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Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations: Rome

Not bad, one of the better and more tolerable episodes so far, but the black and white was horrible. Hope they re-broadcast in full color.

I wonder if the "un-named" places were not disclosed on purpose, or to take the piss out of the exclusivity, or they worry that too much exposure would lower the quality. Who knows.

Loved that Tony's wife bagged on him.

The over-emphasis of "eating what's in season" degrades the intelligence of the viewers. It's common sense and part of the old world culture. What is so superior about the way of life of others, eating the seasons and local and fresh, that is overly deemed as exotic?

Cesare Casella packed on lotta pounds since Tuscany and Food Porn 2! Always a good show when he's around. Delicious looking ox tails, cheese, and pasta. No gelati, no coffee.....

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  1. the black and white didn't help the fact that although he touts its all about great ingredients.

    How can I tell the ingredients are great when I can't even see the color beside for the occasional sight hue of red or yellow.

    Nice episode ruined by an a pretentious color filter.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Johnny L

      His producers were trying to recreate the Fellini films vibe with the B+W.For the colors of the food...use your imagination!Wife added some antagonism that is the passion of Italy as was the scene in the ristorante where the pasta amatriaciana was eaten.Of course all of that is staged for the viewing audience.BTW all the ristoranti and locations were named.Just came from Roma today and can never get enough.Loved the wrap up at the beach with the tutti frutti di mare.

      1. re: casalbore spirit

        >>>> recreate the Fellini films vibe with the B+W<<<<<<

        ha ha -- if only tony were a marcello!

        1. re: alkapal

          To some of us, he IS a Marcello. ;-)

            1. re: alkapal

              Had to laugh at your original post Alkapal. As soon as the program began all I could think was, "Where's Marcello...?"

              1. re: Gio

                Can't wait till AB's producers reach for Pasolini

                1. re: TheDescendedLefticleOfAramis

                  I hope not... that poor fellow was murdered. Horrible loss to the artistic community, controversial though he was..

                  1. re: Gio

                    Certain "loss" can always be .., sadly, expected.
                    "Frog"s, on the other hand ....

                    1. re: TheDescendedLefticleOfAramis

                      Well... say what you will, I miss him. Wish I had paid more attention.

      2. http://anthony-bourdain-blog.travelch...

        is the blog link. His last comment was that he expected this episode to be 'reviled'.

        3 Replies
        1. re: mramage

          Fully realizing and understanding the intent of this episode, I still wasn't crazy about it (and I'm a Fellini fan). Bourdain's impassioned blog words didn't sway my opinion. In fact, I switched over to Dating in the Dark at several points.

          1. re: Miss Needle

            I liked the B & W aspect and thought it was an excellent episode. There hasn't been much A.B. talk lately. Thought the Liberia episode was OK and I liked the look back just after Kitchen Confidential came out. Didn't enjoy the Dubai episode.

            1. re: californiabeerandpizza

              This Anthony Bourdain Rome episode was good, and if you picked up on the "Romans Only" venues that he mumbled about you could figure out that some were fairly well known, Filetti di Baccala, came to mind. In any event this series is light years ahead of all the other stand and stir "Shooting Stars in the land of Reality cooking shows"!!!!
              The B&W format fits the off-beat nature of AB and his attitude that is displayed in his writing.

        2. Oh I was so homesick last night!

          I liked the black and white. I liked how much Bourdain loved Rome! I liked how they did not edit out the bad, but realistic truths of roman culture and food industry (obnoxiously rude staff and often cocky and aggressive people - in this case wanting to pick fights over having waited too long for their table although they new they were filming!...)

          The ingredients are there, no doubt - we know how to do it. We don't bitcha and moan about seasonality...we still JUST DO IT.....not that it's something to pat ourselves in the back as much as a sign of still not having developed into the mass consumerism a-la' USA ( i have no doubt that time will come).

          If you watched closely they would add color at times in the food prep scenes (nice touch).

          I can think of another dozen places where his reactions to the food would have been identical - and funny thing is - it's all for the price of an entree in the US. Problem is, and this came up briefly in the scene at the Timoniere restaurant (where the fight and rude waitress were) that Romans are eternally stuck in vicious existential cycle of tradition vs. trying something new, which, coincidentally, might be delicious and change things up a bit!

