Food in Italy, while delicious can be a daunting experience. With a pizza/pasta joint on virtually every corner, how do you sift through the everyday bistro to find the exceptional? The answer: go with an expert. If you’re in search of your ownEat, Pray, Love adventure, Elizabeth Minchilli has put in all the legwork for you. With completely custom private foodie tours based on your interests, she will show you the hidden gems of Rome.
A decorated author focusing on Italian style and architecture, at her heart, Elizabeth is a displaced St. Louis gal who moved to Italy with her family at age 12. She has spent most of her life going back and forth across the pond, attending both college and grad school in the States.
Her custom food tours are all day-long culinary walks through some of Rome’s most delicious neighborhoods and include a sampling of bakeries, cheese shops, butchers and coffee bars. Myself, Harley Schachter, and my wife Ali met Elizabeth at Latteria di Vicolo del Gallo, one of the rare, unrestored area coffee bars to grab a much needed java. It’s the perfect place to sip a strong cappuccino while admiring pinball machines and original decor from the 1950s, while going over the plan of attack for a day of feasting.
Almost everyone who’s ever been to Rome has heard of Campo de' Fiori, the center of the action- noisy and boisterous, by day a colorful market and by night the heart of the pub scene overflowing with study-abroad students with English as commonplace as a good glass of vino. Not everyone gets to experience its underbelly though. Beloved by locals and expats alike, it’s the perfect place to pick up fresh veggies and baked goods and would be the setting for much of our adventure. The highlight is these vendors who go to extreme lengths to please, prepping the veggies just right so they’re’ already ready to sizzle in your minestrone soup or grace the side of your dish without any effort or exertion from your culinary mastermind.
If you’re into your greens, Da Gigetto, a stop later in the day is hands down the best place in Rome to try deep fried artichokes, locally called Carciofi alla Giudea. Created in the Jewish Ghetto, these babies are a bite of heaven, hand prepared by the original family who’s run the business, passed down from the parents to the children.
Then it was on to pizza at Forno de Campo de Fiori. Known for their slices of white pizza bianca, it was the mashed potato pizza that really stood out. Roman style, it’s light enough for a mid-day snack and you can see the pizzas being tossed and sauced from the street as you wait in the inevitable line. Later in the day, we headed to Roscioli for a pizza-off because really, can you have too much doughy goodness? More upscale and sit down, this cozy family spot is one of the Trip Advisor Traveler’s Choice Winners and has a cute little shop in the front.
The rest of the day was spent sampling gourmet cheeses and charcuterie at I Formaggi di Gianni e Paola’s mozzarella, ricotta and burrata from Puglia, Norcineria Viola, known for the best cured pork in Rome and Beppe e i Suoi Formaggi,the best selection of cheeses in the city. Before departing, we cleansed our palates with a bite of gelato from Alberto Pica, a latteria, or milk store, which specializes in rice gelato (gelato di riso). A cross between ice cream and tapioca, it was a refreshing treat to end the day and let the food coma set in.