Theresa, our Local Host in Rome explains this Roman food philosophy
It may seem like the term Slow Food in Italy is stating the obvious. The philosophy that began in the Piedmont region in Italy in the 1980’s however is not referring to the experience typical in most Roman restaurants of lengthy multiple courses and drawn out dining experiences. Slow Food is a food philosophy that is founded on three principles: good quality, production that doesn’t harm the environment, and accessible prices for consumers with fair conditions and pay for producers. As your Local Host, I want to share some of my favorite ways to experience the Slow Food movement during your next trip to Rome!
The Slow Food movement is good for your wallet too. Meals at Slow Food restaurants in Rome are required to cost less than 35 euros per person. There are several restaurants in Rome that are combatting the “tourist menu” and overpriced meals of not so fresh ingredients in an attempt to salvage the Italian reputation for simple, real and locally grown and prepared food. Only a small handful of restaurants however have been given the “chiocciola” or “snail award”, comparable to a Michelin star for Slow Food restaurants awarded by the Osteria D’Italia Association.
Owners of Hosteria Grappolo D’Oro, Simone Angelucci, Andrea Liguori and Antonello Magliari are proud their restaurant has recently received the “Snail of Approval” in recognition of their contributions to the service of quality, authentic and sustainable food. The restaurant is located behind Rome’s most historic outdoor food market of Campo di Fiori and they serve the best of Rome’s most traditional and famous pasta dishes in town, such as carbonara (percorino cheese, pancetta, eggs, and black pepper), cacio e pepe (pecorino cheese and pepper) and amatriciana (tomato sauce with guanciale). The restaurant is perhaps best known for its flight of appetizers that include a tasting of mini eggplant parmesan, burrata cheese and anchovies, meatballs with pine nuts, and panzanella, a Tuscan bread and tomato salad.
Simone said he loves Roman food because he believes that its simplicity is a true reflection of the Roman people. Most Roman dishes are made with only three ingredients and at Grappolo, they take great pride in their simple recipes that don’t require additions. Therefore, stand warned before requesting to modify your dish with extra salt, grated cheese, or red pepper flakes.
Food expert Dominique Barbeau includes Grappolo D’Oro on her food tours she leads around the neighborhoods of Trastevere and Campo di Fiori. As part of her own food tour company called Foodies in Rome she ends her tours with an annotated lunch or dinner at the restaurant, so all the owners of Grappolo D’Oro have the opportunity to share their passion. In true Roman fashion, the meal is accompanied by a glass of local biological wine from Lazio.
Dominique’s tours offer a wide variety of tastings at her personal favorite neighborhood shops in Rome’s oldest and most charming districts and markets. Her mission is to make sure clients not only eat well, but also learn local customs so they feel at ease ordering a coffee at a bar, knowing the difference between sitting and standing at a coffee shop, why cappuccino is frowned upon in the afternoon, why proper restaurants do not stay open all day, or why ice is typically not served with beverages. Her tours reflect a great pride in Italian food and its traditions. Other Slow Food restaurants in Rome that have been awarded the “chiocciola” award include Da Cesare a Casaletto located outside the historic center in the Monteverde neighborhood and Da Armando al Pantheon.
Since the 1980’s the Slow Food movement has spread far beyond the Piedmont region to more than 150 countries around the world. The movement even has a designated area in this year’s World’s Fair being held in Milan with the theme, “Feeding the Planet.” The theme is designed to raise awareness about agriculture and the environment, stressing that agriculture is among the greatest contributors to global warming, emitting more greenhouses gases than all of our cars, trucks, trains and airplanes combined. Who would have thought that feasting on homemade spaghetti carbonara at a local Roman restaurant was also good for our planet?
If you would like to learn more about the Slow Food movement around the world, visit their website www.slowfood.com. I hope you’ve been left hungry for a visit to Rome. Until then….buon appetito!
I am a native of Buffalo, NY and have been living in Rome for over 10 years and enjoying every minute of it! I originally came to Italy as an exchange student to discover my family roots and study Italian. Once I completed my master’s degree in Art History in Rome, I decided to continue sharing my passion for Italian history and culture through travel writing and private tour guiding. I especially love the opportunity to uncover the city’s architectonic layers, and with visitors explore the artistic and archaeological clues scattered throughout the city in order to better understand Italy’s diverse culture.