epipen everywhere.

    She enjoys meat, and fruit and vegetables and is very friendly but she is now eager to go into restaurants and ice-cream shops. I thought it would be awful for her in Rome with all that lovely gelato. Were there really several places offering almond- and soy-milk gelato?

    Your chocolate sorbet still is her favourite treat made with almond milk. It’s what turned her onto frozen delights.

  • David, I’ve just read an old post on Caffé Sant’Eustacchio in Rome and their famous cup. They way they make it it’s not really a secret, they make you think they own some kind of esoteric secret. Some long time ago a chap made a coffee for me saying that it was going to be a great cup. It was indeeed. Then he told me how to do it. A few years later I was in Rome and decided to have a coffee in Sant’Eustacchio. I was rather determined to find out more about their coffee so I placed myself in a strategic position to observe the barman while he was performing his ritual behind the machine (and a cloud of steam). Well he was doing exactly what I had been taught. Later I even found that a lot of old ladies know the trick. It’s just a way to mix coffee and sugar. Enjoy the rest of your stay in Rome. The weather should be quite hot now, great for enjoying icecreams.

  • Hello:
    Can anybody tell me is it possible to travel in Rome if I am in an electric wheelchair–where can I stay, eat, have fun & spend time.

    You may wish to check out these sites: Rome Accessibility and Accessible Rome which have specific information about what options are available for those in wheelchairs. -dl

  • LOVE your blog and your cookbooks. My daughters (12 and 9) are churning their way through “The Perfect Scoop”!
    I was pleasantly surprised to hear that the italians are very aware of food allergies.
    My daughters have fish, shellfish and tree nut allergies (anaphylaxis)–how do you think we would fare in Italy with them?
    Have a safe and easy trip home.

  • David,
    Thank you for sharing your “secret” about garlic…thinly sliced not chopped won’t
    burn. How could I have lived this long and not have known this. It was worth getting
    up today….I learned one new thing. Merci!

  • Hi Nancy: That is a great tip I learned from Judy. I’ve seen some chefs use a mandolin cutter for their garlic, but I just use a sharp knife. The other good thing about thinly sliced garlic is that you can actually taste the garlic since it’s in pieces, rather than finely minced.

  • Rome is my favorite city in the world. I need to go back and I need a Judy in my life! She sounds like my kind of friend.

    Laura

  • been to milan and northern italy. should head to rome soon. i think that would require a a 3 week pre-training @ the gym with all the stuff i’ll consume there :)

  • I wanted to let you know that I have nominated you for the Honest Scrap award. I’m sure you have already received this award and many others. I love your blog and have learned alot about Paris. I would love to visit there someday..

  • I just discovered your blog, it is SO interesting! I want to go back and read every post! :) I just came back from Rome myself and fell in love with a hazelnut gelato, delicious!

  • Oh wow, that cheese looks out of this world!

  • David, if you like ice creams and markets you should come to Puglia next time you come to Italy! I’ll take you to a fantastic ice cream maker (I also lived in Rome and I can tell you…you won’t be disappointed!)….and it is SO part of our culture to spend more time buying the freshest ingredients from farmers, than in the kitchen cooking them. Our recipes and dishes are very simple because we produce and use all sorts of seasonal and fresh vegetables and ingredients. Come and visit when you can!

  • As a fairly frequent visitor to Rome, I enjoyed reading your blog “almost” as much as visiting that lovely city. Thanks.

    I too was disappointed over the ice creams at ‘Gelateria del Teatro (via di San Simone, 70)’, and as most websites seem to gush over it’s offerings, I was much heartened to read the critique here.
    Not only isn’t the ice cream not particularly good but, it’s also rather pricy. Far, far better gelaterias exist all around Rome.