Dining in the Eternal City

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Photo courtesy of the Abbey Theatre

Rome. Beauty. Grandeur. Food. And what a gorgeous, incredible, gastronomic experience the Rome semester offers. 

Food is an everyday thing, and although we don’t always think about the stuff we do daily, we always concern ourselves with what we’re going to eat next: soup or salad, meat or fish, Middle-Eastern or Chinese food. 

That decision can become a huge part of your day in Europe, especially Rome. The Eternal City has had close to forever to figure out what it wants to eat, and it becomes apparent walking through the streets of Rome that it couldn’t commit to just one flavor on its plate.  

American fast-food tycoons flank the entrances to ancient monuments. Fancy, romantic Italian restaurants crowd the alleyways leading from the Capitoline Museums to the Trevi Fountain. Small businesses fight their way into crowded street corners to serve their own ethnic foods from all across the world. Street vendors and food trucks crowd the Italian subway entrances, side-by-side with pop-up souvenir shops. 

Any direction you turn, a place to eat is always in the periphery of the Roman eye. 

The options are endless, but some still make their way into the hearts of UD Romers, whether they be famous bars or nearly-untraceable food vendors. One legendary establishment would be the gluten-free street food joint Mama Eats, located just a few blocks outside Vatican City; they serve gluten-free calzones, cones of fried fish, and other fried food options to fulfill every dream of anyone with a gluten sensitivity. 

“I was so excited when I found gluten-free fried food, especially the fried cones, because I finally got to experience some of the food my friends had while traveling,” Sophomore Amanda Heinzler said. “It was actually easier to find safe food than you’d expect while traveling with an allergy.”

For those who want better-than-street Italian food for the same price, a popular stop-in is Pane & Vino, across the street and a block away from the Colosseum. When Sophomore Dalayna Marji from Fall Rome 2019 first came across the restaurant, she claims that “we all unanimously decided that these sandwiches were the best we’d ever had, knowing full well the weight of the claim.” 

“It was a really friendly environment. We talked with the management for a good ten minutes about where they get ingredients, all their clients from all over the world, and the pros of being so near the Colosseum,” Marji said. 

Non-Italian flavors may be harder to find but are certainly worth the effort. Small businesses with extraordinary take-out Middle-Eastern food pop up unexpectedly while walking through the scattered streets of Rome, and they’re usually rather inexpensive. For a dining-in experience, “Ristorante Indiano Jaipur” in Trastevere offers a free glass of prosecco, a refreshing change from the €4 demanded for mere water at other restaurants. According to Junior Gwendolyn Loop, the vegetarian Malai Kofta is especially delicious, and a great option during Lent in Rome.

Another unusual restaurant on the Rome scene is Mandaloun, an elegant Lebanese restaurant on Via di Porta Pinciana. With antipasti like hummus and baba ganoush, it offers a variety to mix and match with a group of friends after a day out on the Eternal City. 

“It was nice because I’m not used to eating one kind of food all the time, so the difference from Italian food made me happy,” said Lydia Thenayan. 

Other destinations include the two Irish pubs popular with UD students: Abbey Theatre and Scholars Lounge. Abbey Theatre offers discounts to American students and has a Taco Tuesday special worth taking advantage of. Scholars Lounge is just as fun and ambient and is located just across from Palazzo Venezia, an easy walk for any sightseeing UDer who needs a drink and a bite to eat. 

The eternal city’s dining options stretch out forever, and every Rome student can make fresh memories in other establishments just waiting to be discovered.

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