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Eating in Rome

After hearing complaints from coworkers that have been to Rome, I'm concerned that I won't find good authentic Italian trattorias or inexpensive restaurants. Someone said "There are no Italians in Rome." Any suggestions? I will be staying at La Papessa, Via del Corso up from Piazza Venezia close to Trevi fountain.
I'm also concerned about "gypsies" stealing from me. Any comments on this?

Posted by
1773 posts

My suggestions are: Don't listen to your coworkers because those comments sound stupid. Don't use the word "Gypsies" unless you want to sound racist. Get the Rick Steves guidebook and use the food recommendations.

Posted by
23983 posts

Someone said "There are no Italians in Rome." So, of the 2 and three quarter MILLION residents of Rome, how many does your nutty coworker think are not Italian? 2,750,000? I'd believe everything else they said, too.

Posted by
23983 posts

BTW - if you're looking for inexpensive, Via del Corso ain't the part of town to be looking in...

Posted by
8 posts

Sorry about using the term gypsies, I was quoting other people, didn't mean to sound racist. Since I'm staying on that street, I'm looking for food close by.

Posted by
653 posts

Perhaps your coworkers were in Rome in August, when most Romans take vacation? Just kidding. For good food, you need to go down some of the side streets. Recommendations from RS and Lonely Planet are reliable. There are always incidents of petty crime in big cities. The newer thing (having not been to Italy in several years) is someone asking me to sign a petition and then asking for a specific donation amount, or rather well-dressed young people approaching patrons of sidewalk cafes (not so much in Rome as in other cities) asking for money. A polite "no" will usually send them on their way.

Posted by
198 posts

Hi Judy, We will be taking our first trip to Italy in the middle of May. I used to have some preconceived ideas about Italy, but the nice people here have helped me to be open to surprises. Please do not let some maybe jealous or grumpy coworkers ruin some aspects of your trip for you. Take precautions and be open to lots of interesting and memorable experiences. Have a great time! Buon viaggio!
Ruth

Posted by
1501 posts

Beg to differ with the above posters, but having been to Rome, (numerous times) Spain (several times) and last time Paris, "Gypsies/Romanians" DO exist, and they have fascinating ways to rip you off. We had an IPhone stolen from the tabletop in a cafe in Paris last summer by the "G" children, who came to the table with a laminated sign saying "we are hungry please give us money for food" They placed it on the table, and when they left with their sign, the Iphone was also gone. The oldest of the group of three was probably 8 years old. The Paris police said there's nothing they can do about them because of the laws regarding children even though they knew where they lived and the adults who "trained" them in their profession. The police referred to them as "G children." No offense. Almost lost a computer at the Rome airport as well by two well dressed young men who tapped me on the shoulder, my husband looked up......and a third was behind him with their hand on his bag. Now, having said all that........We have enjoyed every trip we've ever taken to Italy. DO try to go down the alleys and let your nose guide you. If the food smells good, it probably is! No triple language menu posted outside is also a good sign, i.e., locals eat there!!! In Rome, I LOVE Piacere Molise near the Vatican. Look it up on Trip Advisor, write down the address and take a taxi. Don't expect them to speak English though!!

Posted by
11442 posts

Look I loved my two visits to Rome, but yes, there are Roma people( often called gypsies) and some of them will try and pickpocket you. Take all the precautions that are in any guidebook or forum for almost any large europeon city( Paris and Barcelona have similar issues). I have visited solo and with a child, so it is safe, but you do have to have common sense, and keep valuables safe in either a money belt(that you do not assess in public ever) or at hotel in room safe. Just keep one days spending money in purse, zipped close, hand over zipper in crowds, and do not be distracted by commotions ,, watch your bag. I have had a few great meals in Rome and I have had a few VERY bad ones. One meal in particular made me sick as a dog for two whole days,, had to see a doctor etc.. nasty. Who cares if there are Italians in Rome,( well of course there are though) , you aren't going to visit them are you, you are going to see the sights, your're a tourist, so just go and have fun seeing amazing sites thousands of years old.

Posted by
4512 posts

Gypsies are more commonly referred to now as the Roma. The key with them is to be forceful if they appraoch you. A sharp, quick "NO!" and a good wave of the hand will send them scurrying before they can do any harm. NEVER try to be "polite" or give them an instant near you. If you have your money belt, and don't leave valuables sitting on cafe table tops, you'll be fine. I suppose your co-workers were just be facitious about no Romans in Rome. But Rome will be different than other parts of Italy, just as NYC is different than anywhere else in the US. Authentic Italian food is not really like what many in the US think of as Italian food. So be prepared to enjoy the differences and don't seek out your local familiar favorite dishes or you may be dissappointed.

