The best of Rome

From Paloma Picasso and Kate Winslet to Elizabeth Gilbert and Carla Zampatti, friends of Gourmet Traveller share with us what they like to do “when in Rome”.

**Kate Winslet, actor

**”I like to take the time to enjoy the atmosphere of a city, its warm colours, its perfume. I loved the places and the streets that I discovered last year while shooting the Longines publicity film. To me, Rome embodies la dolce vita.”

**Frida Giannini, Gucci designer

**”I like to go for an apéritivo after a long day at work in the Campo de’ Fiori together with thousands of people from every part of the world. From there, I always enjoy inviting my friends to Antica Pesa, a restaurant in the heart of Rome where I always feel at home.”

**Paloma Picasso, designer

**”When in Rome I like to wander the streets of the city uncovering the different layers of history and then end up at Caffè Greco for a cappuccino. Rome truly is a magical place.”

**Stefano Manfredi, chef, Bells at Killcare

**”Near the Spanish Steps is one of my favourite new restaurants, Palatium. Dishes include Roman broccoli and stingray soup, braised baccalà and the intensely flavoured Terracina strawberries served with fior di latte gelato. In Via del Moro is Enoteca Ferrara. The knowledgeable sommeliers can help you navigate through two large volumes containing over 1000 labels and 120 grappe. Try the excellent local red Cesanese del Piglio.”

**Elizabeth Gilbert, author

**”Walk the Via Appia Antica, the original road that leads to Rome. Marvellously, this 2000-plus-year-old road is still in use, but on Sundays it’s closed to automobile traffic. The road begins at the outskirts of town, and it’s cobbled and wide enough for two Roman legions to march side by side (in case that should be necessary). Along the way one passes olive groves, aqueducts, catacombs, very few people and some scattered ancient villas. It’s best to plop down under a random ruin for a lunch of cheese, bread, wine and olives. I spent one of the happiest days of my life walking this road with my sister, and if it hadn’t gotten dark, I think we would be walking it still.”

**Gianmarco Balestrini, director, Lario International

** “I like to go to Pizzarium for some pizza al taglio. Gabriele Bonci, the chef-owner, is famous for his research of artisanal ingredients. Toppings can be out of the ordinary – think cotechino di mora – but the finished product’s well worth a visit. Be warned, the line can be as insane as the toppings.”

John Portelli, co-owner, Enoteca Sileno

“I like to visit Marco Trimani at the very well stocked Trimani Enoteca; the cellar is enormous and the atmosphere always abuzz. The limited menu makes it easy to choose a dish, and the by-the-glass wines allow you to explore wines you’re not normally exposed to. The return walk cements what Rome means to me – a city to be walked in, especially with those aftertastes lingering on my palate.”

**Amanda Triossi, Bulgari curator

**”I try to avoid Nonno Boboli’s coda alla vaccinara – he’s not a chef! I prefer to go to either Checco er Carrettiere or Ristorante Paris, both in Trastevere.”

**David Holm, architect/author, Cox Architecture

**”I like to stay very close to the Pantheon. I’ve seen it in rain, in sunshine, with frozen fountains surrounding it and at all times of the day, and it remains one of architecture’s jewels. I like to visit Il Papiro paper store on Via del Pantheon nearby to purchase a new leather-bound sketchbook, then move 20 metres to find a table at Osteria del Sostegno on Via delle Colonnelle to start drawing Rome, while enjoying spaghetti and vino bianco.”

**Carlo Petrini, founder of the Slow Food movement

**”I like to visit the offices of La Repubblica, the major Italian daily newspaper for which I write a weekly column. It’s always a pleasure to say hello to the editor Ezio Mauro, who was born in the province of Cuneo, in the northern region of Piedmont, like myself. Afterwards I like to get out and explore the city and its food traditions. I love the classic Roman offal dishes, but I’m also fascinated by the way the local cuisine is evolving. At the 00100 pizzeria in Via Giovanni Branca, for example, I enjoy the so-called trapizzini, plain white Roman pizza triangles filled with typical meatballs, tripe, stewed tongue, pollo alla cacciatora and so on.”

**Catriona Rowntree, Presenter, *Getaway

***”I like to dress in something snazzy, pop on a pair of flat but fabulous shoes, arm myself with a small guidebook, hit the streets and go get lost. I just love to wander and do my utmost to fit in with the locals. My best disorientation had me discover the most inspiring artists’ laboratory or ceramics studio, which I now return to each trip for pressies (Il Cortiletto di Gabellini Giuliana, 76-77 Via di Monte Brianzo). If you get lost and find them, please say ‘Ciao, bello’ from me.”

