Guest Contributor: Alex Z.
In Rome, one of the hardest challenges a gastro-tourist can face is finding a place to eat in an area occupied entirely by tourists. Price gouging for mediocre food, crowded restaurants, and poor service are the hallmarks of eating in areas dedicated to tourism.
Rome’s historic center is no exception to these problems, despite Italy’s culinary fame. However, we avoided all of them when we dined at Tre Pupazzi. Ignore the pictures of the interior online. The interior is dreadful, but you don’t eat inside in Rome–you eat on the street.
The italian Food Experience
We arrived “early” by Italian standards (8:15) and were seated immediately. Two minutes later we had a bottle of delicious (and strong) Merlot for £8. The waitress did not speak a word of English, but did immediately pick up on the fact that we were English due to our poor fashion sense and Katie’s fair complexion, and knew without as much as asking that we’d prefer not to have a typical four hour Italian meal.
Within minutes our order was placed and we were splitting a Caesar salad. It was fairly priced and tasted exactly like any Caesar in America would taste. We later learned this is because a Caesar salad is actually an American dish, and something they had included to make the place more appealing to Inglese like us.
Then came the real show stoppers. I had the rigatoni alla carbonara. As the late Anthony Bourdain famously said, “If you put enough salt, cheese, and fat on anything, it’s going to be delicious.” And so it was. Salty, cheese, meaty goodness. I wish I could have it every time I was hungover.
Katie had the fettuccini ragu, which I can best describe as tasting like what Chef Boyardee (yes, he’s a real person) had intended to share with the world before his food became canned and processed. It tasted like gourmet spaghetti-o’s in the best possible way.
Una Notte Meravigloisa
Like most restaurants in Italy, smoking was allowed, and it is a necessity if you’re eating sixty pounds of pasta in the Roman heat. I would describe it as a “three cigarette meal” and would advise even the staunchest opponents to come armed with at least one cigarette, or else you simply might not survive the night.
For a bottle of wine, a giant salad, a 1L of water, two heaping plates of delicious pasta, two espressos, and amazing views of the Vatican and Rome, we were only set back £49. The food was good, not excellent, but for that price, in that location, we could not have asked for a better dining experience our first night in Rome.
Alex is a guest contributor and foreign (food) correspondent for HMHS, and is currently documenting his travels in Italy. Stay tuned for more exciting posts from him as he reviews the culinary wonders across the ocean.