          It takes a while to get bored of the food in Rome, but when you do, your only option really is to get crafty and make some non-italian things at home. Variety is not our "forte".

          GOOD SHOW and 100% vouched for a by a roman!

          6 Replies
          1. re: sir_moli

            Not a big fan of the continuous B&W - they could have used it more judiciously to better effect.

            I did like the parts with Mrs. Bourdain: the fake car ride, wanting to eat with the camera man, ragging on Tony's Jersey Boy Italian pronunciation (seriously, why do they do that?), turning down the chicory, even if it was in season, because she doesn't like it.

            1. re: 512window

              I had this friend come visit on Rome last year, we ate in several good "osteria"s and had awesome food throughout, which he really appreciated. Then one day we end up in a pizza al taglio/rosticceria joint. Basically the roman version of street food. We got a piece of chicken and chicory and potatoes on the side (had previously OD'd on pizza) and I swear this kid lit up like it was Christmas after the first bite of chicory! He won't stop talking about 6 months later...haha...I mean, it's just fascinating to watch what happens when you taste something your palate just does not know. I mean like me when I get thai food or even my addiction to cilantro... amazing.

            2. re: sir_moli

              Your review hits the spot. I appreciated the riskiness of an arty point of view, but misguided color palette aside, Tony pulled it off without turning too pretentious. I like how he's become more crotchety (and modest) about himself--his wife's acid-sweet presence also helps--and how he made sure to identify the underside of the myth of Rome the seasonal, local, artisanal , and traditionalist utopia. For some reason, I loved the fake driving scenes.
              Bourdain seems to have reached a level of honesty about himself and his role, like what being a grown-up is all about. His openness and acceptance of limits, including his own, only enhance his considerable narrative skills--and his eye. Watching his Rome, I cringed retrospectively at memories of Batali and Florence and others who should know better making fools of themselves in similar ventures. Bravo, Tonuzzo.

              1. re: sir_moli

                >>>>>"""still not having developed into the mass consumerism a-la' USA ( i have no doubt that time will come).""<<<<

                i seriously doubt that the romans could be efficient enough.

                i'm curious, does anyone know what percentage of italian income is spent on food? average family, average meals?

                fao has some interesting stats, one can compare veggie prices per tonne/USD in italy:

                and the u.s. (esp. interesting is the major discrepancies in particular veggies. maybe some are favored, therefore produced more en masse, and per tonne prices are thus lower? fun to noodle around with -- and speculate ;-).


                  1. re: pdxgastro


                    i guess kids all over love fish sticks. i was surprised by the similarity of their tableau to an american table of a week's groceries.

                    i'll bet roman prices are higher by a good factor, though. not that tony bourdain was showing "average family" food anyhow, was he?

              2. PLEASE - can someone tell me what the name of that pasta dish with the black pepper in the parmesan bowl is called and where can I find a recipe?

                9 Replies
                1. re: Sharon S.

                  It's cacio e pepe, and it's generally not served in a parmesan bowl. That was the restaurant's twist. If you google it, you'll find lots of recipes.

                  1. re: Miss Needle

                    and the recipe in No Reservations was spot on -

                    try this , and if you do it in a pan - all the better


                    1. re: Miss Needle

                      I want to know how to make the parmesan bowl... I haven't found that online.

                      1. re: sashen

                        I've seen parmesan crackers made on TV - just spread even layer of grated cheese on a silicone mat, and bake till melted. For the bowl they may have done that, and then draped the still hot disk over a form to shape.

                        1. re: paulj

                          You could just drape it over an inverted bowl.

                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                            The chef used an inverted 1 Cup metal measuring cup. You could see the handle.

                    2. re: Sharon S.

                      I did not see all of the show yet, but you may be referring to rigatoni caccio e pepe, mentioned in an article I read recently in Frommer's Budget Travel called eat like a Roman:


                      The writer suggest ordering it with spaghetti, i believe.

                        1. re: Sharon S.

