Updated: Nov 28, 2021
Colosseum tour, and a wander through famous spots like the Pantheon and Piazza Navona, it can be worth getting off the beaten track and seeing how the Romans really live. Exploring some of the city’s bustling, residential districts, in fact, is a great way to round off your Rome vacation.
One such neighborhood is Testaccio, a former working-class district now home to a young and trendy crowd, as well as an older generation steeped in the area’s traditions. At the start of the 20th century, its huge slaughterhouse was one of the biggest employers in the area, a fact which gave rise to an entire culinary institution: workers were often paid in offal, subsequently requiring their wives to come up with tasty recipes for the cheapest off-cuts of meat. Today, you can still sample some of those ingenious dishes in Testaccio’s typical trattorias, such as Da Oio a Casa Mia or il Bucatino. The slaughterhouse is no longer operational, but in its renovated shell, a modern art gallery, Macro, an organic café and performance venue enrich the neighborhood’s cultural life.
Mordi e Vai, is run by Sergio Esposito, humble purveyor of another great Testaccio invention: the trapizzino. Half sandwich, half pizza, it’s a delicious triangle of soft white dough, filled with an appetizing sauce more associated with a sit-down pasta dinner, first created at 00100 Pizza on Via Giovanni Branca. Choose fillings such as picchiapò (traditional Roman boiled beef, stewed with tomatoes and onions), lingua (tongue), amatriciana (guanciale and tomato sauce) and polpette fritte e ciocorietta ripassata (fried meatballs with refried wild common chicory) to keep hunger at bay.