My trip to Italy this June 2017 was terrific. The historic sites, fragrant trees and bushes all around the buildings, cobblestone streets, and the weather felt amazing! Living in New York and growing up in Istanbul I had no trouble finding vegetarian choices all my life. I imagined the Italian cuisine being similar to what we ate at home in my mother’s kitchen or when we go to an Italian restaurant in New York City. When I was in Rome however-the very beginning of my 2 week trip- I quickly noticed that pizza and pasta is all they eat, unless they consume animals as meal. And for breakfast it is really only croissant and espresso, maybe fruits and yogurt. “No complicated stuff for breakfast” the chef in “Uovo” (means egg in Italian) said when I asked about why it was so difficult to find eggs for breakfast:). Another unusual thing about the tradition there is that the dinner does not begin until 7:30 pm, most restaurants aren’t open until then, so we arranged ourselves accordingly, eating a good breakfast before sightseeing and big cooling salad and juice for late lunch followed by dinner at around 8-9 pm. Since we kept walking at least 3 more miles exploring the city’s gems prior to returning to our hotel eating late was not a big problem. You can see people sitting on a dinner table as late as midnight in Italy. Lucky us by day 2 we began to find more options for bf, lunch and dinner. And here are my highlights from the delicious Italian cuisine.
- In Rome, Ginger has 2 locations, one in Borgognona and the other in Sant’Eustachio. Metropol cities always have untraditional recipes! I like to balance the carb intake in my diet and I prefer eating fresh and cooked vegetables and fruits in large amounts as opposed to processed carbs such as bread, pasta and pizza although I love them and ate plenty of them during this trip. We ordered fresh squeezed vegetable and fruit juices, veggie burgers made with chickpeas one day and a big salad prepared with sprouts, arugula, beets and crunchy nuts another day. I also liked the carrot bun for the burger very much. They also have eggs for breakfast, grilled veggies and tofu dishes on their menu as well as non-veggie options. We liked it so much so we visited 4 times-all for lunch- in 5 days.
- Our second night we found a local restaurant that served traditional Italian food called Spirito Di Vino. They have a wide selection of wine in their cellar downstairs (If they don’t invite you to see their cellar by the end of your dinner, you should ask to take a look). They cook without rush so expect to take your time and enjoy being at the restaurant for your delicious food to arrive. When we said that we were vegetarians they offered us to make anything in the menu based on our preferences and we both loved the pasta dishes with plenty of veggies and red sauce.
- I fell in love with the space, serving, and the menu at Emma. They have an outdoor sitting option which we passed because both me and my husband is non-smokers and In Italy, you are allowed to smoke within these areas. The indoor option was very large and decorated simple with a big bar serving delicious wine, and you could see the bartender doing final decorations on desserts, as well as preparing meat and cheese plates there from your table. I enjoy watching this kind of work in restaurants whenever available. We ordered pizza, which was thin crust and so crispy, and fresh pasta with delicious veggies and sauces. For dessert we picked tiramisu which was made untraditionally, with crispy pistachios, poured fresh made espresso on top and served in a cup.
- Next is Cantina E Cucina in one of the most picturesque areas of Rome near the Pantheon. The staff welcomed us cheerfully to the home-style cooking restaurant. From the pictures to the ceiling the vintage style decoration added charm to the space that is located on a cute cobblestone street with many other cafes and restaurants around it. We first walked in randomly for a refreshment which we much needed after visiting Vatican City on a steaming hot day. Then we ordered Crispy roman artichoke which I have heard about it before I visited Rome, it felt light although I usually think the opposite about fried food. We loved the atmosphere so much so we went back for dinner the same night. I go tasted 2 kinds of traditionally prepared pizza, one is Capricciosa without the ham, and Contadina. Wine selection was also great like all restaurants, they had regional Italian wine selections to choose from.