                          Go to the eponymous Cacio e Pepe in NYC's East Village and get it out of a pecorino bowl, as it ought to be served. Seriously powerful cheese they have there, with the bite of romano but a richness that is atypical to pec romani.

                        2. I don't know about eating seasonally and locally being "exotic" but there was just an article on Chow this week about it being just a trend (in the U.S.). I think there's a lot to be said for bringing home the fact that eating local season food isn't just a trend, but a way of life.

                          1. During the scene where they are eating carbonara and amatriciana, another customer goes nuts and starts cursing about the wait for the food. I thought that was real and not a staged, or am I wrong? And darn it, right when the bloke was in full rant mode, the TC logo popped up on screen and obscured the subtitles so I couldn't tell what he was saying. Was that done deliberately because the bloke was cursing so much? Would love to know what this bloke said if anyone who speaks Italian saw this scene!

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: SeoulQueen

                              I was really peeved when the logo popped up. I had it TiVOed and when they first started filming at the restaurant, that guy who was ticked was shown sitting down and eating at a table near the door, I don't know if it was fancy editing or whether the whole fight was staged.

                              1. re: Phaedrus

                                Seriously I got very annoyed when that happened. I do think it was just a mistake though because if they were gonna block something out I think Bourdain's production crew would have done something creative to avoid it.

                              2. re: SeoulQueen

                                Among other complaints, he was objecting to having to wait for 2 hours to get seated, pointing to the TV crew as monopolizing everything. There might have been more around the edges, but I think that;'s the core.

                                1. re: SeoulQueen

                                  Another voice complaining about the placement of the TC logo during that scene. VERY annoying.

                                2. Awesome episode and love the fighting scene!

                                  Have you guys seen a restaurant breakdown from this ep yet? Going to Rome in a few weeks, thought this might be handy. Thanks

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: IrishArmos

                                    My sister is in the industry and says everything on TV is staged even reality shows.I doubt that fight happened naturally even though Bourdain claims it did in his blog of the episode.Here is the link to the restaurants featured in the Rome show.All are listed except for Il Timoniere.



                                  2. Okay, I'll be the thorn...I hated it, everything about it. I was so excited to see an episode about Rome. As soon as I heard him say they were doing it in black and white I was disappointed. A travel and food show in black and white? How will you see the amazing food? Well, you didn't...they added a little color to the food shots, but in my opinion, they killed Rome. I really didn't care about the faux drama and the Fellini takeoff. I wanted to see Tony in Rome and see all the wonderful food in bright color. Oh well, I know I'm the minority here, and that's okay, just had to share my opinion!

                                    8 Replies
                                    1. re: sibeats

                                      I'm right there with you. The B&W was bad, but the Fellini crap killed it. It's not the first time he has done a show with an artsy/literary slant, and they are all among my least favorite shows.

                                      And I have to completely disagree with Bob96. This show was utterly pretentious. Tony is basically saying "Look at me! I'm not just an ex-junkie cook! I read books! I watch Fellini films! I listen to the Ramones! I'm deep!". Gimme a break..

                                      I know this all sounds a bit harsh, but that's just because the show was so disappointing. It could have been a great show, but he decided to screw it up because he is bored. He's just like the whiny actors on TV who bitch about doing the same thing week after week. And they all say the same thing when they inevitably leave the show, "I need to be challenged and grow as an actor". Tony is starting to pull the same crap here.

                                      The sad thing is, when Tony is on his game and in a great city, there isn't anything better on TV today. Episodes like Singapore and Istanbul are the Gold Standard of the show. And even the non-traditional clip shows like Food Porn and the Tuesday night double shift at Les Halles are great. But these self indulgent theme shows have got to go. The real irony is that if any other TV chef/personality(say Jaime Oliver, for instance) pulled the same stunt, Snarky Tony would be the first one to call them out on it and belittle them for it. As he should.

                                      Sorry this turned into a rant, but the show really irritated me:)

                                      1. re: sibeats

                                        If you read my response above, you'll see that I agree with you. I think me watching Dating in the Dark says enough of what I thought about this episode of No Reservations. And I have a feeling that if Tony didn't address the b&w element in his blog, there would be a lot more people writing about how much they hated it.

