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A foodie in Rome: Where to eat the best pizza and gelato

PUBLISHED: 12:00 20 April 2019

The Jarvis family waiting for pizza in Trastevere, Rome  Picture: Alan Jarvis

The Jarvis family waiting for pizza in Trastevere, Rome Picture: Alan Jarvis

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Our food and drink editor had the rather (ahem) difficult task of eating her way through the city.

Ah Rome…what have you done to my waistline? Five years on from visiting the Eternal City with my husband for our tenth wedding anniversary, we returned 'en famille' last week, our 11-year-old and 13-year-old in tow with one mission – to eat…lots. So here it is, our family guide to the best of the best!

Gelato

Gunther, Via dei Pettinari

The gelato here was so wonderful we visited three times in our short trip. Found very close to Ponte Sisto (one of the main routes to kooky Trastevere) this place uses only artisanal ingredients, including single origin chocolate, fresh fruit and organic, microfiltered milk. This was the silkiest, thickest, most true-to-flavour gelato I'd ever had. Sensational. Try the gianduiotto (chocolate hazelnut) and caffe, varieties. Or, if you're feeling brave, blue cheese and chocolate. It's cash only.

Geletaria della Palma, Via della Maddalena

A very short walk from the Pantheon, this one's a bit of a tourist trap, but was a huge hit with the kids whose mouths were agape at the range of around 150 flavours of gelato. Aside from the basics, you'll discover olive oil, honey and almond, lavender, basil, melon, passionfruit, rose, Sacher torte and Irish cream flavours. The gelato was lusciously creamy and the cakes in the café side were good.

Giolitti, Via Degli Uffici del Vicario

If Geletaria della Palma doesn't take your fancy, this huge patisserie and geletaria is a stone's throw away. Don't be put off by the crowds. The gelato is wonderful and portions are generous. They even do their own versions of Magnum ice creams and cookie sandwiches. The walnut ice cream is a joy.

Top tips

1. Bright gelato is a bad sign! Search for the pistachio flavour. If it's neon, forget about it.

2. A visible kitchen/gelato-making station on site usually means good things await.

3. Choose from a coppa (tub) or a cono (cone).

Pizza

Li Rioni, Via dei Santi Quattro

Less than 10 minutes from the Colosseum is this family-run joint loved by locals – and now by us. It was by far and away the friendliest service we experience in the city and we loved the interior (designed like a village square, complete with windows and rooftops). It was utterly charming. You have to try the battered, fried salt cod to start, and then it's pizza all the way. Thin and charred at the edges. We recommend the sausage and chicory, or mozzarella, gorgonzola and walnut toppings. Oh, and decent house wine is less than 10 Euros for a litre jug!

Dar Poeta, il Vicolo Del Bologna

This is one of those little treasures of Rome. Unless you know it's there or happen to spy it from a nearby street, you could miss it. Look beyond the scruffy graffiti smeared walls outside and within you'll taste just the most incredible pizza. More Neapolitan in style, with a thicker crust than is usual, the pizzas came out within minutes, despite it being busy. The dough is out-of-this-world good, rolled in semolina for added crunch. The marinara in particular is a party in the mouth. Around the corner is their hole-in-the-wall al taglio takeaway.

How to buy pizza by the slice

In Rome you'll find many 'al taglio' joints selling pizza in slices by weight.

Point to the one you want. If you only want a small piece say 'un pezzetto'. Otherwise the server will indicate where they're likely to cut. You can then say 'perfetto' (perfect), 'un po'meno' (a little less) or 'un po' di piu' (a little more).

And if you want something really special

Grab the blue line metro heading in the direction of Rebibbia and get off at Ponte Mammalo. Buy bus tickets for Tivoli and head to the upstairs bus station where buses leave every 20 minutes. Attractions here range from Villa d'Este to Hadrian's Villa but we went for lunch at Ristorante Sibilla. Perched on the edge of a gorge, overlooking the cascades of Villa Gregoriana I can think of nowhere more perfect for lunch. Picture a wisteria ensconced terrace. Silver service. A wood-fired oven cooking prime local meats. The finest regional Italian wines. Just magical from start to finish. We started with the kitchen's homebaked bread, and flatbread topped with ripe tomatoes, basil and olive oil. To follow, a three-tiered selection of local specialities –from lemony, herbal baked artichokes, to braised, breadcrumbed oxtail.

The children picked apart wood-roasted poussin, while hubby and I shared a bowl of homemade fettucini carbonara with asparagus and breast and leg of guinea fowl stuffed with local sausages and served with a salad of shaved asparagus, lemon and anchovy.

To finish? Lashings of the kitchen's own vanilla gelato with warm chocolate and cherry sauce, millefeuille layered with caramelised almonds, and a bowl of sun-ripened strawberries with a dusting of sugar.



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