**Antonio Carluccio, chef/writer

**”I head straight to Campo de’ Fiori. Wonderful.”

**Andrea Petrini, food and travel writer

**”The counter at Roscioli is my secret spot in Rome. It’s a grocery/bakery/wine shop-cum-micro-restaurant/salon where you can find the best products one could desire in Italy. The best ham, lardo, focaccia, the best cheeses from around the boot, a huge, gluggable selection of orgasmic wines, a deluge of ravishing Champagne, including a small room to collapse down for a proper meal and indulge freely in your sinful culinary fantasies. O pilgrim, dare yourself into this back room: between gnocchi, a carbonara, a cacio e pepe or a fantastic Amatriciana, you might even shake hands there with witty politicians, daring publishers, famous gourmands and MIA chefs. Never mind the bollocks, just go.”

**Simon Johnson, purveyor

**”I stay with Marina Colonna, the olive oil producer, at her home in Piazza Farnese. We usually jump on her Vespa and take a tour around Rome to check out all the latest art galleries, cafés and our usual favourite spots, including the Spanish Steps. We then finish off the day with dinner at La Rosetta, a favourite of Marina, who is also dear friends with chef Massimo Riccioli. The seafood is absolutely amazing.”

**Rinaldo di Stasio, owner, Café Di Stasio

**”I can lose myself time and time again in the majestic Piazza Farnese. To stand there, just gazing and breathing it in, never fails to delight me… the Michelangelo architecture, the grace of scale, the beauty of the big bathtubs towering over you. Then – to recover from this overwhelming slap of Stendhalism – I walk to Piazza del Popolo and lunch at Dal Bolognese; the cool professionalism of the waiters, and my favourite dish – tagliatelle with culatello – prepare me for my afternoon siesta.”

**John Irving, writer

**”When I’m in Rome, I like to meet up with my friend Matteo Patrono, sports editor of the newspaper Il Manifesto. He’s an avid fan of the AS Roma soccer team, while I support Juventus of Turin. There’s a fierce historical rivalry between the two clubs and we usually end up arguing. The battle starts over apéritivi in a little wine bar on Campo de’ Fiori and ends in one of the many offal restaurants in the Testaccio neighbourhood, where the abattoir used to be. Roman cuisine is famous for its use of il quinto quarto, the fifth quarter, a butchers’ term to refer to all the bits and pieces of an animal not comprised in the four main quarters (two front, two rear). Matteo and I usually go for rigatoni con la pajata, strips of the stomach of a calf, kid or lamb, tied at the ends to retain the chyme (partly digested milk). That may not sound so inviting, but believe me, it tastes divine!”

**Leila McKinnon, reporter/presenter, A Current Affair

** “When in Rome, make sure you investigate the city’s most closely guarded secret. No, it wasn’t coded in centuries-old oil paintings, or kept by the Knights Templar. It’s the secret of the magnificent coffee of Sant’Eustachio Il Caffè. Back in 2003, my friend Andrea and I made it our first stop, hot-footing it to the hole-in-the-wall café in a charming piazza not too far from the Pantheon. The story is the baristas roast their beans over wood and blend them with water from an aqueduct built in 19 BC. So can any morning cappuccino live up to that kind of intrigue and anticipation? Oh yes. Of all the mysteries of the Eternal City, this creamy coffee is the most deliciously stimulating.”

**Christine Manfield, chef, Universal restaurant

**”I like to have a Campari with freshly squeezed blood orange juice and some bruschetta at one of the cafés and bars that line Piazza Navona. Early morning visits to Campo de’ Fiori, the central square with its thriving produce market, demonstrate that the daily act of shopping for food lies at the heart of existence here. I search for the best food that is honest and uncomplicated – I get weak-kneed from the crisp filetto di baccalà (deep-fried salted cod fillet) served each evening out of the hole-in-the-wall establishment in the nearby Largo dei Librari. Trattoria da Francesco in Piazza del Fico never fails to deliver; it’s noisy and hectic; the grilled steak on the bone is unbeatable (also the fillet steak in balsamic vinegar), as are the heavenly thin-crust pizzas, the foccacia with thick-cut raw ham, and the flawless panna cotta with a small spoonful of acacia honey on top. For a slightly upmarket, better-behaved version of the same, Maccheroni in Piazza delle Coppelle is a good bet. La Botticella, in Vicolo del Leopardo, serves some terrific, hearty classics of mixed Roman origins: pigeon wrapped in bacon; tripe; deep-fried artichokes; stuffed zucchini flowers; coda alla vaccinara; and a pasta sauce they invented called La Botticella, essentially a red pesto with wild herbs.”

Dan Clark, owner, 1889 Enoteca

“I like to hang out with my sister; she lives in Como and loves Rome as much as I do. She is really into Caravaggio, so when I went to Rome last year we followed his works around the city and in between had lunch at Felice a Testaccio (who have the best cacio e pepe in the city), a glass of Gravner’s Ribolla Anfora at Enoteca Cavour 313, and dinner at Matricianella. On the way to dinner we walked past a shop window on the Via del Corso where experts were restoring a Caravaggio.”

