My Neighborhood in Rome

As you may or may not have noticed, I have posted a total of three non-recipe posts in the past month, those posts that in the past have been on the rarer side, popping up on the blog every so often when I've been traveling or have found the time to compile a rare Best Of list. Sharing more non-recipe posts was one of my blogging goals for this year (*pats self on the back*) as I'd like to give the blog a bit of variety, include more posts about Rome, and allow you to feel like you're traveling a bit with me wherever I go (New York! Naples! New Orleans!) The recipes will always be a mainstay on here -- this is, after all, a food blog -- but I think posts like this make the blog more well-rounded, and on a more practical note, make it easier on me during the weeks where I haven't had time to cook or photograph. Expect many more this year!

So! I'd been wanting to write a post on my neighborhood in Rome for a few months now, but hadn't managed to get around to it (blame Thanksgiving, holiday travel, and most recently, the revelation of this miraculous One-pan farro). It's a wonderful place to live -- in fact, I've lived nowhere else since arriving in Rome in 2011 --
and goes by the name Prati. Within Prati, I live in a little neighborhood a few minutes walk from the Cipro subway stop on the A line, not too far from St. Peter's (I often joke that Pope Francis is my neighbor, usually making no one but myself chuckle). Where I live is nowhere near as picturesque as neighborhoods like Trastevere or Monti, nor as lively as Testaccio, but its very convenient -- everything from the supermarket to my hairdresser to the dry cleaner is a 5 minute walk away, something not lost on a person who comes from a country where you must have a car -- and, most importantly, is full of places that make this neighborhood paradise for a food blogger. I feel incredibly lucky to have the following restaurants, shops, and markets nearby, and do consider them worth a visit if you're in the Eternal City. Read on! 

Address: Via Giorgio Scalia 18/20
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 7:30am-1:30pm, 4:30pm-7:00pm. 
You guys, it doesn't get much better than this. This tiny pasta shop churns out fresh pasta on a daily basis -- everything from tagliatelle to tortellini to my personal favorite, ravioli cacio e pepe, with a Pecorino cheese filling and lots of black pepper -- and is ridiculously close to my apartment, one of the best answers to the question "What's for dinner?" A nice portion or two of pasta here will cost you about 4 euros, and it makes for a superb meal (does it get any better than fresh pasta?!) especially when the above-mentioned ravioli is tossed with a brown butter and sage. As it only takes me a few minutes to go down and pick up some pasta, and then to cook it (fresh pasta cooks in no time at all) I like to think of this as fast-food in its finest, done the Italian way. Bonus: if you're lucky you can look behind the scenes (like I said, this is a tiny shop) and see the pasta dough being mixed and rolled out live. Video here, for those of you who have Instagram.

Address: Via Marcantonio Bragadin 51
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 7:30am-8:00pm.
I mentioned Paciotti not long ago in this post here and I'm writing about it again because Paciotti is so very special that I'd go as far as to say its worth looking for apartments in this neighborhood, just to have it near by. Paciotti is a small family run store that sells sort of Italian cheese you could ever dream of, from sharp ultra-aged Parmesan to fresh mild mozzarella di bufala; balsamic vinegar of all ages, and the very best olive oil you could hope to ever taste; all sorts of wine, limoncello, salumi, bread, olives, and biscotti, to name just a few. It's one of my very favorite places in Rome (Colosseum who?!) and I feel incredibly lucky to have such easy access to it. Whether you're living in Italy's capital full-time or are here on vacation, its worth a visit -- especially if you're hoping to stock up on edible gifts for your friends and family back home (or just for yourself, quite frankly). Bonus: you'll not find a friendlier or more knowledgeable staff anywhere. 

Address: Via Rialto 39
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 12:30pm-2:30pm, 7:30pm-10:30pm. Sunday, 12:30pm-2:30pm.
Secondo Tradizione is new-ish to the neighborhood -- it opened about a year and a half ago -- but one meal there was sufficient to rank it among my personal Best Restaurants in Rome list. Its menu offers all the classic Roman dishes (trippa alla romana, pasta all'amatriciana, and cacio e pepe, among others) done to perfection, plus other dishes that vary weekly, like fettuccine with artichokes and lamb or pork with shallots and apricots. The star at Secondo Tradizione for me however are their magnificent taglieri (rough translation: meat and cheese boards) which are, simply put, masterpieces. Each tagliere is created with incredible by the chef (the talented Giampaolo) and contains a wide variety of top quality meats and cheeses, with jams, vegetables or fruits mixed in, depending on what pairs best with what's being served. Each tagliere is then presented with a detailed explanation of each ingredient, its history, and why it was chosen, courtesy of Giampaolo, who, if you're not an Italian speaker, will also do your explanation in English. This is a must-visit, whether you're a tourist or a local -- bottom line, eating out, at its very very best.

Address: Viale degli Ammiragli 10
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 9:30am-1:30pm, 4:00pm-7:30pm.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Kitchen! A short walk from my house you'll find not one but two stores dedicated to everything you could ever want or hope for for your kitchen, pure paradise for a food blogger like myself. Kitchen is divided in to two stores, with one being meant for the baker, stocked with every imaginable type of cake, tart, or pie pan, plus fondant, sprinkles, pastry bags, and spatulas for decorating, as well as rolling pins, whisks, chocolate molds, standing mixers and cookbooks, to name just a few. Down the street you'll find Kitchen's savory counterpart, dedicated to cooking more than baking, complete with kitchen gadgets of every sort, Le Creuset pots and pans, baking dishes, coffee machines, cutting boards, food processors, pasta machines, cheese graters, aprons, and quite nearly everything else you could ever want or need. I'd say I'm living in the right part of town, don't you think?!

