My husband and I celebrated our anniversary in Italy this year. He was born there and with his Italian roots, it seemed like the perfect place to go. It’s something we talked about doing for years but when it came time to plan a vacation, the white sandy beaches in Florida were always calling our names. We finally switched it up by going halfway across the world and I am beyond excited to share all of our food adventures with you.
We started in Rome, a vibrant city that is rich in history. We kept saying, “Quando a Roma”, which means, “When in Rome.” We explored the city on our own but we also went on guided tours at the Vatican and the Colosseum. I could dedicate a whole post to all of the activities we did, but it’s time for the main feature, all of our food adventures.
Our first lunch in Rome did not disappoint. It was a very busy and delicious smelling pizzeria called Pinsere. It is a top rated restaurant for a reason. There were endless toppings to choose from, except for pineapple. Apparently in Italy, this is a big no-no. The pepperoni we are used to in the US is not actually a real pizza topping in Italy either. In fact, if you ask for peperone they will give you bell peppers. I ordered the eggplant and Josh picked the ham. Both had a garlic pesto drizzled on top. We tried each other’s and they were both so flavorful it would honestly be hard to pick a favorite. If you ever get a chance to eat here, make sure to grab a spot on the side to enjoy your pizza. There are no tables and chairs, rather bar style shelves that line the walls for customers to stand at. You might think it’s a good idea to ask for it to go, but don’t do it. While we were there, one woman insisted on taking her pizza to go, the staff politely encouraged her to stay by saying, “If you stay, it is good for you and also good for us.” It’s part of the culture to stay and enjoy your food. Remember, quando a Roma.
Dinner at Hostaria Al Castro Pretorio was absolutely amazing. We are still dreaming about it weeks later. We started with a trio of bruschetta, split the most heavenly cheese gnocchi I’ve ever tasted and ended with a decadent tiramisu. Dinner is a late affair in Italy. We sat down to eat around 7 and I don’t think we were done until almost 3 hours later. We are so used to being in a rush at home, it was nice to slow down and really enjoy the evening, the food, table wine and each other’s company. The ambiance of sitting outside was relaxing and perfect.
The Bramble Bar & Kitchen was outstanding. We stumbled upon it as we were walking through the streets of Rome and it had such a cozy inviting atmosphere, we had to check it out. If you click on any of the links I am sharing, check out this one, so you can see the 360° view of what this “Italian Fusion” restaurant looks like and get a feel for the trendiness of it. We began with the pachino, bufala e rucola which was an appetizer of sliced tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella and fresh greens. I ordered the trofie con broccoli, pomodori secchi e ricotta salata, a mouthwatering dish of homemade pasta, sun dried tomatoes, broccoli and ricotta. Josh ordered the bistecca ai ferri con funghi, which was a filet of steak with mushrooms. He raved about how much he loved it.
The fresh mozzarella in Italy is second to none. I am a die hard cheese lover, so I was looking forward to trying all the fresh mozzarella I could. We learned that we are eating it completely different in the US. In Italy, they leave it on the counter for up to a week, unrefrigerated and sealed in liquid until it is ready to be eaten. We learned that fresh mozzarella should be served with nothing else, except maybe tomato slices. If it is refrigerated, then it is used for a dish where it would be cooked and melted, like on pizza.
From Rome, we left to visit Pompeii and then made our way over to Naples. If you’re looking for romance, Napoli is a must. The bay is gorgeous, especially at night, and the cobbled streets are endless. Watching the sunset over this city with Mount Vesuvius in the background is an unforgettable experience.
Storie and Sapori had a picturesque waterfront view, which is exactly what I wanted for a relaxing evening. It was a bonus that Mount Vesuvius was directly in front of us. The restaurant is tucked away in the back and I am so glad we took a chance to walk to the end of the pier. Naples is also where pizza was born and they have most certainly nailed it. You will never believe what we tried here. If you guessed pizza, then you are right. We found that it’s a common theme in Italy. I’m such a cheese lover, that I decided to try the four cheese with fresh basil and Josh ordered a classic, the caprese. Of course we tried each others again. Mine was delicious but his was so good I could have traded with him.
From Naples we took a ferry over to the Island of Capri, where we tried granita, which is true Italian ice. The lemon flavor is a classic and was sold throughout the Island. It was a smooth, shaved ice consistency and made fresh from the large beautiful lemons found in this region. The lemons are about the size of a grapefruit, which is something I’ve never seen before. Speaking of desserts, a trip to Italy would not be complete with gelato, which we had our fair share of. Flavors that we tried included tiramisu, hazelnut, vanilla chip, cookies and cream, raspberry and peach, but my all-time favorite was the pistachio. We also celebrated the morning of our anniversary with a rooftop breakfast, which included bottomless mimosas made with my favorite bubbly wine, prosecco.
Antonio & Antonio Ristorante was spectacular. They take great pride in their food and customer service. Both Josh and I agreed this was by far the best pizza we had in Italy. Mine was loaded with veggies like mushrooms, olives and artichokes and Josh got one that was loaded with different Italian meats.
This was the only meal on our entire trip that we asked to be served quicker than normal. When we got back to Naples from Capri, we needed to catch the Eurail train back to Rome and time was not on our side. Fortunately, the waiter respected our request graciously and we made it to our train with plenty of time to spare. The train ride itself was quite an adventure and we ended up meeting a group of friendly passengers from London who were visiting Italy for a wedding. There was also a very sweet elderly Italian man in our cabin who we all used Google translate to communicate with. We were so grateful that we squeezed dinner in before the train ride because the two hour trip back to Rome ended up taking six hours. Our new friends kept the ride interesting and we made it back to Rome by about 4 am, giving us a couple of hours to sleep before we flew back home.
My favorite part of Italy was making new memories with all the adventures that we experienced together and it was the perfect way to start year 7 of our marriage. Cheers to love, exploring the world and delicious Italian cuisine!