Jacob Kenedy, chef patron, Bocca di Lupo, London

“I like to go to Marcello on Via dei Campani and eat puntarelle salad with anchovy dressing, rigatoni with pajata, and the best spezzatino known to man. Go on a food crawl: ricotta and sour cherry pie for a late breakfast at Antico Forno del Ghetto, then around the corner to Piperno where I have carciofi alla giudia (fried artichokes), coda alla vaccinara and palle del nonno (ricotta balls, again fried). I like to go on a pilgrimage to see Apollo and Daphne at the Villa Borghese and to walk along the Tiber late at night. I stop at a grattachecca shack and ask for a shaved ice with lemon or sour cherry. I ask very nicely, and they douse the lot with more vodka than I should be able to manage.”

**George Negus, journalist

**”When in Rome, it’s simple, do as the Romans do. The most important thing to do in Rome is walk. Veer off the tourist track to find the real thing, go down a back lane and a street you’ve never heard of. I always tell people if you’re in Rome go to the Piazza Navona, that’s where the famous fountain of the four rivers is. Go there, have a Campari and soda and a gelato then, if you’re still hungry, walk away from the Piazza – 100 metres in any direction – and find a restaurant, preferably one without a name on it, and ask the waiter what you should eat and drink. Don’t read the menu, Italian waiters are some of the wisest human beings on the face of the earth, and not just about food and wine – so put yourself in the hands of the locals. Sit, listen and watch the Romans do their thing… and never ask a Roman for a long macchiato.”

**Massimo Riccioli, chef patron, La Rosetta, Rome

**”I like to eat Amatriciana at Matricianella, pizza at Roscioli and grattachecca along the

river Tevere.”

**Nicky Riemer, chef, Union Dining

**”When I first visited ‘Gusto it was to their pizzeria with a friend. We had been working together at Richmond Hill Cafe & Larder and had decided our mutual love of all things Italian meant we needed to do a trip together. We met on the Spanish Steps and had a Negroni at this tiny bar/café at the base of the steps. We walked and walked and ended up at ‘Gusto. I had one too many beers and my fill of pizza. Needless to say, we had a night where we only drank Barolo. When I think of Roma, I think of pizza, beer and Barolo.”

**Todd Garratt, chef patron, Buzo

**”I like to revisit the little subterranean trattoria which I visited in the company of my parents about 20 years ago. The name of the place escapes me, but I do recall sharing a fabulous abacchio al forno that was meltingly tender and fragrant with rosemary and garlic. Our charming, wisened old host for the evening offered us a herbal digestivo at the end of the meal, which I have now come to recognise as Fernet-Branca. Many years later, we finish off many a Saturday night staff meal with a quick Fernet shot in preparation for service. In the words of Roxy Music, the memory ‘takes me right back’.”

**Carl Pickering, architect, Lazzarini Pickering Architetti

**”For an archaeological palimpsest, a distillation of Rome and its stratification over time, I like to go to the Basilica of San Clemente Rome and the Santo Stefano Rotondo – another wonderful circular space. Albertelli, on Via dei Prefetti, is a wonderful tailor for off-the-peg and bespoke shirts and suits. Osteria della Frezza, on Via della Frezza, is our home away from home – relaxing and fun, with good, simple food, an excellent wine list, great music and staff. Favourite bars include Tatì al 28 bar e ristorante in Piazza Augusto Imperatore, part of the ‘Gusto empire and recently restructured. Hotel Locarno, on Via della Penna, is where Rome’s most fun bar meets the city’s quirkiest boutique hotel – everyone goes there.”

**Michael Trembath, Italian wine importer, Trembath & Taylor

**”I drop into Palatium, the enoteca run by the local Agricultural Marketing Board. Here, one can catch up on the local food and wine scene (seasonal regional food, lots of small bites, some of Lazio’s best wines). Recently opened, it’s in Via Frattina among all the designer shops, so just perfect to unwind after shopping, and a little softer on the credit card.”

**Franco D’Anna, winemaker, Hoddles Creek Estate

**”I like to traverse the network of quaint streets that surrounds the Pantheon in Piazza della Rotonda. I make my way up an alleyway, Via Giustiniani, and my nose leads me straight to an authentic pizzeria that does pizza al taglio… and the most amazing arancini. And, luckily enough for my gorgeous children, there is Gelataria Buccianti right next door, where the gelato is made on site.”

**Faith Willinger, food and wine writer

**”For a little food culture, I visit the Pasta Museum in Piazza Scanderberg, followed by a gelato at Il Gelato di San Crispino on Via Panetteria.”

