I am from New Jersey, aka the Garden State, one of America’s many overlooked bastions of culture. I grew up in restaurants and bars and have worked in the business in one capacity or another, from busing tables to bartending, for most of my life. I went to college in New Haven, CT and honed my pizza (Bar, Sally’s) and burger (Louis’ Lunch) eating skills while earning a BA in Art History from Yale. In 2003, shortly after graduating, I moved to Rome and since then I have earned a sommelier certificate (FISAR) and an MA in the Cultura Gastronomica Italiana (Universita’ degli Studi di Roma “Tor Vergata”).
Parla Food is my personal blog where I get to take a break from my day job of lecturing, giving private tours, and writing for others to write about whatever I want, mostly about food issues facing diners in Rome and in Italy. I also write about Istanbul, London, and anywhere else I happen to be eating. Sometimes I sneak in a non-food related topic if I’m really excited about something and want to share.
The mission of this blog is to highlight great food and beverage and to get people talking about what they are eating and drinking. I focus special attention on Rome, where I live, the decline of Italian food culture, and critical reviews of restaurants and trends.
I love recounting my dining experiences, but without all the people who read Parla Food, write to me, and make comments, I would not have anywhere near the motivation to keep it going. Of course, not everyone agrees with my opinions, which is fine. I want to know what readers think and welcome disagreement. That said, I will not tolerate trolls and abusive comments will be deleted. Sorry, Parla Food isn’t a democracy and if you want to rant, get your own blog!
Thanks for reading! And thanks, Rick Poon, for the photo!
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Parla Food is at the service of the reader. I do not accept gifts, discounts, or free meals in exchange for positive reviews. I never have and never will go on a junket. When reviewing a venue, I conceal my identity and never announce my intent to review in advance. I pay for all of my own travel and meals, though I am reimbursed by publishers when on assignment for their publications.
If you are interested in booking a cooking class in Rome, Daniela del Balzo is the absolute best.
Can I advertise on your website?
No. There are not ads on Parla Food (except for my app and tours).
Do you publish sponsored posts?
Can I write a guest post?
Maybe. If your idea jives with the Parla Food philosophy, I’d love to read your pitch.
What’s with all the typos, Parla? I thought you went to Yale.
I write this blog at 3am after my two full time jobs (touring and writing) so gimme a break, will ya?
Why hasn’t my comment been published?
I moderate comments, so maybe I haven’t had the chance to publish it yet.
My comment was deleted. What the f@#% is your problem?
Um you are a troll. So I won’t publish your abusive comments, but I will circulate them among my friends and we will laugh at you. So thanks for that.
I sent you an email and you didn’t reply. What’s the deal?
I personally reply to every email I get through the Parla Food contact sheet. One out of every 20 email addresses gets bounced back due to a typo. I do my best to track you down, but sometimes don’t succeed. Please try again!
You’re from New Jersey. How can you know anything about food in Rome?
I can have infinite hoagie knowledge and know about Roman food. Incredible, isn’t it? In addition to living in Rome for a decade (I do not believe this alone is a legitimate credential), I have a Master’s Degree in Italian Gastronomic Culture and I lecture at universities about food and beverages; these topics are my life. Also, New Jersey is a fertile breeding ground for gastonomes. It is the Garden State, you know?
It seems like you are always eating and traveling. How do you bankroll this whole operation?
I give tours, write, lecture, provide wine education, and have an app. I work hard and never take a day off (ask my exasperated friends, parents and ex-boyfriends). I spend lots of what I earn on food, wine, beer and travel. I also write for several publications, which cover expenses for assignments.
I am coming to Rome for holiday. Where should I stay?
I recommend these accommodations.
You don’t always write nice things about Rome. Don’t you like Rome or Romans?
I write lots of nice things about Rome. And sometimes even Romans. Of course I like both. I write about the experience of living and working in Rome and I don’t believe in sugarcoating (exception: Jordan almonds). So if you want to read about how perfect everything in the Italian capital is, you are not going to find any of that here because it is not perfect. Over a third of Italians my age are unemployed. Most people shop mostly or exclusively in supermarkets. The quality and authenticity of the city’s food has tangibly plummeted in the past decade. There are a lot of great things about living in Rome, but the city has serious problems and they deserve attention.
How does service differ in Rome compared to the States?
In Rome, service can vary wildly from friendly and flawless to disorganized and inept. I have experienced the former at simple trattorias and the latter in fine dining establishments. In general, though, service is competent and friendly, but perhaps less so than in the US, where servers work for tips. It is also less efficient than in the US, where restaurants turn tables and have multiple seatings. If the service at a Roman restaurant is slow, it is likely that the servers don’t want to rush you (meals have a leisurely pace in Italy). Or that the kitchen is in the weeds–often the entire dining room gets sat at about the same time. One of the major bonuses of Roman service is that if you ask for suggestions or order the “wrong” dish, the server will likely be honest about it.
Can I republish your content?
I don’t know. Tell me more and we’ll talk.
I would love to become a food and travel writer. Do you have any tips?
Yes! Start a blog, be authentic, generate great content, network, tweet, and, if possible, get some academic credentials in the subject you are covering. Also read this post. And never write for a commercial publication for free.