A Week in Rome with Dad (+ a recipe)

It's that time of year again -- my dad is back in town! My dad makes a trip to the the Eternal City twice a year, every year, his visits so very anticipated that they give Christmas a run for its money.  He's no stranger to Rome by now, so his visits here are relaxed, uncluttered, so to speak, without any running around or obligatory trips to the Colosseum or Spanish Steps. He does lots of relaxing, museum and art exhibit hopping, and of course, we do lots of eating (what do you expect from the father of a food blogger?)!

Here's my dad, Anthony Bruzzese, radiologist, wine enthusiast, opera lover, and all-around know-er of all things (he's the smartest person I've ever met, no exaggeration). He also happens to be the best dad anyone could ever ask for (also not an exaggeration).
So, with no further ado, here are the highlights of his trip, which I am sharing partly because he'll get a kick out of sending a post about himself to his friends, but also because it includes suggestions for anyone in Rome/travelling to Rome soon. Note that I've focused quite a bit on the food because this is a food blog, after all!

Meals out in Rome with my dad are taken very, very seriously, often planned out in advance, and are seen as a great opportunity to eat at that restaurant we've-been-meaning-to-try-for-a-while or revisit some of our old favorites. Below are some of the standout restaurants for us this past week. For anyone visiting Rome soon -- consider the below restaurants as tested, approved, and highly, highly recommendable! 

Da Enzo 29 is a tiny whole-in-the-wall restaurant in Trastevere, and my dad's #1 favorite place to eat in Rome. Da Enzo serves classic Roman cuisine (amatriciana, cacio e pepe, carbonara, coda alla vaccinara, that sort of thing) with the addition of a few specials that change often (I highly recommend the panzanella or the burrata, tomato, and basil appetizer if its on the menu). This time around we ordered ricotta with honey and various jams, plus the rigatoni all'amatriciana, pasta con sugo di coda, or rather pasta with an oxtail ragu', plus polpette, aka meatballs, a side of bittery, spicy cicoria, and mascarpone with  baby strawberries to finish the meal. Yummm.
Cuoco e Camicia had been on my To-Try List for a while (my friend Emily C. is a die-hard fan who has waxed poetic about many a meal there) and how I regret not having had dinner here sooner! C&C serves Italian food that is elevated, a bit more on the creative side, with a menu that changes often depending on seasonality of ingredients and whatever the chefs have thought up that day (it was nice to open the menu and be surprised -- no super typical Roman fare here). We ordered beef tartare with berries and a slow cooked egg with asparagus and mushrooms to start, and were also treated to a tuna tartare and chickpea fritters with lime on the house (I love free, surprise appetizers!) For our mains, we opted for bollito con gelato di senape (slow-cooked beef with mustard ice cream -- sounds weird but it was fantastic) plus caramelle alla carbonara al contrario, or rather little pastas filled with carbonara sauce that then dressed itself as you cut into the pasta, amatriciana with smoked guanciale, beer ice cream, and a black pepper creme brulee served with strawberries. It was all excellent (my dad is still talking about the caramelle alla carbonara he got here). If you're in Rome and looking to do some fancy dining, this is the place to go. 
We had read about Trattoria Da Cesare al Casaletto in an issue of Bon Appetit Magazine (the #1 food magazine in the U.S, and my reading material of choice growing up) not too long ago. If Bon Appetit said it was good, we knew we wouldn't be disappointed. The menu was classic Roman fare with a few little surprises -- our favorites here were polpette di bollito (braised beef meatballs) crochette di melanzane (eggplant fritters with a spicy tomato sauce) and pasta alla gricia con carciofi (pasta with guanciale, pecorino, and artichokes). Is it time for lunch yet?!
A few other food highlights -- a trip to Zia Rosetta (also mentioned in this post) in Monti, for sandwiches. My sandwich with pomodori gratinatistracciatella, and basil (front and center in the photo) was fantastic. We also made a stop at Grezzo (also in Monti) a chocolate shop whose chocolates that are curiously dairy-free and gluten-free but delicious, with an intensely pure chocolate flavor. Yummm.

I made time for a little cooking too, of course! My sister and I had purchased a colomba -- a sweet, sugary, almond studded cake eaten in Italy around Easter in Italy -- the week prior, overlooking the fact that we are only two people and we had purchased a colomba weighing 1 kilo. This is what it looked like when we bought it: 
A week later, the leftover colomba was a bit on the stale side, making it perfect for french toast and a nice, leisurely brunch the three of us. So! If you too have leftover colomba to use (or any not quite fresh cinnamon, challah, or other bread laying around the house) you too can make this colomba french toast
Whisk together 2/3 cup of milk (158 ml) with two eggs and a dash of cinnamon; dip the stale bread (we used about 10 of the little slices above) briefly in the resulting cinnamon-y custard, and fry in butter over medium low heat on the stove -- if you use a fairly large skillet you can fry 2-3 pieces at a time. When the french toast is a deep golden brown on both sides, its ready -- serve hot with maple syrup, fruit, and blood orange juice. 

We didn't just eat the whole trip, I promise! We got our fill of culture, too. On Sunday we went to see the opera Andrea Chenier at Teatro Costanzi. My dad is a huge opera fan -- he has been since he was a little kid, following in the footsteps of his uncle who got him started early -- and every time he visits we try and go see whatever is on that month. Andrea Chenier is an opera whose plot is loosely based on the life of the French poet by the same name, who was executed during the French Revolution -- as you can imagine, it didn't have a happy ending (not too many operas do!) but it was beautifully done. 
We also went to the Museo di Trastevere to see the exhibit showcasing the photographs of Vivian Maier, an American photographer whose photographs were discovered by chance after she passed away in 2009 (Maier was a nanny and care-giver by profession, and photography was simply her hobby). Her photos beautifully capture life in New York and Chicago through the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, and if you're in Rome, do go see the exhibit -- its beautiful. You can read more about Vivian Maier on the awesome website Artsy.net, which will provide you with all the information you need to know about this artist -- click here to get to their page.
And to finish off this post -- here are some more photos of our week with our dad, mostly taken by him during our visits to the Monti and Trastevere neighborhoods, and in the case of the first two photos below, from the terrace of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, where he visited me at work. As always his week here has gone by far too quickly, but he'll be back soon (the restaurant list making as already commenced!) Love you dad!


  1. Well done. Lucky Dad.
    Thanks for all the wonderful tips

  2. So Sweet! What a memorable trip and you've documented it so well!
    I want to eat out in Rome right now!!!!