When you think of Italy, what usually comes to mind first is the food. Plates piled high with pasta, salads of tomato, basil, and mozzarella, and gelato in all colors of the rainbow. My mouth is watering already! But where does all of this wonderful food come from? Part of the beauty of Italian cooking is their use of fresh, local ingredients. And, as I found out two weeks ago, the open-air market is one of the main places where Italians get their food on a regular basis.
Each day, vendors bring fruit, vegetables, pasta, olive oil, vinegar, spices, dried goods, and wine to piazzas around cities to sell to local residents. All of the goods come from local sources, and products are not sold out of season. You will not find pineapples in one of these markets. Italians often go to these open-air markets on daily basis to buy what they will cook that day, so meals are almost always fresh.
During my week in Rome, I had the pleasure to eat at a restaurant called Osteria Barberini, just off of Piazza Barberini. The owner Angelo showed us black and white truffles freshly harvested, which would soon be used to create our delicious black and white truffle lasagna (I should note that the lasagna dishes that we had in Italy did not contain tomato sauce, which was a revelation to me).
After a week of similarly fresh food, I am jealous of the kind of food culture that allows Italians to eat at this level every day. No wonder they call it La Dolce Vita!
Other restaurant recommendations in Rome:
Ristorante Rossini, Via Dei Cappuccuni (off of Piazza Barberini)
Crispi 19, Via Francesco Crispi