We started our last day in Rome at Giselda again, trying to forget how sad we were to be leaving and instead pretending we were just “regulars” going to our favorite cafe. Having already tried the cornetti, we went for the delicious-looking doughnuts… #wheninrome ! While Danielle’s was filled with probably a quarter of a jar of straight up Nutella, I was happy to discover mine was filled with what we’d call Bavarian cream, but clearly freshly whipped and lighter and airier than what you’d find at Dunkin 😛 The doughnut itself was again, reminiscent of panettone but also lighter and airier than any doughnut I’ve ever eaten. As always, everything was the epitome of FRESH.
Our first stop of the day was the Campo di Fiori market, known for being one of the biggest and oldest fresh markets in Rome. Vendors here sold fresh fruit and vegetables, meats and cheeses, flowers (aka Fiori), biscotti, kitchenware, herbs, olive oil, vinegar and balsamic glazes, and also leather goods!
After exploring dozens of adorable shops, the casual basilica or two, and strolling by the Pantheon #nbd, it was time for our much-anticipated lunch at Roscioli! I first heard of this restaurant when researching the best eats in Rome and reading that Mario Batali himself said “A bowl of cacio e pepe at Roscioli is a thing of beauty—it can’t be replicated.” They are an unassuming little place with a more casual deli-style space up front but more formal dining rooms in the back and lower sections of the restaurant.
See that long, thin beauty laying upside-down across the top of the pile? I think I’ll dream about this focaccia for the rest of my life. I don’t know how they do it! Perfectly crusty outside, thin layer of soft doughy inside and oh-so-flavorful.
Right after we ordered a cheese sampler for aperitivo, we were delivered two little stacks of ricotta that apparently accompany every bread basket. Ha. By the end of the trip WE were little burratas ourselves!
Will it surprise you if I say this was the best ricotta cheese I’d ever had? You may have seen that theme developing. It was just formed enough to stay in that cylindrical shape and the pepper and spices on top were the perfect touch.
In our sampler, we wanted a combination of soft and hard cheeses but we didn’t see that on the menu. When we asked our waiter, he said that they don’t have one but they would happily make one for us. Awesome! We put our trust in the chef and sipped our locally-sourced white wines while we waited.
The man who presumably prepared our custom cheese plate brought it out the to table and told us the names of all the cheeses (which I unfortunately didn’t catch 😦 ) and then explained the order in which we should eat them. I was so entertained by this! They truly do take their cheeses so seriously here. On the menu they mention exactly what region the cheese is from and exactly how old it is – down to the month. It was such a cool experience and great service.
Number 1 (bottom right) was a type of goat cheese, which has grown to be one of my favorite cheeses. This one paired wonderfully with the jam.
Number 2 (top left) was by far my favorite of the four. It was something like brie but even creamier if you can imagine that. I mean just LOOK at that curled soft peak… it might as well have been melted. I was in heaven with this one.
Number 3 (top right) was a very sharp, dry, aged cheese similar to parmesan, which was my least favorite of the four. The last one, number 4 (bottom left), was slightly less dry and had different undertones so I enjoyed it, even more so with the jam.
I’m sure you’ve caught on by now that Danielle and I share everything. So for our main courses we ordered one bowl of the famous cacio e pepe (“cheese and pepper”) and one bowl of carbonara intending to taste some of both.
Many times in life, less is more. That is how I would describe the cacio e pepe. The thick, dense, homemade, Roman-style pasta noodles were somewhat sticky, likely because they were made fresh and never packaged. And we are light years away from Kraft Parmesan “cheese” with its anti-caking agents and fillers. We’re talking about real, freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese. Italians live their truth that cooking with pure ingredients results in phenomenal dishes. I kid you not, even the PEPPER was delicious. I could actually taste the pepper enough to tell that it was no doubt freshly cracked but also from a quality source.
Somehow, the carbonara topped the cacio e pepe. The creamy, egg-based sauce combined with the crispy, salty pork chunks made for an irresistible combo – so irresistible that we each had several “last bites” despite being stuffed. Nothing will ever compare to this authentic Italian pasta. From now on, every other dish I make with boxed pasta will just be mediocre. Every plate that passed our table looked incredible too. I would come back here in a heartbeat.
Our last day happened to be a Catholic holiday (November 1st, All Saints’ Day) so both attempts to find some bomb biscotti failed as many bakeries were closed. As a last resort, I bought these sweet treats in the airport to take home, figuring even cookies from an airport in Italy would still be better than Italian cookies anywhere else. You can tell by their varying, imperfect shapes that they are handmade. They were very similar to chocolate-dipped almond horns, which I love, but I got a mix of traditional almond flavored and some lemon flavored (the yellow one below)! Sweet and soft, they brought me right back to Italy each time I indulged in one over the next few days.
Thanks for reading about how much I was able to consume in three days! But in all seriousness, between the people, the awe-inspiring sights, the endless history, the natural beauty and charm, and of course the food, Italy completely captured my heart. I know I’ll be back soon.