When initially finding out I was accepted to study abroad in Rome, I immediately thought of all the amazing food I would indulge in while living here. Of course I thought about the culture, the history and the beautiful city I would live in, but I can’t lie when I say that the food was what initially came to mind! The pizza, the gelato, the pasta… so many of my favorite things I treat myself with in America would become my regular diet if I lived in Rome, which had a major impact on my deciding to study here… and I am so glad I did!
Throughout the past few weeks in Rome, after experimenting with different places, I have found a few ‘go to’ spots that I usually stop by on a daily basis. As I hope not to gain twenty pounds from studying abroad, I definitely shouldn’t be going to get gelato almost every single day, but when in Rome, it is a must! There won’t be a time in my life again when I have the opportunity to indulge in endless pizza, pasta and gelato so I know I have to take advantage of these four months and the amazing food Roma has to offer!
In my beautiful neighborhood of Prati, I have definitely found my favorite gelato place, called Portofino. While on the hunt for my favorite gelato, I have tried the Nutella flavor at every gelateria. Sometimes the Nutella is too rich and strong, and sometimes it is too dull, but at Portofino, the Nutella flavor is just right. Rather than just the chocolate Nutella, it is swirled with a vanilla flavor as well to make the perfect combination. The gelato at Portofino is so delicious and although I love the Nutella flavor, I will be sure to expand my flavor horizons soon!
As for pizza, my favorite take-away pizza place is just two blocks from my apartment (a little dangerous at times) and is called Pizza Rustica. After walking in, the aroma of pizza hits you and it is the best smell in the world. So many different flavors of pizza are laid out behind the counter and you can order a variety of different flavors or just stick to one. After you choose what you want, the employee behind the counter then cuts the large pizza into a smaller slice and weighs it to tell you how much it cost. This is very different than anywhere in the United States as pizza is usually sold by the slice, not by the weight. My go to pizza at Pizza Rustica is covered with different vegetables such as tomato, zucchini, peppers and eggplant… so delicious and pretty cheap.
Something that I used to eat all the time in America but in a very different way is paninis. At home, my usual Panini has some variation of grilled chicken and lettuce and is generally pretty boring yet in Rome, my paninis are all fresh Italian ingredients. There is a wonderful Panini store across the street from CEA called Paninieria and it is only 3.90 for a sandwich! My ‘usual’ or ‘solito’ as I say in Italian is with prosciutto crudo, mozzarella, tomato and zucchini. It is my favorite treat in Rome and I am delighted to share that I indulge in this Panini every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday between classes. My friends tell me that I might get sick of my ‘solito’ soon but I really doubt that could ever happen!
While out to dinner at nicer restaurants, my new favorite dish to try is carbonara. It is usually a little different at every restaurant so I always feel inclined to try it at new places! I have even attempted to make my own carbonara in our apartment which I have to admit, turned out to be pretty good although I am still perfecting the recipe. This is something that I would never have tried in the United States but as it is a specialty in Rome, it is one of the best dishes I have had here.
Ordering food at local places is so much fun in Rome because it allows me to interact with local Italians. At the Panini store, I am on a first-name basis with the employees and they are always helping me with my Italian by teaching my how to say what ingredients I want on my sandwiches. The gelato store always greets me with a smile, as they know that I am coming in for my favorite Nutella- Vanilla swirl gelato and sometimes have it ready for me before I even order! It is nice to feel welcomed into these places as it makes Rome feel more like home. Although I have found my favorite places in my neighborhood and I know that they will be hard to top, I will still be sure to continue to explore Rome’s amazing food options as I know I will find some more amazing eats and treats within the next two months!
Katherine Mahder is the Spring 2015 CEA MOJO in Rome, Italy. She is currently a Junior at Providence College.
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