24 Hours To Dine: Falling In Love With Rome's Rich Food Scene
Co-founder of the Organisation for National Empowerment (ONE) and budding lawyer, Hannah Kam is like most Malaysians – a true foodie. She used to live in the UK for a number of years as a student and right after finishing her final bar examinations, went on a girl's trip with her mom to Rome, Italy. It was one of the European countries she really wanted to pay a visit to but had yet to do so at that time.
"Italy is known as a hub for everything food related and I had always wanted to go. I chose Rome because of the ease of access to the Vatican, mainly because I wanted to see both cultural sites," said Kam. "We wanted to experience a down-to-earth side of Rome that didn't involve going to Michelin star restaurants".
Lunch – Santa Lucia
Situated near The Pantheon, one of the most famous historical Roman landmarks, ristorante Santa Lucia gets top marks from Kam after following up on a recommendation from an Italian friend. The restaurant has a long legacy, being graced by artists and celebrities alike, but is committed to serving dishes that are characterised by the freshness and quality of the products they use.
"I wouldn't usually recommend restaurants near tourist attractions as they may charge a high price but in this case I would. I had the fusili ai funghi (mushroom fusili) and was amazed. I mean, pasta and mushroom is such a common dish but this place really did it well," says Kam. "It was literally fusili and cut up mushrooms but the taste was so fresh," she adds.
Another thing that is a must order over at Santa Lucia according to Kam is the fritto sfizioso, deep fried zucchini flower and an assortment of other goodies, which she notes gets appetite going at the start of the meal.
Lunch – Sibilla
If you have the chance to pop outside Rome for the day, take a trip to Tivoli, a gorgeous countryside town that's only a half an hour drive out of Rome. Over there, you'll experience delicious fare and visit awe inspiring historical sites like the Villa d'Este, famous for its Renaissance garden and plentiful fountains. When it comes to finding a top spot for lunch, restaurant Sibilla is your best bet, having served plenty of foreign dignataries since opening in 1720.
"Perhaps my favourite restaurant during my trip to Italy is Sibilla. Dining at the restaurant was the dreamiest experience ever," says Kam. "It's really nice to sit outside during lunch, especially when the weather is good, because of scenic views of the rolling hills and the countryside," she reminisces.
At Sibilla, order the antipasti platter for starters, Kam recommends, along with the pesto tomato linguine and the tiramisu to finish with.
Dessert – Gelateria Come Il Latte
One has to have gelato when in its country of origin and that's exactly what Kam had in mind. She discovered a popular gelateria around the corner from her hotel in Rome called Come Il Latte, which translates to "from milk", because the dessert house uses more than 40 per cent fresh cream to make their gelato.
"When you go in there and get a cone, they fill the bottom of the cone with melted chocolate, pile in your ice cream and then pour chocolate again on top before finishing it with a wafer. It's really amazing and it's worth every calorie!" she says.
Not one to let up on the opportunity of a lifetime, Kam chose 3 flavours to try – pistachio, salted caramel and dark chocolate, which sounds like a winning combination in our books.
Dinner – La Pentolaccia
With a rustic look and homecooked style of cuisine, Kam recommends La Pentolaccia for their spaghetti alla carbonara and, if you can stomach innards, the trippa alla romana, which translates to Roman tripe.
"The carbonara was really good and authentic, I think it's probably the best carbonara I have ever eaten in my life. If you had just arrived in Italy a little tired and you need a wholesome meal to pick you back up, this will hit the spot," says Kam.
Dinner – Giggetto Hostaria
Cooking Jewish Roman food since 1923, Giggetto Hostaria's speciality is fried Jerusalem artichoke, an apparent signature of the fusion cuisine served at the restaurant. Other eye-catching items on the menu include tomato cod fish, stuffed cannelloni pasta and a range of appetising seafood.
"It (the artichoke) may look a bit weird at first but it's really, really tasty. It wasn't bitter at all but was instead very flavourful," says Kam.
Read the rest of our 24 Hours To Dine stories: Paris | Osaka | Seoul