The Local interviewed me about starting my own business in Italy. You can read it here. Of course the word misogyny had to be spoken. From sales representatives caressing cheeks (not mine) to winemakers addressing only men in conversations, the Italian wine business is full of men who still think of women in wine only as eye-candy. Luckily, there are many a**-kicking female winemakers with fabulous wines out there. Come taste the best examples with us.
Between cute and real. Style and substance. Modern and old-fashioned. Trastevere and Monteverde.
That is what I’ve been doing for the last 15 days. I moved (not the VinoRoma wine studio, which remains in its gorgeous Monti location - also straddling some lines, with the 21st century tasting room and the 11th century cellar, as I am just now realizing). I have been eating out a lot - returning to places I’ve known and loved for some time but also discovering new venues. Here is a round-up.
On the day before the move, we needed a break from all the packing. The sun was shining, we were in a good mood, we wanted to sit outside, but not be in the maddening crowds. This place lured us by its almost complete lack of tourists although being only steps away from one of the main thoroughfares and surprised us by its really acceptable food (which is something you learn to appreciate in Trastevere). The fried artichoke was crisp and tasty, the spaghetti vongole fresh, just like the paranza, and service was very nice, if a bit slow. Would return (but not run).
On the day of the move, furniture in place but no boxes yet unpacked, we had to have dinner. Ai Marmi is close, cheap and an institution. If I have to restrain myself from saying anything negative, I can only say: The pizza is thin, as the Roman style dictates. But I can’t restrain myself from saying the negative if it is the truth: We had heartburn all night. I remembered why we did not include it on The Rome Digest. Will not return.
The place I do keep on returning to. It is inconsistent, but mostly very good, and this pizza with anchovies, capers, olives, pinenuts and oregano sang to my umami-loving palate during my last visit. And Gatta has a great craft beer and wine selection, too.
The first few days after the move were filled with boxes, pizza and panini. Looking for a place to eat some vegetables without really committing to a sit-down restaurant, we remembered this tiny organic shop run by a very friendly couple. They prepare great salads and other small dishes you can eat there, perched on stools, or take away. Almost anything can be customized to your taste (or allergies). Have returned, and will return!
As we slowly unpacked and found our plates and cutlery, we moved on to having picnic-style meals at home. Along with Antica Caciara, which we love and has supplied us with great ewe’s milk ricotta and bread, we also relied on this new discovery just around the corner from us. In the past, we have had great problems finding consistently good mozzarella (i.e. fresh, not gummy, not dry, not stinky, not full of chemicals) in Rome, so after 5 tries I can pretty confidently say this place delivers. Their burrata is good, too and the buffalo milk ricotta is the creamiest we’ve ever had. They are not organic, but local and have a pretty good quality. We keep on returning.
We went in because I didn’t verify my initial research and thought a specific chef was working here - which was not the case any more, as it turned out. Luckily it was only a lunch, which we tend to do at places where we are not 100% sure, so we could escape without breaking the bank on a worse than mediocre meal. The amuse was dry (panzanella) and tough (octopus); the pasta had past its prime vongole and was devoid of any taste otherwise, the frittura di paranza was bordering on inedible. Not returning.
First Sunday after the move was a beautiful day - we had opened all boxes but didn’t feel like cooking, being outside was far more attractive. After a walk through Villa Sciarra (never been? Go right now, when everything is in bloom) and the beautiful residential area of Monteverde Vecchio, we walked by this place and were immediately taken. All fresh, local and seasonal products; nice service that handled our critique on some plates very well; and a promising execution in the kitchen (if a bit salt-free at times). Will go back, as we’d like to support the great idea and the effort.
I have written about the “typical Roman trattoria” before (Reatina, which I used as a bad example); and this is technically not a Roman, but a Sardinian place; but it fits the bill in that it is close to our home, it is the nonno & nonna in the kitchen as well as in the service, the TV always runs showing a slightly porn-y 70s movie, there is bad art on the walls and not everything is good (skip the unnaturally-textured and -tasting creme caramel as well as the spaghetti with bottarga that has no chance against the burnt garlic that reportedly is always included) but you know you will get a pretty decent meal on a night when you are too lazy to cook. Will return.
I believe I was the first to write about this trattoria in English (almost exactly 2 years ago!) and though admittedly I was at first mostly taken by its awesome wine list (occupational hazard), I soon came to regard it as the best trattoria in Rome. I still think so. Leonardo, the owner and sometimes chef, is the perfect host, the food is consistently very good and the wine list is stellar (i.e. offers a great selection of very good - mainly “natural” - wines at very affordable prices). We never shied away from the 1 hour / 2 bus commute to Cesare, and now it is just one short tram-ride away. Would I return? Friends joke I must have a designated table there already.
Find of the year. Within a week, I have been there four times already. We joke that we moved because of Cesare (see above) but discovering that the much-hyped litro is so close to us was definitely the bonus. Great coffee, nice selection of pastries, carefully sourced (mostly D.O.L.) cured meats and cheeses and a small but very nice, all-natural wine selection (what’s with the prices, though?) kept pulling me back. And the really very nice staff. Now I just have to try the famed mescal-based cocktails. Have to return.
we have to talk about this wine. come taste with me at VinoRoma.
on the check back / check out list (T: Trastevere / M: Monteverde):
Taverna Trilussa T
Dot. da Simone T
Le Lumie di Sicilia (great expectations on this one) M
Il Focolare M
Il Cortile M
L’Antica Roma M
Osteria di Monteverde M
Le Tre Zucche M
Osteria Palmira M
Tutto Qua M
In its March issue, Olive Magazine named VinoRoma as one of the 15 reasons to visit Rome - we are honored to be among such great names, and if you want to know: number 9 is our number 1!
