Italy’s Regional Cuisines in Rome. Part 3: Focus on Southern Italian Restaurants.
This is the final story of our Regional Cuisines in Rome trip and it covers a big part of the country. Not only Southern Italy but also the two big islands: Sardinia and Sicily.
Is there a common element in these regions’ cuisines? Maybe yes, it would be the major role played by pizza, pasta, fish, mozzarella and some vegetables like aubergines and zucchini.
Immediately south of Rome there is Campania whose capital is Naples. Well this is by far the largest non-roman community in town therefore they have tens of restaurants preparing the local specialties. And don’t forget that pizza also originates from Naples. Therefore forget about having your best pizza in Rome. In our opinion the one you eat in Rome should not even rank as pizza, but something else, definitely worse. Therefore, if you’re really craving for pizza but you can’t make it to Naples try Napoli-style pizzerias, not the standard hyper-flat and burnt Roman version
But Campania’s cuisine, of course, doesn’t revolve around pizza, it is way, way richer!
One of our favorite places is Trattoria La Barchetta. A very elegant place where we often see Italian VIPs. As starters we love their mozzarella, the fried dough and the aubergine croquettes. There is a very wide range of fresh fish available and the pasta dishes are also very good: try their inciucio pasta, with cheese and tomato sauce, or their zucchini alla scapece linguine. They also have a limited but very good choice of desserts – you can’t miss their cream in the little jug! No pizza here.
The tip of the boot, Calabria, is well represented in Rome by a unique restaurant. Located in a church, this restaurant, near the Trevi fountain Sacro e Profano offers the best delicacies of the region. Their pasta with nduja, a soft pork spread with tomato and chilli, and pecorino is a must, possibly followed by lamb skewers with pepper sauce. As a dessert we suggest you the Pizzo Calabro ice-creams.
The heel of the boot, Puglia, has an incredibly low number of eats in town considered how good and varied is her gastronomy. The one we prefer is Cime di Rape. This elegant restaurant in the northern part of Rome, near an area with lots of bars and clubs – Ponte Milvio – offers the typical dairy products such as burrata (a sort of mozzarella, very soft and juicy inside) and caciocavallo (a hard, dry cheese). One the symbols of pugliese cuisine are orecchiette – ear-shaped pasta – that you can eat here “alle cime di rapa” -turnip tops – and mashed broad beans, another icon of the local gastronomy.
Sardinia, on the other hand, has a very wide offer of regional restaurants in Rome. We chose l’Allegro for you. In this new and modern space you will be able to try most of the island’s peculiar dishes. Starting from pasta with clams and bottarga, dry fish egg powder used as a pasta seasoning. Porceddu, roast pork, is the typical non-fish dish of the region. Saffron is an excellent spice of Sardinia, while thei best desserts has a sweet cheese in a fried dough covered by local honey, seadas.
The Siciliainbocca group has three restaurants, each in a different area of Rome to propose Sicilian food. Their starters with caponata (a mix of peppers, aubergine, celery and other vegetables) and panelle (chick-peas fritters) are to die for, as well as their parmigiana di melanzane (an aubergine, tomato and parmesan-based dish). Fish in general and swordfish in particular are the island’s specialty. If you want to try something really original, have their rice with citrus fruits!