Rome food tour - Trionfale with Tavole Romane

What better way to explore Rome than to be taken round by a local...

Just before Christmas, we had the pleasure of being invited on a Tavole Romane food tour around the Prati district of Rome (just next to the Vatican). Guided by the irrepressible Giovanna (also known as @burroealici), we were taken to the very best off-the-beaten track places Rome has to offer. We ate a lot (and I mean A LOT) and had a great time as Giovanna led us around like an old friend taking us to her favorite spots.
Giovanna, tour-guide extraordinaire



The tour is titled 'Trionfale', as it centers around the Trionfale food market. It lasted just over 4 hours and took in a number of eateries. Thankfully, given the amount of food we had, there wasn't too much walking involved, although the pace was a little brisk. Prati itself is unspectacular, in a Rome-when-no-one-is-watching kinda way. While elegant, with lovely little shops, it's not particularly touristy, and doesn't feature any must-sees. However, it does have good foodie hangouts.

The group were composed of well-traveled Italophiles and was a good size, not too big so we never got a chance to ask a question, and not too small that we had to do all the talking. The make-up of the group was informative, as this trip is definitely for those who want to delve a little deeper into Roman life, rather than simply catch the (admittedly stunning) tourist sites.

We met at the Trionfale market (near the Cipro metro stop), and were taken on a whistle-stop tour, taking in fruit stalls, overflowing butchers (with a taste of porchetta), a wonderful fish stall (which, as a seafood fan, I subsequently dreamed about), a quick lesson on olives (with ample tasting, of course), and plenty of hints and info tidbits about the various stalls from Giovanna. The market was fun, if a bit rushed. However, we were about 15 minutes late (problems on the metro), so ours may be a special case. The market itself is quite impressive, stocking pretty much everything you could ever need, food-wise, plus a few extras, such as fresh honey and a stall where you can fill your own bottles with table wine - perfect for that self-catering trip.

Giovanna even gave us tips on how to pick artichokes
Valentino's fish stand. Every type of fish, locally-sourced

Which is your favorite?

After our hypothetical (and not-so-hypothetical in some cases) shopping at the market, we set out on our exploration of Prati. First stop was the newly opened Panificio Bonci. This lovely modern bakery felt like a real treat. Here, among the fresh bread and ground flour, we tasted pizza bianca and pizza rossa fresh from the oven, and utterly divine. Bonci is definitely somewhere I'll go back to, the bread looked delicious.

Bonci. Pizza, pane, and a cool water dispenser were just some of the highlights

Leaving Bonci behind, we headed over a few streets to Romeo, again, a new spot in Prati. This restaurant-cum-deli, with striking decor and a cool vibe is the daughter (are restaurants feminine?) of the Roscioli brothers and the Michelin-starred celebratory chef Cristina Bowerman. Thankfully, the stunningly modern interior doesn't distract from the quality of the food and drink on offer. Here, we took a breather, taking a seat for tastings of bread and two forms of mortadella, accompanied by a glass (or two) of Franciacorta, the Italian version of Champagne. I liked Romeo a lot, and could have stayed there all day (and potentially spent a fortune). It's another place I'll definitely go back to. Their panettoni looked amazing (they also had an equally amazing price-tag) but I managed to resist this time. Also, I should point out that I was already full at this point.

Romeo. Marrying cool with tasty
Franciacorta goes well with... well... everything actually

Dulcis in fundo

Learn from my mistakes. If you take this tour, pace yourself. The final stop, Flavio al Velavevodetto, was amazing. This is the second restaurant by Flavio, the first is in Testaccio. Both are excellent. Here, thanks to Giovanna's charming of Flavio, we were treated to massive portions. We were also treated to an unnecessary starter of eggplant balls, before our pasta tasting expedition began. We started with two pasta dishes (primi), the best carbonara I've ever had, and the classic amatriciana. Both were excellent. The portion sizes were exceedingly generous. I ate them both. Completely. Did I mention that the carbonara was good? We weren't finished. After refreshing our palates with acqua di Nepi (a sign of quality in my book), we had humble yet super tasty polpetta di bollito with roast potatoes. I tried my best, but this dish beat me. I thought I was done, never to eat again. Then the tiramisu came out and picked me up. This was the coup de grace. We had just had a very tasty and extremely filling meal. This was the end of the tour. I was sad it was over, but happy to have experienced it. 
 
Pros and cons of the tour: 

This tour is perfect for the real Italophile. Someone who's seen most of the sites, but wants to delve a little deeper. Being led by Giovanna was a real pleasure. She gives insider tips, and is a wealth of information. It would be best to take the tour at the start of your trip, as you could then mine Giovanna for nuggets and tidbits about other restaurants and places to visit in Rome. However, would it pass the mom test? Well, only if mom had already done the main tourist sights of Rome, and also, only if she were a real foodie. We enjoyed the tour, a lot. It was fun, and we got to see some lovely places and enjoyed some spectacular food (did I tell you about Velavevodetto?) On the downside, we walked very fast, and, even though we enjoyed the tour and the food, we didn't feel like we had learned a lot about the area by the end of it, or indeed the actual food we tasted. Perhaps you can't have both. A warm, congenial host, giving a private tour around their favorite city, and a guidebook like level of information on the food.

Was it value for money? Yes. Absolutely. We ate a lot of food, all of which was of exceptional quality, and Giovanna was a warm, friendly guide. I don't know what the tour would be like without her. Many of the places had recently opened, and we really felt like we were getting an up-to-date 'these are the good places to eat in Prati' tour. It's obvious that Tavole Romane really know their stuff. Would I recommend the tour? Yes, with the aforementioned caveat that, while you are taken to lovely places, you aren't given a great deal of information about the food you're eating. If this post has whet your appetite, click here for the tour website.

Would I recommend it? Yes, even for my mom. While Prati is not touristy, the places we visited were well worth the trip. The market was great fun and the quality of the food we tasted was exceptional. We will definitely go back to the places that Giovanna showed us, and I think that's the best recommendation one can give.


Photo credits: All photos copyright lazioexplorer.com

Disclaimer: While we were guests of Tavole Romane, we can't be bought, and all opinions are our own.

3 comments:

  1. If I were in Rome, I would do this tour for sure! I like visiting places that are not always on the tourist track.

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    1. You should definitely do it Laura! It's a great tour :)

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  2. Its really very nice written content. First time by this content I knew that people life to do "foods tour" as well. Couple of time early I read or heard about the same but I think its exceptional one. But today when I am searching for Rome tour find many articles and blogs on food tour. Now I am planning for the same tour and for sure my next tour will be somewhat similar. Please guide me about the tour as I am not a regular traveler I hardly go on tour. So far as a tourist I have only experience of Dhikala Forest Lodge So I also need guide during the tour.

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