When in Rome, Eat Like an Expat

Rome is one of the world’s best food cities, but it can be pretty darn hard to find a good meal in this town, and pretty easy to find a bad one, too. That’s where The Rome Digest comes in. A joint venture by five of the city’s leading Anglophone food-and-wine experts, this new site aims to demystify and declutter the decisions around eating and drinking in the city, distilling its offerings down to 100 carefully curated, vigorously vetted need-to-know locations.

“Rome can be difficult,” says Gina Tringali, a co-founder and Boston-born sommelier who worked at Tom Colicchio’s Craft in New York before moving to Rome six years ago, where her company, GT Food & Travel, leads visitors on food and market walks, wine tastings and custom tours. “There’s so much conflicting information coming from so many sources. We wanted to leverage our experience to go beyond what’s out there currently, to help people find great places, and to promote small businesses. We want people to be able to come to Rome and eat very well, to have the best food and wine that’s available.”

The five founders (including Katie Parla, a frequent contributor to the Travel section of The Times) have some six master’s degrees and seven wine diplomas between them — not to mention more than 30 years of combined epicurean experience in the city — and they’ve shown off that expertise here, dividing their easily navigated site into four sections (Eat, Drink, Shop, Learn), then helpfully separating these genres into subcategories. For each venue, a pointed entry not only includes basics like address, phone number and Web site, as well as a handy Google map, but also a snappy capsule review and, best of all, specifics on recommended dishes — much appreciated in Rome, where knowing what to order (and what to avoid) is as important as knowing where to go in the first place.

Visitors both new to the city and experienced, not to mention expats and even locals, will discover out-of-the-way finds like the trattoria Cesare al Caseletto, in western Rome’s Monteverde district, among the founders’ top picks for authentic cucina Romana. (Beyond the information given about the place on the site, Tringali notes that the owner Leonardo Vignoli, a sommelier who has worked all over the world, proves particularly adept at providing perfect food-and-wine pairings.)

But it’s not all hidden gems and far-flung neighborhoods. The Rome Digest also finds surprises hiding in plain sight: Pinsere, for example, in a neighborhood of offices and business near the main train station, which specializes in the pizza-like ancient Roman dish pinsa. You’ll hear again and again about Armando al Pantheon as a top pick for offal and pork-full classic pastas. But thanks to one its founders, who happens to be vegan, the Digest also calls Armando out for its rarely mentioned vegetarian menu. “People would have found the restaurant without us,” says Tringali of Armando, “but I don’t know that vegetarians, who can have a hard time in Rome, would have ever even considered going there.”

Published: http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/05/when-in-rome-eat-like-an-expat/

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