                                        1. re: sibeats

                                          I agree--this is about food and the only sense we can use is to see it. Take away the color and you've removed a primary component. I don't know if I'd call it pretentious but he took a risk with it that was as unnecessary as Sandra Lee's tablescapes. I would have loved to see the food, in all its glory. I'd also like to stop hearing about his sexual and drug experiences--I feel bad for his first, who he'd trade for a bowl of pasta.

                                            1. re: paris221966

                                              I am SO watching it tomorrow at 7, planning my evening around it.

                                              1. re: coll

                                                IT WAS ONE HIS BEST .....IF NOT HIS BEST SHOW. LOVED IT CAPTURED ROME AT ITS BEST - LOVED THE B&W. BRAVISIMO!!!

                                              2. re: paris221966

                                                Its like an inside joke, either you get it or you don't. There is a pretty good discussion buried in there about whether a mass entertainment program should be based on an inside joke, but there are enough Fellini fans that are foodies who enjoyed it that it was probably worth it for them to put out this episode in the way that they did it.

                                                1. re: Phaedrus

                                                  I am SO glad that the world hasn't become completely based on the masses. I admit I am a Fellini fan though.

                                            2. I loved it. I loved the black and white and the little Fellini-esque moments. I salivated just as much over the food as if it had been in full color and came away inspired to cook several things I saw. I thought it was a fabulous, noir type love letter to Rome and it made me want to go there. I honestly am so surprised that so many people didn't like it! Given some of the recent eps (Dubai, which was mentioned already), I thought this was really cool.

                                              Then again, I'm from Cleveland, and I think that's one of the worst episodes ever, while non-clevelanders seem to love it.

                                              6 Replies
                                              1. re: rockandroller1

                                                When we went to Rome, I purposely bought a few rolls of black and white film. Those were the photos that everyone asked for a copy. It's such an ancient city that old fashioned seems just right. Of course I'm an old fart that remembers black and white TV and movies.

                                                1. re: coll

                                                  FYI, when you make the switch to a digital camera, many of them have a B&W setting. No special film needed.

                                                  1. re: pdxgastro

                                                    or you can make the switch on your computer. For this episode, I'm sure the b/w rendition was done during or after editing.

                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                      That's interesting, he said in his blog that they'd have to do it on film with lots of cameras, and it would be so expensive. Don't remember that they didn't, but he did say they had to cut corners. It seemed a lot sharper than video, but probably just my imagination.

                                                    2. re: pdxgastro

                                                      I'm sure my husband (the actual photographer) knows that, but news to me! I just threw away the last roll of B&W film left from the trip, I was keeping it for a souvenir but it WAS over 10 years old ;-) Did all of Pompeii on one or two rolls, can't imagine the photos any other way.

                                                      Let me just say, I watched the show last night and thought it was one of the most brilliant TV shows I've seen in awhile. Loved the whole concept, and the slight coloring of the food was genius. Tony's still got some rebel in him!

                                                  2. re: rockandroller1

                                                    You are correct - Having been to Rome 38 times - I can tell you it was a spectacular representation of the food and aura of the eternal city.

                                                  3. I thoroughly adored this episode (just finished watching it). I was expecting to feel like I'd been had with gimmicky shtick, but instead want to hop on a plane right now to have dinner in Rome. I don't always love NR, but felt that this was pure genius. The food looked exquisite, and the lack of color (loved the occasional tint) allowed the dishes to stand front and center. I also really liked Ottavia, and felt that the entire show was quite balanced and inspirational. Carbonara for dinner tomorrow!

                                                    9 Replies
                                                    1. re: bear

                                                      We had carbonara the next night. How can you resist?

                                                      However, i wasn't taken with the wife. if my husband treated me like that, he'd be out the door.

                                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                                        We're having cacio e pepi in the next week. Wish I could eat it in Rome though.

                                                        My husband talks to me that way all the time, it's just an Italian thing. I totally ignore it. If you react is when there's trouble. Otherwise it's sort of cute.

