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Proposed Rome food itinerary (is there any other kind ;) ?

I'll be visiting rome with my husband and toddler later this month. I've found an overwhelming amount of great suggestions for places to eat on this board and elsewhere. Now I'm just plain old confused! Because I'm a glutton for punishment, any suggestions or tweaks (if any) would be appreciated. We'll be staying just east of the Spanish Steps.

We arrive Saturday night. Depending on how trashed we all feel and the state of my 19 month old after a veeerrry long plane ride we might try and find a place that can take us for dinner or maybe just take a walk down to San Crispino for a gelato.

Sunday: wander to Pantheon & Surrounding area-not sure of places open for lunch in the area on sundays.
dinner: La Fiametta

Monday: have 2:15 reservations to be at Vatican and the only place I have found recommended nearby for lunch is Il Matriciano. This good or any other suggestions? We'll also try the gelato at Old Bridge.
dinner: takeout probably-I hope. I've read about GiNa, but otherwise how are Roman restaurants generally regarding ordering food for take out?

Tuesday: get to Volpetti when they open and get provisions for a picnic lunch around the Roman Fora and Coleseum. Dinner: Matricianella.

Wednesday: lunch Colline Emillane
dinner: Bir & Fud

Thursday: morning market in the Campo de' Fiori and then we're off to Castellina in Chianti!

Also, I realize that most places do not have high chairs, so that means I make reservations for three? (I realized this might be a silly question, but when the three of us eat out at home we usually sit at a two top and pull the high chair up to the table.)

Thanks again.

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  1. If you have lunch at Colline Emiliane, you will probably not have much appetite for dinner, and I think the weather will be too hot to do justice to their food. Lots of places are open for lunch on Sundays. Take-out is not a restaurant concept. If you want take-out, go to a tavola calda. Near the Vatican, this could be Franchi, on the corner of via Terenzio and via Cola di Rienzo. I haven't been to Gine, but it sounds nice.

    2 Replies
    1. re: mbfant

      Thanks for your response, mbfant.

      Any suggestions for tavola calda places near our hotel (by the spanish steps) for take out? Also, any suggestions regarding the reservation conundrum in my post above?

      1. re: L nrs

        Hi L,
        I know there is a good and large tavola calda on via del corso, not too far from the spagna area. If you think this sounds like a good option for you, why not ask at your hotel if they are familiar with it. It's very close to where you are, and it has a large-ish sign that says "Tavola Calda" :) On the other hand, if you follow via Condotti (or Carozze or Frattina or Borgognona- I don't know which street you are on there), down the the Corso, turn right to take it toward Piazza del Popolo. It will be on your left.
        As far as Il Matriciano, I love it. You must try the matriciana- but make sure they are open for lunch on the day you want to go.
        About high chairs- the Italian word for it is "seggiolone". When you call the restaurant for a reservation, tell them you are two adults (due adulti) and one small child (bambino/a)- and ask for a seggiolone. Not all restaurants will have them, but many will (they just don't put them on display the way many here in the states do). As an infant, I was a regular at many fine Roman eating establishments, and I've got the highchair photos to prove it!
        Don't forget to get the fantastic pizza bianca from Il Forno on the corner in the campo dei fiori, behind the flower vendor.
        Good luck and buon appetito!

    2. While I can't give you any specific recommendations on Where To Eat in Rome...I can offer a few general ideas on what to eat. It's pretty hard to find a "bad" restaurant in Italy...almost anywhere you go will be good, as long as you stay away from the restaurants frequented by tourists on the main piazzas. For dinner try to avoid going at 8:30pm...that's usually when all the Italians like to eat dinner...you'll be seated easier if you show up a little earlier.

      For an easy lunch/take out dinner, Rome has great "pizza al taglio" or pizza by the slice. One of my favorites is the potato-rosemary pizza, a specialty of Rome. Usually, whereever they sell "pizza al taglio" you can also find the super yummy, yet oh-so rich fried and stuffed risotto balls or "suppli" as they call them in Rome. Eat one of those and you won't need to eat again for a long time!

      If you happen to come across an outdoor food market...look for a truck selling "porchetta" or "arista" ...it's whole roasted pig on the spit...seasoned with lots of garlic and fresh herbs...they'll put it in a "panino" for you. Both Rome (Lazio region in general) and Tuscany have great porchetta (...and Umbria, for that matter).

      1. A Proposed Guide Rome Food - Go with the flow is always the best option when traveling - sometimes your surprised and rarely disappointed...
        For the first time traveler in Rome a food related MUST TRY LIST:
        • Try an Affogato Gelato drowning in Espresso
        • Eat an Aranchini while walking the streets
        • Try Artichoke and Anchovy Pizza
        • Best Biscotti Bakery in Rome innocenti biscottificio artigiano Via Della Luce 21 Trastevere
        • Have a picnic in the Borghese Garden - Pick up sandwiches at the local market
        • Eat White Pizza for Breakfast
        • Have a Cappuccino at a street café
        • Eat Chestnuts on the street
        • If you get tired of Pasta try Chinese Food in Rome - LOL
        • Drink Cinzano Vermouth
        • Try Deep Fried Basil Leaves – Amazing!
        • Do not eat anywhere where there is English on the menu
        • Eat Spaghetti
        • Have an Espresso - Double Espresso or Triple Espresso - LOL
        • Have Fried Artichokes from the Jewish Ghetto restaurant Pipeno 39 06 68806629
        • Eat Frito Pollo (On most menus)
        • Eat Gelato from Giolitti The Oldest and the Best – Be prepared the lines are long but worth it
        • Hard Rock Café Roma Legendary 10oz Burger - Sometimes you just need a cheeseburger
        • Try Limoncello after dinner
        • Visit the Oldest Café in Rome Caffe Greco on Via Condotti – Have an espresso
        • Order a Big Beer - LOL
        • Eat Pizza at Da Baffetto Historic Pizzeria Via del Governo Vecchio, 114 Rome 00186
        • Try a Radicchio and smoked provolone pizza
        • Restaurant Matricella Al Fresca Via De Leone 4 – AMAZING – Try the Ricotta Fritta - Buffalo Mozzarella and Ricotta Chocolate Cheesecake - Make Reservations
        • Super Fancy Eat at Restaurant Quinzi and Gabrieli - Eat Wart Venuses (Scallops) Specialty - Make Reservations
        • Restaurant Trattoria Trifone "Thursday is Gnocchi Night" try the Roman Style Artichokes - Spaghetti Carbonara - Gnocchi with Gorgonzola - fried zucchini flowers ricotta and parma ham frittata
        • Eat a Tartufo by the Trevi Fountain
        • Have Pizza near the Vatican at Pizzarium Via della meloriia 43 (3974-5416) they hand select the olive oil and grains