Address: Via Marcantonio Bragadin 91
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 6:30am-2:30pm.
Not so long ago, the one place I knew of in Rome that sold pecans -- the main ingredient in my very favorite dessert, Pecan Pie -- closed with little warning. Just when I thought I'd have to start stocking up on pecans on my trips home to the U.S (or, more likely, having my poor father schlep me a pound or so of them when he visited) Isola delle spezie, opened up across the street from my house -- and they had pecans (!!!) Apart from saving my Thanksgiving dessert selection this year, Isola delle spezie also offers a vast selection of rice, grains, and beans -- even black eyed peas, which I'd never seen before in Italy -- plus a huge selection of dried fruits, every imaginable spice, dried peppers, olives, and every kind of nut you could ever want for snacking or baking, from the more common walnut to the more exotic macadamia nut. Check check and check.
Address: Via della Meloria 23
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 11:00am-10:00pm. Sunday, 12:00pm-4:00pm, 6:00pm-10:00pm.
Ahh, Pizzarium! This tiny pizzeria is where you’ll hands down find the very best pizza-by-the slice in all of the Eternal City and the consistently long line out the door – made up of tourists and locals alike – attests to this. Under the leadership chef and owner Gabriele Bonci, Pizzarium takes your typical slice of pizza and makes it something really special, dishing out pizza with creative toppings that change daily and are decided each morning by Bonci and his team. Here you’ll find pizza topped with zucchini, ricotta, and pink pepper; pumpkin cream, pancetta, and smoked provolone; gorgonzola and grapes, tomatoes and tripe; broccoli, sausage, and caciocavallo cheese, to name just a few of many (but never fear: Pizzarium has pizza rossa and pizza Margherita on hand for the less adventurous eater, too). If you want an antipasto to accompany your pizza, Pizzarium also offers delicious and creative supplithat change daily (example: suppli' with gorgonzola and figs, or suppli' with ragu’!) and are just as much works of art as the pizza. On a more practical note, there is no seating inside Pizzarium -- you can either take your pizza to go, or try and grab one of the small tables outside. Be prepared as well to spend a bit more than you normally would for pizza by the slice – given the high quality ingredients used, the prices at Pizzarium are slightly higher than average, but it’s well worth it.   

Address: Via Andrea Doria 3
Hours: 7:00am-2:00pm, Monday-Saturday
There's no better weekend ritual than doing your shopping for the week at Mercato Trionfale, an enormous covered market a short walk from my apartment, packed with stands selling fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, cheeses, meats, fish, bread, pasta, and pizza, rice, among many many other things. The market organizes its main stalls by color, to keep you on track - green stalls are for vegetables and fruit, red stalls are for meat, and blue stalls are for fish. On Saturdays, when I go, its a sight to behold, filled with busy shoppers and even busier vendors skillfully slicing prosciutto, trimming artichokes, weighing pizza by the slice, and doling out portions of freshly roasted porchetta (drool) among. The market also has a café where you can get your morning coffee and pastry, as well as a small hair salon, proving the market truly is a one-stop-shop. Bonus points to Mercato Trionfale as well for being a place where I can find those ingredients us Americans tend to crave here in Italy, like sweet potatoes, (ripe) avocados, and, in the summer, corn on the cob.

Address: Via Rialto 24
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 7:00am-8:00pm. Sunday, 7:00am-12:00pm.
There's perhaps nothing more quintessentially Italian than il bar, the place where Italians partake in their morning coffee ritual in which a cappuccino or caffe' is consumed fairly quickly, at the bar's counter, accompanied by a cornetto, costing you on average just a euro. The bar has great cultural significance in Italy, acting not only as the source of your caffeine fix but also a meeting place of sorts for the neighborhood regulars, or a punto di ritrovo. Every neighborhood has a handful, mine included. The bar I frequent on a daily basis is Bar dei Garbati, about a two minute walk from my apartment. It is, all things considered, a bar like any other, but it wouldn't be a post about my neighborhood without Garbati. The coffee here is excellent, the baristi (two brothers) know me and my sister by name and know our orders by heart (due cappuccini bollenti, un cornetto integrale da condividere) and its the usual meeting place for me, my sister, and our friend Kathryn, a fellow American and Garbati regular who has become one of our closest friends in the city. Photos of my neighborhood hang out + our beloved Kathryn below! 

Phew! Those are my top favorite places in my little neighborhood -- I had to edit this post down to keep it from turning it into a chapter rather than a post, but wanted to add as well that there is  Sora Lia on Via Anastasio II for A++ burgers, Kailia on Via Cipro for a wide selection of taralli, and other products from Puglia, and pizzeria Alice on Viale degli Ammiragli for super pizza by the slice (which is a bit more wallet-friendly than Pizzeriarium). I'll be back on Friday with a recipe! Have a good week everyone! 

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