If I’m being honest, I went to Italy to eat.
Don’t get me wrong, I very much like art, and history, and culture. Very much. I took AP Latin, and greek and roman lit in college. I was antsy over getting to see Botticelli works in the flesh. I desperately wanted to get lost in tiny Roman streets. This is all true.
And to commemorate, I’m sharing the TOP TEN BEST FOODS I ATE IN ITALY, parts 1 & 2.
Best Italian Bites:
- Gelato, gelato, gelato.
Uhm, yeah, I actually have like, zero shame over this. This is probably…half of the gelato photos I have, taken after every purchase so that we might acknowledge how much gelato we actually ate over the course of our trip. The result: A LOT. Gelato is a rite of passage.
While there are an abundance of gelaterias, my favorite was Fatamorgana. They have amazingly unique flavors—I had a scoop of chocolate orange and a scoop of banana cream with sesame crisp (pictured above, top left)—and all recipes are “clean label.”
*stay tuned for an upcoming blog post on how to find the REAL Italian gelato (there is fake gelato, DYK?)
- Fresh pasta.
I know duh, right. Italy, pasta. It’s a no-brainer. But it’s true. Italy gone done pasta RIGHT! Esp. the lasagna. That was like, hello, UNREAL. I could eat Italian lasagna every day for the rest of my life.
- P-I-Z-Z-A (Gimme pizza!)
MK&A anyone? Anyone? Mmmkay. Moving on.
Both of the instances we had with pizza (and pizza-like food) in Italy were in Milan. We had just gotten to Italy after two red-eye flights from SLC, and were exhausted but determined to start exploring. After walking around the Piazza del Duomo, we found Luini Panzerotti tucked behind the square. With eyes bigger than our stomachs, we tried a sampling of several different kinds of both the sweet and savory Italian turnovers. YUM.
The next day, in another hungry attempt to find lunch, we located Pizzeria Spontini, a restaurant that offers only a few simple pizza options for lunch; but offers them in a big way. The slices are HUGE. They also have amazing lasagna. We returned to Spontini twice more before the end of our trip, including a stressful fifteen minutes in which we scarfed two slices down before running to catch a train. WORTH IT
One of the absolute best thing we did on our trip was a food tour in Trastevere. Not only was this my favorite part of Italy that we explored (it’s so beautiful and picturesque), but it is also the BEST food neighborhood in Rome. Perhaps in all of Italy! The tour took us to the most wonderful generational-family-owned shops and hidden gems with the BEST food. One of the tour stops was at Biscottificio Innocenti (it’s #1 for bakeries in Rome on TripAdvisor!). The shop is so non-descript—it doesn’t even have a sign—but worth a little exploration to find. Those.Cookies.Oh.My.Goodness. Seth and I liked it so much that we went AGAIN the day after our tour and ate more. The bakery has been open since the ‘20s and has an oven with a 52 ft long conveyor belt. And just walking in, you’re enveloped in amazing bakery smells. And the people that own it, that have owned it for ages, are SO sweet and wonderful.
(This cookie is called “ugly but good,” and is made with only vanilla, egg whites, sugar, hazelnuts and olive oil. Innocenti doesn’t use ANY animal fats—butter, etc.— in their recipes, so basically, they’re triumphal feats of baking.)
- Fried artichoke
As I’ll detail in my Italy Eating Guide post to come, the best food in Rome is housed in restaurants that are small, hidden, and well-known by locals.
Such was the case with Da Enzo al 29, an always-crowded restaurant in Trastevere. We came there without a reservation (not recommended!) but got in on a stroke of waiting-list luck.
This was perhaps my most adventurous meal of the trip; I tried oxtail with pine nuts and cocoa. It was good. But apparently, I’m not a very graceful eater because when I was done, the waiter took my plate, noting, “Jack the Ripper would be proud!”
At Da Enzo, a charming, bubbling restaurant that seats 40 people (tops), we also tried a traditional Roman-Jewish dish, fried artichoke. It had this amazing, salty taste and I probably could have eaten another (or several).
Have you eaten some amazing bites in Italy? Share them with us!
Also, STAY TUNED for Pt. 2 of my amazing Italian eats, coming soon!