        Most of all enjoy your trip! Be smart - Be Safe!

        18 Replies
        1. re: shabbystorm

          Thanks for that shabby!
          Ricotta Fritta - WOW!!!

          1. re: shabbystorm

            What a great list shabbystorm! As someone going to Rome in May that will come in very handy. One quick question: outdoor seating cafes - just grab a seat and the waiter finds us, or go find a "host/hostess" to be seated?

            1. re: Maxfood

              Maxfood it depends on the cafe.
              For a quick cappuccino you can usually grab a seat and they will come to you.

              1. re: shabbystorm

                Heading to Rome on Wednesday with my husband and almost-two-year-old daughter. Thanks for all the street food suggestions!

            2. re: shabbystorm

              Your list is interesting and while it may be of interest for a newcomer, I do take exception with a few of your choices.

              For example: Do not eat anywhere there is English on the menu??? Many restaurants in Rome have English menus or English translations on their menus. Are you certain that Quinzi Gabrielli,for example, offers no written English translation?

              And while l I have eaten at many Roman restaurants, I certainly have not seen pollo frito on most of them.

              It is Piperno, not Pipeno, by the way.

              1. re: erica

                Thanks Erica - Let me clarify. I have been to Roma several times. Understand most CHOWHOUNDS are about food and not fun - I think both are important. Because these posts reach a wide range of people traveling on various budgets with different goals I proposed some street food and special occasion restaurants.

                Do not eat where there is ONLY english on the menu (Tourist traps and bad food). Sure translations are fine but it is the adventure that is most exciting. Agreed some fine restaurants in Roma offer english translations.

                Pollo Frito is just a safe meal, simple fried chicken cutlet, that is always delicious, and yes a typo.

                1. re: shabbystorm

                  I hope I did not come across as picky..sorry if I seemed that way!

                  1. re: erica

                    All good on my end too :) Thanks.

                  2. re: shabbystorm

                    I don't believe I have ever seen pollo fritto on a Roman menu and it's been years since I've seen chicken of any kind.

                      1. re: shabbystorm

                        What you find in private homes and what you find on restaurant menus is often very different.

                        1. re: mbfant

                          Yes an osteria outside the wall of central Rome vs a 5 star restaurant two blocks from the Panthenon will vary greatly.

                      2. re: mbfant

                        Maureen - Really? Huh?

                        I'm not doubting you at all - I'm really just quite surprised.
                        After combing through so many menus I never noticed that.

                        Why is that?

                        1. re: NellyNel

                          I once asked a chef why you don't see chicken any more (and I am not the only person to have noticed) and she said nobody asks for it. That is a bit circular, but it's also a fact that my husband refuses to buy it any more unless we get a special pollo ruspante from outside Rome. Needless to say, there's a world of difference.

                          1. re: mbfant

                            Wow that is very interesting!

                            Well i can't say I'll miss it while I'm in Italy!

                            1. re: mbfant

                              The absence of chicken from menus in Roman restaurants had not even occurred to me until I read these posts. When I ate at Paris Restaurant in Trastevere among other items, my wife ordered a chicken special and it was great. It was chicken braised in a light tomato sauce with some peppers.The tomato sauce was delicious and the bird was incredibly tender, we were both impressed. i just checked their menu on line and the standard menu does not even have a section for chicken, just meat then fish. Interesting.

                              1. re: stuartlafonda

                                we had a similar chicken dish in rome many years ago, and I think some places have a grilled chicken pressed with a brick but I agree that chicken is not as common in restaurants in Italy as elsewhere in Europe.

                    1. re: shabbystorm

                      I love your list! It's been a life long dream to go to Italy. Now I'm going, but it's a spur of the moment trip. I'm trying to plan & cram. Your list looks like a fun starting place to get a sample of fun & food in Rome.

                    2. In the Vatican area I highly recommend "Romolo alla Mole Adriana" (Via Fosse di Castello 19 – (06) 686-1603) It is two blocks from Castel Sant’Angelo and it packs in the locals with its good grub and convivial waiters (including the self proclaimed “Best Waiter In Rome”. After lunch you can take a leisurely stroll to Saint Peter’s down the pedestrian only Borgo Pio.

                      1. We ate at Il Matriciano in early July 2007. It was unremarkable at best, including their signature amatriciana. My melon with prosciutto was bland, so I didn't finish it. As I poked at it I discovered that the melon had either been dropped on the floor or the cook dropped a little cigarette ash on it. For seasoning, no doubt!