Posted by
7737 posts

FWIW, there is no such thing as "real Italian food", since all Italian food is regional. And a lot of the regional food is not food most Americans would want to eat (horsemeat or donkey, for example). But there are certainly scores if not hundreds of good restaurants in Rome where you can get great food. You just have to do some research. Judy, you're staying in one of the more up-market touristy areas, making it harder to find authentic trattorias nearby. you may have to do a little walking, but Rome is very compact.

Posted by
9454 posts

Judy, A few restaurant suggestions for you that offer good Roman food, non-touristy for the most part (lots of locals go there) and are reasonably priced. - Cul de Sac, just south of Piazza Navona - Antica Taverna, bit west of Piazza Navona - Enoteca Provencia, near Trajan's Column, a stone's throw from P. Venezia
- Da Tonino on Via del Governor Vecchio also west of P. Navona - Dar Poeta for pizza in Trastevere The websites http://www.Parlafood.com and http://www.revealedrome.com/ offer so,e great advice as well. As to the "Rom" or street vendors of any ethnicity, just say a firm "NO" as mentioned above, or "vada via" in Italian, which means go away. Ciao!

Posted by
25 posts

Judy, I've travelled in Rome as a single woman and never had a problem. I try to be aware of my surroundings. Some of the people (tourists) I saw - I could have picked-pocketed them myself!! Standing on a corner, engrossed in a map with no clue to the people around them; fat wallet sticking out of a back pocket; sitting at a table with an open purse hanging off the back of their chair, cell phone and wallet on the table!! I only carry enough cash on me that I think I'll need for that day/evening and one credit/visa card. The rest - passport, money, jewelry, anything - goes in the room safe. I tried a money belt but just couldn't get used to it. I don't carry a big purse, instead I use a flat pouch that slings across my shoulder and sits close to my hip in front. It holds everything I need for the day, including pocket camere, phone, small map, money, and chapstick. Yes, travelling light is a learned art but it'll make your trip so much nicer not having to lug a bag of "stuff" all the time.
Pare down to just the important items, keep them close to your body and be aware when you're in a crowd. Go down the alleys or off the beaten path, for the best food. If it's got an Eng/Italian menu out front or pictures on the menu - not authentic. Some of the best meals I had were at trattoria's where the owner spoke only Italian and I got what he decided!

Posted by
8 posts

Thank you for your comments and assistance. My b&b , La Papessa, was extremely reasonable with great reviews, even though it wasn't in RS books. I know that area above the hotel towards Spanish Steps has a lot of upscale shopping (la dolce vita stroll).
I did go to Paris by myself and I didn't have any trouble except one time when someone stuck a camera in my face as I was stepping onto the metro. But a French lady said something to him and he backed away. I will also be in Rome by myself. I've invested in good walking shoes and expect to do a lot of walking around.

Posted by
7737 posts

IMHO, there are virtually no hard and fast rules for determining what is a good restaurant. The "run away from English menus" rule doesn't work. We've eaten in some outstanding restaurants that have English menus. We've eaten in some really lousy ones that didn't. We've gone to restaurants crowded with Italians and had lousy food and lousy service. We've gone to ones frequented with tourists and had excellent meals. That said, the one rule that I've seen to be true is to avoid restaurants that have someone outside trying to get you to come in and eat. If they're good, they don't have to do that. Happy travels.

Posted by
1 posts

When in Rome... Not sure why its not being discussed, but if you're in Rome and you're NOT eating in Trastevere, one has to wonder why? The better Osteria's are in Trastevere. I happen to enjoy gnocchi dishes and its a Roman specialty.

Posted by
8 posts

I'm no Olive Garden girl. My dad was Italian and did most of the cooking. He made the most DELICIOUS red sauce with mostaccioli or regular spaghetti. He would add either spare ribs, meatballs, sausage, or "bracioles" which were rolled flank steak with herbs and cheese inside them. He also liked eggplant.
I have another stupid question. My dad made "Italian beef". It was a very lean sirloin roast that he put garlic, cheese, herbs, into slits in the meat and slow roasted it in the oven. This is sold all over Chicago and eaten with peppers and dipped in au jus. It has a very distinctive taste and is also delicious. Do they have "Chicago Italian beef" in Italy?

