Rome nom nom nom

After falling into a number of tasteless tourists traps during my Portugal trip, I was determined to find good eats in Rome. My online research led me to the Chowhound forums, which in turn led me to some of the best meals of my trip. Now… where do I begin? 
Let’s start with the first meal of the day. Nope, not breakfast… gelato!

My first meal on my first day was a cone of creamy caffe, my all-time favorite flavor (flavorite?), for just €1.50. As we were walking from our apartment to the Centro Storico, I spotted a hole-in-the-wall gelateria somewhere on the Via Lepanto, marked with the words “gelati Siciliani” and “produzione propria artigianale.”

Now, Gelati originated in Sicily and foodies assert that gelati in Sicily is way different from the rest of Italy. Another tip I found around the blogosphere is to keep an eye out for gelaterias that are marked “produzione propria” (homemade), “nostra produzione” (our own production) or “produzione artigianale” (produced by artisans).

If you can’t tell by the smile on my face, this gelato was the my idea of a most kick-ass benvenuti from Rome. Marlon had the cannele, or cinnamon, which was everything you would imagine cinnamon gelato to be. Not having that was probably my only regret of the entire trip!

My other memorable gelato experience was at Giolitti near the Pantheon. We stumbled on it quite by accident. It was only when I looked up Giolitti much later, that I found out it’s actually Rome’s oldest ice cream parlor.
The gelati guardians at Giolitti’s counter will actually refuse to serve you if you order a combination of flavors that they feel do not go together at all. Fortunately, my limone e champagne combo passed their scrutiny. Unfortunately, after only a few truly intoxicating licks, the scoop of champagne dropped from my cone onto the ground. Ugh.
Thanks to Chowhound, I learned that Thursday is gnocchi day in Rome. Who are we to buck tradition? Our Lonely Planet Rome app (worth it for the offline map!) led us a few twists and turns away from the madding crowd and cheap tourist menus surrounding the Pantheon, to this unmarked trattoria for a reasonably priced meal that hit the spot.

In the same neighborhood, near the Keats-Shelley House, was the Chowhound-recommended La Campana, where I ordered (and thoroughly enjoyed!) something very out of character for me: rigatoni with oxtail. Romans love their offal—so as they say, when in Rome…

The service at La Campana was smooth and efficient, and our waiter lit up when I tried ordering with the few words of Italian I memorized on the plane.

Friendly service was also a pleasant surprise at Anti Luzzi, a tiny, family-run sidewalk trattoria near the Pantheon recommended by the owners of our B&B. At €8, their pizzas were half the price of those being sold across the street. And when I ordered a granita di caffe to cap my meal, the waiter tried to explain something to me in Italian. After seeing that I couldn’t understand him, he brought me a small taste of their granita… just to make sure I liked it enough to commit to an order.

I was expecting a basic iced coffee, and got a delightfully cold (perfect for the heat!), sinfully creamy dessert. What’s not to like?

Our final meal on the run was at Volpetti, a legendary gourmet deli on the Via Cola di Rienzo, a major shopping street close to St. Peter’s Square and Piazza Cavour where we caught the shuttle bus to the airport. It’s right next to a famous gourmet grocery called Franchi. If we hadn’t been in such a rush to get to the airport, Marlon and I would have loved to spend a good hour or two browsing in these two shops. It’s probably good for our wallets that we didn’t!
Volpetti’s system is familiar to all of us Pinoys. This is turo-turo, Roman style.
We stood at the counter to tuck in: Marlon with his porchetta (roast pork) and stuffed pomodoro tomatoes, me with my orzo (barley) alla contadina and insalata di polpo (octopus salad). 

We inhaled everything in less than 15 minutes and rushed off to the airport, bellies full. If only all fast food experiences were as precious.
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