Earlier in the year, we were also included in New York Magazine’s “five-point weekend escape plan” to Rome under “what to do”; as well as being featured under “play” for the “insider’s guide to Rome” of cruiseline’s Bon Voyage Magazine.
We are very happy and honored - let us educate you about Italian wines during your next Rome trip!
The past month saw VinoRoma mentioned twice in international and local press.
In a USA Today article on culinary tours in Rome, we found ourselves mentioned in great company.
In a roundup of classes to take in Rome, the leading English-language local magazine Romeing recommended us for wine tastings.
We feel honored to have been mentioned in both publications and doing our best to better ourselves every day. Our newest offer are the Wine Wednesdays - come join us exploring the world of Italian wine!
While I work on putting up a proper post with tons of information and pictures from our visit to Georgia in November, here is a small video to wet your appetite - How To Drink Wine The Georgian Way!
(you need flash to watch this video - Or, you can click here to watch directly on our youtube channel)
The 5th Edition of the Vini Naturali wine fair, organized by the restless wine woman Tiziana Gallo, the biggest wine fair in Rome completely dedicated to natural winemakers and their wines, is around the corner. The fair is not the only one in Italy, and it seems like a new enoteca dedicated to these wines is opening every week. Like them or not, I would say these wines are here to stay. The name? Not so sure on that one - There is still no legal description anywhere and in the meantime I prefer calling them “minimal invervention” wines.
If you are in Rome on February 9th & 10th and are interested in wine, you should really go to this event and see for yourself what you think of these wines. If language barriers, timidity or lack of basis knowledge (in wine and/or natural wine) is hindering you, join our annotated tour on the 10th.
In any case, here is a list of recommended reading:
What is Natural Wine? by Isabelle Legeron M, one of the biggest supporters of the style
An Agnostic’s View of Natural Wines by Tim Atkin MW
Wines Worth a Taste but not the Vitriol by Eric Asimov on NYT’s The Pour
Crackdown on Natural Wine by Rebecca Gibb on Wine Searcher is based on a true incident that happened here in Rome past summer and demonstrates the legal vacuum
The Natural Wine Debate Gets Ugly by Jeremy Parzen on HP, my friend Jeremy does an excellent job of putting both sides of the story together
And here are the best places in Rome where you can buy and/or drink some examples of natural wines if you are missing the Vini Naturali:
Enoteca Bulzoni the first in Rome dedicated to natural wines. Don’t let the posh and out-of-the-way Parioli district deter you and enjoy an aperitivo here.
Les Vignerons support small businesses - Antonio has some of the best natural wines at good prices. It is just a tram or bus ride away from Termini central station.
La Barrique has great food to go with all your orange wines.
Update: Here is the only map of Rome you will ever need - where to buy and drink natural wines, put together by Katie Parla.
This is all you need to enjoy wine.
A good glass - one that let’s you see, smell and taste the wine in the best possible way. That means glass/crystal (not plastic), a stem (do not buy stemless wine glasses - no, being able to put them in the dishwasher is not a valid criterion for choosing wine glasses), a big enough bowl size, thin rimmed. Yes, it is true that there is a specific “best” glass for different kinds of wine, but if you invest in a so called universal/tasting/classic one (if there is a choice, go for the red wine or Bordeaux version), you will be all set. The ones I use are not available to consumers, here are very similar ones, and I love these others, as well.
A good corkscrew - one that let’s you pull a cork easily and without breaking it. We use these, all wine professionals I know use these or very similar ones. The important point is the double-lever/hinge. You do not need any fancy and expensive and “interesting” corkscrews. Invest 40 seconds and watch this video to see how to use it. You will never need anything else.
A good wine - one that you, the winelover, enjoys. Not the most expensive. Not the most famous. One you buy from people (the winemaker, the wine store attendant), not a supermarket shelf. It helps if you can define your taste and say more than Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Grigio. If you don’t know what else to say, come to a tasting of ours to learn what acidity, tannins, minerality, body are; which of those you like; and how to find wines that fit your taste.
Nice-to-haves are books about wine, a vacuvin set, a cooling collar, reusable multi-bottle wine totes.
Things you do not need - a bicycle wine rack, a corkcicle, wine charms, aerator, decanter, wine aroma kit, drip stopper, most “accessories/gadgets”.
In an article about high-end revelations in Rome (go read it all) that was published at the end of September, author Seth Sherwood says:
We are extremely honored to be considered one of the revelations in Rome by the Gray Lady - would just like to remind you that you can have your Italian wine revelation starting at just 50 Euros per person at one of our standard tastings - My Italians, Wine & Cheese Lunch and Sparkling Saturdays. Private tastings with special themes can be arranged upon request and will cost more; but then again, miracles were never cheap :)
The first installment of the Summer in the Cellar - Jazz & Wine series was a smashing success. 34 wine & music lovers enjoyed the live music by our trio, with a bonus session at the very end, when one of the guests, the young Jonathan Champagne, sang along with the musicians. Below are some pictures of the evening and a video - a special thanks to Katie Parla and Gina Tringali for allowing us to use these!
The second event in the series, which
will be was even better, is was on July 13th! Here are pictures from the second event.
(you need flash to watch this video - Or, you can click here to watch directly on youtube)