                                                        1. re: coll

                                                          Yes, it def. reminded me of the way our married Italian friends talk to each other. Gives me the creeps to watch it. I feel like I'm in a room with people fighting. I just want to sneak away. Guess it is cultural.

                                                          I wish I could be eating *anything* in Rome!

                                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                                            This is the way mr RNR and I talk to each other too, it's totally harmless and the baiting actually keeps the peace a lot more than in some marriages I've seen. 7 years and we have never had a "big, huge" fight so far. My only worry about it now is how our little RNR will take it, so we try to temper it when he's around until he's older, since he's barely a toddler.

                                                        2. re: LulusMom

                                                          After watching the show, I think his wife was just playing the type of character that Sophia Loren does so well. She was good too.

                                                        3. re: bear

                                                          With or without squash blossoms?

                                                          I don't recall a debate on the program about the meat that belongs in carbonara.

                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                            And what was with the debate about onions in the amatriciana? I couldn't quite get that, was the gist that Marco doesn't usually prepare it w/onions but did to appease "the show"/"the tourists?"

                                                            1. re: rockandroller1

                                                              The onions in that sauce were just the chef's twist on the classic dish. The waitress (sister of the chef?) really didn't appreciate it, I thought. Anyway... I enjoyed this episode. I'm a huge Fellini fan so I didn't mind the black and white even though it was more a pastiche than an homage. I could certainly imagine the colors... seen them hundreds of times. It was brave to do a program that was so unlike anything all the other travel/food shows are doing.

                                                              1. re: Gio

                                                                Onions in an amatriciana isn't much of a twist, but a widely practiced preparation. It's one of the debates that surrounds "authentic" amatriciana.

                                                        4. wow..... you people.......so critical....anthony is an entertainer and he certainly kept my attention.
                                                          i loved the b & w......i think his wife is adorable.....i was drooling over the food......use your imagination....everything doesn't have to be in technicolor ......i adored the entire show......
                                                          check out April issue....Saveur mag. great recipe for cacio e pepe.....i made it last week and i'm making it again.....i think anthony rocks!

                                                          11 Replies
                                                          1. re: hillbilly hash

                                                            I think he rocks too, and loved the B&W. I just wouldn't want to be talked to like that by my spouse.

                                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                                              When I grew up in the 60s, this is what Marriage Italian Style was all about (including the cute little car that Tony had to drive) as far as I knew.....

                                                              I guess you had to be there!


                                                              1. re: coll

                                                                Yeah, I get it. And in the movies it is one thing. I don't really want to beat a dead horse. Obviously he's happy with her, and that is all that matters. Snarkiness as romance doesn't work for me though.

                                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                                  My husband and I were debating if that really was his wife, but the back-talk and shoulder-punching confirmed our opinion that it was!

                                                                  I'd also rather see real-life snarkiness than the fake "baby"-calling that couples usually do on reality shows. "Good job, baby!" "Keep going, baby" "I love you, baby". <gag> I know far more couples who "banter" (read "bicker") than baby-talk.

                                                                  1. re: waldrons

                                                                    Yuck, I hate that baby stuff too.

                                                                2. re: coll

                                                                  Well in our house my mother and father talked to each other with respect and love. Never sarcastically And... they were both Very Italian. I must have been otherwise occupied because I didn't see or hear Tony and his wife behave as folks have been describing. I did hear him say, "I'm glad to see you eating, " and wondered why he would say that.

                                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                                    When I go to a gathering with my in-laws, my ears are ringing after I leave. But it's not what I would call nasty, just extremely emotional. And pretty funny most of the time, too. It's not as personal as it seems, but you have to have a thick skin.

                                                                    1. re: coll

                                                                      Funnily enough, I watched an old movie last night - "That Hamilton Woman." In it, the King and Queen of Naples are characters, and she basically treats him like dirt, yelling at him and bossing him around, and he meekly takes it. The English even joke about her being the "real" king of the country. And it brought me right back to this conversation!

