Trastevere – tasting specialty and local foods
It all starts with this classic Roman dish – fried artichokes just made perfectly with a hot, crispy and gooey texture. And I’m so happy to get a whole plateful to myself! It’s enough of an appetizer for two, but I loved tasting every morsel of this freshly made apperitivo (appetizer).
Then the server from Da Enzo, (a hole in the wall trattoria on a cobbled street in Trastevere) brings out a glass of refreshing Prosecco for our group. It’s an excellent choice matched to the simple taste of the fried artichokes. I’m already thinking that this is a magnificent start of my visit to the Trastavere neighborhood, a small city within a city of busy Rome. I quickly finish the glass of Prosecco and the last few bites of the artichokes before our group starts heading out to our next food destination.
Intimate dining at Da Enzo in Trastevere
I’m glad to be walking around with an expert guide who knows Trastevere well, which is part of a twilight tour offered by Eating Italy food tours in Rome. The late afternoon tour is an indulgent food and wine foray into some of Trastevere’s most well known and historic food institutions in area. It’s a combination of over 10 food and wine tastings all around Trastevere, including a tour of the popular landmarks in the Trastevere Municipio (district).
The area in Trastevere was the area west of the Tiber which were settled with immigrants, mostly Jews who developed the warehouse district and markets throughout the municipio. The area was an important district for freshly caught fish, butchers, produce markets and other specialty foods that were stored and sold exclusively in the area. Nowadays, the Municipio is a very trendy spot filled with cafes, bars and entertainment venues with plenty of choices to sample authentic Roman food.
Outdoor dining at its best in Trastevere
Attractive stores – authentic and charming
Delicious breads at La Renella
Next stop in our tasting tour is a visit to the local bread and pizza shop called La Renella, which is an institution well known for its amazing breads and baked goods. Walking into the simple storefront, we are quickly escorted into the back of the shop with this huge forno (oven) dominating this large cavernous space. Considering the cooler temperature outside, the forno feels like a complete inferno and the main baker (above) works silently in his underwear and tank top in order to keep cool. The guide explains to us when the breads and focaccia are newly baked, there automatically is a line out the door with locals wanting their fresh baked goods for their next meal.
Our guide brings out a platter of the freshly baked focaccia and baked breads, everything is squisito (delicious), hot, crispy and moist on the inside. Here’s a video (below) of the wood firing process and why the owner wanted to keep the authenticity of bread making at his shop because the skill of oven baking quickly disappearing in the city. There’s nothing like having a tasty bread and making a special trip to your local baker just to get the best from the neighborhood.
Video courtesy of Eating Italy.
Wine tasting at Spirito di Vino
After tasting all those delicious breads, it was time to walk through some of the older sections of town and visit one of the oldest wine cellars in the Municipio. Simply called Spirito di Vino, this is a wine bar and restaurant with an ancient brick cellar for special tastings and events. From the main dining room, we are escorted through some dark stairs to the wine cellar below and tour the dusty cellar and tasting room. The owner presents some of the local wines from the region for our tasting along with some delicious apperitivo (small bites or appetizer) to complement the wines. Rebuilt from the ruins of an old Jewish synagogue, the restaurant is a certified slow food venue offering authentic dishes and historical Roman dishes to inventive interpretations of new Italian cuisine.
Walking the cobbled streets of Trastevere
Sweet bites at Innocenti
It’s starting to get dark and we explore the intricate and jumbled streets until we make it to our next stop called Innocenti, a specialty artisan bakery selling mostly traditional cookies called biscotti since the 1920’s. Once you enter the shop filled with baked goods, everything smells sweet and nutty. We tour the back area with the huge oven and then get to sample for a huge platter of the different types of biscotti like their wine cookies and almond paste cookies, two of their specialties sold in the shop. And it’s all ‘Delizioso’.
Here’s a quick video of the shop and owner talking about the history and making of their biscotti video courtesy of Eating Italy.
Continuing our Trastevere walk for the main course
Pasta primer at Osteria der Belli
After our sweet dessert tasting, we walk a little distance along the cobble streets to our next destination. We are going to eat the main course of the evening at Osteria der Belli. The restaurant serves traditional Roman cuisine along with some specialties from Sardinia, the region where the owner came from. We get to sample three different types of pasta and hand made sauces along with another local wine from the region. The giant ravioli, penne and spaghetti were just magnifico, presented in different sauces for each platter, some creamy, tart and juicy flavors with every bite (image below).
Sampling three different pastas – Magnifico!
After the huge pasta meal, it was nice to take a longer evening walk through some of the main attractions and promenades in Trastevere. We walked up to the main square with its collection of churches, central fountain and other illuminated monuments around the piazza. The square is the main hang out spot in the Municipio filled with cafes and bars, it’s a very popular spot just for people watching and hanging out late into the night. The central fountain is filled with people taking pictures and admiring the monument which is said to be the oldest fountain in Rome today.
Night scene at Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere
Noshing at Antica Caciara
One of the most popular and iconic delicatessen in Trastevere, Antica Caciara is filled to the rafters with locally sourced products. This includes a deli counter with a large selection of cheese and cured meats made within the region and the surrounding areas of Italy. We get to sample some of the wonderful cheese, salami and other cured meats when we guide takes out another platter of samples while explaining the history of this popular shop in the center of Trastevere.
Specialty Salami balls at Antica Caciara
Snacking at Venanzio
Fast food take outs are also popular in Trastevere with local foods to go. One of the most popular and late night take out spots is at Venanzio which specializes mostly in fried foods. This includes their popular pizzas, fried rice cheese balls or Suppli and a variety of cooked pasta. We get to sample the pizza, suppli and a fried cheese ball and it was all fresh from the pan, hot and gooey, what else can you ask for in this yummy take out joint in Trastevere. I’m already bursting at the seam, but we still have one more stop and guess what it is?
Gelato time at Fatamorgana
You haven’t had Gelato in Trastevere until you tried Fatamorgana with its stunning array of gelato flavors and so beautifully presented (above). Purchased individually or in nicely presented packages, the gelato here is packed with flavors an amazing foodie experience made with fresh, natural and gluten free ice cream. What an excellent way to end the meal and tour all over Trastevere. The guide and tour of the neighborhood was excellent, visiting a variety of local shops, bars and cafes that embody the spirit and delicious Roman food in Trastevere.
Here’s a video about Fatamorgana with the owner – courtesy of Fatamorgana Gelato
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If you like what you see, come and check out my other social media channels for more updates, including Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. Thanks for the lovely food tour at Eating Italy, all opinions and thoughts were my own and this was an exceptional food experience and tour in Trastevere.