The Rome campus’ Mensa has its good reputation for many reasons: delicious home cooked food, kind staff and is the best place for hanging out with your Rome class. But as all Romers fondly recall, the Mensa has some drawbacks. The most apparent is that the menu consists of mostly the same every day and is open for only three one-hour periods for breakfast, lunch and dinner. After two weeks or so, you will most likely get sick of pasta and be in the mood for something different.
Luckily, Rome has more than a few restaurants that serve a variety of foods, both Italian and otherwise, and they are great places to try many authentic and delicious Italian dishes.
One of these restaurants is conveniently located close to campus. La Madre Ristorante is an Italian restaurant that is roughly a twenty minute walk from Due Santi. This restaurant was the first one that my friends and I visited while in Rome, and there are many qualities about it that make this place a great way to kick off one’s culinary journey in Rome.
It is walking distance from campus, meaning you don’t have to pay extra to use the public transportation system to get there. You simply just keep walking straight past the UD favorite Top grocery store and you will get there in about 15 minutes.
The restaurant itself looks like what one would imagine a nice restaurant to look like — it’s well-lit, has professional staff and is decorated in a way that makes the space feel formal yet homey and relaxing.
And, most importantly, you get lots of good food for a very cheap price. Money is always a concern among students in Rome, especially in the very beginning when everyone is getting their bearings with where food and souvenirs are cheapest. My friends and I each got three course meals — an appetizer, a main dish and a dessert, along with drinks — for roughly fifteen to twenty euros. To put that into perspective, that’s the price for a nice bottle of wine alone at other restaurants in the city.
If you want to dive right into the food experience of Italy without breaking the bank, this restaurant is a great place to start.
The staff were also very friendly, especially with explaining the menu if we did not understand what something meant in Italian. There was also a nice variety of food as well — Italian classics such as pizza, pasta and calzones, but there were also multiple seafood dishes as well that I may go back to try at some point.
I ordered what is called a quattro formaggi pizza which, as the name suggests, uses four different cheeses to make the pizza. I cannot recommend it enough. It was a perfect balance of being packed with flavor but also not being overdone or too rich. Other orders of the night also included the ham and cheese calzone, which was thoroughly enjoyable — crispy without being overdone.
Though the walk can be a bit a long, we all agreed that the distance was well worth the experience. A full course meal for less than 20 euros without having to use public transportation is a winning combo for any student.
As the semester continues, money and fatigue prevent most from going out into the city for food excursions. Having a solid spot close to home will be an essential for anyone wanting to truly make the most of the Rome semester.