Rome: A city with two great passions
Thousands of football fans will head to the impressive Stadio Olimpico this year in search of glory. Rome is one of the key cities of the UEFA Europa League this year, hosting the best of Italy’s most popular sport.
Located in the Foro Italico to the north of the city center, the impressive Stadio Olimpico played a major role in the 1960 Olympics and during the World Cup in 1990. Internationally capped players and household names who regularly play at the stadium include striker Edin Dzeko for AS Roma and midfielder Lucas Biglia for SS Lazio.
No doubt they will also need something to fill their bellies to celebrate that epic win, or console a crushing defeat. Fresh, Mediterranean flavours are the basis of all food in Italy’s capital, however one of the city’s strengths has always been the ability to adapt, and this is no more evident than in the new wave of fusion street food to come to the city in recent years. Here are our top picks of the best dishes to try when in Rome.
Starting with a Roman classic, Amatriciana Flambe isn’t much to look at but packs a full punch in the flavour department. It’s a great pasta dish when you need fuel to score some goals with your mates, or when you just need to scream your lungs out in support of your team later.
The dish is the specialty at Trattoria Vecchia Roma, an underground restaurant tucked away near the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II. Guanciale, or pork cheek is the centerpiece of this dish and gives it its distinctly salty and smokey finish, and bucatini, a fat and hollow form of spaghetti gives it its soft and moreish texture. Try it with the house white wine, which at only €5 per carafe is excellent value for money.
Those watching their waistline look away now as arancini were not made for the dieter, but for more those who wish to live life to the full, every last calorie must be savoured.
Made from risotto coated in breadcrumbs and then deep-fried, these sumptuous snacks are just as versatile as they are sinful. Try the arancini filled with meat, peas and cheese at Mizzica, in the Quartiere V Nomentano area. At just €2.50, we bet you won’t be able to stop at just one. Extra bonus, you can grab arancini even after a long evening match; Mizzica and many other bars are open until 2am.
This classic Italian pasta dish was created in Rome in the middle of the 20th century and has since become a worldwide favorite, so while in the city it would almost be rude not to try it! Creamy and cheesy with some salty bacon, this dish is certainly going to fill you up.
Why not try the Rigatoni Carbonara at La Villetta dal 1940? This family run restaurant is found on the backstreets of the Trestavere neighbourhood and is a favourite of Francesco Totti and his AS Roma teammates. Friendly service, generous portions and reasonable prices make this a fantastic place to spend an evening.
Pizza Roman Style
It seems every city in Italy has its own way of serving pizza. For Rome, the only accepted way is thin and ultra-crispy. So much so, that it practically snaps! In sharp contrast to the classic Neapolitan style, in Rome there’s no such thing as a pizza crust. The rich and simple toppings reach all the way to the crunchy edges.
Pizzerias across the city pride themselves on their vast, wood fired ovens that blaze the dough in 400-degree heat until the pizza’s crust is absolutely perfect. Pizzeria da Remo in the Testaccio district is no exception, and its loud and frenetic atmosphere just adds to the feeling of having arrived in the ‘real Italy’.
And now for something sweet. Zeppole are a local deep-fried sweet dough ball crammed with exquisite fillings and either topped with cream or coated in sugar. They are traditionally sold in markets across Italy on March 19th, St Joseph’s Day, however can be easily found if you know where to look.
Stop by Forno Feliziana near the Vatican for mouth-wateringly fresh zeppole, as well as pastries, cakes and strong coffee, perfect after a hard match.
Gelato & Sorbetto
Finish off your tour of Rome’s most amazing foods with an icy treat. Gelato and its less-calorific cousin Sorbetto can be found almost everywhere and are sure to be well received after a hot day in the Roman sun.
Il Gelato di Claudio Torcè is an institute of gelato, with seven locations across Rome. Choose from over a hundred flavours from the traditional chocolate and pistachio to the more experimental tang of black sesame or even Gorgonzola. If their flavours dazzle you, pick the colours of your club and you can never go wrong, can you?
You should never expect to pay more than about €3 anywhere in the city for a couple of scoops of the cold stuff, which means there’s plenty of room in the budget to try a few flavours. It would be rude not to!
Where to WatchIf you don’t have tickets to a match, fortunately there are many places around Rome that stream football live. While hardly an Italian local, Rome’s Hard Rock Café does feature a few touches of classical Rome such as elaborately painted ceilings and Corinthian-style columns, as well as enough maxi screens for the ultimate viewing experience! If you are after something more traditional, La Botticella on Via Tor Millina is a sports bar which serves local draft beers and delicious plates of food - ideal for sharing if you are feeling peckish.
Outside the City
You don’t have to drive far from Rome before you hit some stunning towns. You could just jump in the car, head out of town, enjoy the scenery and see where you end-up within 30 minutes. Or you could head towards historical towns such as Monteporzio, Nemi, Tivoli or Fiuggi. Rome’s beaches can be reached within 45 minutes of the city; one of the cleanest is Santa Marinella which also has some great seafood restaurants.
So when you’re planning on taking a weekend break to the city of the beautiful game, why not check-out everything this eclectic region has to offer?
Enterprise Rent-A-Car is an official partner of the UEFA Europa League. As a fan of the game, visit https://www.enterprise.co.uk/en/car-hire/locations/italy/rome-fiumicino-airport-lla1.html to enjoy 5% discount on car hire in Rome and throughout Europe.