Postcards from Rome, Italy: Foraging off the beaten track

Taking another quick food break.

Glancing down the street from the corner, one would not be at all tempted to turn down Mantova street in Rome. We only found it because we wanted a lunch spot in semi-close proximity to MACRO and noticed a Berbere Pizzeria was nearby.

We previously had become acquainted with a Berbere in Bologna. The pizzerias are known for the slow-rise, highly “digestible” (We have never understood this foodie-ism issue.) crust topped with fresh local ingredients. The zucchini pie did not disappoint.

Eating outside, we noticed locals going into two establishments on the other side of the street. Looking online for reviews of them later, we found the super-majority of the contributors posting in Italian. Via Montova is not in the tourist zone.

The chef at Il Salento in una Stanza Vini e Cucina seduced us quickly with two amuse bouche offerings – cute little puffballs of fried bread and the best fried anchovies we had on the trip. I wanted to cancel my order and beg for a plateful of anchovies. The meatless-balls in a red pepper sauce were composed of eggplant, and the photo of the fish soup shows its amazing bounty. Looking back at the photos, I’m wishing we had made it back for another lunch.

The pasta with Sicilian tuna at Osteria Via Mantova was a refreshingly different seafood dish, and the flavorful chestnut gnocchi with a hearty lamb ragout was the only such offering we encountered.

And to think we ate it all on Mantova Street. The rewards from venturing away from the crowds often are savory.