As mentioned on my other blog, I had a few hours of me-time or more like alone-time walking about in Rome. I braved the crowded streets, took photos of important landmarks, fed my senses with everything Roman. I met people here and there, most of them were tourists too and oh how I love meeting people from all walks of life! We engaged in bits of discussions before going about our businesses – being tourists.
No, I don’t really want to bombard this post with lots of photos so here’s a few. Outside the Vatican was this genius of a musician/street performer. His sign reads “I need money to fix my time machine and go back to the 50’s” – he was playing Elvis! I of course put in some money and noticed as I took a photo that he looks like Johnny Depp! 😛
I walked around a bit more, shopped a bit and afterwards felt the pangs of hunger and left with a phone almost battery-dead. I ended up at one of Rome’s longer streets, Viale Giulio Cesare, with a mission: find a decent restaurant where I can charge my phone, lol. The train station Ottaviano is in that particular street, it’s where you get off in case you want to visit the Vatican.
Like the previous trips, I wasn’t able to research on the best restaurant in Rome to dine in – all Italian cities we visited actually. It was a matter of walking in and hoping for the best. They say, when in Rome, do as the Romans do – so literally being in Rome, I say; eat what their region is most famous for!
Pasta remains to be one of the foremost constituents in Roman cuisine, I bet the whole of Italy too! Some of the listed famous sauces would be carbonara, Alfredo, cacio e pepe, amatriciana, and gricia. I was only familiar with the first three. There are 6,719 restaurants listed on Tripadvisor and what are the chances that I will not get to dine in one that is at the bottom of the list?
Thank goodness I didn’t! Just across the train station is a trattoria called Pastarella. Trattorias in Italy are an eating establishment less formal than a restaurant, serving mostly local fare and where wine is sold by the decanter not by bottle. Pastarella has tables outside for those who prefer dining al fresco but because I wanted to charge my phone I chose a seat near an electric socket. I was facing the doors and so I can do what I enjoy most: people-watching. ^_^ Above photo shows empty tables coz the customers where mostly outside save for a couple on my other side. (Can’t really go paparazzi there no?)
So came a rather serious-looking server. Handed me the menu and I looked it up, searching for something not so familiar. There’s carbonara, of course, and there’s gricia. The description shows them almost having the same ingredients so I was prompted to ask what’s the difference. He graciously replied (we were conversing in English), carbonara is cooked with eggs while gricia is cooked with cream! Then and there I felt embarrassed, how could I forget? I’ve always said in my recipe blog that carbonara is not cooked with cream. – Click here.- Searching now, I can’t find a reference to gricia having cream so I might have heard wrong (lol). Though I’d say that carbonara is creamier because of the egg.
I forgot which type of pasta was this but it did go well with everything. (Edit: found a photo on my instagram feed with the caption: bombolotti alla gricia. 😀 ) If I’m not mistaken, the sauce has jowl bacon – probably cooked the same way as carbonara with olive oil, pepper and pecorino Romano cheese. You do know by now, as I state that in every post that I’m no big eater and I’m also slow to chew so when the server saw that I still have a lot on my plate, he asked if the food is good- in a serious tone. I just smiled and nodded, it was really good – I might be slow for savoring the flavors though, haha. I sometimes hope though that there’s more space for dessert. 🙁
When he passed by again I motioned for the bill, there’s still some pasta so he asked if I’m sure that I’m done. I nodded again. He came back with my bill and asked where I’m from. Unsure how to answer I said ‘I’m from the Philippines but I live in Vienna now.’ He suddenly said “kumusta ka?” (How are you?) and smiled to my surprise. Turns out he’s not so serious after all. He also asked me “Alles klar?” (All okay?) which sent me laughing because of a perfect German diction. And aside from Italian, he also speaks French. Later on in the conversation when he learned my name, he spoke in French, my name being one. And I totally don’t know what it means – probably “your name is French” was what he said. I then asked how I could get to the Pantheon and he gave me directions.
I left with a happy tummy, a cheerful aura and a phone with its battery half-full.
Trattoria – Pizzeria – Braceria
Viale Giulio Cesare, 64-66-68
Info line +39 063701135