Goose breast tartare at Pipero al Rex.

2011 is coming to an end and I have asked some friends to reflect on their best meals, dishes, and food experiences from Rome this year. It has been a great year of food memories and here is what cooks, food writers and historians have enjoyed the most:

Maureen Fant (food historian): My husband Franco has always enjoyed celebrating his December birthday with considerable conviviality, and lately we’ve settled on Checchino’s private room with about twenty relatives and other intimates. This year, however, the party had to be on a Sunday, so no Checchino. Instead, we took over La Battilonta, a newish trattoria, somewhere near the Furio Camillo metro station, run by a butcher and partner and serving very old-fashioned food. It took Oretta (of course) to explain the etymology of battilonta even to those of us who had an inkling what it was. It’s the board on which you whack the pork fat (figure it out). We started with supplì the size of ostrich eggs and continued with panzanella, trippa, fagioli con le cotiche, carciofi alla giudia, gricia, coda (after having had its sugo on rigatoni), involtini, and arrosticini, finishing with a very traditional torta di mele. From Uncle Mario, son of a Roman butcher, to the engineers to young nephew Giovanni, whose sport of choice is fencing, to gastro-scholar Oretta, to friend Iris and me from Manhattan, we were all as one, reveling in the comforting, straightforward tastes of unreconstructed Roman tradition.

Irene de Vette (food writer, blogger): Wow, I got so many wonderful food memories this year…making (and eating) momos in Nepal, an awesome beef curry in Lahore, my mom’s spicy hare stew, and in Istanbul incredible su böreği, uykuluk, grilled fish and of course kaymak! For eating out in Rome, I’d say that the gnocchi alla matriciana at L’Arcangelo really stand out in my memory. Before moving to Italy I had never been to fond of gnocchi because they were often just chewy glue balls in sauce. Here in Rome, they are the fluffiest delicate little cushions possible. It’s the local starchy potato variety that does the trick, I suppose! But only in the right hands, obviously. Leave that to the kitchen staff at L’Arcangelo, where they serve the gnocchi in an amatriciana sauce with nice chunks of guanciale. Di-vine! In terms of sweets, the raspberry-sage gelato at Gelateria del Teatro and the pistachio gelato served with mortadella cubes at the first ever aperi-gelato at Il Gelato (I guess that’s savory-sweet). Can’t wait for the next one!

Gina Tringali (food historian, food blogger): Here goes…best bite of 2011 in Rome, sweet home, I loved the dining extravaganza at the Michelin-rated, Glass (ravioli filled with liquid 60-month aged parmesan topped with white truffle shavings stood out), but at heart I’m a trattoria girl. I’d have to say picchiapò, a typical poor-man’s dish (beef boiled over a low flame for 3 – 4 hours with onions, carrots, celery and peeled tomatoes) and cicoria ripassata (chicory sauteed with olive oil, garlic and hot red pepper) with a hunk of bread to sop up every last bit of sauce at Da Benito.

Tavole Romane (food bloggers): The carbonara from Cesare al Casaletto wins our “Oscar” for 2011. There is a fine line between a luscious cabonara and a fritatta. At Cesare, they make an al dente carbonara with the pasta of your choice (mezze maniche, rigatoni, tonnarelli, or gnocchi di patate) and it is served with a prefectly creamy sauce with abundant bits of crispy guanciale.

Eleonora Baldwin (food blogger): Ok so for my year’s best bites I didn’t have to leave my neighborhood. All’Oro‘s cappelletti di brodo asciutto and their surprising liquid filling burst in my mouth and left me wanting more that just the five swimming in my bowl of consommé flecked with subtle saffron accents. The other tastegasm of 2011 came at Metamorfosi with Chef Roy Caceres’ glazed eel paired with ground spelt and a punchy carpione onion and vinegar sorbet. The eels from Bracciano were slowly grilled over aromatic wood chips and glazed with a sublime blend of Asian flavors.

Hande & Theo Leimer (wine educators): Other than some delicious but simple bites at home, especially some great locally sourced fish and meats that we manipulated as little as possible and some street food here & there (porchetta from Bernabei in Marino, pizza rossa on some days at Roscioli), one dining out experience is still in our minds: Metamorfosi in Rome. We loved the (seemingly) effortless way that they put things together that were (seemingly) totally irrelevant but made so much sense – and it was hands down the best wine pairing (by the glass) of the year, too.

