Why do we travel? Landmarks, palaces, artwork, all great reasons, but when we want to experience authenticity, food is what comes to our mind. This is my full review of the Taste of Testaccio Rome food tour I took with Eating Italy Food Tours.
One of the most authentic and traditional neighbourhoods close to the city centre, if you want to take a Rome food tour in Testaccio, this is a great option. Not only will you learn about its local restaurants but you will also visit some of the most iconic places.
READ MORE: Check out our guide to the best food tours of Rome.
Where Our Walking Food Tour In Rome Took Place
Our Rome culinary walking tour was organised by Eating Italy Food Tours and the destination was the lovely Testaccio neighbourhood. Even though I often visit the area, I discovered and tried new places for breakfast, brunch, and lunch.
The district, Testaccio, was named after the 35-metre-tall mount it rises on made of fragments of ancient Roman pottery. A walk in the neighbourhood is a wal through the different layers of history that made it what it is today.
Testaccio is a former working-class district that in the latest years has been becoming trendy and popular among locals and tourists.
Not far from the city centre, there is a lot to visit here. From the Pyramid of Caestius to the Non-Catholic Cemetery, from the new market to the former slaughterhouse, to the local street art, here you will witness a piece of ancient Rome as well as its modern history.
And if you go the neighbourhing Ostiense district, Rome’s modern history continues through the relics of its bygone industrial archaeology like the Centrale Montemartini power plant, the Gazometer, the General Warehouse.
Breakfast, Brunch and Lunch With Taste of Testaccio Food Tour in Rome
Taste of Testaccio Food Tour started at Pasticceria Barberini (41, Via Marmorata). Here we had a proper Roman breakfast with a taste of delicious cornetti (croissants) and some heavenly tiramisu. Tiramisu, is not exactly breakfast but rather a dessert, but since we were there, we couldn’t really miss the occasion for such a sweet treat, could we?
For breakfast at a bar you can choose among several types of beverages. Probably the most common are caffè and cappuccino. Nowadays, in many bars around the city there are several types of coffee you can order and even cappuccino made with soy milk if you are milk intolerant.
We carried on with our walking food tour in Rome tucking into all kinds of Italy’s most famous delicacies. We had some pizza al taglio (pizza by the slice) at eatery Volpetti Più (8, Via Alessandro Volta) and some supplì, fried stuffed rice ball, at street food place 00100 Pizza (88, Via Giovanni Branca).
Before lunch, we also managed to sample San Daniele famous prosciutto, truffle Pecorino cheese and Parmigiano Reggiano at the great gourmet deli E. Volpetti (47, Via Marmorata).
After visiting some of the local landmarks and market I will mention later, we were off to our delicious lunch at traditional Roman restaurant Flavio Al Velavevodetto, roughly translating into “Flavio I Told You So”, sort of (97, Via del Monte).
As a proper local eatery, here we had a mouthwatering sample of pasta cacio e pepe (pasta dressed with Pecorino Romano cheese and a good sprinkle of pepper), amatriciana (tomato sauce with guanciale, cured pig cheek), and carbonara (sauce made with crunchy pan-fried pancetta, eggs, pepper and pecorino cheese).
These are only three of Rome’s most popular first-course dishes, but the restaurant serves also main courses from the traditional cucina povera.
READ MORE: Want to discover more restaurants in Rome for traditional food and more? Check out our comprehensive guide to 50+ top places to eat in Rome.
What’s a lunch without dessert? After having pasta, we headed to Giolitti (35, Via A. Vespucci), which is not the same Giolitti you will find near the Pantheon. I picked the dark chocolate flavour, as always, and topped it with the exquisite cream this gelateria is famous for.
When in Rome, make sure you pick the right gelateria to avoid some fake ice cream. For instance, when you see the a tall ice cream tower of bright colours like blue, green or pink, that’s probably packed with artificial food colouring and little genuine ingredients.
The best artisan gelato is usually not displayed but kept inside covered wells to protect them from the air and keep cold their temperature. I always recommend to prefer artisan gelato to industrial one. There are many gelaterie artigianali in Rome, so plenty to choose from.
READ MORE: Find the best restaurants of five Rome neighourhoods and what to see and do nearby in our eBook Tasting Rome By Neighbourhood.
Landmarks we visited during our Rome street food tour in Testaccio
We were definitely not done eating, but our food and wine tour in Rome wisely included a stop at the old slaughterhouse. For as creepy as it sounds, it did play an important role in local modern history and economy. Here is where they slaughtered the animals and reserve the best pieces for the wealthy. And here is where the traditional cucina povera gradually took shape.
All the pieces that couldn’t find space in the recipes for the tables of the rich, the parts of the so-called “quinto quarto”, were used by the working class. This is when the local osterie started creating the tasty dishes we find today’s in Rome’s local restaurants.
The guide of our Testaccio food tour took us also to the non-Catholic cemetery. Here, in addition to Protestants, foreigners and diplomats, also poets like John Keats and Italian philosopher, writer and politician Antonio Gramsci are buried. The cemetery is very beautiful, packed with decorative statues and brimming with heartbreaking stories.
After the cemetery, we briefly stopped in front of the former Rome soccer team field and then we were off eating again. This time, we were not at a restaurant or deli. We stopped by the new Mercato Testaccio, a great market selling all types of season produce and gourmet food.
After digging into Rome’s fruits and veggies, we had a sample of Caprese salad, made of mozzarella, tomato and fresh basil, bruschetta al pomodoro, toasted bread with fresh tomato on top, and cannoli, a delicious Sicilian dessert.
A wine and food tour in Rome is a great way to delve deeper into the local culinary traditions as well as history and society.
This Rome food tour around Testaccio does this. It takes you to visit a non-touristy neighbourhood, experience daily Roman life and blend with locals. All this while visiting some of the lesser-known attractions that will help you understand the lifestyle of this working-class district.
As for me, while I did know all the dishes we had, this Rome walking food tour represented a precious journey into the city’s recent history, the years, the places and the people that rarely capture tourists’ and guides’ attention.
For more info on all the walks with Eating Italy Food Tours, check out their website