If I’ve learned anything in my years of travel it’s that food tours are the way to go. Being a participant is an excellent way to get a feel (and taste) for a new city. On the other hand, it can help travelers see and learn something new about the places they’ve visited before.
When I made my 3rd trip to Rome last fall, I knew I wanted to do a food tour, as dining on my previous trips was very hit-or-miss. Plus, I was traveling with friends who were visiting Italy for the first time ever. I wanted their initial experiences in my favorite city in the world to be positive and delicious.
Eating Europe Food Tours
I really didn’t have to think too hard about which tour company to book. I’d known about Eating Europe for some time as I had been previously acquainted with its PR Manager. She was always so professional and personable that I knew her new company, Eating Europe, would be the same. Spoiler alert: I was right.
Decision made on tour company, next we needed to decide on which of Eating Europe’s Rome food tours we’d do. It wasn’t easy because all of the Rome food tours they offer look incredible. We arrived in Rome on a Saturday, so Sunday would be our first full day in the city. I decided that Eating Europe’s Rome Sunday Walking Food Tour would be perfect. It allowed me to be re-acclimated to the city I last visited 7.5 years prior and allowed my friends a tasty introduction to the food and history of Rome.
We met our guide Arturo on Sunday at 10:30 am at Piazza Benedetto Cairoli. There were approximately 10 of us in the whole group, which was very manageable. Arturo quickly introduced himself to all of us and away we went!
As it was still morning, our first food offering was maritozzo, a traditional Roman breakfast treat. The maritozzo essentially is a baked pastry resembling a small loaf of bread. It is split down the middle and filled with an insane amount of fresh whipped cream. That’s it. So simple but incredibly tasty! As we devoured our maritozzo, Arturo gave us the history behind the delicacy. It dates back to Ancient Roman times and has evolved over the centuries. The name maritozzo came about in the 1800s and derives from the Italian word for husband, marito. At that time, the tradition began of a young woman’s fiance giving her a maritozzo on the first Friday of March, and inside the pastry would be a small gift, sometimes a ring. I’m glad I didn’t have to worry about some sort of object behind hidden in my maritozzo!
Another aspect of food tours I love is the history lesson that accompanies just about every type of food we try. Take Roman pizza, for example. I was shocked to learn that until 1905, the only place to find pizza was Naples. The concept made its way up to Rome with soldiers who had spent time in Naples. They loved Neapolitan pizza so much that they brought pizza dough from Naples to Rome and asked local bakers to make pizza for them. The result was a bit different from the pizza they enjoyed in Naples, as Roman pizza is super thin and crispy. And then there is pizza bianca (white pizza), which generally is not found outside of Rome. It’s considered “white” because it contains no tomatoes. Pizza bianca is typically rectangular and brushed with olive oil as soon as it emerges from the pizza oven. It doesn’t sound like much but it is delicious!
This oldest Jewish community in all of Europe was first established via papal bull in 1555. The decree called for walls to be built to contain the Jewish people and it dictated what types of jobs they could hold. It was not a pleasant existence for Roman Jews and it remained that way until the unification of Italy. The walls came down in 1888, only to be built again during World War II.
Today, the Jewish Ghetto is no longer a walled quarter. Visitors instead will find some of Rome’s highest-priced properties alongside temple ruins dating back thousands of years. You will also come across delicacies not found anywhere else in Rome.
As part of the tour, Arturo did an outstanding job of explaining the history of the Jewish Ghetto as well as the ruins we walked past. As for the food, our first stop was Ba’Ghetto Milky. (There are two Ba’Ghetto locations in the Jewish Ghetto: one is kosher, the one we visited is not). We enjoyed concia di zucchini (zucchini marinated with mint and vinegar), carciofi giudia (Jewish-style fried artichoke), and a kosher Chardonnay by Vini Leuci. Next, it was on to Kosher Cakes for a sweet treat known as pizzarella. It is best described as a cookie made with matzo, eggs, sugar, raisins, cinnamon, and orange zest. The doughy concoction is then deep fried and rolled in honey. It was surprisingly light and incredibly delicious!
Italian craft beer
Even though I speak Italian, it was at this point that the tour began speaking my language! I am a craft-beer
snob enthusiast and always seek out local brews wherever I travel. Our Sunday Rome food tour took us to Open Baladin Roma in Campo dei Fiori. The brewpub is the product of the passion for creativity embodied by Teo Musso, a sort of pioneer in Italian craft beer. For the tour, we sampled the house brews and small bites from the food menu. The little taste left us wanting more from Open Baladin so we returned on our own later that night for dinner and more beer! Open Baladin Roma features 100 bottled beers from Italian brewers as well as 40 Italian beers on draft. It’s definitely worth a stop for every craft-beer lover visiting Rome.
And what would a Rome food tour be without gelato? Our final stop with Arturo and Eating Europe was Gelateria del Teatro. Admittedly, I was so full from the day spent eating and drinking, but I managed to find room for gelato! The gelato at Gelateria del Teatro is 100% natural, made with seasonal ingredients only. You will find traditional flavors like pistachio and stracciatella, as well as more creative combinations like white chocolate with basil. Whichever route you take with your gelato, it is bound to be delectable.
It was there outside Gelateria del Teatro that we said “arrivederci” to Arturo. Our entire group had such an enjoyable time! Eating Europe also offers food tours in Florence, Amsterdam, Prague, London, and Paris. If I find myself in one of these cities, I would not hesitate to join another Eating Europe tour!
My Rome food tour with Eating Europe was complimentary, and the rest of my traveling party’s was discounted. All thoughts and opinions are, as always, 100% my own. Read full disclosure here.