                                                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                                                        I just remembered something, when we went to Italy, I actually studied up on curse words so I'd be ready. Then we get there and everyone was so unbelievably polite, the whole time we only saw one person pitch a fit because the bus was driving away without him. Otherwise it was so stress free and beautiful. When I got back, I told a native Italian I know, and he said, "Oh you're thinking of New York Italians, not real Italians". So forgive me, I realize I'm being a little too broad with my generalizations still. There are plenty of people on both sides with good manners, I just don't know that many of them ;-)

                                                                        1. re: coll

                                                                          Well, everybody's experience is different. I remember our first day in Rome, we walked by this store and the owner was shouting on the phone so loud we could here her blocks away. Also we ate at this restaurant in Venice and there was a BIG scene between the customer and the waiter. We were shocked, because you don't see that kind of behavior in other countries that we have been to.

                                                              2. re: hillbilly hash

                                                                could not have said it better, although I did try! The black and white rocked!

                                                              3. I thought the black and white was great. Why do we have to have color to see the ingredients and food is fantastic? I think it made the point that simple and quality is what its all about. I dont need to see color to know what he was trying to get across in this episode. Black and white what absolutely genius!

                                                                1. For some reason B+W in general creeps me out. I don't care for it in films or photographs (though I recently won an award in a national mag for a BW photo). I don't know if it's just that i remember so many lousy movies/shows when I was a kid and everything was in BW, or related to the fact that I as a guy, dream almost entirely in B+W. Anyway, when it comes to watching th old classics like the older Christmas Carol versions, I opt for the colorized ones.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. I didn't mind the black and white, or anything else except his wife. She's either a really, really lousy actor or she's one of the most obnoxious people on the planet. Or both. I'd like to be proven wrong on that.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: EWSflash

                                                                      i think maybe she was trying a little too hard.......if you watch anthony in sicily....i think she is cute and cool.....

                                                                    2. Interview with Tony's wife, Ottavia Busia Bourdain, here:

                                                                      Tony describing the B & W show here:

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                                        I liked her a LOT in that short interview! Thanks Gio.

                                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                                          thanks gio........it is really interesting to know the "behind the scenes"......

                                                                        2. Just a little footnote about Tony's wife, Ottavia. Yesterday on the Travel Channel was the continuation of the No Reservations marathon leading up to the 100th show. One of the episodes was about the Bourdains visiting his wife's in-laws on Sardinia. He was very much taken with the island, the landscape and, of course, the food. But the nice thing was that his wife was adorable. Explaining and filling in history about the both the cuisine and culture. There were some sweet shots of just the two of then in a restaurant and out walking with their daughter. That scene in the Rome/Fellini episode was very diffrent...

                                                                          1. Coming from someone who is a true Bourdain fan - have all his books, all the "No Reservations" episodes on DVD, etc., etc. - this episode ranks among the ones I won't be revisiting often. While I believe I understand what he "thought" he was going after entertainment-wise, quite frankly visiting & filming Rome completely in black & white for a travel/food show is simply way WAY too self-important. Not thinking of the audience AT ALL. What a lovely show that would have been had it been filmed in color. If I want to watch an "art" film, I'll watch one. I don't need it intruding on what could have been a wonderful travel/food piece on Rome.

                                                                            And as far as Tony now dragging his wife & child into the episodes - I can only hope this stops pronto. Frankly, I find his wife's voice grating/annoying & condescending. I cringed every time she was on camera during the Sardinia episode - correcting him, interrupting him, etc., etc. It was stupid & ruined what would have been an otherwise excellent episode. Could have been good if she'd kept her mouth shut. She interrupts conversations with her "insights", & I'm really not interested in her opinion. I want to hear his banter with the indigenous inhabitants of the places he's visiting. Not her.

                                                                            Don't get me wrong. I'm not a Bourdain "groupie" - lol! I'm sure she's a lovely person. I just don't think television is her medium &, for me anyway, her appearances on the show just stick out like a sore thumb & send me out of the room for a snack - lol!

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: Breezychow

                                                                              On the other hand, I thought she was funny and a nice change of pace. What grated on me a bit is the eternal recurrence of the carbonara (not to mention amatriciana and cacio e pepe). It's a sin that he didn't get to sing the praises of fiori di zucchine ripieni.