In the weeks preceding our trip to Rome, I constantly daydreamed about the Italian food we would get to eat on our trip. I wanted to twirl my fork in some real deal spaghetti, sink my teeth into fresh-out-of-the-oven pizza, and indulge in some seriously tasty gelato. Our time in The Eternal City would be short and I knew we wouldn’t be able to try all the foods I was dreaming about on our own. As usual, my first instinct was to sign up for a food tour so we would be guaranteed to try some of the best food the city had to offer.
Enter Eating Italy, a team of passionate foodies dedicated to sharing Rome’s delicious cuisine with hungry, adventurous travellers. Their goal is to give visitors a taste of Italy that they won’t soon forget and introduce them to authentic Roman food, people, and neighbourhoods.
Eating Italy runs several food tours, including their daytime Taste of Testaccio and Trastevere for Foodies tours and their evening Testaccio Supper Stroll and Twilight Trastevere food tours. Since we wanted to start our trip off on a scrumptious note, we decided to sign up for the Twilight Trastevere tour on our first evening in Rome.
We met our guide Eric and the rest of our small tour group on Tiber Island, a small island nestled in the middle of the Tiber River which runs through Rome. Our group consisted of guests from the United States and Australia who, like us, were on a Roman getaway and were excited to check out the local food scene. Eric greeted us warmly, introduced himself, and got us talking about our favourite Italian foods as a way of getting to know us and the types of foods we enjoy. With a twinkle in his eye at the mention of our communal love of pizza, red wine, and antipasti, Eric led us to our first stop on the tour.
After crossing the bridge from Tiber Island, we entered the medieval cobblestone neighbourhood of Trastevere, home to some of Rome’s best loved restaurants and family-run food businesses.
Our first stop on the tour was at Da Enzo al 29, a small trattoria nestled along a picturesque backstreet of Trastevere. Run by three siblings dedicated to offering classic Roman dishes, Da Enzo is a true gem.
We kicked off our evening the way Romans do; that is, with an aperitivo of sparkling Prosecco and some nibbles to whet our appetite. We dined on crispy carciofi alla giudia (Jewish-style fried artichokes) and the creamiest, smoothest burrata (a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream) drizzled in olive oil and served with ripe, basil-tossed tomatoes on the side. The burrata was easily my favourite dish of not only the tour, but of our entire trip to Rome. Oh the creaminess!
Down an ivy-covered alleyway and around the corner from Da Enzo was our next stop, Spirito di Vino, an award-winning restaurant with a wine cellar 150 years older than the Colosseum. Can you imagine?
In the dimly lit wine cellar, we had a tasting of Molino a Vento’ Nerello Mascalese, a garnet red wine with notes of spice and wild berries. Delicious! It paired extremely well with the rich and hearty pork shoulder stew prepared the ancient Roman way with honey, apples, and fennel. The pork stew was S’s favourite of the tour (and in fact from all the food tours he’s ever been on)!
For a sweet interlude, we popped by Biscottificio Innocenti, a family-run cookie shop in operation since 1929. Every day the mother-daughter Innocenti team crank out biscotti by the hundreds in their 16m long oven. Most biscotti don’t have names so you just have to point at the ones you want to buy. On our tour we sampled 3 different kinds, my favourite being the Brutti ma Buoni (‘ugly but good’) hazelnut kisses. We bought a small bag of these (and the chocolate-dipped biscotti) to enjoy the next day on our trip to Pompeii. Definitely stock up!
With dusk fast approaching, we wandered over to Antica Norcineria, a specialty food shop specializing in cheeses, meats, and the best porchetta in Rome.
We tried bites of creamy, oozing gorgonzola and sharp, salty Pecorino Romano cheese, sips of craft beer, and mouthwatering roast pork on a slice of bread. Amazing! No wonder Piero (the owner) is known locally as the King of Porchetta!
For more classic Roman bites, we rounded the corner to Il Supplì, a hole-in-the-wall street food hot spot in Trastevere. Locals come for their famous supplì (fried rice balls mixed with tomato sauce and stuffed with mozzarella), but their Roman-style pizza also draws a crowd. Eric got our supplì and square pizza slices to go and we enjoyed them in the romantic Piazza di Santa Maria nearby. The classic tomato pizza we tried was both soft and crispy with a slight char on the crust. The supplì were piping hot with molten mozzarella inside; they were a fantastic treat to warm up on a cool February evening.
For a taste of fine dining, we headed over to Il Bacocco and were seated in their dining room downstairs. Since we were ahead of the usual dinner rush, we had the restaurant to ourselves. We sampled two classic pasta dishes, gnocchetti with mussels and pecorino and spaghetti all’Amatriciana (made with guanciale (smoked pig’s jowl), tomatoes, and pecorino). Alongside our primi dishes we sipped an organic red wine from Montepulciano.
For our final stop of the tour, we stopped by Fatamorgana, the gelateria that introduced Romans to fresh, gourmet, organic gelato. Known for both their classic and innovative flavours (such as chocolate with tobacco, mojito and black cherries, and fennel, honey, and licorice), Fatamorgana has something for everyone.
Our Rome food tour with Eating Italy was one of the very best we’ve ever been on (and we’ve been on a lot!). Eric was a great guide – extremely helpful, knowledgeable, and passionate about Roman food and culture. He gave us lots of helpful tips like how to avoid subpar gelaterias — watch out for huge, artificially-coloured piles of gelato topped with fruits and other decorations, a sure sign the gelato’s been made with a mix. He also recommended that we try out ‘aperitivo hour‘ in Rome where yummy snacks are included with the price of a drink. For the optimal time to dine out, he advised us to eat dinner at 7:30pm or later like the locals do to ensure we’re getting the freshest food.
If you are travelling to Rome and want to eat at some of the best restaurants in the city and explore a charming foodie neighbourhood with a knowledgeable guide, then you will most definitely have a ball on an Eating Italy food tour. (If you’re visiting other countries in Europe, Eating Europe (which runs Eating Italy) also holds food tours in London, Amsterdam, and Prague).
Thanks so much to Eating Italy for hosting me and big thanks to Eric for an unforgettable food tour!
What are your favourite restaurants or eateries in Rome? Let me know in the comments below!
P.S. Heading to Rome? Check out my Sightseeing in Rome guide.