John Regefalk (chef, food blogger): 2011 for me has been a year full of work. I have been working in a number of different restaurants with some really spectacular ingredients and impressive finished plates as a result. The chances to eat out while abroad have been plenty for me, but when it comes to Rome I feel I have missed out a bit lately. I still know good food when I see it, though. One of the dishes that springs to mind when asked to present the best bite of 2011 is a starter I had during a most enjoyable and plentiful meal at restaurant Pipero al Rex, a newly opened restaurant in central Rome. I had an excellent goose breast tartare, with a rich mustard sauce and cubes of marinated apple. The tartare was sandwiched between two crispy bread chips. The savoury tartare, with its slightly gamey flavor but soft texture, was skillfully counterbalanced by the mustard sauce and the sweet crunch of the apples. Nice contrasts, both in texture and in the salty-sweet registry. The final touch of fresh herbs then lifted the composition into my 2011 Hall of Fame.

What were your best Rome bites of 2011??

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12 Comments:


  • Wonderful post Katie. Alas, I have nothing to contribute as we did not visit Rome in 2011.

    We are off to Bologna and Firenze starting January 1, 2012 though. :)


  • I am getting on this list in 2012 because we are going to eat Trastevere to Castel Gandolfo :-)

    Great list and I love the look of your site.


  • [...] my friend Katie Parla asked me about my best bite of 2011 I had to think hard. There were so many! Kaymak in Istanbul, momo’s in Kathmandu, gnocchi [...]


  • [...] poi si è chiuso in bellezza con la divertente partecipazione ai Best Bites in Rome, 2011 di Katie Parla (grazie!) e la sorpresa di vedere la nostra panoramica sulle Trattorie romane tra i [...]


  • I love your blog and wonderful insights on Rome! My husband and I just got back from our visit during this Christmas break. We were based in the Jewish Ghetto but I wanted to make sure that we properly ate our way through the city and surrounding neighborhoods. We followed many of your suggestions and can say that I was not disappointed. Here are some of the highlights.

    Best Meal = Roscioli’s. We had the Carpaccio with truffles, Caponata, Carbonara, Amatriciana and Salmon and great Chianti to wash it all down. I thought the service was impeccable.

    Best Carbonara = Roscioli. The guanciale makes it!

    Best Pizza al taglio = For a complex (various toppings) pizza then head to Pizzarium. For a simple pizza rossa or bianca then head to Forno Campo de’ Fiori. We also enjoyed the pizza at Forno Roscioli but didn’t make it to 00100 in Testaccio.

    Best Roman Pizza = Da Remo in Testaccio. I could have eaten my weight in this pizza!

    Best cheese shop = Beppe e I Suoi Formaggi. This was very convenient since it was down the street from our apartment.

    Best Beer Pub = Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fa. The beer selections were also great at Open Balladin, but less cozy and I really liked the Trastevere area.

    Biggest waste of money = Vecchia Roma. This was one that we tried because it was close by and I didn’t check reviews first. They also sat us in the front of the restaurant where apparently they seat the tourists. Just annoying and the food was mediocre.

    Honorable mention = Mamà Kosher Food in the Jewish Ghetto for a quick and fresh bite to eat on the go. Nonna Betta for some great traditional Roman Jewish cuisine


  • This is a fabulous post on the best of Rome. Thankyou. I can’t wait to try your suggestions when I’m next in Rome


  • best 2011 lunch in Rome: Pipero al Rex :)


  • We are planning to go to Italy on our honeymoon in October, so it’s great to have this list of restaurants to use while planning! Thanks for sharing!


  • After four days in Rome, I have to say – all our meals just soared. We didn’t appear to hit any of your “best meals” list – we just ate where we ended up. The beauty of Italy – is – that usually works.

  • Katie

    @tom happy new year!! hope you are having an amazing time in Italy! what are the best things you’ve eaten so far?

    @michael awesome! when are you headed over here?

    @frances you are awesome! this is an outstanding trip report and i am trilled that you made it to all those delicious places. totally agree about vecchia roma. that place is terrible.

    @jenny hope you make that trip soon!

    @virginia that place is so good right? other highlights this year?

    @megan wow! congrats! october is a fantastic time to visit. i just released an app called rome for foodies which should help you navigate Rome’s culinary scene http://www.romeforfoodies.com

    @claudia fabulous! do you remember the name of any of the places you ate?


  • [...] is in season year-round, and while the debate about the best Roman pasta and restaurants is ongoing here and here, one of my newly discovered favourite pleasures is to buy fresh pasta and cook it at home. [...]


  • [...] my friend Katie Parla asked me about my best bite of 2011 I had to think hard. There were so many! Kaymak in Istanbul, momo’s in Kathmandu, gnocchi [...]

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