Posted by
1501 posts

OK, this is one I DO know something about. No Italian Beef in Italy anywhere! It's a Chicago Dish invented by Italian Immigrants. When Italians moved to the states the food changed. The tomatoes here weren't as sweet as the tomatoes in Italy, so some started putting sugar in the sauce, and other adjustments. There's nothing wrong with any of this, a natural evolvement that occurs when people move away from native countries and can't find original ingredirents. I lived in the same kind of household you grew up in and I still make the mostaccoli!
I've moved far from Chi town and either have it shipped in, or make it myself. Italian food in Italy will be different than what you're used to here. The meatballs are almost never offered in a restaurant considered a home meal. Meat is served as a separate course. The Never put meat on a plate with pasta unless it's in a special dish. You will love the food and disregard the insults from some people here.

Posted by
1773 posts

If you travel to a foreign country looking for things that are familiar or remind you of home you will be disappointed. If you have an open mind and look to experience what you find you will have a more enjoyable time. This philosophy pertains to food more than anything else. Now I'm disappointed when I go to an "authentic" Italian restaurant here in the states because now I realize they aren't.

Posted by
20 posts

I'm visiting next month, and based on a recommendation from a friend, we're going to eat at: www.ristorantealmororoma.com/ I was told that the food is excellent and the ambiance is authentic Italian.

Posted by
40 posts

Just back. Lots of good places to eat at lots of price points. One that was recommended that we tried out and found well worth the price point was Pino Allen Copelle Trattoria Via dells Copelle 41 00186 Roma (yes, it was remarkable enough that we asked for their business card.) Per your concen about real Romans in Rome, our waiter, Massimiiano, made a point of telling us which foods on the menu were particular to Rome. He was a very friendly waiter and provided excellent service.
The pasta was cooked perfectly, the meats were in tasty sauces, and even our very partocular child was satisfied happy with her dish. But don't just take our word for it. Search around and you'll find this place has high reviews. Happy travels.

Posted by
40 posts

Sooty for the typos, I'm working from an iPod.
:-)

Posted by
389 posts

Trattoria der Pallaro, just south of the Corso Vittori Emanuele II in the Centro Storico. For less than 25 euroes each, we had a three course meal, plus a bit of dessert, plus wine. The menu is fixed, and it's whatever the little old lady in the kitchen is cooking that day, so be prepared for that. But this was definitely the best meal my husband and I have ever had, together or apart. And he's been to Thailand!

Posted by
47 posts

Like any big city, there's about a million places to eat in just about every price range. Some are better than others. For more "authentic" food, I think your best bet is just to wander off the main squares and try to find something on a side street or back alley. I agree with Michael above, that a menu with English translation doesn't mean much anymore. It seemed like 90% of the menus I read had an English translation. And I read a lot of menus. I think out of 7 meals I ate, only 1 didn't have an English translation. Then I sat down and got the real menu, bigger than the one posted outside, and it also included an English translation. I felt like we had pretty good luck with asking the waitstaff what dishes they recommended, or by going with the specials of the day. As far as the theft goes, if you take basic precautions, such as not wearing expensive jewelery, being aware of your surroundings, and using your money belt, there's really nothing to worry about.

Posted by
91 posts

We ate at most of the places Laurel suggested and were very pleased. Dar Poeta was the best pizza we had. Check Ricks suggestions, they were pretty spot on.

Posted by
782 posts

Gypsies are definitely a problem in Rome, moreso than most Italian cities except maybe Florence. Not sure if it's a regional thing but they are more commonly called "Zingara/o" here rather than "Roma". I once witnessed an elderly British woman (who was trying to be polite) get physically accosted by a female gypsy right outside the Vatican. She screamed loudly and eventually the Carbinieri showed up but it was a bit disturbing to see. I myself was a target outside the train station once but I knew their tricks and was able to fend them off but not before an old gypsy woman got a 50,000 lira bill out of my front pocket without me even feeling it (I smacked her arm and she dropped it). So yes, be careful when you see them. One decent restaurant recommendation in the Vatican area is called Vito e Dina's. Good food and decent prices, for Rome.

Posted by
48 posts

Eat last summer in one of RS's recommended restaurants, Hostaria Romana on Via Rasella (p. 865 of his guide) and will probably eat there again in a few weeks. Excellent! Just be there when it opens to avoid a long wait later. As for safety, I always carry my wallet in my front pocket. I also use a belt pouch bag to carry my guidebooks (same when I use to carry bird guides when I'm birding). It sits heavily over my right front pocket and thus over my wallet. It would be very hard to get into my pocket with that bag over it. Just be aware of your surroundings. Maybe it is because I grew up in NYC and taught in the South Bronx for 36 wonderful years, but I feel as if I have eyes in the back of my head. Some of the would be thieves seem visible to me a mile away. Just be alert, be sensible, be aware, and you'll be fine. Leaving for Italy on Sunday and as usual will end up in Rome (for the third time). I'm addicted to the city and if you let yourself, you will become an addict too!