Italy’s Regional Cuisines in Rome. Part 1: Focus On Northern Italian Restaurants
As we said in the previous story on food in the Eternal City, restaurants offering regional specialties are not particularly considered here particularly common. That’s why we thought it would be useful to single out some, so that you can explore the many sides of Italian gastronomy without leaving Rome.
When one goes out for dinner here one usually has a Roman cuisine meal or generally an Italian one, either traditional or innovative. But there is a third choice: go regional.
We will move from North to South. It is difficult to say in a few lines what are the main features of Northern Italian cuisine since there are deep regional cleavages, but polenta (corn flour cooked in water), rice, cold cuts and cheese have a big role in this part of the country. In the next few days we will propose another couple of stories about Central and Southern Italian restaurants in Rome.
Liguria has some of the country’s best food in our opinion and there is a place in Rome that has been cooking great dishes from this region. It’s Taverna Giulia, a pretty formal place conveniently located between piazza Navona and the Vatican. You must absolutely try their pasta with pesto or their pansoti (vegetables filled dumplings) with walnuts sauce. We also love their Genoa style stew. Plus there is a big choice of seafood.
The other cuisine that we adore is the one from Emilia Romagna. There is this place that you should head to, not far from the Trevi Fountain, if you ever get tired of carbonara or amatriciana. It’s Colline Emiliane, a very old-style place (it may not be lively when you first go in, but take comfort that their food is excellent). Since 1931, they’ve been serving the best tortellini, or one of the country’s most sophisticated cold cut: culatello. If you want to eat meat, the giambonetto (veal cooked in milk) is really superb as well as the Bolognese style veal cutlet. Via degli Avignonesi 22.
Where does Italy’s best ham come from? We believe from Friuli Venezia Giulia a small region in the most north-eastern part of the country. And its name is San Daniele. Pane Vino e San Daniele is a nice, but not very quiet or intimate, place in one of Rome’s best squares, piazza Mattei, where you can taste the sweetest ham or other regional delicacies such as polenta or frico or a very rich dessert like gubana.
The North’s largest region is Lombardy and we couldn’t skip their excellent food. Not far from the Vatican, Velando offers the best dishes from the Alpine areas of the region: Valtellina and ValCamonica. Their rice dishes are really unique. If you want something tastier then you should get the pizzoccheri, a local pasta with lots of mountain cheese. They also offer lake and river fish. Very elegant. Expensive. Borgo Vittorio 26.
Veneto is represented at its best in Rome by Ombre e Cicheti, a place where you can also just go for a drink (ombre) and some snacks (cicheti). If you prefer a full meal, crabs and tripe are among their best dishes, all with a strong influence from the city of Venice, such as liver with polenta. Horse meat is also available. Open until late, perfect after a long day at the Vatican (it’s pretty close to St. Peter’s).
And what are your favorite Northern Italian restaurants in Rome? We haven’t heard of any Piedmont or Valle d’Aosta restaurants present in Rome, please feel free to tell us if you do! We would love to hear from you!