My City Picks: Casual Eats in Rome, Italy

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I spent one month in Rome, where I ate a lot of authentic Italian food.  And some not-so-authentic “Italian” food.  Of the countless restaurants and cafes I visited, those that I recommend are included in this first of (hopefully many) “My City Picks” posts.

Pizzarium

Located just steps away from Rome’s Cipro metro stop, this tiny (but nice) pizza nook doesn’t appear like anything special from the outside.  It has no tables, and patrons eat standing at the restaurant’s outdoor wooden counter or sitting on a nearby bench.  Inside, though, you’ll find a unique array of creative pizza variations on a long counter, waiting to be sliced up at your request.  I tried three different vegetarian variations (a simple but delicious marinara and herb, a surprising pumpkin, cauliflower, & herb combo, and a goat cheese, onion, & green bean slice).  Each kind was a taste of food heaven.  Make the metro journey and be adventurous with your pizza order.  You’ll thank me. ImageImage

Panella

My friends and I joke that we will simply never be cool enough for Panella.  This upmarket bakery/café/gourmet food store specializes in delectable pastries, creamy lattes, and making young Americans feel intimidated.  It is loud and full of bustling Italians all morning and afternoon, but the atmosphere was cool enough and the food tasty (and pretty) enough to entice us to return again and again.  And again.  Most items are priced by weight, so expect to end up paying more than you had hoped for that simple piece of veggie flatbread.  If the weather is nice, sit outside and pretend to be a chic local, as we tried (and miserably failed) to do.

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Giolitti

Touristy?  Yes.  Worth it anyway?  Absolutely.  This famous gelateria near the Pantheon scoops up my favorite gelato in Rome.  I made about five or six stops here during my four-week stay and would’ve made more had my hotel been closer.  The array of flavors may appear overwhelming, but I’m sure everything is delicious, as I never heard anything but rave reviews of Giolitti’s flavors.  My favorite combination was dark chocolate and hazelnut.  When you order your flavors, watch out for the amusing worker who tries to hand you your cone through the glass.  You’ll find yourself slamming your hand into the transparent barrier in an eager effort to grab your frozen treat.  I fell for it once and won’t do it again.  You’ve been warned.

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