Friday, August 3, 2012
You're going to love Italian Food?
Being foodies - Lisa and I had thought that in a country with such strong food traditions we would have little issue trying to find good meals. Wow, were we wrong. We've had pasta so dente that you needed to pick it out of your teeth with a toothpick, tons of mediocre pizza, and meh pastries. Not to mention the "risotto" that one cafe tried to serve that was basically wet jasmine rice with a few mushrooms thrown in for good measure. Most of the gelato has been good, but a few were underwhelming. Of course there are two sides to every coin so I'll present both here.
Us: We came unprepared to find great food. Yelp, our usual tool for finding fabulous food is far less functional here than in the states. Our primary guide book (Rick Steves 2012) was also pretty ineffective when it comes to food/eating. Turns out next time we travel in Europe we'll be picking up a Michelin or Zagat guide to bring along.
Italy: You really have three kinds of restaurants: Italian dining, wine bars, and cafes. They basically all serve the same thing: pizza and pasta, coffee, wine. The price varies, and the quality varies (not as much as the price).
Over the trip we really came to appreciate the vast smorgasbord of variety that's currently provided even in stuffy 'ole Indianapolis (Thai, Japanese, Italian, Chinese, Sandwich, Burrito, etc).
We finally got smart and spent a little more time researching (plus more $$) and had our first really solid meal of the trip last night at Taverna Trilussa. It's an Italian restaurant that specializes in delicacies of Rome in particular. They prepare each pasta dish individually serving it in it's pan to emphasize their small-batch thinking.
I had a roman specialty called amatriciana which is a hollow pasta tossed with a tomato based sauce and cured pork cheek - guanciale (although the English translation on the menu just said bacon.....). It was very tasty and the pasta was cooked to perfection.
We also had a tasty dessert that night called Mille-feuille which was lots of tiny sheets of pastry with tall layers of pastry cream interleaved and a big dollop of nutella on top.
We were so 'fat-and-happy' that we decided to skip the port and head straight home for bed. Finally, nearly done with our trip we found a great meal in Italy.