September 4, 2013

3 Great Places to Eat Around the Vatican

~ by Isobel Lee

Say it softly, but the area around the Vatican hasn’t always been associated with eating well in Rome. Home to plenty of tourist traps, thankfully today there are plenty of options for good value, tasty, authentic food, even with a view of St. Peter’s Dome. Vatican City borders on the district of Prati, a bustling area filled with shops and lawyers’ offices, serving the nearby municipal courts. But this is also a thriving residential area, so there are busy markets, friendly trattoria-style restaurants and plenty of street food options round the corner from the Vatican Museums. Even if you’ve worked up a healthy appetite exploring papal tombs and St. Peter’s treasures, it’s worth saving energy to sample some great local food on the go before or after your Vatican tour.

1. Fa-Bio, via Germanico 43

Fabio Lanuti and his partner Claudio Bortot opened their simple mecca to organic food just over three and a half years ago, and haven’t looked back since. Come here to sample great salads and juices, healthy kamut rolls or quinoa, with plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. With warming soups on offer in the winter, and palate-tingling smoothies available all year round, a stop here might just put a spring in your step after a long morning on your feet. Just to make everything a bit simpler, Fabio speaks fluent French and Claudio’s English is perfect.

Metro: Ottaviano

2. 200 gradi Paninoteca, Piazza Risorgimento

Just over the road from the Vatican Museums, 200 gradi Paninoteca (which is just a fancy word for sandwich store) lives up to its rather grand name. The first part –– 200 degrees –– refers to the temperature at which the bread they use achieves its heavenly, golden crust: soft in the middle with a satisfying crunch on the outside. Once you start with good bread, the sky’s the limit.

Try fillings named after some of Rome’s most famous sights, from Campo dei Fiori (hot salami, smoked cheese, grilled eggplant, rocket and Tabasco) to a mouthwatering Mancini (sliced pork, spinach, ricotta and sundried tomatoes). Or get creative and ask for your own colorful variation. Fresh salads and cakes baked daily are also available.

Metro: Ottaviano

3. Pizzarium, Via della Meloria 43

A little bit off the beaten track, but just steps from Metro Cipro, this tiny, unassuming place is a veritable shrine to pizza. Established by local food-hero Gabriele Bonci, who’s also known for his breadmaking, beer and restaurant ventures, Pizzarium is one of Rome’s most famous pizza-by-the-slice venues; expect to pay more than usual for his perfectly leavened dough and gift for combining great flavors. Snack on some of Bonci’s signature toppings, ranging from scallops and rabbit to melanzane alla parmigiana… and don’t forget the delicious suppli(rice-balls).

Metro: Cipro