When I plan a trip anywhere, food is usually one of my first major considerations. I start to wonder what the main dishes are in my city of choice and what the best restaurants are. This year, food was one of the key factors in helping me pick the destination of Rome, although the city had stolen my affection long ago when I visited when I was young. But my brain was thinking of the pizza, the pasta, the gelato, I could go on…So once we had booked our trip, we decided to book a city food tour with The Roman Guy to experience local Roman dining.
Our tour was called the Trastevere ‘Locals’ Food Tour, where we were taken across the river of Rome to sample food in the Trastevere region. We booked for an early evening tour, meaning the city was still very bright and busy but my stomach was really starting to rumble in preparation for dinnertime after the thousands of steps that we had already walked that day. The tours have a maximum group capacity of ten per tour but we were in a group of eight people – a perfect size for cosy dining and it also meant that we were able to talk to everyone in the group comfortably without having to shout across the table.
We initially met in the Piazza Farnese, a small Piazza in the centre of the city. From there, we started with a cheese tasting session at a small, local shop which specialises in local cheese. Apparently, all cheeses that they stock have to be supplied within a certain radius of the city centre, so you can be assured that all produce is fresh and local. We were given a range of cheeses to try, ranging from mozzarella to more hard cheese such as parmigiano-reggiano and pecorino romano, along with a glass of wine of course. Although I didn’t try some of the softer cheese as they’re a lot higher in lactose, the hard cheeses were my favourite and they were absolutely delicious, with some having aged for a number of months or years.
We were then taken to sample some famous Roman street food, baccalà at a small ‘hole in the wall’ restaurant called, Filetti di Baccala. Essentially, this restaurant only serves the baccalà as its main dish, with an option for sides if you wish to have them. If you haven’t heard of baccalà before (as I definitely hadn’t), it’s dried and salted fish with a thin coating of batter. This was delicious and reminded me very much of the fish and chips takeaways that I have a loyal love for in the UK. Having had some more wine at this stop, it was then time to move on.
But the wine didn’t stop there. At our next stop, I switched to red wine to match the antipasti-type dish that came next. With a range of bread, cheese and meats, I was in my absolute element with this stop and could probably have eaten all of the food to myself if given the option. It was a small venue so wouldn’t sit too many diners at any one time, but it was a cosy setting with quality food and I would happily visit again on my next trip to Rome.
Of course, at some point on this tour, we had to reach a pizza destination and this was our next stop. Now at this point, I had consumed a lot of cheese for a lactose intolerant person, so I had a pizza slice without the mozzarella but it still tasted just as good, although I do love having cheese. We sat outside for this stop on little benches for a picnic feel and we got to observe the mix of locals and tourists in this foodie paradise area.
We didn’t have to venture far for our next stop where we had our main ‘dinnertime’ stop. With another fresh glass of wine in hand, we were first given starter dishes of prosciutto and vegetables that were in season for the Italians during our visit and of course, everything was covered in cheese – dreamy. But for our main meal, we were given two different dishes – one with a tomato sauce and the other with a cheese and pepper sauce. I’m not sure which pasta I preferred as both were delicious, although my boyfriend was a big fan of the cheese and pepper spaghetti.
After all of this food and wine, I was incredibly stuffed to the point where I wasn’t sure I could eat another bite. But as soon as our guide mentioned gelato, I knew I had room for more and used the walk in between to psych myself up for it. Throughout the whole of our trip, we must have consumed cups of gelato between us, falling in love with a new flavour almost every day. Our guide did warn us that there are certainly more genuine offerings of gelato in the city and if it appears to be piled up in the store, it’s not authentic gelato, so this has us inspecting every gelato store that we stopped at before making our purchasing decision. At the Delateria Del Teatro, I decided to choose the tiramisu and coffee flavours – I realise they’re very similar but I was really craving the after-dinner coffee taste.
When we finished the tour, we felt wonderful and so relaxed because we didn’t have to go looking through TripAdvisor to find the best restaurants to dine at that night as we were guided there. We had a lovely evening stroll through a part of the city that we probably would never have visited without this tour and we had great chats with the other people on the tour – they were all great and there never seemed to be a lapse in the conversation, just like having dinner with friends. I felt like this food tour was one of the best things we’ve done on any one of our holidays to date, and I’ve already recommended it to friends and family who are thinking about taking a trip to Rome soon.
The Roman Guy also offers tours in Venice and Florence, as well as offering tours to main attractions in Rome. If you would like to find out more about their tours, you can visit their website here.