Before leaving for Buenos Aires, I stopped for a few days in Rome, staying at a friend’s house in Testaccio, a now trendy neighbourhood that traditionally housed the city’s abattoir and meat market. Many of the most famous restaurants of traditional roman cuisine have been operating for decades in this area, and since the abattoir’s closure in 1975, after a few years of decline and disrepair, the night crowds are now joining the diners in filling these streets after dark.
Apart from nightclubs, restaurants and bars, the area is blessed with some great takeaway options from the neighbourhood’s large covered market and beyond, and some of the best food stores in Rome. A gastronomic tour of the capital would not be complete without a stop in Testaccio, and I saw several groups of foreigners sampling their first suppli’ or porchetta sandwich under the arches of Testaccio’s market.
Market aside, this time round it was down to one deli and one imaginative takeaway restaurant to leave a mark on my memory (and a few inches on my waist).The first is the excellent Volpetti delicatessen on Via Marmorata, one of the best places to buy your appetisers, cheeses and cold meats in Rome. The family is originally from Umbria, a region in central Italy, and owner Claudio really knows how to source the best cheeses, from his homeland and other areas of the country as well.
I left the shop with a bag full of cheese, olives and focaccia, headed to my friend’s place and had the loveliest aperitif ever, before heading out to dinner at a neighbourhood restaurant in Trastevere called Claudio, where I had a lovely spaghetti with clams.
The next day, it was time I sampled a delicacy dangerously close to my friend’s home, the Trapizzino. Invented in 2008 by Stefano Callegari, the Trapizzino unites two of his creator’s favourite foods, pizza and traditional roman recipes. A carefully crafted pizza dough, left to raise for several hours, is opened in half with the corner at the bottom, forming a sort of pocket which is then filled with hearty dollops of a number of hefty delicacies such as trippa (cow’s stomach in sauce), melanzane alla parmigiana (aubergines with tomato and parmesan sauce) and coda alla vaccinara (ox tail cooked in a tomato sauce).
The result is decadent to say the least. We had ours perched on the stools inside the busy shop, but you are welcome to take them away too. All kinds of people stop by and at any hour. No time of day seems unsuitable for a Roman to stop for a Trapizzino.
I left this city once more with a belly full of delicious food. Although it was definitely not the healthiest, I was fine with it after making sure I had plenty of super greens tablets and sipped lemon juice and sodium bicarbonate to alkalise the body. After all, you only live once.
Bring on Argentina!!!