When in Rome, eat in Testaccio

The last time I was in Rome I stayed in Testaccio, as recommended by a Roman friend. You'll love it, she told me, and she was right.

Myroom at B&B Testaccio looked over the square, Piazza di Santa MariaLiberatrice, with its church of the same name. It was a room with a viewTestaccio-style of everyday Roman life with locals coming back fromthe market near the ancient Monte dei Cocci as the locals call Monte Testaccio,the hill made up of the terracotta pots that were dumped there during Romantimes and nowadays an area famous for its bars. I also discovered another Romanjoy. When in Rome, eat. In Testaccio. 

Testacciohas the reputation of being Rome's village. Go at any time of the day toPasticceria Linari and you're quite possibly rubbing shoulders with someonefrom the world of theatre or cinema. Move on to the market near the oldslaughterhouse, and you'll see local women buying ingredients for lunch, and otherspreparing artichokes. Artichokes are a big deal in Rome. Eat them alla romana and they'll be served boiledwith a dressing of oil, garlic and herbs, and some recipes also includeanchovies and breadcrumbs. Alla giudia isthe Jewish way. It originated in Rome's Jewish ghetto, and is where the artichokeheads are pressed down to create the effect of an open flower and fried headdownwards in oil. You can eat them at one of the food kiosks here. And don'tforget to try a porchetta sandwich, deboned roast pork stuffed with rosemary,garlic and other herbs.

Trapizzinojust off Piazza Santa Maria Liberatrice offers another great take on streetfood, pockets of focaccia filled with traditional Roman recipes such asmeatballs in tomato sauce, guancia allabrasata (braised cheek), trippa allaRomana (Roman-style tripe), coda allavaccinara (oxtail stew), ceci ebaccalàƒ (cod with chickpeas) and parmigianaalla melanzana or friedaubergines cooked in tomato sauce with mozzarella. It's the type of food thatleaves you quite simply wanting more. Da Remo serves one of the best pizzas inRome, thin and crisp. Try the house special, the Da Remo pizza with finelychopped mushrooms, aubergines and salsiccia(Italian sausage).  Again, you'llwant to go back.

Resistthe temptation and head to one of the typical Roman trattorias that serveclassic dishes. Roman cuisine has its origins in the Lazio countryside, usesvegetables such as artichokes, lettuces, broad beans and chicory, and lamb,goat, kid and pork. We ate at Lo Scoppetaro on the advice that they do one ofthe best rigatoni alla carbonara youcan eat, carbonara being pastadressed with guanciale and egg. Guanciale is similar to pancetta but whereaspancetta uses pork belly, guanciale uses the jowl or cheek. Hence its name, guancialethat comes from guancia or cheek. They also do a very good tonnarelli alla gricia and tonnarellicacio e pepe. (Tonnarelli are a long type of fresh pasta.) Alla gricia, reputedly from Grisciano inthe north of Lazio, is literally a condiment for pasta that's made fromguanciale and onion, with a sprinkling of pecorino cheese. These are some ofthe most famous Roman pasta dishes, along with bucatini all'amatriciana, long dried pasta dressed in guanciale andtomato sauce that comes from Amatrice but is a favourite at Roman tables. If you still have space after any ofthat, try the abbacchio or lamb. Finishwith homemade tiramisu.