Ah, Italy. Red-checked tablecloths, fat candles dripping wax into empty tomato sauce cans. Carafes of red wine.
It’s already an obvious fact that dining out in Italy is a memorable event. And if you’re looking for another authentic Roman dining experience, cross the River Tiber to Trastevere, into a historic working class neighborhood that boasts the most authentic Roman cuisine in town.
Getting to know your fellow diners is easy since the Trastevere walking tour and villa dinner is an intimate experience – max capacity is 15. Strolling through town to this gorgeous villa that feels hidden away from the rest of the world (including other tourists) provides the perfect opportunity for relaxed, on-the-go conversation.
The evening begins with a short walking tour of the town of Trastevere with your expert guide pointing out key sights of the neighborhood. It’s here in Trastevere that the hectic vibe of Rome is left behind in exchange for a tamer, more local feel.
Upon arriving at the villa, the hosts give a brief tour and share tales about the mysterious house that had been discovered hidden deep in the Trastevere forest. You’re then taken to the garden for an aperitif where everyone’s made to feel as if they’re spending time at a friend’s home who just happens to live in a gorgeous villa. It truly doesn’t feel as if you’re taking a tour.
Sit down to a three-course meal beginning with a classic Roman pasta – all’Amatriciana. This is a sauce made with cured pork cheek and tomatoes. It actually wasn’t prepared with tomatoes until the late 18th century because Italians believed tomatoes were poisonous.
Some juicy tidbits on the tomatoes while we’re at it. Tomatoes, though now a staple of Italian cuisine, aren’t native to Italy. They originated in the Andes, which is present day Chile, Boliva, Peru and Ecaudor. They were only introduced to Europe when the Spanish Conquistadors brought them back in the mid-sixteenth century.
Meatballs and mashed potatoes were featured in the second and third course and true to genuine Italian cuisine, although simple in concept, the ingredients were anything but. Our chef explained that in reality, over 20 spices, herbs and ingredients had been used in creating the dish. An added plus? The chef gifted each dinner guest with a copy of the recipe.
It’s rare that an Italian dinner ends without something sweet, although it was surprising to learn that there are very few Roman desserts. Arguably, the most renowned are sweet treats like cannoli which hails from Sicily, and tiramisu comes from the town of Treviso in the northeast of Italy. To cap off this unique experience, we had a beautiful panna cotta, Italian for “cooked cream”, and for this one night, this Piedmont dessert would masquerade as Roman.