Welcome to another Things I Ate post, this time the Roman Ghetto edition! As much as I enjoyed eating pasta and gelato in Italy, my favourite meal hands-down was at the Roman Ghetto.
The Roman Ghetto has a sad history. Construction of this area was ordered by Pope Paul IV in 1555. It was a walled area that was locked up at night, and the Jewish people who lived in Rome were ordered to live in there, with many of their rights taken from them. And very sadly, on October 16th, 1943, Nazi soldiers surrounded these Jewish quarters and 1000s of people were taken from their homes to Auschwitz. Only 16 of those who were taken survived.
Today, the Jewish culture is still very much alive in this area, and it is home to many restaurants that serve Roman Jewish food, and I was lucky enough to try two of them!
The service at Nonna Betta left a lot to be desired. We were sat at our tables and given menus, but our orders were not taken for a quite a while (we kept getting told our waiter was on his way even though we were one of two tables in the restaurant at the time). Then after our meal, when we asked for the bill, we saw the waiter hang out around the bar and chat with his colleagues for a long time not getting our bill, and we had to remind him again for it.
Service aside, we enjoyed the food. We started off with a Jewish style artichoke (carciofo alla giuda), a famous dish that originated from the Jewish community in Rome. It's a deep fried, lightly seasoned artichoke that's got crispy leaves and a soft centre. It was delicious, but the serving was on the smaller side, so you might want to get more than one if there are a number of you sharing.
After the delicious appetizer, I had the Codfish Nonna Betta's Style (baccala alla Nonna Betta) which was actually recommended to me by the waiter. The cod was flaky and baked in a sauce with pistachios - I really enjoyed it!
Nonna Betta located at Via del Portico d'Ottavia, 16, 00186 Roma, Italy
Il Giardino Romano
Il Giardino Romano was a true gem and my meal there was my absolute favourite meal in my two weeks in Italy. The restaurant was brimming with diners so we were lucky to get a table right away outside without a reservation. I enjoyed being able to see people out and about on the streets as we ate and also watched a member of the Il Giardino Romano staff skillfully preparing and peeling artichokes. He was so fast and adept at it, it was really quite fascinating.
Again, we started off with the Jewish style artichoke (carciofo alla giuda) because that was all I could think about after having it the night before, and it was perfection. The portion size was a lot bigger than that we had at Nonna Betta.
After that, I had the oxtail stew (coda alla vaccinara). The meat was fall off the bone, with some soft carrots and celery. It was delectable!
And because it was our last day, even though we were stuffed (full with deliciousness!), we decided to get dessert as a sort of last hurrah. We ordered two to share, an amazing house speciality tiramisu (tiramisu della casa) and a white tartufo (tartufo bianco) . The desserts were a perfect way to end the meal. I can still taste that tartufo as I write this. Take me back!
Il Giardino Romano located at Via del Portico d'Ottavia, 18, 00186, Roma, Italy
Want to read more Things I Ate posts? Click here for Things I Ate: Florence Edition for details on my favourite gelato place!
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