I've wanted to go to Italy for as long as I can remember. To say that our recent visit there lived up to my expectations is truly an understatement! The country was more beautiful than I could have ever imagined, the people were so caring and friendly, and the food was delightful.
In the little imaginary Italy in my head, I'd drink a lot of coffee + wine, enjoy plenty of pasta, and do most of my dining outdoors. Reality was very, very accurate to my little dream! What I wasn't expecting was that each and every meal would be spectacular, regardless of price, city, or restaurant location. I'm excited to relive them and share them with you through this little blog.
Get ready because this is a photo heavy post! It's actually quite like Green Eggs and Ham as I'll be showing you all the times we ate pasta and where.
Bryce and I had lunch on the streets of Roma at an adorable little spot called Di Qua. Your first option is Italy's restaurants is always acqua (water) with or without gas (carbonation), to which we vote NO. On this particular day Bryce was up for some day-drinking!
Their caprese was delicious with beautifully ripe tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, although there wasn't a leaf of basil in sight. The sturdy arugula was a really great replacement and added a nice texture that isn't typically in American caprese, making it feel more like a conventional salad.
Our pasta was a Roman Classic - Amatriciana with tomato sauce, bacon, and pecorino cheese. It was hearty, savory, cheesy, and comforting. A spoon wasn't provided for twirling, which is our way to eat long noodles, but we managed somehow :) I'd be lying if I said we didn't fight over the last bites of this dish!
Another day we braved the Roma public transportation on our way to the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel. Lunch was again at an adorable street-front restaurant called La Caravella Trattoria Pizzeria.
My simple salad somehow transported me back in time to my Pap Pap's house as a child, enjoying lunch courtesy of my Granny! Although it can't be accurate because I didn't touch a tomato until the ripe (HA!) old age of 20. Note the cappuccino in the corner - LIVING MY DREAM.
Somebody love - love - loves pesto and raved about this dish. He also ordered pesto pasta on our very first date!
The tagliatelle noodles must have been new to Bryce because this simple lunch was honestly his most favorite and he told many people about it.
You'll notice a few reoccurring patterns, aside from pasta eating. They're glasses of red wine and repeat outfits. I make no apologies for the wine and we packed only one suitcase and one carry on per person, as my husband insisted, so the clothing was well loved along the way!
One night in Roma we dined in the basement of Joe Padella, an Australian/Italian restaurant, and I was feeling brave when I ordered. My pasta was orichiette alla bottarga, fiori di zucca e vongole (pasta with fish eggs, zucchini flowers and clams). Not only was it delicious but it was unlike anything I've eaten before. Many different textures were involved and each fork-full was different. The fish eggs almost melted and gave a great salty finish to the dish.
On our very last evening in Roma we ate just inside the open-air doors of a restaurant, Vinando, which was the best of both worlds. Aren't the buildings beautiful? I didn't realize that some countries have the street names on all of the buildings, although it really makes sense and eliminates the need for another sign/pole. Rome wasn't built in a day, that's for sure!
Handsome husband and a bottle of red wine - yes please!
This appetizer was called Antipasto misto Vinando and included vegetable strudel, red chicory roll stuffed with tomino cheese, zucchini flower stuffed with mozzarella and basil, and fried eggplant "meatballs". Each one was more delicious than the next. They're fried and cheesy, what did you expect?
Bryce had the gnocchi gricia fiori e tartufo (hand made gnocchi with crunchy bacon and black truffle). It was super rich, salty, and so very tasty. The little gnocchi just melt in your mouth.
My lasagna wasn't the most eye catching although it was pure comfort food at its finest. The crunchy top and hot layers of pasta, cheese, and meat were perfection.
After our time in Roma we adventured to Napoli where we only ate pizza! Our final stop in Italy was Sicily where I enjoyed the signature dish of the island in a restaurant just across the street from our hotel called Il Mirto e la Rosa.
My appetizer was caponatina di melanzane con cous cous al pistacchio (eggplant caponatina with pistachio cous cous). Pistachios are huge all over Italy and eggplant is most popular on Sicily. It tasted like this cooked slowly all day long and I could have eaten at least 2 - 3 servings myself.
Pasta con le sarde is Sicily's most famous dish and one I was looking forward to checking off on my list of foods to try. It includes sardines and anchovies, pine nuts, saffron, raisins, wild fennel, and toasted bread crumbs. I'm a big believer in tasting local dishes and favorites and this was excellent! The sardines and anchovies weren't fishy tasting at all and gave the dish a really nice salty base. The soft raisins and crunchy pine nuts made for a great texture. The Sicilian wild fennel was totally unique.
No two pastas were even slightly like one another. We tried all shapes, sauces, and ingredients and I don't regret a thing! Italy certainly didn't disappoint at all, especially with regard to the pasta.
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So we've covered gelato, pizza, sfogliatelle, and pasta and it feels like I have dozens of other posts from Italy. You can click on the bookmarks below to be sure you're keeping up with posts in each category.