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Trastevere - A Foodie Morning

05/01/2016
Trastevere - A Foodie Morning

Trastevere is wonderful, full of that decade old Roman flair made of cobblestones, snug artisan shops, bougainvilles covered walls and great restaurants. Naturally, all this looks great in guidebooks and on pinterest boards, but once arrived Italians and foreigners alike find some difficulty in mustering a sad smile that might mitigate disappointment. All the characteristics mentioned above are without doubt present in the historic neighbourhood of Rome, but they are by no means in the front row.

The neighbourhood used to be one of the poorest in Rome, with the lower working class living in crowded and cramped apartments that now are luxury homes. The rione, as the neighbourhoods are called in Rome, has always been a labyrinth of narrow streets and cosy piazza’s, which give it the unmistakeable flair of historic authenticity. An authenticity that is utterly shattered to bits by many sad tourist traps that have sprouted all around the neighbourhood, wishing to ride the wave of the public acclaim of the area.

Arriving in Trastevere from Campo de Fiori, you cross Ponte Sisto, one of two pedestrian bridges in Rome, which leads onto Piazza Trilussa, the nominal heart of the neighbourhood. Nominal because it is named after one of the most important Roman poets, who wrote in dialect and did much to elevate the popular language of the lower classes that created the unmistakeable atmosphere of the area.  Once here the meanders open onto varyingly beautiful and grotesque scenes. Naturally, a historic neighbourhood needn’t necessarily be composed entirely of ancient taverns and shops with yet more ancient shop clerks, the importance is that the product and the inspiration transmit s dedication to quality, which should be present indifferently from location.

Renella, a historic pizza by the slice joint that also provides many of the restaurants in the area with excellent sourdough bread, is exactly that. The recent makeover that spiced and up the interior has done nothing to their pizza, except perhaps present it in a better light than the small locale allowed before. Be it for a pit stop or a serious lunch; do make sure to be there just before or just after the main eating rush hours, as they tend to get very crowded.

If you arrive in the morning take a stroll across piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere, and grab a coffee at bar Callisto, the coffee is ok, the cornetti so-so, but the place has its charm, especially early in the morning, just when the sun hits the few rickety chairs outside, a luxury in these narrow streets. Strengthened by the concentrated caffeine head down Via di San Cosimato to arrive at the homonymous Piazza where there is a daily farmers market, yet beautifully free of tourists and the traps that never miss to follow their path.

If you’re on a walking tour through the neighbourhood, then a shopping spree at the market might not be the most logistically strategic move. However, heading down Via Natale del Grande, take a left at the end and enter the fabulous world of Roberto and Anna, managers of the Antica Caciara, the best spot for getting your hands on some of the best guanciale (pigs jowl), pancetta (Italian bacon) and freshly made ricotta or well cured pecorino. The family run business is a reason in itself to come to Trastevere, if not Rome, just to get some of their excellent products.

Once here, on Via di San Francesco a Ripa, that is, take a left and head into the somewhat obscured part of the neighbourhood. Heading up Via della Luce, at number 21 you will find Innocenti, a Biscottificio, meaning as much as ”cookie bakery”. The biscottificio is one of the best places for a good serving of the sweetest delights Rome has to offer, so come prepared to undo any New Year’s Resolutions. Ask for whats just out of the oven (but wait until it’s cooled properly) or head for ths easonal specialties. If you happen to be in Rome in February do not miss the castagnole, small fried balls filled with cream, nor the frappe, the paper-thin sweet wafers; both are typical carnival sweets and Innocenti makes them to perfection.

When in Rome it is best to be a little on the daring side; well yes, head into the wild traffic and hope to arrive on the other side in one piece; yes, do mix sweet and savoury as they cross your way! After this morning stroll, a hearty lunch is almost overdue, so head to one of the last bastions of authentic roman fare; Da Enzo. In a characteristically tiny and cobblestone clad street, this restaurant has found the perfect setting for a stellar Coda alla Vaccinara (the roman oxtail speciality), a velvety carbonara and an excellent selection of cheese and cured meats. Regarding the cheese, the owners have some special friends down in Puglia who somewhat randomly (sometimes they have it and sometimes they don’t, so just try your luck) provide them with some of the best burrata available. Be warned though, booking ahead tends to be a necessity.

Biscotti from Innocenzi in hand, head towards Abkar for a caffè and digestivo. The multi-functional bar/restaurant/star-spotting place is famous for the mundane evenings held here with a certain frequency, reason why it is not really recommended for dinner since the service tends to suffer. However, in the afternoon, this peculiarly furnished bar is ideal for sinking into one of the embracing sofas or armchairs, enjoying an Amaro with your coffee and just relax in the bohemian atmosphere

Once the outside lights start to dim in accordance to the lights inside the locale, head out into the fresh air for an invigorating walk and prepare for the upcoming foodie evening.

 

La Renella Panificio Trastevere - Via del Moro 15

Bar San Calisto - Piazza di San Calisto 4

Mercato San Cosimato - Piazza San Cosimato

Antica Caciara - Via di San Francesco a Ripa 140

Biscottificio Artigiano Innocenti - Via della Luce 21

Da Enzo al 29 - Via dei Vascellari 29 -  +39 06 58 12 260

AkBar - Piazza in Piscinula -  +39 06 580 0681

 

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