The biggest part about our trip to Rome I was excited for was the food. I love Italian food; it’s my absolute go-to comfort, celebratory, happiness, sadness food. It’s the food that makes my soul the happiest. It’s the one culinary food that bought me and my husband together; our love for pasta.
It’s easy to find any restaurant in Rome and be guaranteed a great big bowl of pasta or a pizza full of mozzarella. But, are you going to have the best pizza and pasta? Is it going to completely change your pasta game or were you pretty much better off going for a Two for Tuesday at Dominos?
Do you see my dilemma? I had been dreaming of Rome for so, so long. It had been on my bucket list for years and I needed the food to live up to all the expectations I had created. On our first night, I had a very sub-par pizza which did not hit the spot at all. Blaming it on not finding out hotel very well and being hangry, I put it down to a pants restaurant and poor choices on my behalf. Luckily, the pints of Peroni I was knocking back made up for it.
So, in order to find the best food and try everything I possibly could in the Eternal City, it seemed the best thing to do would be to go on a food tour, and I’m 100% glad that we did.
We were invited to join the Local Foodie Tour in Trastevere with The Roman Guy with the promise of trying all the best of the local food, discovering the best district where the locals hand out, as well as some wine. We met our guide, Katiya in the late afternoon with our group with hungry bellies and set off into the city to go and eat all the food.
The tour lead us to Tratsever, a neighbourhood where all the locals hang out. Tratsever is just across the River Tiber and south of the Vatican (around a 20 minute walk from there), and it was a complete game changer in our trip to Rome. Tratsever is exactly how I pictured Rome; cobbled streets, full of bars and restaurants and the atmosphere completely takes over you whilst you’re there. It’s easily a place where you can spend a day or an evening in Rome. It’s punchy, it’s real and we spent many an evening afterwards sat in a bar on the cobbled streets drinking Aperol Spritz and falling in love with the place. Trastevere was originally a working class neighbourhood.
Within 5 minutes of walking, we were already at our first stop. A small local deli counter where we’d be feeding on the delights of antipasti, which is easily one of the ways to my heart. I adore cheese and cold meats. We tried 3 different cheeses and 3 different cold meats, paired with a glass of local white wine. We chatted to our group; finding out about everyone’s Italian adventures and what they do in the real world, away from gelato and cobbled streets. The majority of our group were American and after a few glasses of wine, all awkwardness was gone and we were getting to know each other. Katiya talked us through all the food and taught us simple Italian and Italian customs.
Our second stop was a 10 minute walk across the bridge of a small pizzeria. With one failed pizza attempt under my belt; I was excited to try this. Pizza Al Taglio (cut to go) was my best pizza experience in Rome. Different from the very thin bases, the base had a soft crunch to it. We tried two types; a margarita and a zucchini and pesto one. Both delicious but the pesto one made me grab an extra slice. Our third stop saw us stop for some bruschetta and more wine. Again, the same flavours as the pizza; but the simple tomato based one won me over this time. I had never tasted tomatoes so fresh and flavoursome. I could had very easily kept going back for more.
After a sit down and more wine with our bruschetta, we were feeling pretty comfortable with our new foodie-loving friends. It seemed the perfect time to go and try out some pasta at a local restaurant in Trastevere. Sat in a very pretty courtyard, we were served the best pasta and starters I had ever tasted. We were served aubergine style meatballs and artichokes in a very light batter. And two pasta dishes that were firm Italian favourites. The first being Amatricana, a tomato based pasta dish with fried pork cheek. An absolute winner – the pasta cooked al dente and the flavours exploding. I could have eaten the whole pan of it, it was so good. The second dish was a simple Cacio e Pepe, a Roman pasta dish made with black pepper and pepperino Romanco cheese and a splash of starchy pasta water. A subtle pasta dish but to me, the Amatricana won. Again, red and white wine was flowing on the table and it was a perfect way to spend an evening getting to know our new friends.
You cannot visit Rome without having gelato at least twice a day, and even after all that food, there is always room for gelato. After leaving Trastevere, we headed back across the River Tiber to a local gelato shop with a huge range of flavours. Katiya gave us the tips on how to know if a gelato shop was a good one, We were able to try any of the flavours we wanted, and they had all sorts. I tried a cheese and cherry, which was a punch of all flavours but I wouldn’t have been able to eat a whole scoop of. In the end, I went for a milk chocolate and banana. The milk chocolate was rich and the banana gave it a fruity punch. Banana is one of those flavours I always tend to stay away from, as it can easily taste of banana foam sweets, but I can confirm it did not taste of this. Husband discovered his new flavourite gelato flavour; pure chocolate. It was like a huge black hole of dark chocolate, which completely hit the spot for him and set him on a journey of having it every single time we had gelato.
We left our group at the gelato stand and headed back into Trastevere for beer and aperol. We left with full stomachs, happy faces and content from our evening of socialising. Would we do it again? Absolutely. It’s a brilliant way to spend an evening and discover gems you wouldn’t necessarily if you were left to your own devices. Katiya was a wonderful guide; incredibly informative about all the dishes, spent time chatting to everyone in our group and letting us know her tips for our other few days in Rome. It was definitely our saving grace for the next few nights and we had some wonderful evenings in Trastevere.
The Roman Guy do a number of different tours across Rome varying from food and drink tours to early morning tours around the Eternal City’s sights. If you’re not heading to Rome, they also do tours in Florence and Venice. Check out all the tours they do here!
*The Roman Guy Trastevere Food Tour was gifted to us in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own