**Shane Mitchell, writer

**”I like to eat breakfast at La Buvette, a little bar off the Spanish Steps where fur-clad ladies feed cornetto crumbs to their lap dogs.”

**Sabino Matera, italian food and wine importer, Quoco

**”I catch up with my old Pugliese friends living in Rome. I also head to Formaggeria Limata to buy some cacio magno, mostarda di fichi and thinly sliced salame Felino and make myself a panino with Forno Campo de’ Fiori’s warm sfilatino to be enjoyed with a Peroncino while sitting in the middle of the piazza while the market is on. I’ll have an early dinner at Ponte e Parione, off Piazza Navona: some bucatini all’Amatriciana, saltimbocca alla Romana and a glass of Salice Salentino Riserva. And enjoy the midnight ‘notte Romana’ with a bottle of Franciacorta on the roof top of the Portrait Suites by Ferragamo.”

**Carla Zampatti, fashion designer

**”The energy, excitement and beauty of the Roman way of life as seen in the Piazza di Spagna and Via Condotti brings back to me, with pride, my Italian heritage.”

Massimo Bottura, chef patron, Osteria Francescana, Modena

“In the past five years we’ve seen the appearance of all sorts of variations of the trattoria or hostaria. These new interpretations often have striking architecture, contemporary design and refined dining while maintaining that absolute informal quality of a true trattoria. They’re small, and crowded with Rome’s young and spirited. Michelin-starred Glass Hostaria in Vicolo del Cinque in Trastevere boasts creative Cristina Bowerman at the helm. Plates are clean, colourful concentrations of flavour and form. Il San Lorenzo, on a narrow street near Campo de’ Fiori, lavishes great attention on the cooking (and not cooking) of their fish. From raw to cooked, in pasta and the making of secondi, quality is always the focus. Acquolina Hostaria is Giulio Terrinoni’s contemporary Michelin-starred kitchen. The baccalà with potato torte is a must. Ristorante All’Oro in via Eleonora Duse is a tiny but very chic trattoria in the ‘VIP’ Parioli neighbourhood. The young chef, Riccardo Di Giancinto, who has cooked with both Marco Pierre White and Ferran Adrià, is turning out his own clean, minimally designed but full-flavoured revisitation of Roman cuisine. Hard to get a table but worth the wait.”

**Alexia Gnecchi Ruscone, designer, Eclettica

**”La Centrale Montemartini, Rome’s first electrical power station, now houses a fine collection of ancient sculptures; it’s a great industrial space put to good use. Visit Tuttifrutti on Via Luca della Robbia for local produce (an edited menu depending on what’s in season); it’s always busy. There’s great pizza at Panattoni (nicknamed “Ai Marmi”) on Viale Trastevere. It’s always packed with locals and tourists.”

**Maurice Terzini, restaurateur, Icebergs Dining Room and Bar, North Bondi Italian Food

**”The Pantheon is very important. I always get a coffee and paper and spend at least half a day in this magnificent building. I also make sure I get to a good bar or club; the Romans play some of the best old-school house music. Lots of fun. And whatever you, don’t leave Rome without trying a porchetta panino.”

**Donna Leon, author

** “Last year, when I was in Rome for a concert, I returned to a restaurant where I ate almost daily when I was a student in the city in the late ’60s. Armando al Pantheon is half a block from the front of the Pantheon and is still run by the same family. Years ago it was a trattoria frequented by workers, who invariably appeared dust-covered and wearing hats made from folded sheets of newspaper. I remember the way many of them would order a peach as soon as they arrived, peel it and slice it into a glass, fill the glass with wine, and set the glass in the centre of the table. Pasta, secondo, and then the wine-soaked peach became dessert: I’ve seldom had a better lunch. Today the tables are covered with cloth, not sheets of butcher paper, and Armando has retired, but the food is still excellent, the service fine.”

**Robert Marchetti, chef patron, Icebergs Dining Room and Bar, North Bondi Italian Food

**”Lunch at Antonio Bassetti, Via del Governo Vecchio 18, the smallest trattoria in Rome, I think. A plate of pasta with pecorino and rabbit with chicory, a carafe of wine, a little cake. Don’t ask for coffee afterwards, as they don’t have room for a machine and love saying ‘no café’ really, really loud. Apértivo hour is just an excuse to start drinking early, and I love it. L’Enoteca Antica di Via della Croce is basically the look-at-me-I’m-cool bar. And that’s just the staff. But it’s very noisy and fun. They make a dangerous Negroni. Trattoria Al Moro on Vicolo delle Bollette was immortalised in Federico Fellini’s film Roma, and personifies Rome. Eat bottarga on toast with another Negroni while reading the menu, then order pasta with sausages and porcini, and nice bottle of red. I go to Rome to feel like a typical Roman. Romans think they are the real Italians and that Rome is a continent. Don’t believe me; go there and see. And have a Negroni for me.”

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