We get asked a lot about where to eat in various cities around Europe, to which our answer is typically, "hang on while we just move there for a little while so we can tell you with 100% confidence what the best places are."
Today's Friday Fives guest, Katie Parla, actually did that. Katie was born and raised in New Jersey, but she is now one of the most trusted authorities on the food of Rome, where she lives and spends her time writing about eating food, drinking wine (she's a sommelier), and basically living the life that we all dream about until Monday morning comes crashing down on top of our heads.
If you happen to be heading to Rome anytime soon, Katie is the person you want to consult on where to eat. And if you're not currently planning a trip, you can consult her latest cookbook and try to make some Roman food of your own. Tasting Rome is available now for your purchasing pleasure, and it's full of excellent Italian challenges for you to tackle in the kitchen this weekend.
Maybe don't start with the tripe.
Katie's "Perfect For" Picks
Perfect For: Cheap Eats
Under normal circumstances, if you wanted to eat tripe, tongue, braised meat, or simmered artichokes in Rome you would have to head to a trattoria or restaurant for a full-on meal, devoting precious time and money. But at Box #15 in the Mercato di Testaccio, Mordi e Vai offers Rome's offal, meat, and vegetable classics in fast food form. For around €3.00, get a ciabatta filled with the Roman dish of your choice. I never miss the panino con l'allesso (tender brisket).
Perfect For: Special Occasions
When people visit Rome, fine dining and contemporary European cuisine doesn't usually top their list of priorities, but when I'm after a special meal accompanied by thoughtful, professional wine service, I visit Metamorfosi for dishes like oxtail risotto with cocoa powder, miso-lacquered eel, or squab with chamomile and endive. Metamorfosi also has the best restaurant bread program in town--and am I'm not just saying that because sous chef-baker John Regefalk developed the dough recipes in Tasting Rome!
Perfect For: Day Drinking
Ma Che Siete Venuti A Fà (Macchè to locals) is Rome's premier craft beer pub. For more than a decade, its taps have been pouring foreign and domestic brews in the heart of Trastevere. Most patrons take their beers outside to the cobblestones, but I'm a big fan of the small but interesting large format bottle selection, often of limited edition beers, which is best enjoyed at the bar.
Perfect For: Impressing Out Of Towners
Many visitors still think you can't find a bad meal in the Italian capital. But for reasons too numerous to mention, the quality of food in Rome has taken a nose dive over the past decade and few places manage to hit the spot on all aspects of food and wine service, which makes Cesare al Casaletto an absolute treasure. When I want out of town guests to taste the best of Rome and experience that perfect trattoria they imagine, I take them to Cesare and order all the fried starters--eggplant croquettes, anchovies, squash blossoms, and more--followed by the pasta classics (cacio e pepe, gricia, and amatriciana). The place also has an insanely affordable wine list composed mainly of natural wines from Italy, France, and Slovenia.
Perfect For: Coffee & A Light Bite
The newest addition to the Roscioli family's small but growing food and beverage empire is Caffè Roscioli, a coffee and pastry shop opened in January 2016. Unlike most cafes in town, which serve factory made pastries, the Rosciolis make butter-based sweets on-site, including maritozzi con la panna, yeasted buns filled with whipped cream. The espresso, made from beans roasted by Verona-based Torrefazione Giamaica, is the best in town and this is one of the few places offering properly made pour-over coffee.