Sunday, 5 June 2011

Bella Roma


 What a trip! What a waistline! What melt-in-the-mouth pasta! What an engagement!

So back in April The Prawn King and I took a cheeky trip down to Rome to get away from the Royal Wedding, and spent our five days walking and eating very, very well. I know Rome is full of museums and galleries but for me you get to know a place by walking around, sitting in little cafes and just generally absorbing everyday life. Also given that food is the heart of Italy it would have been wrong not to eat as well and as often as we could during our time there. No? 

We stayed in a sweet little apartment on Via Giulia near Campo dei Fiori, whose owner Alessandro was a real foodie! He gave us some great recommendations and we headed straight out for lunch at Dal Paino on Via di Parione. There is something about that first meal in a place when you’ve just got off the plane, feeling a little tired and weary; Dal Paino’s thin, thin pizza with a cold Peroni just hit the spot! Yum.  

Alessandro’s next recommendation was PierLuigi where we went for dinner that night. PierLuigi’s location is what you dream of when you think about eating in Italy – quiet little piazza, white table cloths and a warm evening to sit outside and people-watch. We started with a carpaccio of salmon and moscadini fritti (tiny baby whole squid deep fried), both which were amazing but I would go back to Rome just for another plate of the moscadini. We then went and -chose our fish and decided on a turbot cooked au-gratin, with baked radicchio and taleggio. Delicious, delicious, delicious.

The next day went walked over the river to Trastevere and had a delicious cappuccino and an arrogosto (literally means “lobster”) which is a little filo pastry delicacy filled with ricotta and orange. THAT is the way to have breakfast! 

Lunch was a recommendation from a couple we met the night before, Le Mani in Pasta which unless you knew about, you’d walk right past it. We got a seat next to the kitchen so we could see what was going on and started with a delicious plate of buffalo mozzarella and proscuito crudo. We then went on to have the home-made Ravioli with butter and sage and Fettuccine ricotta prosciutto, both made in-house and both completely divine. Definitely a highlight of the trip and a must if you go to Rome.

The Saturday night had been planned by The Prawn King. We left the apartment and strolled hand-in-hand through the streets of Rome to the restaurant. Looking back, I now realise why his hands were slightly clammy but at the time I wondered if he might be coming down with something. Think “wet fish” and you get an idea of what they were like. The restaurant was a gorgeous little place called Il Bacaro, covered in ivy and very romantic. We went inside and ordered our food and just after the starter came The Prawn King said “There’s something I want to ask you” and he got down on one knee, produced a beautiful ring and asked me to marry him! It was truly romantic and beautiful, but please don’t ask me what the food was like there as I honestly can’t remember. The wine and prosecco flowed freely that night and we woke up with a suitable hangover the next morning! The rest of the weekend was spent in a glorious bubble and a great excuse for lots of celebratory cocktails and glasses of prosecco.

Some other places of note were Colline Emiliane where the family running the place were actually from Emilia Romagna further north in Italy. We had a delicious Lasagne which is typical of the region and Tortelli di Zucca (pumpkin) which was outstanding. Gelateria del Teatro was also amazing with their sage and raspberry gelato and my favourite, pistachio.

On the last night we went out for a drink at Bar del Fico in Piazza del Fico and had a couple of delicious basil martinis. We then went over the road to a restaurant we had seen during the day and thought looked fun, Da Francesco. It was absolutely heaving, very noisy and complete chaos. We had a great meal but the highlight was really the atmosphere and the buzz, and the fact that we were the only tourists in there. We had great chats with all the waiters and by the end of the night The Prawn King was on first name terms with the owner, and everyone in the restaurant was celebrating our engagement!

A great end to a truly amazing weekend we really won’t forget.

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